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The idea of the national interest : a conceptual analysis in the context of the Gulf War Kersch, T. J. 1995

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THE IDEA OF THE NATIONAL INTEREST:A CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE GULF WARBy Terence Joseph KerschB.A. (Hons), The University of British Columbia, 1989M.A., The University of British Columbia, 1990A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of Political ScienceWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAApril 1995© Terence Joseph KerschIn presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of Political ScienceThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate 3 April, 1995DE-6 (2188)11ABSTRACTIn this thesis I attempt to show that there is no apparent good reason why one ought toembrace the sceptic’s claim that international relations lies beyond the pale ofmoralinquiry. The state, in the sceptic’s view, grounds its foreign policy in the national interestand not in morality. To assert otherwise is to mistake the fundamental essence ofinternational relations--a claim resting on the assumption that “morality” and “interest”are either antithetical or epistemologically distinct objects of study.On reflection, however, one must have--at the very least--some kind ofconceptual understanding about the idea “the national interest” before such a claim canbe sustained. Although much has been said by many authors about the kinds ofsubstantivepolicies which, in their respective views, actually serve the national interest--e.g., policies which contribute to the maintenance or enhancement of national power--theidea of “the national interest” itself has attracted very little conceptual scrutiny. In thisstudy, then, I attempt to shift the focus away from a concentration on the standards fordetermining whether this or that policy actually serves the national interest to aconcentration on the idea of the national interest itself. Before this logically prior task iscompleted--an immense task for which my contribution can be interpreted as only a smallone--there is no reason to embrace the notion that “morality” and “interest” are eitherantithetical or categorically distinct. This is particularly true if, through such an analysis,“the national interest” proves to be a categorically moral idea--viz., if it proves to be aproper object of study for students ofmoral and political philosophy.111TAELE OF CONTENTSAbstract iiAcknowledgements. . . . vChapter one: Introduction 1--The “apparent” paradox of realism 4--The scope and orientation 9--The traditional assumption 22--The argument 29Chapter two: Employing and Understanding theNational Interest 43--Employing “the national interest” 44(1) General substantive conceptions 44(2) Specific substantive conceptions 46--Understanding “the national interest” 50(1) Charles Beard 51(2) James N. Rosenau 55(3) Joseph Frankel 61--The approach 69Chapter three: Preliminary Distinctions 83--National interests and the national interest. 84--Justifications and reasons 88--National interest as an explanatory tool. . . 95--The Fallacy of Swapping Horses 100Chapter four: International Relations as Human Conduct. . . .113--Getting to the bottom of “state as actor” . . . 116--Interests and their beneficiaries 120--Societies and non-social communities 127Chapter five: The Problem of Choice 151--The national interest and choice 153--The problem of choice 166--The nature and structure of choice 174ivChapter six: The Application and Limitation of Rulesin Human Choice 186--The principle of double effect 188--The just war tradition 193--The limitations of rules 207--The virtue of prudence 212Chapter seven: The United States Senate and theProblem of Choice 228--The problem 229--United States Senate Resolution 318 (1990) 230(1) The world order threat 236(2) The security of the region threat 248--The Senate debates: 10, 11, 12 January 1991 255Chapter eight: Judgements About Choice 275--Joseph S. Nyc, Jr 285--Christopher Layne 298Chapter nine: Conclusion 311--The question of “vital0 interests 311--Conclusion 329Bibliography 339VACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThere are a number ofpeople and institutions who, in addition to helping to make thiswork possible, eased the process in significant ways. These include the members of myresearch committee, Kal Hoisti and Brian Job, who painstakingly read earlier draftchapters and who were always ready to offer valuable advice. Much ofmy thinkingabout the GulfWar was developed in collaboration with my research supervisor, RobertJackson. In addition to proof-reading the work, Rev. Victor B. Brezik, CSB providedmany insights and challenged my thinking on some important points. Rev. Neil Kelly,CSB encouraged me to reinvestigate the classical tradition ofmoral philosophy andhelped me to understand the thought of St Thomas. Although these people helped toshape my ideas, any errors in the work are my own. My good friends Mike Meade, KimMeade, and Kirsten Sigerson were constant sources of encouragement, refuge, anddelight throughout the period of research and writing. Alan Cairns guided me throughsome of the more difficult and frustrating moments merely by pointing out that allacademics share the same lot. Finally, I acknowledge the financial support of the SocialSciences and Humanities Research Council and the generous patronage of the BasilianFathers of Toronto.1CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTIONThis study is an attempt to clarify a central idea in the theory and practice of internationalrelations, namely: the national interest. Because I attempt to clarify the idea in light ofhow American statesmen and scholars employed it during the Persian Gulfwar (1990-91), my approach broadly can be described as “historical-conceptual.” But my concernwith clarifying the idea of the national interest is only instrumental to a larger concernabout international moral scepticism--a position often identified, I think erroneously, withthe Realist school of international thought. Thus, by setting out to clarify the idea in thecontext of the Gulfwar from within the Realist tradition, I am concurrently, andpurposively, assaulting the position maintained by the moral sceptic that internationalrelations is beyond the pale of ethical inquiry. If it can be shown that the idea of thenational interest is a categorically moral concept and, further, if it can be clarified bydrawing upon that body of knowledge called moral philosophy, a main bastion of thesceptical position thereby collapses.By the expression “historical-conceptual” I mean that I look to a particular crisisin order to elucidate an otherwise conceptual argument with a specific and narrow rangeof examples. The purpose for limiting the historical scope is not to achieve historicaldepth but, rather, to make the analysis of an otherwise intractable concept moremanageable. Given that I have adopted as my primary purpose an assault on moralscepticism in international relations, only one example is needed to cast a reasonable2doubt upon its exclusive claim. Hence, although the historical scope of the followingargument is both narrow and shallow, I suggest nevertheless that the conceptual claimsadvanced here can be extended to embody the wider American foreign policy experience.I have doubts, however, whether they can embody the foreign policy experience of allcountries. This, of course, raises serious questions about the validity of the concept as anexplanatory pivot for some international relations theories. But the entire thrust of theargument challenges some conventional understandings about the idea.In particular, the national interest is the conventional fall-back position fromwhich the international moral sceptic asserts his moral scepticism in the face of“Idealist” assaults. On the other side, the “Idealist” views the national interest as the key“Realist” stronghold and, hence, the primary object of attack. And so the battle betweenthe defenders of “interest” and the champions of “morality” ensues--a battle continuallyIhelled by the great antithesis between “interest” and “morality.”However, greatly disproportionate to its central importance in that perennialdebate, and the theory and practice of international relations in general, the idea of thenational interest has received surprisingly little conceptual treatment. This in itself oughtto raise at least some reservations about the sceptical claim. In his 1968 contribution tothe International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, James Rosenau notes that “whiletextbooks on international politics continue to assert that nations act to protect and realizetheir national interests, the research literature of the field has not been increased and3enriched by monographs which give central prominence to the concept,”1 Producing asurvey of the state of research into the concept nine years later, Fred Sondermann is onlyable to report one additional attempt at conceptual analysis, thus bringing the total up tothree.2 No further attempts at conceptual analysis have been produced since JosephFrankel’s 1970 study.The paucity of conceptual analyses is particularly troubling given that thenational interest was invoked as ajust/1cation for mutually exclusive policy optionsduring the January 1991 debates in United States Senate on the question ofwhether ornot to go to war against Iraq. Senator Sam Nunn, for example, clearly expressed hisunease by noting that “we throw around the word ‘vital’ very carelessly.” And he addedthat on questions ofwar, it is cmcial to “think carefully about what we mean” by thewords we use in our debates because when we “politicians declare an interest to be vital,our men and women in uniform are expected to put their lives at risk., . . “ Of course, thecontext of a passionate debate on critical questions ofnational policy is hardly theappropriate time and place for embarking upon painstaking conceptual clarification. Thattask is left for the scholar to pursue in reflection and in the comfort of his or her study.‘James N. Rosenau, “National Interest,” InternationalEncyclopedia of the SocialSciences (New York: Crowell Collier & Macmillan, 1968), p. 36.2Fred A. Sondermann, “The Concept of the National Interest,” Orbis 21 (Spring1977): 121-138. The three attempts include: Charles A. Beard, The Idea ofNationalInterest: An Analytical Study in American Foreign Policy (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1966);James N. Rosenau, “National Interest,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences(New York: Macmillan, 1968), pp. 34-40; and, Joseph Frankel, National Interest(London: Pall Mall, 1970).3United States, CongressionalRecord Vol 137 No. 7 (January 11, 1991): S 190.4Consequently, I view Senator Nunn’s remarks as an urgent invitation rather than as anadmonition.The “apparent” paradox of realismThe paucity of strict conceptual analyses and Senator Nunn’s invitation, however, areonly two ofmy reasons for attempting to clarij the idea of the national interest. Furtherconceptual clarification is needed in order to resolve a pervasive paradox at the core ofwhat Nardin and Mapel refer to as the realist ethical tradition in international relations.4Jack Donnelly notes that this paradox can be expressed as a “moral imperative to anamoral foreign policy.”5 Further, he argues that “this paradox of a moral ground for anamoral foreign policy is usually obscured by realists.”6This paradox takes on a variety of shapes and forms. “The essence ofinternational realism, Steven Forde argues, “is its belief in the primacy of self-interestover moral principle” in international affairs.7 He then goes on to explain that thisstatement “can mean either that self-interest confers a positive right of some kind, aswhen ‘national interest’ is seen as a moralprinciple, or that morality is wholly4Terry Nardin and David R. Mapel, eds., Traditions ofInternationalEthics(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).5Jack Donnelly, “Twentieth Century Realism,” in Nardin and Mapel, eds., TraditionsofInternational Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 96.6Donnelly, p. 96.7Steven Forde, “Classical Realism,” in Nardin and Mapel, eds., Traditions ofInternationalEthics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 62.5inapplicable to international politics. “ In other words, some realists view the nationalinterest--rather than other substantive moral principles--as the moral basis for foreignpolicy choices, whereas other realists view international relations as an essentially amoralrealm of human activity.According to Forde, then, some realists are moral sceptics whereas others are not.But how does one go about resolving this conclusion with his initial assertion that theessence of international realism is its belief in the primacy of self-interest over moralprinciple? In other words, if the national interest is a moral principle--as some realistsmaintain--how can one continue to describe the essence of realism as the primacy ofnational interest over moral principle? Hence, under the heading of realism oneencounters a paradox involving the assertion of a moral principle, on the one hand, andthe denial ofmorality, on the other.But this paradox is not limited to attempts at generalizing about the essence of therealist world view, It also appears within the arguments of some of the realiststhemselves. George Kennan, for example, argues that:The interests of the national society for which government has to concernitself are basically those of its military security, the integrity of its politicallife and well being of its people. These needs have no moral quality....They are unavoidable necessities of a national existence and thereforenot subject to classfication as either “good” or “bad “But having denied outright the moral quality of goods such as security, political life, and8Donnelly, p. 62.9George F. Kennan, “Morality and Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, 64 (1985/6): 206.My emphasis.6the well being of a country’s people, he goes on to outline the statesman’s moralimperative to secure those goods.When [the statesman] accepts the responsibility ofgoverning, implicit inthat acceptance is the assumption that it is right that the state should besovereign, the integrity of its political life should be assured, that itspeople should enjoy the blessings ofmilitary security, material prosperityand a reasonable opportunity for, as the Declaration of Independence putit, the pursuit of happiness. For these assumptions, the [statesman] needsno moral justification, nor need [he] accept any moral reproach for actingon the basis of them.’°Although Kennan does not explicitly identify the foregoing imperative as a moralimperative, it seems to me that if his argument is pushed a little further he would not onlyhave to admit the categorically moral nature of his imperative, but he would also have toadmit that the goods he means the statesman to secure are also moral goods. This can bedemonstrated by applying the “reverse proof’ to his arguments--viz., by assuming hisassertions are true and following them through to logical conclusions Kennan himselfcertainly would not accept, thus leading to a retraction of those initial assertions. Forexample, one might ask Kennan how he would label a statesman who intentionallyrefused to secure the goods he identifies as categorically amoral goods? Is it meaningfulto call him a bad statesman? It seems to me that Kennan must concede that it ismeaningful to do so. But one he has conceded this, he has opened himself to the furtherquestion: why would the statesman be bad for refusing to secure those goods? Facedwith this question, he must concede that they are indeed moral goods after all. And,having conceded that they are moral goods, he must retract his assertion that they are not‘°Kennan, p. 206.7subject to moral classification.The apparent paradox in realism, then, is just that--an apparent paradox. In manycases it simply involves a denial that one is advancing a categorically moral argumentwhen in fact one is advancing such an argument. Clearly Nardin and Mapel recognizethis because they identify realism as one ofmany traditions of international ethics.Further, Terry Nardin concludes that not only does classical realismgo beyond moral skepticism to embrace a definite ethical outlook, but thatthis outlook has both principles and a history. Its practitioners argue aboutthe relative importance of rules and consequences, and each hasarticulated his own version of a morality of rules with an escape clause foremergencies. Each is participating in an ongoing debate about where todraw the line, how to define an emergency, and other perennial topics ofrealist discourse, All draw upon the concepts and principles--necessity,security, vital interests, prudence, responsibility--that defme a particulartradition of ethical judgement, regardless ofwhether they think ofthemselves, or are thought of by others, as ‘political realists.’ What theyare rejecting is not [an ethical] tradition as such but the principles ofalternative ethical traditions.11Leaving aside the question of structural or neo-realism, why is it that manyrealists deny they are advancing a categorically moral argument when in fact they areadvancing such an argument? Nye suggests that the reason for this originates in therealist’s attempt to avoid “hard questions about why he should treat his nation as the onlyinternational value.”2 The best way, in his view, to avoid asking (and attempting toanswer) messy moral questions is to banish them from existence by asserting thatinternational politics is essentially an amoral realm of human existence. There is,“Nardin, “Ethical Traditions,” pp., 16, 17.‘2Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Nuclear Ethics (New York: The Free Press, 1986), p. 10.8perhaps, some truth to this. Isaiah Berlin, for example, argues persuasively that thismovement toward banishing moral questions from existence is a notorious peculiarity oftwentieth century scholarship. According to Berlin, moral questions throughout thehistory ofWestern civilization were considered to be “ofvital importance for the conductof life.” Of course, there were those “in every generation who suggested that there were.• . no final answers,.,, But they. . . did not actually doubt the importance of thequestions themselves.” However,it was left to the twentieth century to do something more drastic than this.For the first time it was now conceived that the most effective way ofdealing with questions, particularly those recurrent issues which hadperplexed and often tormented original and honest minds in everygeneration, was not by employing the tools of reason, still less those ofmore mysterious capacities called ‘insight’ and ‘intuition,’ but byobliterating the questions themselves. And this method consists not inremoving them by rational means--by proving, for example, that they arefounded on intellectual error or verbal muddles or ignorance of the facts--for to prove this would in turn presuppose the need for rational methods ofphilosophical or psychological argument. Rather, it consists in so treatingthe questioner that problems which appeared at once overwhelminglyimportant and utterly insoluble vanish from the questioner’s consciousnesslike evil dreams and trouble him no more,13Perhaps the reasons I offer are a little more generous than those suggested by Nyeand elaborated upon by Berlin, I suggest there are three related reasons why manyrealists deny they are advancing a categorically moral argument when in fact they are.13lsaiah Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), pp.,22, 23. On a similar point, see Berlin’s teacher, R. G. Collingwood. Collingwood,however, notes that this process of banishing important and vital questions was wellunderway in the nineteenth century. “Karl Marx was such a person; and this is why,denying as he did the existence of societies, he spared himself the pains of solving socialand political problems by simply denying that they existed. The New Leviathan.’ OrMan, Society, Civilization andBarbarism. Revised edition, David Boucher, ed., (Oxford:Clarendon Press, [1943] 1992), p. 136.9These reasons include: an inadequate understanding of the nature ofmoral agency, amuddled understanding of the idea of the national interest, and the pervasiveness of thetraditional assumption that interest and morality are antithetical. It is precisely onquestions such as these that I think students ofpolitical and moral philosophy havesignificant contributions to make in the study of international relations. Thus, if I mustplace my argument within a tradition of international discourse, I place it within theclassical realist tradition to the extent that “classical realists tend. . . to be morephilosophical in their approach and orientation” and “are engaged in a serious dialoguewith moral philosophy.”14 But I do so reluctantly and with some very seriousreservations. Although I am prepared both to argue from within that tradition and todraw on that branch of knowledge called moral philosophy in order to demonstrate thatthe concept of the national interest is a categorically moral idea--an argument supportingNardin’s claim that realism is indeed an ethical (i.e., a categorically moral) tradition--I amnot quite prepared to make any claims about its moral quality. In other words, I cannotassert that the national interest is either morally good or evil. I am merely addressing thelogically prior question concerning whether the idea is open to the kind of inquiry forwhich such epithets are stated as conclusions.The orientation and scopeMy aim is to think about what people mean by the expression “the national interest”‘4Steven Forde, “Classical Realism,” in Nardin and Mapel, eds., Traditions ofInternational Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 62.10when they employ it in both direct and indirect forms of political argument--in additionto those veiy few souls before me who have also attempted to clarilj the concept--inorder to reach some conclusions about the role it plays in foreign policy decisions. Inshort, to borrow the words ofHedley Bull, I attempt here to deal with an apparentlyintractable but nevertheless cmcial concept merely by thinking it through.15Although only three attempts have been made at what I call strict conceptualanalysis, many more have been made--although much fewer than might be expected--tooffer substantive conceptions ofnational interest. This is usually accomplished bymerely prescribing much more tangible national objectives or interests such as themaintenance or enhancement of national power, the defence against potential or actualforeign military threats, the maintenance or enhancement of economic well being, theprotection of the lives and property of one’s citizens in foreign lands, and what have you,along with making hierarchical distinctions between vital and lesser interests.16This is why I do not identify Morgenthau’s contribution on the subject as a strictconceptual analysis. Far from treating the concept as his primary object of study,Morgenthau argues that the primary objective a statesman must pursue is theenhancement and maintenance of national power. In short, he offers a substantiveconception of national interest and not a conceptual analysis of the idea of the national15Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society (London, 1977), p. x. I am also inspired byRobert H. Jackson’s remark: “My study is simply an attempt. . . to think the newsovereignty regime through to some conclusions.” Quasi-States: Sovereignty,International Relations and the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990), p. 5.‘6A further distinction between general substantive conceptions and specificsubstantive conceptions will be made below.11interest.Because theory is the stepchild of practice,17 it is important that any theorizingabout a concept take place not only in the context of a tradition of thought about the idea,but also in the context ofparticular contingent circumstances within which it is employedin political practice. The GulfWar (1990-9 1), as seen from the American perspective,provides one such set of contingent circumstances. My choice of the GulfWar, however,is far from arbitrary.Indeed, my inquiry about the concept of the national interest arose in the courseof reflecting about the Gulfwar. In particular, the inquiry arose in the course of trying toresolve the contrary arguments advanced by United States senators in their debate aboutwhether to commit troops to combat in the Persian Gulf, and the contrary argumentsadvanced by Christopher Layne and Joseph S. Nye in their post war debate aboutwhether the war served the American national interest, Three basic questions drove myreflections at that time. Is the occurrence ofwar open to moral approbation anddisapprobation? If so, what implications does this have for the sceptical position whichstipulates that such relations lie outside the realm ofmoral inquiry? Finally, if theoccurrence ofwar is indeed open to moral approbation and disapprobation, was the GulfWar a °just” war as most world leaders, including the President of the United States, hadstipulated? In the course of attempting to answer these questions I found that although17See, for example, R.G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan: OrMan, Society.Civilization andBarbarism, Revised edition, David Boucher, ed., (Clarendon Press:Oxford, 1992), pp. 5, 99-110, 125-129; and, Gilbert Ryle, The Concept ofMind (London:Hutchinson, 1955), chapter II.12the vocabulary of the just war was particularly salient at the international level, thevocabulary of the national interest dominated the American domestic debates--inparticular, the January 1991 debate in the United States Senate, and a subsequent debatebetween Christopher Layne and Joseph S. Nye Jr. on whether the Gulfwar indeed servedthe American national interest.What is striking about both of these debates, however, is that the participantswere essentially attempting tojustfy (in contrast with giving mere reasons for) theirrespective positions while nevertheless using the vocabulary of the national interest.Since I assumed at the time that foreign policy grounded in morality is antithetical toforeign policy grounded in the national interest, I wondered if these people were fallingprey to category errors and, hence, confusing their discourse by employing aninappropriate idiom. On the other hand, I wondered if the national interest really is acategorically moral idea after all and, if it is, what kind of implications that might haveon the conventional antithesis between the national interest and morality. Further, whatimplications might this have for the moral sceptic who embraces the national interest as acentral value, but who nevertheless asserts that international relations lie beyond the paleofmoral argument? The first step toward answering these questions, I decided at thetime, is to acquire some understanding about what the idea of the national interest is allabout.The natural course to take when such a question arises is to immerse oneself inthe thoughts of others who have taken up the same concern for themselves. I found,however, that the idea of the national interest remained relatively unexplored. The13existing attempts at conceptual analysis, although to some extent helpful, did not seem toapproach the kind of understanding I needed in order to pursue my initial questions--thatis, those questions which led me to inquire into the meaning of the national interest in thefirst place. Although Beard, Roseneau, and Frankel all suspect that the idea is intimatelyrelated to the values people hold, their attempts do not sufficiently establish thisrelationship. And the reason they do not sufficiently establish it is because they do notdraw upon the body of knowledge necessary to do so, namely: moral philosophy.What does “the national interest” mean? What, in conceptual rather than purelysubstantive terms, is “the national interest?” I ask these questions in the same spirit asone would ask: what is “sovereignty?” What is “gravity?” Or, what is “the good?” Inother words, to what genus and species does it belong? Is it a juridical concept, likesovereignty? Is it a natural scientific concept, like gravity?’8 Or, is it a moral concept,like “the good”? It became clear to me that any comprehensive answer about themeaning of the national interest would take many years of careful inquiry in addition tofilling many volumes. In K. J. Holsti’s terms, the national interest as an object of inquiryis a bottomless pit. Consequently, I have limited my answer to establishing theepistemological category to which the idea properly belongs.I conclude that because it is best conceived as an intrinsic principle of humanconduct--i.e., a motive for action which, in terms of conventional American politicalmorality, ought to be embraced by the agent taking those actions--it is a categorically‘81n other words, can it be understood and explained in the idiom of the naturalsciences?14moral idea. By “categorically moral idea,” however, I do not mean that it is a morallygood idea, thus distinguishing it from a morally evil one. Instead, I mean that the idea ofthe national interest is a proper object of study for that branch of knowledge called moralphilosophy or, more commonly, ethics.If it is universally true that the idea is a categorically moral idea, to the extent thatthe national interest is indeed a central concept in the study and practice of internationalrelations, one must therefore conclude that international relations itself is at least ageneric object of study for moral philosophy. In other words, any version of a claim thatmorality or ethics have nothing to do with international relations must be patently false ifit is universally true that the idea of the national interest is indeed a categorically moralidea. Because of the limited scope of this study, however, I cannot make. such adefinitive claim. The only claim I can make is that--strictly by virtue of the way in whichthe concept was employed by American politicians and scholars in the context of theGulfWar--the national interest is a categorically moral idea. But even this claim, at aminimum, raises serious questions about the sceptical position.In the context of the GulfWar, conceiving the national interest as a categoricallymoral idea helps to shed light on the overall discourse in which it was employed. That isto say, it helps to clarify the concept as well as a myriad of other issues raised during thecrisis, Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether or not it helps to clarify the idea in allcontexts. Hence, the claim I make is not a universal claim, it is only potentially so. Thetest would be to apply the national interest, conceived as an intrinsic principle of humanaction, to other American foreign policy contexts as they arise and see if that conception15fits with one’s experience of the situation. I suspect that it can.To appeal to a particular branch of knowledge--namely, moral philosophy or,more specifically, metaethics--in order to help inform my analysis of the concept couldstrike some readers as unusual, if not misconceived, because it directly contradicts thetraditional assumption that interest and morality are antithetical. Further, it could beobjected that one must first show the idea to be a categorically moral one beforeappealing to moral philosophy in order to help clarify it. In response I can only point outthat the true test does not rest upon any preconceived notions about whether or notinternational relations is a proper object of study for moral philosophy. Instead, it restsupon the degree to which that branch ofknowledge helps to clarify an otherwiseintractable idea. If my approach and the idiom I employ actually sheds conceptual lighton the idea of the national interest, the objection, it seems to me, is unwarranted.Besides, as I shall argue in the next section, there is no evident good reason to embracethe traditional assumption in the first place.Moral philosophy, or ethics, is a branch of knowledge. And like all branches ofknowledge, it has its proper object of study--viz., something that distinguishes it fromother branches of knowledge. The overarching question guiding this conceptual analysisof the idea of the national interest, then, is whether or not international relations can be aproper object of study for that branch of knowledge called moral philosophy. I argue thatit can. But this holds true only if international relations is conceived in a certain way,namely: as human conduct. If international relations is conceived in the abstract as a“system,” or as relations among equally abstract “states as actors,” it cannot be the proper16object of study for ethics, One of the tasks needed to establish international relations as aproper object of ethics, then, is to show that it indeed can be conceived as humanconduct. But the key argument is to show that the idea of the national interest, a centralconcept in both the study and practice of international relations, is an intrinsic principleof human action--viz., a categorically moral idea. Consequently, if the idea of thenational interest is a central concept in the study and practice of international relations,and; if it is indeed a categorically moral idea; then it is reasonable to conclude thatinternational relations is a proper object of study for ethics,As indicated in the opening paragraph, my argument is directed not only to theconceptual debate aboUt the idea of the national interest, but the larger issue ofmoralscepticism in the study of international relations.’9 Neither of these questions is new, norare they unrelated. For that matter, I am fi.illy convinced that the least controversial wayto address the question ofmoral scepticism is by clarifjing the concept of the nationalinterest. My basic point is that moral scepticism, on the one hand, and self-righteousmoralizing, on the other, are each grounded in conceptual misunderstandings of bothmorality and the national interest. Both the moral sceptic and the moralizer ground theirrespective assertions on the traditional assumption about the relationship (or lack thereof)‘9For a filler account of this scepticism, see Charles R. Beitz, Political Theoryand International Relations (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979); MarshallCohen, “Moral Skepticism and International Relations,” Philosophy andPublic Affairs,Vol. 13, (Fall 1984); Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Nuclear Ethics (New York: The Free Press,1986), pp. 2-13; Terry Nardin, “Ethical Traditions in International Affairs,” in TerryNardin and David R. Mapel, eds., Traditions ofInternational Ethics (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 14-19; and, Robert W. McElroy, MoralityandAmerican Foreign Policy (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp.13-29.17between interest and morality.20In the study of international relations, the moral sceptic raises the question aboutwhether moral questions legitimately can be asked. He answers that they cannot because,in his view, international relations is an essentially amoral enterprise. I confront themoral sceptic with a far less controversial question and claim. Instead of directlyconfronting the sceptic’s assertion with the counter-assertion that international relations isan essentially moral enterprise, or even the much more muted claim that internationalrelations embodies an ethical “dimension” in addition to its other “dimensions” (whateverthey are), I simply ask whether international relations is a proper object of study for thatbranch of knowledge called moral philosophy or, more commonly, ethics. And I answerthat it probably is because the idea of the national interest--at least from the American20Essentially, I adopt Nye’s distinction between the practices ofmoral reasoningand moralizing as well as his definition of a moralizer as one who has a mistakenunderstanding about the nature and project ofmoral philosophy, namely: a self righteousmoral crusader who passes judgements on the actions of others on the basis of anoversimplified and absolute set of abstract moral rules. Joseph S. Nye Jr., Nuclear Ethics(New York: The Free Press, 1986), pp. xi-xii, 1-13. What I refer to as moralizing,Herbert Butterfield refers to as the moralistic approach to international affairs, “TheScientific Versus the Moralistic Approach in International Affairs, InternationalAffairs,XXVII, no. 4 (October, 1951): 411-422. Perhaps unaware of the distinction, Butterfielddoes not distinguish the projects ofmoral philosophy and moralizing and thus contributesto the mistaken notion that the two projects are identical Further, it is argued that byvirtue ofNiebuhr’s influence, Hans Morgenthau, far from being opposed to morality ininternational affairs, was opposed to moralizing in such affairs. Unfortunately, andperhaps unwittingly, he helped to confuse the issue by identifying the entirely legitimateproject ofmoral philosophy with the illegitimate project moralizing. See Kenneth W.Thompson, “Beyond National Interest: A Critical Evaluation ofReinhold Niebuhr’sTheory of International Politics,” Review ofPolitics, XVIII (1955): 167-188; Robert C.Good, “The National Interest and Political Realism: Niebuhr’s ‘Debate’ with Morgenthauand Kennan,” Journal ofPolitics (November 1960): 567-6 19, and; Robert W. McElroy,Morality andAmerican Foreign Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992),Chapter 1, especially, pp., 19-29.18perspective in the context of the Gulfwar--is a categorically moral concept.One might be tempted to object at this point that my claim amounts to merelyrestating the usual moralist response to the sceptical claim--viz., it is no different thanarguing that international relations either embodies a moral dimension or is an essentiallymoral enterprise. Terry Nardin, for example, states one version of the moralist project asan attempt to understand the ethical dimension of international affairs,21 I do not adoptNardin’s conception because it is not clear to me in the first place what an ethicaldimension of human activity in general, let alone of international affairs in particular,might be. Further, if one postulates an ethical dimension, one must presuppose otherdimensions as well. What are these other dimensions? How are all these dimensions(whatever they are) related to each other? I do not know how to begin to answer suchquestions and, as far as I can tell, Nardin does not answer them either.To speak ofdimensions ofhuman existence is an exceptionally tricky business--the business of that body of knowledge called the philosophy ofbeing or ontology--which ultimately forces one to make a decision about the fhndamental essence of thatexistence. Is the human person essentially a “soul” enslaved in a body, as Platoasserted?22 Is he essentially a composite being made up ofbody and soul, as Aristotleand Aquinas asserted?23 Is his existence best conceived as a “field” extending in space21Terry Nardin, “Ethical Traditions in International Affairs,” in Terry Nardin andDavid R. Mapel, eds., Traditions ofInternationalEthics (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1992), p. 1.22See, for example, Phaedo, 65c-68b.23Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, q. 76, aa. 1-4. See his references toAristotle’s Physics and de Anima.19and time, as Heidegger asserted?24 Or is he Brahman, as the Hindu sages asserted?25 If athinker of the stature ofR. G. Collingwood was unable to make a decision about theessential nature of that being which is potentially and intimately knowable to all persons--namely: his or her self-I must at least defer judgement not only about the fundamentalessence of human existence, but about the fundamental essence of international affairs aswell,Further, once one has made a decision about the essence of international affairs--which Nardin must have done if he postulates an ethical dimension--a significantdiscursive gulf is created and maintained between others who postulate a differentessence. This largely explains what Robert McElroy identifies as the ever widening gulfbetween the so called empirical and normative treatments of international affairs.The result of [the recent] resurgence in normative treatments ofinternational relations has not been a substantive dialogue betweenempirical students of international affairs and ethical thinkers. Rather,there have emerged two separate scholarly communities, each operatingfrom a different woridview, using different languages, and arriving atdifferent conclusions about the essential nature of the politics amongnations,26A central divisive issue, then, concerns the different answers given to the questionof the essential nature of international affairs. And how one labels himself--e.g., as arealist, an idealist, a rationalist, or what have you--or the particular “school of thought”24William Barrett, IrrationalMan: A Study in Existential Philosophy (New York:Anchor Books, 1958), pp. 217-218.25The Upanishads, Trans., Swami Prabhavananda and Fredrick Manchester (NewYork: Penguin, 1975). See, for example, Katha, Isha, Kena, and Prasna.26McElroy, pp. 3, 4.20one wishes to defend or propagate, largely depends on the decision one makes about theessential nature of international affairs. And, as indicated, divergent decisions about theessence of international affairs contributes to the divisiveness in the discipline.27My claim that the national interest is a categorically moral idea does notexacerbate this divisiveness. It is far less controversial than it might appear at first, for Iam not making any claims about the essence of international relations. Instead, I ammaking a claim about the kinds of questions that legitimately can be asked aboutinternational relations, and the particular body of knowledge that must be drawn upon inorder to answer such questions. Rather than confronting the moral sceptic’s claim bypostulating a contrary essence--a kind of claim that widens, in my view, the discursivegulfbetween empirical and ethical thinkers--I am asking whether it is meaningful toconsider the idea of the national interest as a proper object of study for moral philosophy,broadly conceived.The inspiration for asking the question in this way is received from R. G.Collingwood. To further demonstrate this kind of thinking and the problems it is meantto avoid (or at least temporarily postpone) consider, for example the question about thefundamental essence of human nature. If one argues that the human person is part body(a “physical” dimension) and part mind (a “thought” dimension), one is immediatelyconfronted with complicated and, perhaps, unanswerable questions about the relationbetween these two dimensions. Likewise, the notion of studying an ethical dimension of27Md this divisiveness has not served to improve the tone ofmoral debate. Nye,Nuclear Ethics, pp. 10-13.21international relations suggests the presence of other dimensions thus leading to thequestion of their relationship. Collingwood suggests a way around this kind of impasse.Instead of asking whether man is part body and part mind and, consequently, confrontingthe question of the relationship between the two, he asserts that man is either all body orall mind depending on the branch of knowledge employed to study him. If one employsthat branch of knowledge called natural science in order to study him, man is all body.If, on the other hand, one employs the science ofmind (what he refers to as history), manis all mind. The question then, is not what man is essentially but, rather, what is the mostappropriate body of knowledge to employ in order to answer the kinds of questions onehas set out to answer. If one starts out with asking a bodily question--e.g. what causesthe arm to break, or the skull to crack, or the person to drown--one employs that branchofknowledge most suitable for answering such questions, namely: natural science. If, onthe other hand, one sets out with the “mind” question--e.g., why did he break thatperson’s arm, crack that person’s skull, or throw that person off the bridge?--one has toemploy an entirely different branch of knowledge. In the case of international relations, Iconsider the question about the meaning of the idea of the national interest. Since thisidea evidently plays some kind of role in the decisions that statesmen make, and since theproblem of human choice is a proper object of study for moral philosophy, I speculatethat the idea can be addressed with that body of knowledge.But such a reply leads to immediate objections, particularly the kind stemmingfrom the “traditional assumption” that interest and morality are fundamentally opposed.And this assumption is embraced equally tightly by moral sceptics and those who set out22to study the ethical “dimension” of international relations. I will now consider thisobjection.The traditional assumptionSuppose an alien visitor to earth sits in on an international relations seminar and listens toa debate between proponents of the “Realist” and “Idealist” schools. What questions ishe likely to ask during the debate? Chances are that his first two questions will be aboutthe central concepts around which the debate pivots, namely, the national interest andmorality. The Realist, on the one hand, asserts with great conviction that foreign policyought to be grounded in the national interest while the Idealist, on the other hand, assertswith equal conviction that foreign policy ought to be grounded in morality.28 Thedisputants assert their presumed mutually exclusive claims with such conviction that thealien supposes the respective meanings of the national interest and morality must beblatantly obvious to everyone else present in the room. But, being an alien, he is notafraid to excuse himself from interrupting the fray and to ask: “What, precisely, is thenational interest? and what, precisely, is morality? Ifyou convey to me your knowledgeabout each of these apparently antagonistic concepts, maybe then I can make some senseabout the relative merits of each of your points of view.”28There are, of course, more fruitful ways of framing the debate. Robert Osgood, forexample, poses the problem as one of resolving ideals and self interest. Stated in thisway, one can remain open to the understanding that the opposition is not so muchbetween morality and interest, as it is between two distinct but nevertheless explicitlyethical traditions. Robert Endicott Osgood, Ideals andSelf-Interest in America’s ForeignRelations: The Great Transformation of the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1953).23How does one go about answering these questions? Clearly they cannot beanswered the same way as one would answer questions such as: “what is a chair?” or“what is a table?’1 To answer those questions, one needs only to lead the visitor into aroom and point out a chair and table by saying “this is a chair” and “this is a table.”However, what if the visitor then says: “O.K., this is a chair and this is a table, but whatis the chair? and what is the table?” Faced with this last pair of questions, the earthboundscholar has two choices. Recognizing that the visitor is inappropriately askingconceptual questions about common-place material objects, he can dismiss the questionas irrelevant by saying: “here on earth, at least since the time Aristotle responded toPlato’s doctrine of the “Forms,” it does not really matter what the chair is or what thetable is, all that really matters is that this is what a chair looks like and this is what a tablelooks like,” Or, again recognizing that the visitor is asking conceptual questions, he canengage in painstaking philosophical discourse about the concepts of chair and table.The scholar, however, does not have the same range of choices with respect toquestions about the national interest and morality. That is, he cannot choose to dismissthe questions by taking the visitor to a room filled with objects and pointing out thenational interest and morality. The national interest and morality are not material objects:they are not formed by matter. Therefore, the methods and techniques used for obtainingand conveying knowledge about material things are insufficient for acquiring knowledgeabout immaterial things like ideas such as the national interest and morality. If thescholar takes the visitor’s question seriously and hopes to answer them, he must appeal tothe philosophical branches of knowledge.24The questions “what is the national interest?” and “what is morality?” are notempirical questions. They are conceptual questions. Concepts, unlike matter, are notcreatures of nature. Instead they are creatures of human artifice--that is to say, they arecreatures of the human mind. Chairs and tables too are creatures of the mind, but withnature as its object--the mind shaping matter for its own purposes, resulting in artifactscomposed ofmatter. A concept, on the other hand, is an artifact composed of thought--only thought but, in this case, with history (which is to say human conduct) as its object.This is the first and fundamental point that must be kept in mind when embarking onconceptual analysis. The object of conceptual analysis is to rethink the thoughts of thosewho employ the concept. It is an attempt to answer the question: what do people meanwhen they use the words signi1ring the concepts in question? But, as far as I can tell, thenature and extent of analysis of “the national interest” and “morality” that is needed inorder to sustain sufficiently the “traditional assumption” has not been pursued byinternational relations scholars. Put differently, there are no apparent good reasons forembracing the traditional assumption. In K. J. Holsti’s words:Regardless of historical context, commitments to self-interest or ethicalprinciples have, to most observers, appeared incompatible. . . . Thedifficulty with this sort ofview is that it oversimplifies reality.29Although the view is oversimplified, what does someone actually mean whenthey assert that interest and morality are opposed? It seems to me that this can only bemeant in one of two ways, namely: categorically or qualitatively, Categorical opposition29T(J Hoisti, InternationalPolitics: A Frameworkfor Analysis. Fifth Ed. (EnglewoodCliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988), pp. 380-381.25is captured by the expression: “essentially, international relations is about interests andpower. Hence, to ask moral questions about international relations is to misconceive theessential nature of those relations.” Qualitative opposition, on the other hand, is capturedby the expression: “Self interested and moral acts belong to the moral category ofhumanactions--that is to say, they are both imputable actions in that they issue from moralagency--but they differ in their moral quality. The ‘self interested’ act is a qualitativelyimmoral act and the ‘other interested’ or ‘altruistic’ act is a qualitatively moral one,” HansMorgenthau appears to have adopted the “categorical” view on the opposition betweeninterest and morality--that is to say, acts grounded in morality are categorically distinctfrom acts grounded in interest. Charles Beitz, on the other hand, clearly embraces the“qualitative” view.Morgenthau, in light of his six principles of “scientific realism” and his“objectivist” view of the national interest, argues that:intellectually, the political realist maintains the autonomy of the politicalsphere, as the economist, the lawyer, [and] the moralist maintain theirs.He thinks in terms of interest defined as power, as the economist thinks interms of interest defined as wealth; the lawyer, of the conformity of actionwith legal rules; the moralist, of the conformity of action with moralprinciples. The economist asks: “How does this policy affect the wealthof society, or a segment of it?” The lawyer asks: “Is this policy in accordwith the rules of law?” The moralist asks: “Is this policy in accord withmoral principles?” And the political realist asks: “How does this policyaffect the power of the nation?”3°In other words, because the political realist, moralist, lawyer and economist ask differentquestions, their proper objects of study are therefore presumed to be different. If the3°Hans Morgenthau, Politics AmongNations, Fifth ed., (New York: Alfred A. Knopf,19’73),p. 11.26proper objects of study are different, a distinct branch ofknowledge corresponds to each.Therefore questions of interest, morality, law, and economics are categorically distinct.The problem of distinguishing different branches of knowledge by virtue of their genericand proper objects of study and the methods used to study those objects is, in many ways,at the heart ofmy analysis and it is evident Morgenthau would agree that genericallydistinct objects of study belong to distinct categories. The point at issue, however, iswhether economic man, political man, moral man, and legal man are indeed genericallydistinct. He appears to think that they are. But if he indeed does think this, and if he isright, he deserves credit for a magnificent intellectual achievement because this thinkingwould contradict a 2500 year-old tradition ofWestern thinking on the question. Indeed,for many Western political and moral philosophers “ethics and politics were [consideredto be] one subject.”3’Morgenthau, in contrast, appears to suggest they are differentsubjects. But appearances here are deceiving.Morgenthau nowhere denies the relevance of the economic, legal, and moral“spheres” on human action. It is clear that the “political sphere,” as he conceives it, is anabstraction from reality. “Real man,” according to Morgenthau, “is a composite of‘economic man,’ political man,’ ‘moral man,’ ‘religious man,’ etc.”32 Morgenthau’spurpose, then, is not to distinguish “moral man” from “political man” as distinct genericobjects of study. Instead, his purpose is to abstract from “real man” the politicaldimension of his total experience. In other words, he wants to narrow his field of enquiry31p H. Nowell-Smith, Ethics (Middlesex: Penguin, 1954), p. 15.32Morgenthau, p. 14.27by abstracting from the total human experience. One cannot conclude from this thatMorgenthau is a moral sceptic. On the contrary, the basic thrust of his argument is thatstatesmen ought to act on the basis of national interest (defined substantively in terms ofpower), and that he ought not to act on the basis of abstract moral principles.Morgenthau, then, opposes two distinct substantive moralities and not morality andinterest as distinct categories. Hence, if one wishes to sustain the traditional assumptionabout the antithesis between interest and morality, one must look elsewhere than toMorgenthau’s arguments.33In contrast with the “categorical” view, Charles Beitz, advances the “qualitative”view ofthe opposition between interest and morality. He sets out to challenge the view--which, incidentally, he incorrectly attributes to Morgenthau, among others--that“normative international theory is not possible, since for various reasons. . it is thoughtto be inappropriate to make moral judgements about international affairs.34 He does notdo this, however, by engaging metaethical questions, but by assuming that people “sharesome basic ideas about the nature and requirements ofmorality”--what he refers to asmoral intuitions--and by seeing “whether international scepticism is consistent withthem.”35 The basic moral intuition he has in mind is this:33Further on this point, Robert McEfroy argues that, far from intending to widenthe gulf between normative and empirical thinkers, Morgenthau attempted to bridgethe gulf. Morality andAmerican Foreign Policy (Princeton: Princeton UniversityPress, 1992), p. 4.Charles R. Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations (Princeton: PrincetonUniversity Press, 1979), p. 5.35Beitz, p. 17.28a [moral] theory must distinguish morality from egoism and explain how itcan be rational to act on reasons that are (or might be) inconsistent withconsiderations of prudence or self interest. Indeed, the idea thatconsiderations ofadvantage are distinctfrom those ofmorality, and that itmight be rational to allow the latter to override theformer, seems to be atthe core ofour intuitions about morality.36Although it is questionable to do so, even if one does concede that a morally goodact is one that benefits others rather than one’s self, one cannot conclude from this thatthe self serving act is beyond the pale ofmoral analysis and judgement. On the contrary,if one judges the self serving as morally evil, one must have already made the logicallyprior conclusion that self serving actions are within the purview ofmoral knowledge anddebate--viz., a proper object ofmoral philosophy. Beitz, however, does not argue that allself serving acts are necessarily morally evil acts. Instead, he argues that therequirements of a substantive morality may require a person to sacrifice his or her owngood for another’s good in some circumstances. Whether or not this is true will dependlargely on what Beitz means by “good” here--viz., the substantive morality he employs.But my purpose in this work is not to dispute substantive moral claims. It is to performthe logically prior task of establishing the idea of the national interest as a categoricallymoral idea, thus rendering it a legitimate object for substantive moral claims.In addition, when international relations is conceived in terms of human conduct,one sees clearly that an act by a statesman in the national interest is not necessarilyidentical to an act in that statesman’s personal, or self interest. At the level of humanconduct, national interest and self interest do not mean the same thing. For that matter, at36Beitz, p. 16. My emphasis.29least in terms ofAmerican conventional morality, the statesman is obligated to sacrificehis personal interest for the national interest if and when they happen to conflict. EvenUnder Beitz’s account of moral intuition, then, the national interest can be viewed notonly as a categorically moral idea, but as a qualitatively moral one as well. For to act inthe national interest can often entail acts of extreme altruism.In order to sustain the traditional assumption that the national interest isopposed--either categorically or qualitatively--to morality, one must advance anargument grounded in a clear conceptual understanding ofboth ideas. As far as I can tell,no such argument has been made that can adequately sustain such an assumption. Butuntil such an argument is made, it is unsafe to hold the assumption that interest andmorality are antithetical. Consequently, the traditional assumption is a very weak basisfor grounding the assertion that the national interest is not a categorically moral idea.The argumentI again emphasize that by arguing that the national interest is a categorically moral idea, Iam not suggesting that it is a morally good idea, I am simply saying that, as acategorically moral idea, the national interest therefore is subject to the judgements ofany substantive morality. In other words, in order to vindicate the national interest as amorally good idea, on the one hand, or in order to condenm it as a morally evil one, onthe other, one needs to employ substantive moral arguments. And it is conceivable thatone substantive morality might judge it to be a morally good idea, whereas another mightjudge it to be a morally evil one. This, it seems to me, is the real point of contention30between international Realists and Idealists. Nevertheless, although different substantivemoralities clearly are proper objects of study for metaethics, I shall not pursue such ananalysis in this work. Instead, I merely demonstrate that the idea of the national interestis a categorically moral idea and, consequently, it is a proper object of study for moralphilosophy. And this, it should be emphasized, is an exercise logically prior to that ofimputing morally good or evil qualities to the idea.However, to be able to appeal to moral philosophy in order to assist the analysisof the national interest, one first must conceive international relations in a special way.“States,” although legal persons, are not moral persons. Nor are “systems.” States andsystems, then, cannot be proper objects of study for moral philosophy. Individual humanpersons, on the other hand, can be such objects. More specifically, human conduct asgood or evil, and human actions to be done or not to be done, are proper objects of studyfor this branch of knowledge.37In the context of this analysis, however, I am not interested in inquiring into allhuman conduct. Instead, I am interested in a particular class of persons and only in so faras the idea of the national interest bears upon their conduct. In short, I am interested instatesmen in their active capacity as statesmen.But why just statesmen? For it appears that “the national interest” signifies theaggregate of shared purposes or interests of all citizens. The body politic, in this view, isan association ofpersons. Further, the idea of association presupposes shared purposes37Martin D. O’Keefe, S. J., Known From the Things that Are: Fundamental Theory ofthe Moral Lfe (Houston, TX: Center For Thomistic Studies, 1987), p. 8.31or interests. Consequently, in order to clarify the national interest, one must consider thecitizens and their interests, This view, however, is mistaken because its conception of thebody politic is based on a dubious political theory. More specifically, it is a view basedon a sociology masquerading as a political theory. It supposes that the body politic is asociety in the classical sense of the word, when really it is only a society in thesociological sense of the word. Hence, there are two senses of the word “society” thatneed to be distinguished. If the body politic were a society in the classical sense of theword, it would then, and only then, be meaningful to speak of an aggregate of sharedpurposes and interests among citizens.The American body politic, however, clearly is not a society in the classical senseof the word. Although it can properly be conceived as a society in the sociological sense.But societies of rocks or plants are also societies in the sociological sense, and it wouldbe meaningless to speak of rocks or plants, as the case may be, as having shared interestsor purposes. Nevertheless, it is entirely meaningful to speak of such societies as havingshared characteristics, That there is very little agreement, except at an impractically highlevel of generality, about what American citizens’ shared purposes or interests are, is areasonable indication that there are none, Without shared purposes or interests, theAmerican body politic, by definition, cannot be a society in the classical sense of theword because such interests define society in this sense. And those who value pluralismthink it is a very good thing that the American body politic is not a society in the classicalsense. Consequently, “the national interest,” if it means anything at all, must signifysomething other than an aggregate of shared purposes or interests among American32citizens. Further, that some people continue to search for that substantively definedaggregate of shared interests, indicates that they mistakenly suppose the American bodypolitic to be a society in the classical sense of the term.Nevertheless, American statesmen continue to invoke the national interest as thecrowningjustification for their actions. This was particularly evident during the Gulfcrisis. But given that the American body politic is not a society in the classical sense ofthe term--hence, no reference properly can be made to an aggregate of shared interestssince there are none--does this suggest a profound ignorance on their part? Notnecessarily, because American statesmen indeed are members of a society (in theclassical sense of the word) within the American body politic, namely: the governingbody. And one of the purposes of this body--a purpose presumably shared by itsmembers--is pursuing policies that presumably benefit the country in general. But this isan open-ended purpose because what the statesman specifically needs to do in any givenset of contingent circumstances is in large part defined and constrained by the details,subtleties, and nuances of those contingent circumstances, Regardless, one thing doesremain constant when a person becomes member of the governing body. And that is theobligation he or she takes upon him or herself by virtue ofmembership. The Americanstatesman (and not necessarily the statesmen of all countries), in light of the sharedpurposes of the governing association, is obliged to incline his or her choices toward thenational interest, and not toward the particular interests of a sub-national person or group,the interest of an extra-national person or group, or his or her own personal interest. Thenational interest, then, is an intrinsic principle of action. In terms of the interior act of the33will, it is the end toward which the statesman’s actions ought primarily to be directed--viz., the motive which ought to guide his or her actions in the capacity orpersona ofstatesman. Defined as such, it is a categorically moral idea. I emphasize again, however,that merely establishing the idea as a categorically moral one says nothing about its moralquality. One would need to employ substantive moral arguments either to vindicate orcondemn the idea as morally good or evil, respectively.Even though I assert my work is an attempt merely to “think through” a difficultand hopelessly tangled concept, the order ofpresentation in the following chapters shouldnot be confused with the order of discovery. Instead, the chapters are ordered in such away to lead the reader to the same conclusions I have already reached. In chapter two Ioutline existing thinking about the idea and point to some problems and deficiencies myargument is meant to remedy. The reason for doing this is to learn from and build uponwhat they got right and to find a way around what they got wrong. In other words, Icannot hope to transcend existing thought about the national interest unless I knowsomething about the existing successes and failures in that thinking.A broad distinction can be drawn between those who primarily employ the ideaand those who primarily attempt to understand it, and I examine each half of thisdistinction in the next chapter. Of all the authors referring to the idea of the nationalinterest there are only three whose primary goal is to understand the idea. In the vastmajority of cases, on the other hand, the authors attempt to employ it for a variety ofreasons, such as vindicating and condemning foreign policies, justifying proposedpolicies, or simply using it as an analytical tool in order to aid one’s understanding of34international relations in general.In chapter three I outline some important distinctions employed throughout thework. Of course, these distinctions were generated only after thinking through the ideaof the national interest. But I present them at the outset because they are instrumental foran understanding of the remainder of the argument. In highlighting these distinctions, Ihave in mind a critique of a particular view of the national interest which, if not dealtwith at an early stage of the argument, can impede one’s understanding of the remainder.The view I criticize is “national interest” conceived as a “scientific” or “value free”analytic or explanatory tool. Not only do those embracing such a view fail to distinguishthe national interest from a national interest, they fail to recognize that statesmen do notuse the formula merely to give reasons for their policy choices but, rather, they use it asan impassionedjustfication. Thus, I begin this chapter by distinguishing the nationalinterest and a national interest and then distinguish reasons and justifications. Finally,following Collingwood and Ryle, I suggest a more theoretical reason why conceiving“national interest” as a scientific explanatory or analytical tool is mistaken, namely: it isbased on a logical fallacy called the fallacy of swapping horses.With the preliminary distinctions aside, I turn to establishing the idea of thenational interest as an intrinsic principle of action. The overall argument is carried out infour stages: I begin with an argument for viewing international relations in terms ofhuman conduct as a preliminary to conceiving foreign policy problems as problems ofchoice (Chapter 4); I offer an account of the problem of choice indicating the role “thenational interest,” conceived as an intrinsic principle of action, plays in the problem of35choice and raise the issue of rules or criteria for helping the decisionmaker make the bestpossible choices (Chapter 5); I then turn to an account of the uses and limitations of rulesin making choices (Chapter 6) and, finally; I test the clarified conception of the nationalinterest suggested here in light of the Senate debates on the war (Chapter 7) and thejudgements ofChristopher Layne and Joseph S. Nye, Jr. on the decision to go to war(Chapter 8).The national interest is clearly bound up with choices statesmen make, if onlybecause it is employed to justify choices made in the here and now about objectives to bepursued and the appropriate means for pursuing them. Further, it suggests that theconcept plays a central role in rendering those choices. However, in light ofmysupposition that abstract state and system level theories of international relations are notentirely helpfiul to a statesman who is trying to decide, in the here and now, between, say,continued sanctions or the use of offensive military power, I suggest that a far lessabstract level of analysis is needed in order to clarify the idea. For example, even thoughit is an entirely legitimate conclusion made by balance of power theory, that states alwaysbalance does not help an individual senator to decide between specific courses of actionin a given set of contingent circumstances. That the senator has been put in a position todecide between courses of action in the first place presupposes that the decision to offsetor balance existing states of affairs has already been taken. The question, then, is notabout whether balancing will or will not occur. Instead, the question confronting thesenator concerns choosing the best means for achieving the desired balance--the kind ofbalance that benefits the American body politic. It seems to me that the most appropriate36level of analysis to account for such questions and the answers given to them is not thestate or the system level but, rather, the individual level. In short, one must conceiveinternational relations in terms of human conduct.Hence, in order to conceive the idea of the national interest as an intrinsicprinciple of human action, one must conceive international relations in a special way.International relations viewed from the perspective of state or system levels of analysishave not been sufficiently fruitfi.il for clarif’ing the idea of the national interest.Conceiving international relations in terms of human conduct, on the other hand, doesyield some fruit. However, once international relations is conceived in terms of humanconduct, some difficult questions arise which do not arise in the other two perspectives--questions about the relationship between domestic and international political theory,questions about who those people are that make foreign policy choices, questions aboutthe nature of their relationship to the body politic they are charged to govern and, finally,questions about the problem ofhuman choice and how the national interest relates to thatproblem. Not only is this level of analysis the most appropriate for addressing theproblem of human choice, conceiving international relations in terms of human conductdemands that the problem of choice be addressed. It could be argued that the moreabstract levels of analysis conveniently circumvent the pressing and perplexing problemof choice.Having selected the level of analysis best suited for dealing with the problem ofchoice, I begin to address that problem directly in Chapter 5. The problem of choice--aproblem not expressly addressed by Beard and Rosenau, and expressly avoided by37Frankel--is the key to gaining conceptual insight into the idea of the national interest.Although Frankel correctly suspects that the national interest, value, choice, and foreignpolicy are intimately related, he argues that the solution lies beyond the pale of“scientific” reasoning. Hence, he circumvents the question altogether. However, havingnot bound myself to a method grounded in an analogy with natural science, there is noreason for me to avoid the question. For that matter, my conclusion that the nationalinterest is an intrinsic principle of action depends on some kind of an answer to thequestion; but not necessarily the answer I advance in Chapter 5 and subsequent chapters.Thus, although I draw upon the insights ofAristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, and Collingwoodto provide my answer to the problem of choice, I do not suggest thereby that it is the onlyanswer to the question. Nor do I bind myself thereby to the entire body of theirrespective systematic philosophies. Other answers to the problem of choice could verywell be equally suitable for developing the idea of the national interest as an intrinsicprinciple of human action.Essentially, I argue that whatever a person actually chooses in a given set ofcircumstances is in large part a function of his or her motive for action in the first place.Thus, if “the national interest” is the proximate motive for one’s choice, it is highlypossible (but not necessarily the case) that the substantive object of desire and thesubsequent means chosen to acquire it would be different from those chosen if “personal”or “self interest” was the proximate motive. In light of conventional American politicalmorality, the “right” motive for a statesman while acting in that capacity is the nationalinterest and not his personal or some other interest. The extent that a statesman embraces38the “right” motive for making choices in his capacity as statesman is the same extent towhich the national interest is the intrinsic principle of his actions.But the problem of choice does not end here. For it is also possible--indeed, it islikely--that two individual statesmen, each embracing the “right” motive, can disagreeabout which policy alternative is the best alternative in any given situation. Thus, there isnothing inherently contradictory about two statesmen, each proposing mutually exclusivepolicy options, justifjing their choices in terms of the national interest. If each indeedembraces the “right” motive, each is equally justified in asserting their respectivemutually exclusive choices as serving the national interest.Nevertheless, even if one is convinced that each of the two policy options isgenuinely founded upon the “right” motive, a third party--also embracing the nationalinterest as his intrinsic principle of action--still has to confront the painfhl choice aboutwhich of the two alternatives to employ. This was precisely the problem faced by UnitedStates Senators in January 1991 when they had to choose between the Dole-Warnerresolution (authorizing the president to use armed force against Iraq in accordance withUN Security Council resolution 678) and the Mitchell-Nunn resolution (continuing theeconomic blockade indefinitely). How does one faced with such a choice go aboutdeciding which alternative is best for the country?Many commentators might respond to the foregoing question by asserting that,whatever the choice is, the criterion that the statesman must employ in rendering it is thenational interest. This is the conventional wisdom about the national interest, namely, itis the criterion that must be employed in deciding among foreign policy alternatives. It39should be evident, however, that this is precisely where the conventional wisdom runsaground. The foreign policy observer must make a choice here. Either the nationalinterest is the “right” motive behind the policy proposals in the first place, or it is thecriterion for deciding which alternative is indeed best for the country. The choice here,however, should be self evident. This can be demonstrated by the answer to anotherquestion, namely: what is the motive for choosing the best alternative for the country inthe first place? Clearly, the answer is: the national interest. Thus, if the motive forchoosing the best alternative is the national interest, the criterion for making the bestchoice cannot also be the national interest. In short, the conventional wisdom confusessomething that is actually a subjective motive--an intrinsic principle of action--for makingthe best choice with an objective criterion—an external standard or rule--for making thebest choice.Thus, the adherents of this “objectivist” view of the national interest suppose thatthe proper standard, rule, or measurement to be used in deciding between policyalternatives is the national interest. Despite this mistake, they nevertheless recognize thatthe formula “the national interest” on its own is not very helpfi.ul until it isinfised withsubstantive content. Consequently, the “objectivist” project is to seek out and articulatethat content. For example, Hans Morgenthau defines the national interest in terms ofpower. Thus, when a statesman is attempting to decide among policy options, he needsonly to ask himself the question: which of these alternatives contributes most to thepreservation or enhancement of national power? And, presuming the question can beanswered with absolute certainty (which, under most circumstances, it probably cannot),40the best alternative is determined thereby.By answering the problem of choice in this way, however, the “objectivist”clearly does not recognize that the national interest enters into the scenario much earlierthan he allows. For one might inquire of the objectivist: why would you even botherseeking out the criteria of choice in the first place? In the case ofMorgenthau it isevident (but by no means absolutely certain) that his project itself is motivated, if only inpart, by the national interest. In other words, the national interest evidently was hismotive for seeking out criteria to help statesmen make better choices in the first place.Again, the national interest cannot be a subjective motive as well as an objectivecriterion. Further, in an attempt to infuse substantive content into “the national interest”with the idea of power, Morgenthau is confusing means with motives, Whereas themaintenance or enhancement ofpower is the means, the national interest is the motive forpursuing those means. “The national interest,” then, is not in need of substantive content.It is the idea of “motive” that needs substantive content and, in terms ofAmericanconventional political morality, the national interest is that content.Far from being the solution to the problem of choice, then, the national interest isthe source of the problem. Nevertheless, there are criteria that can be used in order tohelp the statesman decide. But they do only just that--viz., they only help the statesmanto decide. They do not make the choice for him. Thus, when it comes to the problem ofchoice, the inherent limitations of rules, standards, or measurements of choice becomemost painfully evident--regardless ofwhat rules one employs. What the statesmandecides depends ultimately on what he himself brings to the choice situation--i.e., his41total makeup as a person here and now. To the extent that he is possessed by the virtueofprudence is the extent to which the choice he makes is the best that can possibly bemade. The quality of an actual choice, then, does not ultimately depend on the rulesemployed in making that choice. Instead, it depends on the qualities of the personmaking that choice.In Chapter 6, I examine the limitations of rules and the role ofprudence in detail.I articulate two sets of rules that a statesman could have employed (and, as will be shownin Chapter 7, that many senators did in fact employ), and demonstrate that choice cannotultimately be reduced to rules. Presuming a senator is genuinely motivated by thenational interest, which is the best choice to make? The Dole-Warner resolution? TheMitchell-Nunn resolution? In hindsight, it appears that the former may have been thebest choice. But I do not know of any way to determine this with absolute certainty.Regardless, the United States Senators did not have the benefit of hindsight when theyhad to confront the choice facing them. That luxury was left for Joseph Nye andChristopher Layne to enjoy seven months later when they set out to pass judgement onthe choice actually made by the members ofUnited States Senate, among others.I examine the arguments among the senators and those between Nye and Layne inChapters 7 and 8, respectively. The purpose of examining these arguments is not todetermine whether the choice made by the senators was indeed the best choice, nor is itto determine which ofNye and Layne’s judgements was indeed the best judgement.Instead, these two chapters constitute the “testing ground,” so to speak, for myconception of the national interest understood as an intrinsic principle of action--viz., as a42motive in the act of choice. To the extent that this understanding clarifies the realsubstantive issues raised in the respective debates is the extent to which it can beconsidered an accurate understanding. If the national interest can accurately beconceived as an intrinsic principle of action, one must conclude thereby that it is acategorically moral concept. Further, if the central concept in the study and practice ofinternational relations is indeed a categorically moral concept, it is reasonable toconclude that the conduct of international relations is a proper object of study for moralphilosophy or, more commonly, ethics. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether theidea of the national interest is a morally evil idea or a morally good one. This thesismerely helps to set the terms in which the perennial debate between international realistsand idealists must eventually be resolved.43CHAPTER TWOEMPLOYING AND UNDERSTANDING“THE NATIONAL INTEREST”In this chapter I will set out the nature of the existing literature dealing, in one way oranother, with the national interest. I distinguish two broad categories of literature: one inwhich the authors primarily employ the concept, and one in which the authors primarilyseek to understand it. The first category is practically oriented whereas the secondcategory is theoretically oriented. The basic question driving the authors of the firstcategory is: How should (or does) a statesman conduct his business? And the basicquestion driving the second category is: What does the national interest mean? In thefirst category, the primary objects of concern are the standards of conduct for statesman,whereas in the second category the idea of the national interest itself is the primary objectof study. Hence, the literature in each of the two broad categories reflects a distinctivedisposition of the authors toward the idea.Of course, in an attempt to understand the idea one must pay attention to how it isemployed in practice and, conversely, in an attempt to employ the idea one presumablymust understand it. The authors in each category, then, are not engaged in mutuallyexclusive enterprises. But this does not negate the basic distinction--a distinctionestablished by asking: what is the primary concern of the author? Is it about the ideaitself? Is it about using the idea as an analytical tool? Or is it about providingprescriptive rules and principles for the conduct of statecraft at the international level?44Employing “The National Interest”Of the group employing the concept, I distinguish those who advance general substantiveconceptions from those who advance specfic conceptions about what substantive policyoptions are best in light of the motive “the national interest.” Of the authors advancingspecific substantive conceptions, I identifj two groups. First, there are those whoadvance their conceptions after a particular foreign policy decision has been reached,apparently with the aim of assessing that decision. The arguments of Joseph S. Nye Jr.and Christopher Layne fall into this category.1 Second, there are those who advancetheir conceptions during the process of reaching a foreign policy decision. The UnitedStates Senate debates held on 10, 11, and 12 January 1991 fall into this category.2General Substantive ConceptionsGeneral substantive conceptions, like specific substantive conceptions, are not so muchconcerned with “the national interest” as they are with “national interests.”3 Unlike thespecific substantive conception sub-category, however, the authors in this sub-categoryare not concerned with national interests in any particular historical context or in thecontext of any particular foreign policy problem. Instead, they are concerned with what1Joseph S. Nye Jr, “Why the GulfWar Served the National Interest,” The AtlanticMonthly (July 1991): 56-64, and Christopher Layne, “Why the GulfWar was not inthe National Interest,” The Atlantic Monthly (July 1991): 65-8 1. I will examine indetail their respective arguments in chapter eight.21 will examine these debates in detail in chapter seven.3The distinction between the national interest and national interests will be explainedmore filly in chapter three. I mention the distinction now merely to draw the reader’sattention to it.45I call °standing” national interests. This body of literature remains open to the questionabout how to apply abstract prescriptive principles and rules to specific cases. Georgeand Keohane,4for example, begin their treatment of the concept of national interests bynoting that:Foreign policy problems. . . typically engage a multiplicity of competingvalues and interests, so much so that policymakers often have greatdifficulty in attempting to reduce them to a single criterion ofutility withwhich to judge which course of action is “best.” In principle, the criterionof national interest, which occupies so central a place in discussions offoreign policy, should assist decisionmakers to cut through much of thisvalue complexity and improve judgements. . . . In practice, however,national interest has become so elastic and ambiguous a concept that itsrole as a guide to foreign policy is problematic and controversial. [In thiswork we examine] some of the reasons for this development and point toways in which the concept can be clarified in order to strengthen theguidance it can give to foreign-policymakers.5George and Keohane’s primary purpose, then, is to assist the statesman in makingbetter decisions. But although this is their primary purpose, they necessarily set out toachieve some kind of understanding about the idea. As a direct consequence of theiraim--hence, their disposition toward the idea of the national interest--they proceed tobreak down the idea into what they believe to be the irreducible national interests (orvital interests) ofphysical survival, liberty, and economic subsistence.6 The reason fordoing so--again, as their aim suggests--is “to introduce discipline and restraint into the4Alexander L. George and RobertO. Keohane,”The Concept ofNational Interests:Uses and Limitations,” in Alexander L. George, ed., Presidential Decisionmaking inForeign Policy: The Effective Use ofInformation andAdvice (Boulder: WestviewPress, 1980), pp. 217-237.5George and Keohane, p. 217.6George and Keohane, p. 224.46formulation of foreign policy” in order to prevent other interests from being “smuggled”into the process “under the legitimizing umbrella of the term ‘national interests.”7The immediate issue here is not to examine George and Keohane’s substantiveclaims--although they are probably right. Nor is it to devalue their project in any way.Instead the point of the immediate discussion is to draw a distinction between the natureof their project--what I refer to as a general substantive conception8--from specificsubstantive conceptions. The basic distinction is that George and Keohane advancesubstantive conceptions of national interest that ideally would apply in all foreign policysituations. Specific substantive conceptions, on the other hand, are specific to aparticular set of contingent historical circumstances.Specific Substantive ConceptionsSpecific substantive conceptions, then, are not concerned so much with nationalinterests in the abstract as they are with one or more of these interests in a particular setof contingent circumstances. Unlike the authors of general substantive conceptions,these persons do not ask and attempt to answer the “abstract” and, hence, quasi-practicalquestion, namely: what should leaders do in general? Instead, they ask and attempt to7George and Keohane, p. 227.8Other examples ofgeneral substantive conceptions include: Grayson Kirk, “InSearch of the National Interest,” WorldPolitics (1952): 110-115; John L. Chase,“Defining the National Interest of the United States,” Journal ofPolitics (November1956): 720-724; Hans J. Morgenthau, “Another ‘Great Debate’: The National Interestof the United States,” American Political Science Review (December 1952): 961-988;and, Politics AmongNations: The Strugglefor Power andPeace, 5th ed., (New York:Alfred A. Knopf, 1973).47answer a concrete practical question, namely: What should leaders do (or have done) inthese (or those) concrete contingent circumstances as they face (or when they faced) this(or that) specific practical problem? For example, questions like: given the predicamentwe find ourselves in, should we go to war or not? Or, given the predicament they foundthemselves in at the time, should they have gone to war or not? These two kinds ofquestions, however, point to another crucial distinction, namely: specific conceptionsadvanced after the fact and specific conceptions advanced during the process of reachinga decision.a) Specific Conceptions After the Fact: In temporal terms, the question “giventhe predicament they found themselves in at the time, should they have gone to war ornot?” can only arise after a particular choice was made and executed. In short, it is anhistorical question and, as such, requires the skilful application ofhistorical methods inorder to answer it correctly. But it is a special kind of historical question because it doesnot seek historical knowledge for its own sake, but, rather, for the sake of evaluatingdecisions already made, For historical knowledge is essentially “theoretical knowledge,”and theoretical knowledge is knowledge that something is or has been--it is knowledge offact.9 But the question, although it presupposes an answer to it, does not ask “did they infact go to war?” it asks instead “should they have gone to war or not, given the fact thatthey did (or did not) go to war?” In short, the question does not seek theoretical9Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, p. 40; Collingwood, The New Leviathan: OrMan,Society, Civilization andBarbarism, Revised edition, David Boucher ed. (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1992), chapter XIV; Gilbert Ryle, The Concept ofMind (London:Hutchinson, 1955), chapter II.48knowledge about someone’s actual conduct for its own sake, but for the sake ofjudginghuman choices. In this case, the authors ground their respective judgements in specificsubstantive conceptions of national interest. From this body of literature we learn that, atthe very least, the national interest is often employed as a standard against whichparticular foreign policy choices are evaluated and judged.But why would someone want to try to determine how someone else should haveconducted themselves in a given set of contingent circumstances? For regardless ofwhatstandard of conduct is applied after the fact, it cannot change what has already occurred.A person might want to do this for a couple of reasons. One might want to passjudgement, for whatever reason, on the person or persons responsible for the decision.Or one might want to learn from another’s experience what needs to be done, and how itcan be done, if a similar set of circumstances arises again. Joseph S. Nye andChristopher Layne’s respective replies to the question ofwhether or not the GulfWar wasin the American national interest are two examples of this kind of treatment.’°b) Specific Conceptions During the Fact: This second half of the distinctionseeks to answer a practical question of choice, exemplified by the question: given thepredicament we find ourselves in, should we go to war or not? Whereas the question“given the predicament they were in, should they have gone to war or not?” can ariseonly after the fact and, consequently, seeks historical knowledge, the question “should we‘°Another example is: Stephen D. Krasner, Defending the National Interest: RawMaterials, Investments, and US. Foreign Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press,1978). Krasner, however, does not examine one particular foreign policy choice but aseries of choices in one particular policy area.49go to war or not?” seeks practical knowledge. One possesses theoretical knowledge themoment he “makes up his mind that” something is or was.” One possesses practicalknowledge, on the other hand, the moment he “makes up his mind to” do some particularthing--that is to say, the moment he formulates a special type of proposition called anintention.’2 An intention usually takes the shape of something like: “I will close thewindow,” or, “I will secure the liberation ofKuwait,” or, “I will lead my country intowar,” or, “I will continue sanctions indefinitely.”But formulating the intention is only part of the decision process. Once the agenthas decided upon the object to be secured, he must then decide upon the best means toemploy in order to secure it. The process ofmaking up one’s mind--that is, the thoughtprocess that occurs before an election is made about means--is called deliberation. Aperson’s capacity for deliberating well is what Aristotle refers to as “practical wisdom,”“phronesis,” or “pdence.”1311Collingwood, The New Leviathan. p. 99.‘21t should be evident that most of a person’s routine activities are not preceded(temporally or logically) by the formulation of an intention. Most activities stem fromhabit. This is equally true with complex and difficult activities. We are consideredskilled at an activity when we have acquired the complex habits of action pertaining tothat activity. Hence, the expression “practical knowledge” often refers to skills acquiredthrough training and habit, and this is the sense in which Ryle uses the term “knowinghow.” Concept ofMind, chapter II. But this clearly is not the sense in which I am using ithere. Here I understand by “practical knowledge” the knowledge ofwhat one eitherintends or wills to do in a given situation. And such knowledge is expressed in the formof a special proposition called an “intention.” The idea of an intention will be addressedin more detail when I examine the problem of choice in chapter five,13Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1 140a25-35. The idea ofprudence and how it relatesto the problem of choice will be explored in greater detail in chapter six, I mention itnow merely to indicate a point of contact between the questions addressed by thephilosophy of the human person, moral philosophy, and questions addressed about50Thus, the people who have set out to answer the question “what should we do?”are in the process of formulating an intention--that is, they are deliberating about what todo. Many bodies politic have incorporated this practice into their collectivedecisionmaking not only by allowing, but insisting, that public deliberation take place onimportant questions such as whether or not to commit the country to war, The UnitedStates Constitution, for example, requires the collective wills of Congress for adeclaration ofwar.The record of the deliberation process for a country’s particular decision in aparticular set of contingent circumstances in light of a particular problem, is the kind ofliterature I am referring to here. The best, but by no means the only literature available inany set of contingent circumstances is that produced by the authors of the decision itself.In the case of the GulfWar, I draw upon the United States CongressionalRecord of theJanuary 1991 Senate debate on whether or not to employ offensive military force againstIraq. As indicated, I shall examine their deliberations in chapter seven.Understanding “The National Interest”In keeping with the broad distinction between those who employ the idea and those whoexplicitly set out to understand it, I shall now turn to the latter group. In particular, Ishall examine the works ofCharles Beard, James Rosenau, and Joseph Frankel.Although these three authors have made an important contribution to our understandingof the idea of the national interest, they do not address the question of how the ideaforeign policy decision making.51relates to the problem of choice. The key to reaching the kind of understanding I hope toachieve is determining just how the notion of national interest relates to the problem ofhuman choices--human choices, that is, of persons acting in their capacity as Americanstatesmen.Charles BeardBy far, the most impressive and sustained attempt at clarifying the idea of the nationalinterest was originally published in 1933 by Charles Beard.14 In that work, Beardexamines what American statesmen and publicists meant when they invoked theexpression “the national interest”--viz., he examines and distinguishes the kinds ofpolicies that the expression reflected.For Beard, “the national interest” is merely an abstract formula that ismeaningless outside the contingencies of the situation and the actual complex ofvaluesembraced by the individual person employing the term. In the words ofCharles E.Hughes: “foreign policies are not built upon abstractions,” but “are the result ofpracticalconceptions of the national interest arising from some immediate exigency or standingout vividly in historical perspective.”15 Hence, it is a kind of shorthand expressionpresumably embodying a deeper meaning intimately known by the person employing theterm in the context of contingent circumstances. Beard, therefore, sets out to establish14Charles A. Beard, The Idea ofNational Interest: An Analytical Study in AmericanForeign Policy, reprinted, (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1966).15Cited in Beard, p. 1. My emphasis.52these meanings from the founding of the Republic until the early 193 Os and, in keepingwith Charles Hughes’ dictum, the only way he thinks this can be done is by examiningwhat people said and did in the context within which they said and did it. Determiningthe substantive practical meaning ascribed to the national interest in any set ofcircumstances is, for Beard, an historical problem--that is to say, a problem to beaddressed by historical methods.Although he argues effectively that a “traditional thesis” can be discerned aboutits use as a formula to “explain and justi1,r policy,” it is notable from his overall accountthat the national interest did not have the same substantive meaning for all Americans inall concrete historical circumstances. Nor did it have the same substantive meaning forall Americans even in identical circumstances. For example, Alexander Hamilton’ssubstantive conception of the American national interest “meant a consolidation ofcommercial, manufacturing, financial, and agricultural interests at home.” In foreignpolicy, it meant “the promotion of trade in all parts of the world by the engines ofdiplomacy, the defense of that trade by a powerfhl navy, the supremacy of the UnitedStates in the Western Hemisphere, and the use ofmilitary and naval strength in therivalry of nations to secure economic advantages for the citizens of the United States.” Inshort, Hamilton conceived American interests in terms ofmachtpolitik.16Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, “was essentially isolationist in outlook andopposed to territorial adventures which brought the United States into economic rivalrywith the imperialist powers ofEurope and hence into the diplomatic entanglements16Beard, pp. 48-49.53inevitably associated with it.”17 Even though these two views are inherentlyincompatible, their respective proponents justified and articulated them in terms of the“iron law” ofnational interest. However, despite its (divergent) employment bystatesmen and publicists “as if it were a fixed principle, somewhat like the law ofgravitation,” Beard notes that it cannot be such a law if only because “the idea ofnationalinterest is, relatively speaking, a newcomer among the formulas of diplomacy andinternational morality.”18From Beard’s broad historical study one learns not only that the expression“national interest” displaced older formulas of diplomacy--such as raison d’etat and thenational honour--but that there is rarely universal agreement about what the nationalinterest means in substantive practical terms. The national interest has no fixed andpermanent substantive practical meaning. There is no “objective” substantive conceptionthat can hold true in all times and circumstances. In addition, the national interest merelyunderstood in the abstract is virtually meaningless. In Kenneth Waltz’s terms, “to saythat a state seeks its own preservation or pursues its national interest is interesting only ifwe figure out what the national interest requires a country to do.”19 But despite itsdivergent meanings in practice and its relative meaningless when employed in theabstract, there does appear to be a common thread in its use--that is, it is used bystatesmen and commentators alike as ajustfication for (often divergent) policy options.‘7Beard, p. 87.‘8Beard, p. 4.‘9Kenneth N. Waltz, Theoty ofInternational Politics, First edition (New York:Newbery Award Records Inc., 1979), p. 134.54In this particular work, Charles Beard does not fulfil his ultimate objective toproduce a conceptual, rather than purely historical, treatment of the idea and concedesthat the task must be left to a sequel--something which he unfortunately never produced.Nevertheless, his starting point is a fruitful one. He realizes that the only way to reach aconceptual understanding of the national interest is first to examine the way the formulais employed in practice, determine its substantive meaning in those contexts in light ofthe actual policies appended to the expression, and then to proceed with an analysis of amore conceptual nature. For Beard, the starting point of any conceptual analysis, then, ishuman conduct in an historical context--that is to say, one must first employ historicalmethods and then move on to more conceptual ones.Unlike Beard, however, my treatment cannot claim the same degree of historicalscope and emphasis. This task has afready been performed, and performed expertly, byBeard himself. Instead, I shall examine the employment of the idea in the context of asingular historical event, namely, the GulfWar. Nevertheless, I draw upon his insightthat no conceptual analysis can be undertaken without reference to concrete historicalcircumstances.Perhaps as a consequence of not addressing the question of how the nationalinterest relates to the problem of choice, Beard may not have been dealing specificallywith the idea of the national interest after all. Instead, he was dealing with thesubstantive nature ofAmerican foreign policies presumably motivated by the nationalinterest. He attempted to distil American foreign policies down to a common set of ideasand found that this could not be done. However, he could not deny that all of those55divergent policies were probably motivated by the national interest. People with thesame motive to do what is best for the body politic can make different judgements aboutwhat is best. Hence, Beard clearly distinguishes human judgements from human motivesin the sense that the same motive shared by two different people does not necessarily leadto the same policy choices.James N RosenauIn his analysis of “the national interest,” Rosenau clearly is not using the concept “todescribe, explain, or evaluate the sources or the adequacy of a nation’s foreign policy.”Instead, he is attempting to claril,’ the concept and determine its suitability as ananalytical tool. Although he argues convincingly that it is not suitable as such, heconcedes that “its use in politics will long continue to be a datum requiring analysis.”2°Keeping in mind the broad distinction between employing the concept andunderstanding it, Rosenau’s account clearly fits into the latter category; even though heapproaches the problem in a primarily negative way. In other words, he shows how theconcept cannot be used instead of developing a positive account ofwhat its role might bein a concrete decision making context. Regardless, Rosenau’s account serves as aneffective critique of some of the ways in which the concept is employed. And a largepart of any understanding about what a concept means can be obtained by learning how itcannot properly be used.In the course of demonstrating its inadequacy as an analytical tool, he attempts20Rosenau, p. 39.56first to distinguish analytical from political usages of the idea.As an analytic tool, it is employed to describe, explain, or evaluate thesources or adequacy of a nation’s foreign policy. As an instrument ofpolitical action, it serves as a means ofjustifjing, denouncing, orproposing policies. Both usages. . . refer to what is best for a nationalsociety.21There is a problem with this distinction because Rosenau groups together underthe heading of “analysis” the activities of “explanation,” “description,” and “evaluation.”For much ofwhat is produced under the guise of evaluation is veiy difficult todistinguish from political action. Layne and Nye, for example, evaluate the Americandecision to go to war and they use the idea of the national interest to justif,r theirmutually exclusive judgements--a form ofpolitical action in my view. Nevertheless,Rosenau’s mistaken distinction does not affect the remainder of his analysis. The activityof evaluation aside, Rosenau essentially agrees with both Beard and Waltz’s critique thatthe national interest employed as a description or explanation of foreign policy does nottell us very much.A national interest, in his view, is whatever a country’s decisionmakers decide,22Rosenau refers to this .s the “subjectivist” account. Rosenau’s most formidable critique,however, is directed against what he calls the “objectivist” account of the nationalinterest. And the “objectivists,” in my view, are primarily engaged in a form ofpolitical21Rosenau, p. 34.22Although this is stated in universal terms, it is clear that Rosenau’s “subjectivist”emerges from within the Western Liberal-Democratic experience. Hence, the subjectivistpresupposes that the decision about interests was reached by due political process. If thesubjectivist notion is extended to embody the decisions of all national leaders--includingthe most malevolent of tyrants--it merely becomes a purely descriptive statement.57action, if only an indirect form.Of the objectivists, Rosenau identifies Hans Morgenthau as the mostsophisticated member.23 In tracing the development of the objectivist account, he notesthat although the term was employed by American political actors since the late 18thcentury, it was during the interwar period that the first serious attempt to clarifr theconcept was made,24 After World War II, however, many analysts began to employ theconcept to criticize the British, French, and American policies which, they believed, ledto that war. It seemed obvious to these analysts “that the best interest of a nation is amatter of objective reality and that by describing this reality one is able to use theconcept of the national, interest as a basis for evaluating the appropriateness of thepolicies which a nation pursues.”Perhaps the most penetrating criticism of the objectivist perspective is that itsadherents merely enjoy “the benefits of hindsight to justify the superiority, of [their] ownvalues over those of the British and French policy makers who decided to acquiesce toHitler (obviously, the policy makers would have acted differently if they could haveforeseen the consequences of acquiesence).” Further, it is entirely unreasonable tocriticize another’s conception of the national interest on the basis of hindsight because “ifthe British and the French believed they were satisfying their wants and needs when theycompromised at Munich, who is to say they were wrong and acted in violation of theirRosenau, p. 3524Rosenau, pp. 34-35. That attempt was made by Charles Beard.58national interests?”25In contrast with the objectivist view, Rosenau argues that “[w]hat is best for anation in foreign affairs is never self evident. More important, it is not even potentiallyknowable as a singular objective truth. Persons are bound to differ on what the mostappropriate goals for the country are in any given set of circumstances. For, to repeat,goals and interests are value laden. They involve subjective preferences, and thus thecumulation ofnational interest into a single complex ofvalues is bound to be as variableas the number of observers who use different value frameworks.” That objectivists holdsuch a value framework is clear because they “proceed on the assumption that somevalues are preferable to others (for example, that it is better for the nation to survive thannot to survive).”26The thrust ofRosenau’s critique is clear. There is no universal substantiveconception of the (presumably American) national interest that applies to allcircumstances. There are simply competing views about what it the best thing for thecountry to do in any given set of circumstances. And the holder of one view is notnecessarily acting any more or less in the national interest than the holder. of another--thatis, as long as both are genuinely concerned about doing what is best for the country.The subjectivists, on the other hand, converged upon the national interest as ananalytic concept when “the discipline of political science gave increasing emphasis toscientific explanation.” This group was concerned “less with evaluating the worth of25Rosenau, p. 36.26Rosenau, p. 36.59foreign policies and more with explaining why nations do what they do when theyengage in international action. . . .“ The subjectivists “reasoned that nations do what theydo in order to satisfy their best interests and that by describing these needs and wants theanalyst would be in a position to use the concept of the national interest as a tool forexplanation. These analysts. . . deny the existence of an objective reality which isdiscoverable through systematic inquiry.” National interest is not “a singular objectivetruth that prevails whether or not it is perceived by the members of a nations, but it is,rather, a pluralistic set of subjective preferences that change whenever the requirementsand aspirations of the nation’s members change.”27The decisionmaking approach pioneered by Furniss and Snyder provided anadditional rationale for the subjectivist approach to the national interest. The “students ofdecision making contend that the national interest, being composed ofvalues (whatpeople want), is not susceptible of objective measurement even if defined in terms ofpower and that, accordingly, the only way to uncover what people need and want is toassume that their requirements and aspirations are reflected in the actions of a nation’spolicy makers.” In other words, “The national interest is what the nation, i.e., thedecision-maker, decides it is.”28 The better of the subjectivist approaches “rely on thesociety’s political process” to determine what of the many conflicting interests are indeednational interests. There is little doubt in his mind “that the national interest is rooted invalues (‘what is best’).” And this value laden character of the concept is why analysts27Rosenau, p. 35.28Rosenau, p. 36.60have found “it difficult to employ as a tool of rigorous investigation.. ii29Rosenau’s critique of the “subjectivist” account probably could have been morepenetrating had he distinguished the national interest from national interes’ts, and both ofthese from “foreign policies.” For a country’s leaders do not decide what the nationalinterest is in a given situation. Instead, they decide what the nation’s interests are--that isto say, the specific goals to be pursued. Further, they decide on the means to beemployed in pursuit of those goals and these are embodied in foreign policies. Finally,they employ the expression “the national interest” as ajustUication for the chosen policy.Hence, strictly speaking, it is a mistake to say that the national interest is what a country’sleaders decide. But it is not necessarily a mistake to say that in any given situation that acountry’s leaders genuinely are trying to do what is best for the country by choosing thispolicy and not another. Perhaps this is what statesmen mean when they say that they areacting in the national interest--they are merely claiming that they are trying to do whatthey think is best for the country.Hence, by asserting the national interest as a justification for a given policychoice, the statesman merely is reaffirming that his or her choice is inclined toward thegood of the country. If he or she were to respond to the further question “but why do youthink this rather than that policy is best for the country?” with “because it is in thenational interest,” he or she simply would be arguing in a circle. In short, “the nationalinterest” is the statesman’s answer to the question about whose good toward which his orher intentions are inclined in choosing the given policy. But it does not answer the29Rosenau, p. 34.61question about why he or she thinks that choice is the best in the circumstances.Nevertheless, Frankel offers a penetrating critique ofboth the subjectivist andobjectivist views. He does not, however, address the notion of the national interest as “adatum requiring analysis.” It is not clear what he means by this. But if he means thatfi.irther investigation is needed into the role the idea plays in the practice ofmakingforeign policies, I have taken up that challenge in this thesis.Joseph FrankelJoseph Frankel’s conceptual analysis of the national interest is difficult to summarize.The book is essentially a collection of diffuse thoughts on the national interest unifiedonly by the fact that they all have some bearing on the idea. For example, in his reviewofFrankel’s book, Werner Levi concludes that “it brings confusion into chaos,” and thatanyone looking “for clarification of the concept will not find it in this book--mostlybecause, as the author conveys fairly convincingly, it cannot be found anywhere.”3°Frankel himself admits, albeit obliquely, that his diverse thoughts on the subject lackedan element of focus. In his conclusion, he concedes that:With a subject of this nature, it would be impracticable to attempt asummary and conclusion of the book in the customary way. The argumentis much too condensed to allow a meaningful brief summary; so manyconclusions could be drawn from it that any selected by the author maystrike the readers as idiosyncratic and arbitrary. The task of formingconclusions as to the nature of the concept will then be left to theindividual reader who can, if necessary, easily refresh his memory of theargument by looking again through the whole book which is, after all,30Werner Levi, Review of Joseph Frankel’s, National Interest in The AmericanPolitical Science Review 65 (June 1971): 588.62quite short.31Frankel’s inability to give form and structure to the idea, however, is no reflectionon his scholarly abilities. It merely reflects the nature of the concept--a concept which,by all accounts, is exceedingly difficult to untangle. But, unlike Werner Levi, one oughtnot fall victim to misology. It is one thing to say that the concept is difficult to c1ariy,but quite another to say that it is impossible. Hence, Frankel should be commendedrather than criticized for his pains.The only general critique one can reasonably offer about Frankel’s attempt is thathe tries to do too much in too little time and space. But such a critique must go hand inhand with a sincere acknowledgement that at least he has said something about it, andthat what he has said--although diflhse and varied--is certainly relevant. Nevertheless, Ihave learned from Frankel’s attempt that in approaching the idea of the national interest,one has to limit one’s objectives. Consequently, I have limited my inquiry to establishingthe epistemological category to which the idea of the national interest properly belongs,namely: the moral category.Further, to the extent that Frankel can be considered to be an authority on thesubject,32 his diffuse discussion permits a variety ofways to join the debate--that is tosay, he opens up numerous “entry points” for someone else to join the conversation aboutthe idea of the national interest. In view of this, I shall take up the issues he raises in31Frankel, p. 141.32Because his work is the only existing monograph on the subject, perhaps he shouldbe considered as such.63chapters seven and eight on the questions of human decision and choice, and in chapterone on the question ofmethodology.Frankel argues that “the ultimate mystery of decisions which, in some cases atleast, are clearly acts of free will and products of imagination, escape fill explanation.Consequently, he makes no attempt at providing one.”33 This statement, however, israther surprising given that Frankel indicates an important relationship between humandecisions and values, on the one hand, and values and the national interest, on the other.“The value component of decisions,” he argues, “is probably much more significant than[the] information [component].“ And, “national interest,” he argues further, “is the mostcomprehensive description of the whole value complex of foreign policy.”35 But, havingpostulated a relationship between values, decisions, the national interest, and foreignpolicy, he forestalls any attempt to probe the “mystery” ofhuman choice because,apparently, it escapes fill explanation. This cannot be true because if there is anyproblem that has preoccupied the greatest minds ofmoral and political philosophy fromdawn ofWestern civilization to the present, it is the so-called “mystery” of humanchoice.What is the answer moral and political philosophy have given to the question? Ishall answer this by means of an analogy. Whereas moral and political philosophersfrom the dawn ofWestern civilization have been preoccupied with the “mystery” of33Frankel, p. 119.34Frankel, p. 113.35Frankel, p. 26.64human choice, natural philosophers--often the same people--have been preoccupied withthe “mystery” of nature. The question: “what is the answer they have given to the“mystery” of nature?” is an historical question. Consequently, one needs to look to thatbody of knowledge called “the history of thought” in order to answer it. One must enterthe conversation by rethinking the thoughts ofPlato, Aristotle, Galileo, Descartes,Newton, and Einstein, among many others, in order to answer it. Have these thinkersfully explained the “mystery” of nature? No, they have not, Despite the magnificentachievements of natural science in the last three centuries, the caretakers of that body ofknowledge still remain committed to explaining the “mystery” of nature. The “mystery”ofnature is an ongoing conversation among natural philosophers and scientists.Likewise, the caretakers ofmoral and political philosophy have not fullyexplained the “mystery” of human choice. The mystery is still at the centre ofconversation among moral philosophers. Hence, when Frankel justifies circumventingthe question by asserting that it escapes full explanation, perhaps what he means to say isthat he finds little agreement among those who have attempted to answer it. Or maybe hemeans to say that, in his view, existing answers are unsatisfactory. He cannot mean tosay that no answers have been offered.Probably the most significant difference between Frankel’s attempt at c1arifjingthe idea and mine is that I am unwilling to circumvent the problem of human choice.Even Frankel, perhaps unwittingly, admits the centrality of this problem by postulatingthe relationship between value, choice, national interest, and foreign policy. Let mesuggest that Frankel’s attempt to clarifj the idea falls short because he circumvents the65question about the mystely of human choice. But why is the provision of some kind ofanswer to this problem a crucial part of any attempt to clarifS’ the idea of the nationalinterest? It is crucial because, if it is used for anything, the idea is used as a ground orjustification for foreign policy choices, And this was particularly true in the UnitedStates during the Gulf crisis.Thus, although it is one of his most important insights about the national interest,Frankel does not explore the relationship he stipulates between value, choice, the nationalinterest, and foreign policy. Perhaps the two overriding reasons why Frankel does notattempt to develop this relationship in any systematic way is because of the distinctivebody of knowledge he appeals to in order to clarify the national interest, on the one hand,and the nature of the question he asks about it, on the other. Although it is not evident inhis opening arguments, the body of knowledge he ultimately appeals to is painfully ill-equipped to deal with relationships ofvalue, choice, the national interest, and foreignpolicy.Frankel asserts that his book “is written in the Aristotelian tradition of politicaltheory,” and adds that “the argument is structured around a logical analysis of the majoraspects of the concept.”36 Ifthis were indeed the case, the body ofknowledge both heand I appeal to would be identical. But this evidently is not the case. Whereas I drawsignificantly on Aristotle’s answer to the problem of choice, Frankel circumvents theproblem altogether and never mentions Aristotle again in the remainder of his work.What, then, does Frankel mean by the Aristotelian tradition of political theory? It is not36Frankel, p. ii. My emphasis.66clear to me what he means by it. Perhaps he means that, unlike Plato, he is convincedthat the world apprehended by the senses is not a mere shadow ofultimate reality and,consequently, a more or less empirical rather than a purely conceptual approach to theproblem is warranted. But if this were indeed the case, our two approaches again wouldbe identical.A thrther clue to his approach can be found in his chapter on methodology. Thebasic methodological distinction Frankel makes is between that of the so called“intuitionist” and “social scientist.” He argues that “people with a theoretical,philosophical bias take more interest in the aggregate, whereas those with an empirical,scientific bias put more emphasis upon the single dimensions of the concept,” This latter“bias,” he argues flirther, “is an example of the general tendency of contemporary socialsciences to break down intractable social problems and concepts into more manageableelements.”37 Frankel leaves little doubt about which approach he intends to adopt. Thenational interest, he argues:is an exceptionally unclear concept. Like all other difficult concepts itgives rise to the temptation to go to extremes. We can say that it isintractable, beyond our power of analysis, and hence rely on our intuition;if determined to be ‘scientific,’ we can simpli1,’ and modifythe concept,break it up into elements and components until it becomes manageable,hoping that the analyzed concept is still identical with the real one. Anattempt is made here to pursue the second approach while avoiding itsextremes,38By “science,” it appears that Frankel has in mind a very narrow definition of the37Frankel, p. 43.38Frankel, p. 26.67term. More specifically, he appears to have in mind a kind ofmethod based on ananalogy with the natural sciences--that is to say, the application ofnatural scientificmethods not to “matter” but, rather, to the problems of human conduct within and amongtheir communities, Frankel evidently recognizes, however, that the application ofnaturalscientific methods can lead to absurdities which ultimately detract from any reasonableunderstanding of concepts such as the national interest. How does one go about avoidingsuch absurdities? He argues that:The most promising solution seems to lie in employing clearly definedmodels which concentrate upon one or a few dimensions selected asindependent variables, leaving other significant and frequently stillunexplored dimensions as constants.39In other words, Frankel aims “to break down the concept of national interest into factorswhich may ultimately be used in factor-analysis.”4°Whether such an approach ultimatelywould serve to avoid the absurdities generated by applying the methods and assumptionsof natural science to the problems of human conduct remains unproven because Frankeldoes not deliver on his promise. No matter how hard one looks for these “factors” in hissection entitled “National Interest and its components” one cannot find them.4’ But this isnot surprising because, on reflection, there are none to be found. His error rests inemploying a method which is entirely appropriate for figuring out, say, how a clockworks, whereas it is entirely inappropriate for explaining things that are not made up withmatter. In short, he fails to draw upon that body of knowledge which I think is best39Frankel, p. 27.40Frankel, p. 29.41Frankel, pp. 42-44,68equipped to deal with the problem of clari1ying the relationship between value, choice,the national interest, and foreign policy, namely: moral philosophy or ethics.The second overriding reason why Frankel does not explore the relationship is thenature of the questions he asks and sets out to answer regarding the national interest.The first specific objective of this study is to assist in the analysis of theforeign policy of any single state.... Second, in the analysis of interstate relations, the specific objective is to use national interest as anorganizing concept for the comparison of foreign policies. ,42Hence, the question Frankel seeks to answer about the concept is entirely different frommine. And the nature of the question Frankel seeks to answer largely informs themethodology he actually employs in order to answer it. Likewise, the nature of thequestion I seek to answer largely informs mine. Whereas he seeks to establish how theconcept can be employed more effectively in the analysis of foreign policy--and,consequently, to assist the policymaker in formulating more effective policies--I seek toestablish the role the idea plays in decisions. Hence, keeping in mind the broaddistinction outlined at the beginning of this chapter, Frankel’s work clearly fits into thecategory of “understanding” the national interest but with the aim of employing it as ananalytical tool. Evidently Frankel was not convinced by Rosenau’s critique.My work also fits into the category of “understanding” the national interest. Butone ofmy aims for doing this is not to employ it more effectively in political action but,rather, to bring into light the issues that widespread use during the Gulf crisis of anunclarified version of the idea effectively obscured. In other words, by clarifying the42Frankel, p. 29.69concept in light of the Gulf crisis, I am suggesting that other issues can be clarified aswell.The ApproachThe fundamental issue at stake between Frankel’s approach and the one I propose hereconcerns the most appropriate body of knowledge to draw upon in order to clarify theidea of the national interest. But how does one distinguish various bodies of knowledge?Generally, bodies of knowledge are distinguished by their generic object of study, theirproper object of study, and the method in which that object is studied.43 For example,physics and English literature are easily distinguished as distinct branches of knowledgebecause they have distinct generic objects of study. Physics has as its generic object“matter” and English literature has as its object the language and writings of a particulargroup ofpeople.Bodies of knowledge are a little more difficult to distinguish when they share thesame generic object of study. The medical sciences and the philosophy of the humanperson, for example, share the same generic object of study. They study the human43The following discussion on the distinction between branches of knowledge is asynthesis based on the arguments ofMartin D. O’Keefe, Known From the Things thatAre: Fundamental Theory of theMoral Lfe (Houston TX: Center for Thomistic Studies,1987), pp. 1-12; and R. G. Collingwood, New Leviathan, pp. 1-18. The followingdistinctions are approximations and are meant only to isolate the approach I take as wellas some of the assumptions upon which that approach rests. To advance a definitiveaccount of the distinctions between the various bodies ofknowledge would be a majorundertaking in itself--not to mention a highly contentious one.440’Keefe, p. 6.70person as a living being. They differ, however, in their proper object and method. Themedical sciences have as their proper object the human person primarily conceived as“body,” whereas the philosophy of the human person has as its proper object the humanperson primarily conceived as “soul” or “mind,” Since the body is composed of “matter,”the medical sciences admit the methods employed by the sciences ofmatter such asphysics, chemistry, and biology--that is to say, medical science admits the methods ofnatural science.It remains an open question whether the philosophy of the human personeffectively can be served by the methods ofnatural science. R. G. Collingwood andPlato were convinced that they cannot.45 Thomas Hobbes, in contrast, arguably wasconvinced that they can,46 Regardless, I shall adopt Collingwood’s position and assumethroughout this work that the philosophy of the human person cannot be served by themethods ofnatural science. It will become evident that this assumption helps to cutthrough many of the confusions surrounding the idea of the national interest. In short,whether Collingwood’s assertion is ultimately true is not the issue. Instead, the issue iswhether his assertion, employed as an assumption, helps to clarify the idea of the nationalinterest,45R. G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan.’ OrMan, Society, Civilization &Barbarism,Revised Edition. David Boucher, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), pp. 1-18; TheIdea ofHistory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1946), pp. 205-231. Plato, Phaedo97c-99d; Republic V, VI, VII.46This, however, is disputed. See, for example, the discussion in Richard Tuck,Hobbes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), Ch III; Michael Oakeshott, Hobbes onCivil Association (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975).71In addition to the branches ofknowledge ofmedical science and the philosophyofhuman nature, moral philosophy also shares the same generic object of study. Havingdistinguished medical science and the philosophy of the human person on the grounds oftheir respective proper objects and methods, a further distinction is needed betweenmoral philosophy and the philosophy of human nature because these two branches ofknowledge often share the same method, Whereas the philosophy ofhuman nature has asits proper object man as “mind” or “soul,” moral philosophy has as its proper objecthuman conduct as good or evil, actions to be done or not to be done.Human psychology also shares the same generic object with the philosophy ofhuman nature, moral philosophy and, in some cases, medical science. Nevertheless, theydiffer in their proper objects. Whereas the proper object ofmoral philosophy is humanconduct--i.e., actus humani--psychology has as its proper object human behaviour--i.e.,actus hominis.47 The difference between behaviour and conduct is that the first concernsnon-imputable actions and the latter concerns imputable ones. And the differencebetween an imputable and a non-imputable human act is that the former is taken by virtueof knowledge and choice whereas the latter is not--a person can be held responsible foran imputable act whereas he cannot for a non-imputable one. The act of eating, forexample, might be considered as a non-imputable act because nourishment requires470’Keefe, p. 12. It should be noted that some attempts have been made to combineboth psychology and moral philosophy in order to account for human conduct as good orevil, actions to be done or not to be done. The two branches of knowledge have provedvery difficult to reconcile. Collingwood would argue that any attempt is misconceivedfrom the outset. However, I am still not sure if! am prepared to follow him on thisclaim.72eating out of necessity. On reflection, however, for most adults eating is an imputableact--that is, one chooses to abide by community norms regarding where, when, how, andwhat to eat, That eating is an imputable act is most evident when a person chooses not toabide by community norms while eating.That an imputable act is distinguished from a non-imputable one by virtue ofknowledge and the exercise of choice presupposes the doctrine of free will. And thequestion ofwhether or not human beings indeed possess a free will belongs to thephilosophy of human nature. Hence, moral philosophy not only presupposes thephilosophy of human nature, but those philosophies which postulate the existence of freewill. For if free will is denied, it is meaningless to engage questions ofmoral philosophybecause there would be no such thing as an imputable act. Further, by embracing thedoctrine of free will, one is logically bound to reject the doctrine of necessity asgoverning human conduct. Hence, if an action can be shown to issue from necessityrather than from choice, that action cannot be conceived as an imputable act.Consequently, such an act is not the proper object ofmoral philosophy.Since the national interest appears to be related intimately to value, choice, andforeign policy, the first question concerns whether or not the formulation and executionof foreign policies are indeed human acts. One can safely assume that they are for it isdifficult to imagine what else they could possibly be. But having established them ashuman acts, the next question concerns whether or not they are imputable acts. For, ifthey are, they then belong to moral philosophy as a proper object of study. There is goodreason to suppose that the choice and execution of foreign policies are imputable human73acts, if only because it is normal to hold statesmen responsible for such acts. The onlyreason one can be held responsible for any action is because that action is indeed animputable one. Hence, if the choice and execution of foreign policies are imputablehuman acts, and if imputable human acts are the proper object of study ofmoralphilosophy, the choice and execution of foreign policies are the proper object of study ofmoral philosophy or, more commonly, ethics.But a further distinction needs to be made between moral philosophy and moraltheology because both have as their proper object imputable human acts--that is, acts towhich the epithets of good and evil meaningfully can be applied. Here the two bodies ofknowledge are distinguished by method. “In ethics,” according to O’Keefe, “the method(broadly speaking) is human reasoning, independent of authority; in moral theology, themethod is human reasoning relying upon (divine) authority,”48 Although it is debatablewhether any substantive morality can be advanced without reference to a moral theology,I need not address that question here because my object is not to establish, in substantiveterms, whether the national interest is a morally good idea. Instead, my purpose islimited merely to establishing that the idea of the national interest is the proper object ofstudy of ethics: viz., that the idea of the national interest is a categorically moral idea,This, it should be emphasized, is a question that is logically prior to the question ofwhether the idea is a morally good or bad one. It is only after the idea is established as acategorically moral one that the question of its moral goodness (or badness) can beaddressed,480’Keefe, p. 7.74Thus assuming (on reasonable grounds) that the idea of the national interest is acategorically moral idea, and assuming further (on admittedly debatable grounds) thatmoral philosophy does not admit natural scientific methods, the approach I adopt here toclarify the national interest is fundamentally opposed to that adopted by Joseph Frankel,It is an application of the methods and idiom ofwhat loosely can be referred to asclassical moral and political philosophy to a problem of international relations, namely:the clarification of a central idea in its theory and practice. It is an approach that isparticularly suited to the problem of conceptual clarification--whether it be the concept ofthe state, the mind, the good, law, liberty, property, sovereignty, virtue, prudence, or thenational interest. A large part of conceptual clarification concerns the task of elaboratingthe relationship between the idea in question and concrete human action at the level ofindividual moral agency in the context of particular contingent circumstances. Becauseamong such thinkers there are a variety of schools of thought, it is perhaps betterdescribed as a particular style of thinking rather than as a methodology. The aim of thisparticular style of thinking is to achieve the degree ofprecision the subject matter admits.And in doing so I draw upon the insights of thinkers, such as Aristotle, Augustine,Aquinas, Collingwood, and others who have dealt with these kinds of questions, althoughnot this question in particular. Further, in the words ofAristotle:Our discussion will be adequate if it achieves clarity within the limits ofthe subject matter. . . . For a well-schooled man is one who searches forthat degree ofprecision in each kind of study which the nature of thesubject at hand admits. . .49Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1 094b10-25.75Joseph Frankel is unquestionably a well-schooled man and, consequently, hesought a degree ofprecision which the nature of the subject admitted. The body ofknowledge he drew upon, however, frustrated his attempt because the methods ofnaturalscience were designed to achieve a much higher degree of precision than his subjectmatter allows. Consequently, he achieved a much lower degree of precision than hecould have if he had drawn upon a body of knowledge more suited to the task. Thesuccess of the body ofknowledge I draw upon will be determined by the degree of clarityit achieves, and one of the tests of clarity is introspection. In the words ofThomasHobbes:But let one man read another by his actions never so perfectly, it serveshim onely with his acquaintance, which are but few. He that is to govern awhole Nation, must read in himself, not this, or that particular man; butMan-kind: which though it be hard to do, harder than to learn anyLanguage, or Science; yet, when I shall have set down my own readingorderly, and perspicuously, the pains left another, will be onely toconsider, if he also find not the same in himself. For this kind ofDoctrine,admitteth no other Demonstration. 50In short, the test ofwhether or not my account of the national interest is satisfactorydepends on the degree to which it clarifies the role of the idea in light of the readers ownreflection upon the American foreign policy experience. Does the clarification I offerhere allow the American foreign policy experience during the Gulfwar “to reveal itself,”so to speak, to the reader more easily?One of the mediate tasks in achieving the degree of clarity intended here is to getto the bottom of some of the commonplace abstractions used in international discourse.50Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, p. 2.76The most important of these is the notion of “state as actor.” This notion establishes aconvenient dividing line between the academic sub-disciplines of “domestic” politics and“international” politics. In the “domestic” half of this distinction, actors are usuallyconceived as individuals, sub-state groups ofvarious kinds, and institutions ofgovernment. In the “international” half of this distinction, on the other hand, actors aregenerally conceived as states and other entities called NGO’s. On reflection, however, toconceive such an entity as an actor is merely an abstraction. The only real tangible actorsthat exist in human relations are human beings themselves. Groups, no matter what thespecification, do not act in any tangible way. Only individual human beings act.Granted, they might act on behalf of, or in concert with a specified grouping of humanbeings. But this does not change the fact that only individual human beings can act inany tangible sense.Neither do human beings act in the abstract. Instead, human action always takesplace in the context of contingent circumstances. And contingent circumstances are theanswers to the questions ofwhat, where, why, when, and how. Take the act of eating, forexample. The act of eating, conceived in the abstract, could be considered as a morallyneutral activity. But a human being never eats in the abstract. He eats a particular thing,at a particular time, in a particular place, for particular reasons, and in a particular way.We think of eating as an amoral activity only because we think of it being done in anormal way in normal circumstances in order to fill normal social and biological needs-like eating a turkey dinner with one’s family on Christmas day. But this does not renderthe activity of eating amoral, we simply judge it to be normal in those circumstances. It77is equally conceivable to judge the activity to be immoral if, for example, a person isgorging himselfwith the limited food available in order to murder his starving children.Likewise, one does not defend himself unless the situation suggests such anaction. And he defends himself at a particular time, in a particular place, againstparticular individuals, and in a particular way. Nor does one prepare to defend himselfunless the situation suggests it. Such circumstances not only place constraints onparticular actions, they also give a large part of the meaning to such actions. In addition,not all human beings will choose to act in the same way in the same circumstances. Thesituation, then, is only a part of the story about human action--albeit an essential part.Although it is an infinitely complex part of the story, the contingent circumstances arethe extrinsic principles to human action.In order to act at all, a person must be able to focus his attention--that is to say, hemust select from an infinite range of complexity those factors in the here and, now thatare the most important to him as an individual. A painter sitting down to paint apanoramic landscape, for example, will select the nuance of colour lying before him. Alarge part of his artistic talent rests with his ability to “recover the innocence of the eye”and reproduce the image on canvas. A seasoned infantryman, on the other hand,observing the same landscape no less intently than the artist, instead will select lines ofadvance and likely enemy positions. Further, a couple intent on a romantic picnic willselect entirely different features from the landscape while choosing a place to settle downto relax. The point here is that the subjective purpose, talents, and acquired skills of theindividual agent determines the finite complexity selected from the infinite complexity of78the given situation. Hence, in addition to the extrinsic principles of action there areintrinsic principles of action embodied by the mind of the individual agent--i.e., hissubjective purpose or motive. Oneof these intrinsic principles is the purpose or end thatthe individual brings to the situation, as we see in the examples of the artist, theinfantryman, and the pair of lovers. Whereas the artist’s motive is to produce a work ofart, the infantryman’s motive is to neutralize enemy resistance on a given line of advance,and the lover’s motive is the nurturing of a relationship, the statesman’s motive is (orought to be) to pursue objectives that benefit the body politic. The national interest, then,is an intrinsic principle of action for a statesman loyal to his role as statesman. Butfidelity to his role does not guarantee that he will perform that role well. In addition tohis adopted end of action, right action also depends on the virtues he possesses whichmake him capable of performing that activity well. To say that a statesman is a goodstatesman is to say that he possesses--to a satisfactory degree--the necessary virtues ofstatesmanship. Perhaps the most important of these is the moral virtue ofprudence.Any discussion about intrinsic principles of human action knows no disciplinaryboundaries between, say, international and domestic politics. Granted,the substantiveproblems the statesman encountersin his relations with statesmen of foreign countries areoften very different from the substantive problems he encounters with the members of thebody politic he is charged to govern. Finding the tigers in the tall grass of domesticpolitics requires a different cognitive repertoire and observational skills than thoserequired for finding the tigers in thejungle of international politics.5’ Hence, an79argument can be made for an academic disciplinary distinction between international anddomestic politics. A prudent statesman would seek counsel from the caretakers of eachof these cognitive repertoires when confronted with international problems--which, bydefinition, have domestic significance, otherwise they would not be problems in the firstplace--and domestic problems of international significance. Unlike the academic, then,the good statesman cannot afford to divide his persona between domestic andinternational relations. For him, presuming he subscribes to what can be defined broadlyas a “liberal-democratic” notion of his role in the body politic, international relations ismerely a function of domestic relations. The statesman conceived as an individual moralagent--that is, a human being in his capacity and activity ofmaking choices--occupies theno-man’s land between two broad academic disciplines: international politics anddomestic politics.Since my purpose is to clarify one of the intrinsic principles of action ofindividual statesman--namely, the national interest--I must follow him into that no-man’sland, The danger here is that a piece ofwork will be produced that appears neither likeinternational relations theory nor political theory--a danger of ending up between twostools, so to speak. However, as any good soldier will attest, there is always a danger inroaming about in no-man’s land regardless ofwhich side one initially emerged from, for51These metaphors, however conventional, might be misplaced. On reflection, thenotion of domestic order contrasted with international disorder does not seem to me to fitthe facts of our existence. The threat posed to the security ofone’s person and property isat least as great (in not greater) among one’s fellow nationals than it is between nations.It seems to me that the probability ofbeing robbed, mugged, or killed by a fellow citizenis at least as great as suffering violence at the hands of the armed aggression of a foreignnational.80any motion in no-man’s land always spooks the occupants of the trenches on both sides ofthe divide. Unfortunately, somebody has to do it because that is where the solutions tootherwise intractable problems often lie.To recapitulate, because international relations is conducted by individual moralagents, albeit on behalf of the members of a body politic, it is nevertheless acategorically moral enterprise. If it were not, we would not be able to apportion praise orblame to the conduct of statesmen in their formulation and execution of the country’sforeign policy. International relations is a categorically moral enterprise because itinvolves human choices and action. Granted, we oftenuse abstractions to help usunderstand and explain international relations--abstractions such as “state as actor” whichlead to further abstractions such as “billiard balls” or “systems.” These abstractions mayor may not be helpful as heuristic devices. But regardless ofwhether they help or hinderour understanding, we must never let it pass out of our sight that individual people--notabstract entities--conduct international relations.52And they do not conduct theserelations in the “grey” world of the abstract but, rather, in the context of “green” worldcontingent circumstances. And this is the starting point ofmy analysis; the theoreticalperspective upon which it rests.When it is held in the forefront of one’s mind that international relations is aboutreal people who are, to the best of their abilities, working through real circumstances, one521n the words of Stanley Hoffmann: “We must remember that states are led by humanbeings whose actions affect human beings within and outside: considerations of good andevil, right or wrong are therefore both inevitable and legitimate.” Duties BeyondBorders(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1981), p. xii.81cannot avoid the conclusion that international relations, like all other forms of humanrelations, belong ultimately to the moral realm. Human relations do not belong to therealm of necessity. They belong to the realm of choice. What it is that defines acategorically moral act--that is, an act for which praise or blame can be apportioned--ischoice. To say that choice is dictated by necessity is to speak nonsense becausenecessity, by definition, precludes choice. When a statesman says that his choice wasdictated by necessity, then, what he really means to say is that his choice, in view of thecontingent circumstances as he understands them, was the best choice he could make.And to justify to others that it was indeed the best choice, he couches his justification interms of the motive for which it was made, namely, the national interest. While he isdeliberating the alternatives with himself or with others he is still in the process ofmaking a choice--that is to say, he is engaged in the activity of deliberating. Like allhuman activities, it can be done either well or poorly. If he deliberates well, the choicefollowing such deliberation will be the best choice that can be made. If he deliberatespoorly, he still must make a choice but it will not necessarily be the best choice, Thequality, or virtue, of being able to deliberate well is called prudence. A prudentstatesman, then, is one who deliberates well about the alternatives--and hence chooses thebest alternative--for achieving the ultimate end of statesmanship, namely: the nationalinterest.The national interest, then, is the end of statesmanship. The extent to which astatesman achieves that end depends on his virtues as a statesman. A prudent statesmanrecoils from moral ideals as determinants of action because, as extrinsic principles of82action, he knows intuitively that they cannot ordain action. The only thing that canordain action is his choice. He also knows intuitively that moral ideals are formulated inthe abstract but what he is dealing with “in the here and now” are specific problems ofchoice in the context of particular contingent circumstances. For example, a categoricalimperative telling him never to lie does not tell him how much of the truth to divulge in aparticular set of contingent circumstances. Likewise, a tactical prescription telling asoldier to always use flanking rather than frontal manoeuvres does not tell him whichflank to use, or even whether a flanking manoeuvre is the best alternative; in “these”concrete circumstances “here and now.” This is not to suggest, however, that everysituation will yield an infinite range of alternatives to choose from. For not only is thesituation interpreted in light of the end, the end itself suggests a finite range of choices.From the point ofview of the American Senate, for example, the national interest in midJanuary 1991 during the Gulf crisis yielded two alternatives: either to continue the armedembargo of Iraq indefinitely or to employ offensive military force against Iraq at a timeto be determined by the President. Cancelling the embargo was not an option. Nor was anew trade agreement for Iraqi dairy products. If developments since the summer of 1990had no bearing on American concerns, they would have done nothing because all humanaction--that is, all action resulting from choice--is oriented toward an end. This, it seemsto me, adequately justifies an appeal to moral philosophy in order to help clarifr the ideaof the national interest.83CHAPTER THREEPRELIMiNARY DISTINCTIONSThe purpose of this chapter is to set out some preliminary distinctions before the moreintensive theoretical discussion begins in chapter four. It is particularly important to setout in advance the distinction between “the national interest” and “national interest”because I use these terms in the specific sense outlined here throughout the remainder ofthe work, I also explain here the difference between reasons and justifications in order toshow the moral “character” of the idea as it is employed in common practice. Not only isthis the most obvious indication that the national interest is a categorically moral idea,but also it is perhaps the most accessible argument to that effect. The purpose of thisdistinction is to strengthen my contention that the national interest must be acategorically moral idea. I do this by showing that the idea commonly is used as ajustfication, and not as a mere reason, for war.With these initial distinctions in place, I can then deal more effectively with thepractice ofusing the national interest as an explanatory tool. I argue that one cancontinue the practice if one wishes, but one must do so at the expense ofusing it as ajust/Ication. In other words, one must decide between using it either as a justification oras an explanatory tool. One cannot have it both ways. For to have it both ways is to fallvictim to a fallacy which is probably the main cause of all the confusion surrounding theidea. Further, given that the national interest as an explanatory tool does not tell us verymuch anyway, one does not lose much by abandoning it as such. Finally, I will examine84in detail the fallacy that appears to be the main culprit of all the conflision surroundingthe concept. R. G. Collingwood calls it the “fallacy of swapping horses,” and GilbertRyle simply calls it a “category error.”National interests and the national interestWhereas a national interest refers to a state of affairs, the national interest refers to anintrinsic principle of human action--i.e., an internally embraced motive. Security, forexample, is a state of affairs of a certain kind, and wealth is a state of affairs of a differentkind. Both of these states of affairs can be actively pursued by statesmen. in the course offblfllling their special role in the body politic.But security is not a state of affairs achieved once and for all. It is a state ofaffairs pursued in the context of ongoing and changing contingent circumstances. Eachnew situation will give rise to new requirements and, hence, new means are needed toachieve security on an ongoing basis. Nevertheless, the underlying motive for pursuingsuch a state of affairs is the national interest. The same applies in the case of nationalwealth. In this sense, national interests are particular objectives, conceived as states ofaffairs, pursued in the ever-changing context of contingent circumstances. Likewise, themotive for pursuing such objectives is the national interest.An interest cannot be conceived as an activity. Instead, it is a state of affairspursued by an activity. Whereas the activity is the means, the desired state of affairs isthe objective toward which that activity is directed. National interests, then, are identicalto national objectives--whether they are defined in general terms such as “security,” or in85context specific terms such as “a liberated Kuwait.” And the underlying motive forsecuring those national interests is the national interest.The distinction between “standing” national interests and “context specific”national interests largely corresponds to the distinction outlined in the last chapterbetween “general substantive conceptions” and “specific substantive conceptions” ofanational interest. “Standing” national interests are merely general statements about thegood life of the body politic. For example, it is difficult to imagine any kind of good lifewithin the body politic unless one has a sense of security from foreign acts of aggressionor armed coercion. Security ofperson and property from foreign aggression and armedcoercion is one of the goods the United States government is charged to provide for itscitizens. And that it is a “standing” requirement and not merely an ad hoc one isreflected in the permanent institutions of government. The American DefenseDepartment along with an array of intelligence gathering agencies are permanent fixturesofgovernment thus suggesting that defence is a permanent concern and not merely asituational one. As a permanent or standing national interest, it is not surprising that animmense body of specialists in both the public and private sector would emerge and serveas “caretakers” of this particular standing national interest. When any situation ariseshaving significant bearing on this standing national interest, it is not surprising that manyof those specialists will have something to say about it. Further, by no means is itguaranteed that all these specialists will have the same advice to offer. Depending on thesituation and the nature of the decision that needs to be made, it is the statesman whomust decide and take fill responsibility for the decision. The same can be said about the86standing national interest ofmaterial well-being or wealth.Perhaps one way of determining precisely what a country’s standing nationalinterests are is to examine the list of its government departments--each ofwhich ischarged with the care of a particular standing national interest. In other words, ifsomeone wanted to draw up an exhaustive list ofAmerican standing national interests, heneed only look at the names of all the government departments.“Context specific” national interests, on the other hand, arise out of thecontingencies of the given situation, and are defined in much more specific terms. Theyare a statesman’s response to the question: given the situation we find ourselves in, whatare the specific objectives we should pursue for the benefit of the body politic? Forexample, should we allow Kuwait and its oil reserves to remain under Iraqi control? Orshould we seek a liberated Kuwait? Similarly, substantive conceptions of contextspecific national interests are the answers given by commentators on foreign policy to thequestion: given the situation the statesmen found themselves in, what objectives shouldthey have pursued for the benefit of the body politic?National interests, then, are specific objectives which can also be couched ingeneral terms such as security, power, world order, economic well being, and what haveyou. For example, security is a national interest because it is in the national interest to besecure from foreign military attacks, But it is not the national interest because one caneasily conceive of other objectives that also benefit the body politic as well.It is perhaps tempting to conceive of security (a national interest) as a dimensionor element of the national interest. On reflection, however, this is a mistake. Further, to87conceive a national interest as a dimension or element of the national interest, is toconceive the latter as a kind of “basket” within which the former are contained. But this,I shall argue, is also a mistake. An element is a material thing specified as a part of alarger material thing. A dimension is a spatial measurement of a thing or a reference tothe location of one of its sides in space. The national interest, however, is not a thing.Consequently, it cannot be constituted by elements nor can it have any dimensions. Onemight object that I am being overly pedantic here because everybody knows that thenational interest is not a material thing, and the expressions “element” and “dimension”simply refer to other ideas, activities, and states of affairs which, taken together,somehow mean “the national interest.” It will be recalled, however, that one of my tasksis to get to the bottom of commonly used abstractions, One may continue to use theexpressions if he so wishes, but it must always remain in the forefront of one’s mind that“security,” although conveniently referred to as an element or dimension of the nationalinterest, is not a thing but a state of affairs pursued by an ongoing purposive activity of acertain kind--namely: the activity of securing the body politic from armed attack orcoercion.The national interest, on the other hand, does not refer to a state of affairs.Instead, it is an end toward which a particular agent’s actions can be inclined--an endwhich can be distinguished from other ends such as “the self interest” or “the humaninterest.” As such, it is an intrinsic principle of human action which defines the role ofthe statesman--just like “the family interest” is the intrinsic principle of action whichdefines the role of the parent, “the corporate interest” defines the role of the company88associate, or “the team interest” defines the role of the hockey player.Given that an activity (e.g., fighting) cannot be an interest, the question ofwhether or not the GulfWar was in the American national interest is a perplexing one.For when we say that something is in the national interest, we are saying that“something” is a national interest. And that “something” is not a thing or action but,rather,. a desired state of affairs. In this question, the Gulfwar appears as that state ofaffairs in which Americans have an interest. But how can a state ofwar be in anyreasonable person’s interest? It cannot. The objective sought by war, however, can be insomeone’s interest. And this objective is always conceived as a particular state of affairs.The interest referred to in the foregoing question, then, is not the state ofwar itself but,rather, the particular state of affairs sought by going to war. To answer the questionabout whether or not the GulfWar served American national interests, one must firstestablish the intended objectives of the war. Further, once those objectives have beenidentified, one has thereby established the national interests at stake in the situation.Finally, if those objectives have been achieved, one can conclude that the war servedthose interests. The question, however, is whether these interestsjustfj’ war or whetherthey are simply reasons for going to war.Justifications and ReasonsLogically, justifications and reasons relate as a species to a genus. Whereas a reason isthe genus, a justification is a species of reason. Therefore, something that we would calla justification is a special kind of reason, ground, or end. Whereas all justifications are89reasons, not all reasons are justifications. What, then, distinguishes a justification from amere reason? The distinction is simply that a justification is a reason with moral force.Put differently, a justification is a reason offered when moral reasons, and not merereasons, are demanded by the circumstances--that is, when a reason is demanded for animputable act. War is but one ofmany circumstances where justifications, and not merereasons, are demanded. In a democratic state, justifications for hostile acts by that stateare demanded both by the citizenry and the international community. In a dictatorialstate, justifications for hostile acts by that state are demanded only by the internationalcommunity.Reasons and justifications can be either true or false depending on whether theirutterance reflects the actual intentions of the agent offering them. In other words, anagent can lie just as much as he can tell the truth. A false justification is a lie just asmuch as a false reason is a lie. Likewise, a justification offered in place of a reason whenthe agent really only has a mere reason for that action is also a lie. Among students ofgovernment, particularly among students of government whose primary object of study isinternational relations, this kind of lie is often called °window dressing”--that is to say, itis an indictment that the justifications offered are merely attempts by government toobscure morally dubious acts with moral language in order to rally popular support forthose actions; support that otherwise would not be forthcoming if the truth were reallyknown. Often many students of government can justify their charge. But perhapsequally often many cannot.As it will be shown in chapter eight, Christopher Layne curiously appears to turn90the usual “window dressing” argument on its head. Whereas politicians are often accusedofusing moral rhetoric to obscure--or “window dress”--Layne suggests, paradoxically,that the Bush administration camouflaged an intention based on moral principle behindthe rhetoric of national interest, He argues that since Bush’s national interest justificationdoes not stand up to examination, “it can readily be inferred that [moral principle]actually drove U.S. policy.” Hence, he implies that the Bush administration actedimmorally by “window dressing” what he considered to be a moral act with the rhetoricof the national interest. In short, Layne believes it is immoral for governments to groundforeign policy in moral principles, whereas he believes it moral for them to ground policyin the national interest.If Layne really means to say that foreign policy ought to be grounded in thenational interest and not in abstract moral ideals, then what he says makes completesense. But he must recognize that saying this is entirely consistent with understanding“the national interest” as a categorically moral idea--that is, as the end toward which astatesman’s actions ought to be inclined. Hence, Layne does not turn the “windowdressing” argument on its head after all. Although he evidently is not conscious of it,ultimately he understands the national interest as a categorically moral idea,It should be evident that Layne is a little confused here. Even though he stumblesinto recognizing that both the national interest and moral principles are indeed motivesfor action, he does not recognize that by asserting governments ought to be motivated byformer instead of the latter, he himself is asserting a moral principle.Although he fails to recognize it, Layne is not so much concerned about moral91principles driving foreign policies but, rather, he is concerned about which moralprinciple ought to drive it. Let me suggest that Layne’s confusion here is due to thetraditional assumption that morality and the national interest are opposed. Although it isvaguely implied, Layne, however, stops short of accusing the Bush administrationoutright for lying about its justifications. Instead, he suggests that the national interestjustification offered was mistaken.Besides being either true or false, then, both reasons and justifications can beeither accurate or mistaken. Reasons and justifications stand a very high chance ofbeingmistaken when they are offered by one person or state on behalf of, or in the place ofanother person or state in an attempt to explain or make sense of their actions. This isoften the problem that an historian recognizes and confronts when he or she takes on thetask of reconstructing an event in terms of the thoughts and actions of the personsinvolved in that event.’ A diplomat recognizes and confronts this problem almost dailyin his or her dealings with other states, and often serious consequences arise out ofmiscalculations. It is also a problem recognized and confronted by those charged withdelivering justice in the law courts. If they are mistaken about the intentions of theaccused, an otherwise innocent person may suffer punishment, or an otherwise guiltyperson may walk free. In short, it is a problem encountered by all human beings, withgreater or lesser consequences, in almost every moment of their lives.Finally, both reasons and justifications can be either sufficient or insufficient.The sufficiency of reasons and justifications is highly contingent on the circumstances in‘Collingwood, The Idea ofHistory, pp. 213 - 220.92which the acts take place. I will discuss here only the sufficiency ofjustiflcations,2In aparticular set of circumstances where justifications are demanded but reasons are onlyoffered, those reasons are considered to be insufficient justifications. For example, let ussuppose that a man breaks a woman’s arm through an act of intentional violence. Whenasked the question: why did you break the woman’s arm? he might truthfully respond,among other possibilities, that he did it because he wanted to teach her a lesson aboutwho is boss in the household. It should immediately be evident, however, that althoughthis reason may be both truthfiul and accurate, it is merely a reason for his action and assuch it is an insufficient justification. A law court, after duly establishing the truth of thematter, would have sufficient justification to find the man guilty of an offense and punishhim accordingly.Let us also consider Saddam Hussein’s decision to move his armed forces intoKuwait on August 2, 1990. Let us suppose that he responded to the question about whyhe did it by explaining that Iraq’s economic well being depended on its control overKuwaiti oil reserves. Again, this is clearly a reason which, even if it were both true andaccurate, is nevertheless an insufficient justification for the action. This, however, wasnot one of the reasons offered. Instead, the RCC initially explained to the internationalcommunity that its action was a response to an invitation by the new government of “freeKuwait” to send Iraqi forces to help in putting down a civil insurrection. Incontemporary international relations this is a sufficient justification--if it did indeed2For a discussion on the sufficiency of reasons, see Collingwood, The New Leviathan,pp. 99-130.93reflect the bonafide motives of the RCC--for sending armed forces across the frontier ofanother country. The only problem, however, is that virtually every government on theface of the earth--including that ofYemen and Cuba--was not convinced. They may havebelieved that Saddam Hussein had unexpressed reasons, and perhaps even good reasons,to invade Kuwait; but they did not believe that any of them was a sufficient justification.Consequently, they condemned the action as naked aggression. Curiously, if SaddamHussein had merely invoked “the Iraqi national interest” it is unlikely that theinternational community would have accepted it as a sufficient justification either.Although members of the Bush Administration rarely referred to national interestsor the national interest during the international debate, the use of the concept waspredominant during the domestic debate, particularly among members ofCongress. At asuperficial level this may appear to be duplicitous--that is, using one kind ofjustificationfor the benefit of the international audience and using a different kind ofjustification forthe domestic audience to garner maximum moral support for its actions--but it is unlikelythat any duplicity could have been intended here, For if duplicity was intended by eitherthe executive or by members ofCongress, there must have been at least an expectationthat the wrong information would not reach the wrong audience. Due to mass mediacoverage, practically the whole world might as well have been America’s domesticaudience, and virtually every US citizen the international audience. Whenever a USofficial speaks publicly in an international forum, he or she realizes that just about everyUS citizen has the means to scrutinize those remarks. Similarly, whenever a Senator orRepresentative speaks in Congress, he or she realizes that any government around the94world has the means to scrutinize and compare them.Why did American statesmen employ the idea of the national interest at thedomestic but not the international level? Were they merely explaining something to thedomestic audience in the same sense that a teacher explains differential calculus to a classof students? In other words, by their use of the idea, did American statesmen supposethat it was merely an explanatory tool? Certainly not. War demands sacrifices. Amongother things, the prospect ofwar increases the likelihood that spouses, parents, relatives,or friends enrolled in the country’s armed services might not return to love another day.Or, if they do, they may return maimed in both body and spirit. War, then, demandsmuch more than merely technical explanations from the country’s leaders. It demandsjustification. And American statesmen justified the war in terms of the benefits for thosefrom whom the sacrifices were required. The short-hand expression signifying this isgenerally the national interest. But, as indicated, all this can really signify is that thestatesman merely is reaffirming that he or she is trying to do what is best for the country.It does not tell the citizens why he or she thinks that course of action is best for thecountry. To explain why he or she thinks it is the best course, the statesman must refer toand specify the national interests being pursued by war and how those objectives benefitthe body politic.At the international level, however, the story is quite different. Rightly orwrongly the international community either assumes or is indifferent about whether agovernment leads its citizens into war for the good of that country. Instead, what it isconcerned about is whether or not that country is rightfully waging war in terms of95existing international norms. Hence, the statesman wears two hats. He is responsible forthe particular good of his country’s citizens while concurrently holding membership in asociety responsible for the general good of the world as a whole.3 Two kinds ofjustification, then, are required: one for the domestic community and one for theinternational society. Hence, It appears that a sufficient justification for war requiresboth kinds.National Interest as an Explanatory ToolThe thesis that national interests are necessary but insufficient components of anycomplete justification for war again raises the question about whether the notion thateither “the national interest,” or “national interests” also can be used as a value free or“scientific” explanatory tools. Despite Rosenau’s criticisms, there still may be atemptation to use “national interest” in this way. In order to dispel confusion about whatis meant by “explanatory tool,” let me begin by indicating what is not meant by it,In the section entitled “Criterion or Justification” of their article, George andKeohane argue that the concept of “national interest” (they do not distinguish nationalinterests and the national interest) is generally used “in two different ways: first, as acriterion to assess what is at stake in any given situation and to evaluate what course ofaction is ‘best’; second, as ajustcation for decisions taken.” They go on to note,however, that “particularly with respect to the latter use of national interest there is3Namely, the United Nations.96reason to be uneasy and dissatisfied.”4Here George and Keohane account for only two uses of the concept and appear tobe setting up a dichotomy between an explanatory or “scientific” usage, on the one hand,and a justificatory or “moral” usage, on the other. But this appearance is deceiving, forGeorge and Keohane are not interested in explaining the sources of a country’s foreignpolicy. Instead, they are interested in advancing a general substantive conception ofnational interest--i.e., national interest conceived as an aggregate of fhndamental standingnational interests--that statesmen can refer to as a standard against which foreign policyalternatives can be measured. Although there are difficulties with this view as well, it isnot the view I refer to as one that conceives the idea as an explanatory tool. It onlyappears they are conceiving it as such because they set up an opposition between theconcept’s use as criterion and justification.But what they are setting out is standard for justifying certain types of foreignpolicies--that is to say, they are setting out “to specify a means by which policymakerscan make disciplined choices among interests and therefore among policy alternatives.”5Ifthe standard is the means for making policy choices, it is therefore the ground orreason for those choices. Since a statesman’s choices are imputable acts, the reasons forthem must be categorically moral reasons--that is to say, justifications. When George4Alexander L. George and RobertO. Keohane, “The Concept ofNational Interests:Uses and Limitations,” in Alexander L. George, ed., Presidential Decisionmaking inForeign Policy: The Effective Use ofInformation andAdvice (Boulder: Westview Press,1980), p. 218.5George and Keohane, p. 227.97and Keohane oppose criterion and justification, they must have something else in mindby the latter term because, objectively speaking, what they refer to as criterion is ajustification.6 Consequently, when they refer to the idea as a criterion, they clearly arenot conceiving it as a value free explanatory tool. Nor do they intend to refer to it assuch. George and Keohane’s use, then, is not what I have in mind when I set out tocriticize the notion of “national interest” as a value free and “scientific” explanatory tool.What I have in mind is this. Somewhat like “gravity” is the answer to thequestion: “why does a rock fall to the ground?” the national interest (national interests,or, simply “national interest”--the distinctions are not normally drawn in this view), in theexplanatory sense, is the answer given to the question: “why do states do what they do?”Hence, far from being a categorically moral idea, national interest, in this view, is merelya short-hand explanation of how things are. National interest as an explanatory tool is anexpression ofwhat is considered to be the flindamental nature of international politics,namely, that states act in their national interest. Consequently, in this view, it makes nosense to speak of international ethics: for to speak of international ethics mistakes thefi.indamental nature of international relations. In view ofhow things (presumably) are,questions about value are misplaced.Although it is both vacuous as well as a classic statement of the traditionalassumption, there is undeniably a small advantage in holding this view, For example,6lnstead, they have in mind by “justification” the practice ofusing “the nationalinterest” as a rhetorical device. As indicated, such use is merely a reaffirmation on thepart of the statesman that his choice is merely what he thinks to be the best choice for thecountry. It does not explain why he thinks it to be the best choice. George and Keohane,then, are fi.illy justified in being dissatisfied with such a use.98having asserted that national interests are part of any sufficient justification for going towar, if it can be shown that the invasion ofKuwait served Iraqi national interests, can oneconclude thereby that it was justified? And, if it was justified, was the world justified inresponding to Iraq the way it did? Hence, if national interests justily war in Americ&scase, is there any reason why they should not justif’ war in Iraq’s case? The simplestway to get around this awkward question is to assert that national interests really havenothing to do withjust/Ications after all. Instead, national interests are explanations ofwhy states go to war--not unlike the way the law ofuniversal gravitation is a scientificexplanation ofwhy things fall to the ground.There is nothing inherently wrong with conceiving national interests asexplanations rather than as justifications. A justification is, after all, a special type ofexplanation. But one must think seriously about the implications and limitationsinvolved in adopting such a view. As explanatory devices, national interests are not verymeaningful, although they provide quick and easy answers to difficult questions aboutwhy states do what they do. For example, in response to the question “why did state Ago to war against state B?” one can reply “because it was in state A’s national interest.”Similarly, in response to the question “why did state A intervene in the internal affairs ofstate B? one might reply “because it was in state A’s national interest.” Such answers arepresumed to be “scientific” answers in that they are founded upon an apparently“scientific” law about the behaviour of states, namely: that states always act in theirnational interests. But if this law were indeed true, why do Nye and Layne bother toconsider the question about whether or not the GulfWar served American national99interests? For such a question presupposes that the United States night not have acted inits best interest after all. Further, why did the United States Senate even botherdeliberating about what course is the best course of action for the United States in thecircumstances? For such deliberation presupposes that the best course of action is notimmediately given and that decision-makers can be mistaken about American interests.Finally, why do George and Keohane even bother to propose criterion to help statesmenmake the choices that are best for the country if they supposed that their actions would bein the national interest anyway. Hence, if one supposes that the questions addressed byNye, Layne, the United States Senate, and George and Keohane are at all meaningful,one cannot adopt the view that national interests are mere explanations. Conversely, ifone holds the view that the national interest (or national interests) are a fi.indamentalscientific explanation ofwhat states do, one cannot also find meaning in the questionsaddressed by Nye, Layne, the United States Senate, and George and Keohane.The second limitation in adopting the explanatory view ofnational interests is thatin order to remain consistent with that view, one also must refrain from having anyopinion on whether or not a war ought to be fought in the national interest. Onenevertheless is still welcome to make moral judgements about particular wars if hewishes, but he must purge the words “national interest” from his vocabulary while doingso. For in his chosen understanding of the concept, it makes no moral difference whethera war is fought in the national interest or not. If he decides that national interests makeno moral difference on the question ofwar, he must cease employing them as if they did.For example, one cannot consistently say that a particular war was “bad” because it was100not fought in the national interest and at the same time insist that national interests areexplanations ofwhat states do. The acid test for determining whether a person adopts anunderstanding of national interest as either a justification or an explanation is his answerto this question: Does it make any moral difference whether a state goes to war in thenational interest? If so, that person understands national interest as a justification andtherefore he cannot choose to understand it as an explanation, regardless ofhow temptedhe is tO do so when confronted by perplexing questions like: why is it that nationalinterests can justif’ war in the American case but not in the Iraqi case? Faced withdifficult and perplexing questions like this, one is tempted to commit what is known as“the fallacy of swapping horses.” And, as I shall explain in greater detail in the nextsection, this fallacy is one of the major common impediments obstructing.a betterconceptual understanding of the idea of the national interest. For the moment, anexample ofwhen this occurs will suffice. If a person starts out by holding the view thatnational interests justi1’ (or ought to justit’) America’s involvement in war and, whenconfronted with the issue ofwhat is good for America ought to be good for Iraq as well,the person then shifts his understanding of national interest from justification toexplanation in order to circumvent the difficult question, one has thereby fallen victim tothe fallacy of swapping horses.The Fallacy of Swapping HorsesPut briefly, the fallacy consists in switching categories in the course of answering aquestion which arose in the category one began with. More specifically, it involves the101attempt to import ideas properly belonging to the natural scientific category (such as“scientific laws” of state behaviour) into discussions of ideas properly belonging to themoral category (such as the question about why national interestsjustfy Americanactions but not Iraqi ones). In this case, it involves switching one’s understanding ofnational interest as ajustfication to an understanding of national interest as anexplanation, thus bypassing the difficult moral question altogether.Generally, the fallacy serves either to create an illusion that the initial questionhas been answered when in fact one is really no further ahead from where one started, orto obliterate the original question altogether. If an explicitly moral question arises in thecourse of one’s discussion, that discussion must necessarily belong to the moral category.If such a question arises, whether one wants to admit it or not, one is engaged in acategorically moral discourse. To introduce natural scientific concepts the moment onerecognizes a categorically moral question in an attempt either to answer or to bypass thatquestion, one commits the fallacy of swapping horses. In Collingwood’s terms, “the[horse] that has started the hare must catch it.” He goes on to argue:If the wretched [first] horse. . has stuck you in mid-stream you can floghim, or you can coax him, or you can get out and lead him; or you candrown as better men than you have drowned before, But you must notswap him even for the infinitely superior horse called Natural Science.For this is a magic journey, and if you do that the river will vanish andyou will find yourself back where you started.7The basic error committed when one falls victim to the fallacy is to treat “mind” (or“soul”) as if it belonged to the same category as “matter,” whereas each are the generic7Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 13.102objects of entirely different branches of knowledge. Intuitively, we already know this.Consider, for example, why it does not make sense to ask moral questions about thebehaviour of a falling rock.That “mind” (or “soul”) and “matter” (that which constitutes “body”) aregenerically different is not a recent discovery. Plato, for example, argued that the soul isa non-corporeal entity that is enslaved in a body, but which is nevertheless that body’slife principle. For Plato, one could never have knowledge (in the proper sense of theword) ofmatter--that which is apprehended by the senses--because the material world isin a constant state of flux--i.e., in a state ofbecoming. The world of “forms” or“essences,” on the other hand, constitute the real world--i.e., the world of being. To haveknowledge of anything is to have knowledge of that which is, not that which is becoming.Consequently, of the material world, one can only have opinion not knowledge. ForPlato the relationship between mind and body was not so much a theoretical problem as itwas a practical one. “Ifwe are ever to have pure knowledge of anything, we must get ridof the body and contemplate things by themselves with the soul by itself.”8Aristotle and Aquinas, on the other hand, took the material world much moreseriously. Nevertheless, they still employed Plato’s basic distinction between “mind” and“body.” For both these thinkers, the human person was a composite being. Not a soulimprisoned in and using a body as Plato insisted, but both body and soul.9 Collingwoodtakes up the same distinction. But largely to avoid questions about the relation between8See Phaedo, 66c-e. and Republic, books V, VI, VII.9Aristotle, De Anima, III, 4; Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, q. 75 a. 4, q. 76.103body and soul, he conceives the human person as all body and all soul (mind) dependingon the branch of knowledge employed. Hence, man is body in so far that the science ofnature is employed to study it, and man is mind in so far as the science ofmind isemployed to study it. To employ the science of nature to study mind, or the science ofmind to study body, is to forget that man is mind, in the first case, and that man is body,in the second. The same reasoning would apply if ever it was determined that rocks areboth bodies and minds and not just bodies alone. But since we are reasonably certain thatrocks are not minds, it makes no sense to apply moral epithets to their behaviour. In thesame way it makes no sense to apply moral epithets to the non-voluntary functions ofhuman body parts. A child cannot help sneezing and a parent would be silly if headmonished him for doing so. He can, however, help covering his mouth when hesneezes, and a parent rightly admonishes the child for not doing what he can and ought todo.With respect to the formulation and execution of foreign policy, are statesmenproperly conceived as bodies or as minds? Are they properly conceived as rocks--viz.,objects ofnatural scientific analysis--or as thinking and feeling human persons--viz.,objects of that branch ofknowledge called moral philosophy or ethics. It is obvious thatthey properly are conceived as minds and not as bodies. But this basic point oftenbecomes lost as discussions about international relations become more and moreabstract.1°As discussions approach state and system levels of analysis, that statesmen aret0This problem, however, is by no means limited to the study of international relations.This is one of the core existentialist critiques ofmodern man, a critique which must betaken seriously. See William Barrett, IrrationalMan: A Study in Existential Philosophy104feeling and thinicing human persons becomes less and less evident. Perhaps this isbecause the body ofknowledge employed in more abstract forms of analysis is based onan analogy with the natural sciences. The question, however, is whether the knowledgeobtained through these more abstract forms of analysis can be applied to the practice ofstatecraft at the level of human conduct. I do not think that it can. For to assert theabstract explanatory principle that states always act in their national interest does not helpthe statesman to decide between two or more policy alternatives “here and now” in thecontext of contingent circumstances, It does not help the statesman in the “here andnow” because two categorically distinct bodies of knowledge are involved. And toswitch between these two bodies of knowledge is to commit, in Gilbert Ryle’s terms, acategory error; or, in Collingwood’s terms, the fallacy of swapping horses. Let me nowpresent these errors in the terms that these two metaphysicians explained them.A concept, regardless ofwhether it concerns knowledge about mind events ornature events, is itself a mind event: an artifact. Chairs and tables are mind events in thatthey take human skill to produce them with the materials of nature. Hence, they too areartifacts. But not only are the objects themselves mind events, the names used to signi,’those objects are themselves mind events. Language, then, is also a mind event.Language, the only means we have for expressing mind events, is essentiallyindeterminate. This is especially true with concepts such as “the national interest,” “thestate,” “corporation,” “sovereignty,””law,” or “right,” among many others. Efforts todefine such concepts “reveal that these do not have the straightforward connection with(New York: Doubleday, 1958), especially Chapter I.105counterparts in the world of fact which most ordinary words have and to which we appealin our definition of ordinary words.”1’Many mind events can be assessed and described qualitatively and human beingsexpress this capacity with qualitative epithets. Gilbert Ryle calls these “mental-conductepithets” and, “in describing the minds of others and in prescribing for them” most peoplehave learned how to apply in concrete situations such mental-conduct epithets as ‘careful’,‘stupid’, ‘logical’, ‘unobservant’, ‘ingenious’, ‘vain’, ‘methodical’, ‘credulous’, ‘witty’, ‘selfcontrolled’ and a thousand others.”2It would be unthinkable to apply mental-conduct epithets to nature events. Forexample, if a physicist described the behaviour of a ball rolling down an inclined plane as‘witty’, or ‘vain’, he would be accused of talking nonsense. Instead, he describes the ball’sbehaviour quantitatively using the idiom ofmathematics. Nature events, however, canalso be described qualitatively as when we speak of a beautiful sunset or an ugly tree.However, such assessments belong not to that category ofmind event called naturalscience but, rather, to that category ofmind event called aesthetics. Mind eventsthemselves cannot be described quantitatively because for something to be described insuch a way it needs to be quantitatively determinate.The ability of an adult mind to distinguish readily a mind event from a natureevent requires little instruction and only a moment’s reflection. It should also be evident‘1H. L. A. Hart, “Definition and Theory in Jurisprudence”, The Law Quarterly Review70 (1954): 37.‘2Gilbert Ryle, The Concept ofMind (London: Hutchinson’s, 1955), p 7.106that different idioms are used to express knowledge ofmind events and nature events.What, however, is the basic feature that marks the distinction between mind events andnature events? The difference between the two is the difference between thought andmatter. What is the relationship between the two? Collingwood argues that the problemof determining the relationship between thought and matter isa bogus problem which cannot be stated without making a falseassumption. What is assumed is that man is partly body and partly mind.On this assumption questions arise about the relationship between the twoparts; and these prove unanswerable. 13Gilbert Ryle corroborates Collingwood’s claim by arguing that to suppose man ispart body and part mind is to subscribe to “Descartes’ myth.” But a myth, in Ryle’s view,is “not a fairy story.” Instead, “it is the presentation of facts belonging to one category inthe idioms appropriate to another. To explode a myth is not to deny the facts but to reallocate them.”’4 The myth that raises the question about the relation between body andmind Ryle labels, “with deliberate abusiveness, as ‘the dogma of the Ghost in theMachine.”5 And he hopes, in the course of his argument13R G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 10. Plato, Augustine, Aristotle andAquinas vehemently disagree. See, for example, Aquinas, Summa, I qq. 75, 76. QuotingAugustine, Aquinas argues that “man is not the soul alone, nor the body alone, but bothsoul and body.” (q. 75, a. 4) Aquinas’ detailed arguments are worth considering if onlybecause of his excellent commentary on the pre-Socratic, Platonic, and Neo-Platonicpositions on this issue. Whether or not the question is indeed answerable, Collingwood’sposition, if only temporarily and perhaps too strongly, circumvents the problem.Nevertheless, there seems to me to be more than a grain of truth in his argument that theassumptions and methods ofnatural science are positively ill-suited for studying humanconduct.‘4Ryle, p. 8.15Ryle, pp. 15, 16.107to prove that it is entirely false, and false not in detail but in principle. Itis not merely an assemblage of particular mistakes. It is one big mistakeand a mistake of a special kind. It is, namely, a category mistake. Itrepresents the facts ofmental life as if they belonged to one logicalcategory (or range of types or categories), when they actually belong toanother. 16Philosophy, in Ryle’s view, is the replacement of often mistaken “category-habits bycategory-disciplines.”17Collingwood’s concern here is identical to Ryle’s. For Collingwood, “man’s bodyand man’s mind are not two different things, but “one and the same thing” understood in“two different ways.” He adds fi.irther that:Not a part ofman, but the whole ofman, is body in so far as heapproaches the problem of self knowledge by the methods ofnaturalscience. Not a part ofman, but the whole ofman, is mind in so far as heapproaches the problem of self-knowledge by expanding and clarifyingthe data of reflection.’8Why is not the appropriate method for obtaining knowledge about matter also suitable forobtaining knowledge about concepts? To attempt to obtain such knowledge byemploying the methods appropriate to obtaining knowledge about matter is to commit, inCollingwood’s words, the Fallacy of Swapping Horses. And this mistaken attempt isbased, in Ryle’s words, on the Dogma of the Ghost in the Machine. In both cases, theerror in large part stems from a mistaken assumption about the relation between body (asconceived by the natural sciences) and mind (as conceived by the mental sciences) whenthere is, in his view, no relation between the two.‘6Ryle, p. 16.‘7Ryle, p. 8.18Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 11.108Man’s body is made ofmatter and the study ofman’s body belongs to thatgroup of studies which are concerned with ‘the material world’: what arecalled the natural sciences,’9Man’s mind, on the other hand, “is made of thought.” And the “sciences whichinvestigate mind. . . have certain peculiarities distinguishing them from the ‘naturalsciences.” The main difference is that a person can often learn “something utterly new tohim” through the natural sciences, whereas “the sciences ofmind teach him only things ofwhich he was already conscious.”20 This is because, unlike the natural sciences, “anyquestion in any science ofmind is provided by reflection.” And regardless of thequestions one asks himself, “the answers depend on the extent of his own reflection; noton distant travel, costly or difficult experiment, or profound and various learning.”Whereas “man as body is whatever the sciences ofbody say that he is. . . man as mind iswhatever he is conscious ofbeing.” The activity ofbecoming conscious ofone’s being iscalled introspection.If knowledge ofmind is obtained by thinking about one’s own thoughts (i.e.,reflection or introspection), knowledge of another individual mind’s creation (e.g., aconcept) is obtained by rethinking that other’s thoughts in one’s own mind. A student ofpolitical philosophy reading Plato’s Republic, for example,is trying to know what Plato thought when he expressed himself in certainwords. The only way in which he can do this is by thinking it for himself.This, in fact, is what we mean when we speak of’understanding’ the19R.G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan: OrMan, Society, Civilization andBarbarism. Revised Edition, ed., David Boucher (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992), p. 2.20Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 5-6.109words.2’For Ryle, understanding simply means following what is being done by theperson advancing those arguments. Understanding, of course, does not involve “merelyhearing the noises that your make, or merely seeing the movements that you perform.Instead, “it is appreciating how those operations are conducted.”22On reflection,however, it should be evident that although Ryle’s account is necessary, it is not asufficient account ofwhat it means to understand something. To understand Hobbes’Leviathan, for example, one must certainly appreciate how the argument is conducted.But to understand how the argument is conducted presupposes knowledge ofwhatHobbes is arguing about--that is, his objectives and concerns. In other words, to fullyunderstand Hobbes, one must also know the question (or questions) in his head for whichwhat he wrote was meant as an answer.23 One need not interview Hobbes to learn thosequestions. They can be inferred from what he wrote.Consequently, to understand the national interest one needs to rethink thethoughts of those statesmen who employ the idea. This, it must be emphasized, is notmerely a matter of repeating “parrot-wise” the words in which the national interest isinvoked or expressed.24 For the words themselves are not the data ofunderstanding--theydo not embody any material objects in the real world. Instead, the thoughts to which21RG Collingwood, The Idea ofHistory (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1956), p. 215,22Ryle, p. 61.23R G. Collingwood, An Autobiography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1991), p. 31.24Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 7.110those words refer are the object of conceptual understanding. On reflection, however,this is also true ofwords which signify material objects. For example, if one hears theword “chair” for the first time, he does not understand what it means until he sees theobject it was meant to signify. His understanding of the word occurs when an image ofthe object is matched with the word. An image is a very complex sort of thought thatwould take many words even to approach the kind of understanding an image represents--hence the saying: a picture paints a thousand words. In Hobbes’ words:The Imagination that is raysed in man. . . by words, or other voluntarysigns, is that we generally call understanding... 25Having no counterpart in the material world, however, concepts such as morality and thenational interest, are not conducive to that kind of understanding. Another kind ofunderstanding Hobbes refers as that kind of understanding “which is.. . theUnderstanding not onely his will; but his conceptions and thoughts, by the sequell andcontexture of the names of things into Affirmations, Negations, and other forms ofSpeech. •26 Further:When a man upon the hearing of any Speech, hath those thoughts whichthe words of that speech and their connexion, were ordained andconstituted to signify; Then he is said to understand it: Understandingbeing nothing else, but conception caused by Speech.27Hence, understanding the words “the national interest” is the conception raised inone’s mind by the use of those words--that is, to have those thoughts which the use of25Hobbes, p. 8.26Hobbes, p. 8.27Hobbes, p. 17.111those words were ordained and constituted to signify. To understand “matter,” on theother hand, one must employ the methods of the natural sciences. Further, it is an“egregious blunder” to suppose that physics and chemistry are the sciences ofmatter andthat “everyone knows what matter is.”A beginner in physics or chemistry does not know what matter is, and ifhe thinks he does it is the duty of his teacher to disabuse him; but heknows what physics or chemistry is; it is the stuff in this red text-book, orthe stuff old So-and-So teaches, or the stuffwe have on Tuesdaymornings.2Ifmatter is the proper object of those branches of knowledge called physics andchemistry, can it also be the proper object ofmoral philosophy? Conversely, if the ideaof the national interest is a proper object of that branch of knowledge called moralphilosophy, can it also be the proper object of the natural sciences? If the arguments ofCollingwood and Ryle are correct, the answers to each of these questions is “no.” Theidea of the national interest, having no relation to matter, cannot be the object of study forchemistry or physics. Surely all chemists and physicists recognize this. For if theysupposed that the national interest bore some relationship to matter, they would haveprovided some sort of a definition a long time ago. And, bearing no relationship tomatter, doubts are raised about whether the methods embraced by the bodies ofknowledge with matter as their proper object can be embraced by those bodies ofknowledge with mind as their proper object.However, to conceive of states and international relations in terms ofbilliardballs, forces, and systems is to conceive those relations in terms ofmatter. Hence, any28Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 3.112definition of the national interest that might work very well in light of those kinds ofanalyses cannot be transplanted into an analysis that conceives of those relations in termsof human conduct. To the extent that Collingwood and Ryle’s arguments are correct,they adequately show why it is that “the national interest,” conceived as an abstractexplanation ofwhy states do what they do, cannot help the statesman to decide betweenpolicy alternatives in the “here and now.” To suppose that it can is to commit the fallacyof swapping horses,113CHAPTER FOURINTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AS HUMAN CONDUCTThe basic contention in this chapter is that, rather than employing system level or statelevel perspectives, the idea of the national interest is clarified far more easily byconceiving international relations in terms ofhuman conduct. Given this contention, Istart out with the notion “state as actor” and inquire, from the perspective of humanconduct, about what its most likely meaning is. In other words, one might say that mypurpose here is to get to the bottom of that well-worn phrase. For it is often argued thatstates act (or ought to act) in their self interest--that is to say, in their national interest.What, then, does the expression mean? From the perspective of human conduct,what does it mean to say that states act in their self interest? Let me suggest four likelyanswers. In view of the purely descriptive or empirical version of the expression, on theone hand, it could mean that statesmen formulate and execute foreign policies based onthe aggregate of interests widely shared by the members of the bodypolitic. Or it couldmean that statesmen formulate and execute foreign policies based on what theyjudge willbenefit the bodypolitic. In view of the imperative version of the statement, on the otherhand, it could mean that statesmen ought to formulate and execute foreign policies basedon the aggregate of interests widely shared by the members of the bodypolitic. Or itcould mean that statesmen ought to formulate and execute foreign policies based on whattheyjudge will benefit the bodypolitic.It should be evident that Rosenau’s distinction between the subjectivist and114objectivist views of the national interest corresponds loosely with the first version of thetwo empirical statements and the first version of the two imperative statements,respectively. In other words, the subjectivist view of the national interest correspondswith the notion that statesmen act on the basis of interests widely shared by members ofthe body politic, and the objectivist view corresponds with the notion that statesmenought to act on the basis of such interests. These two views share in common the notionthat, with respect to the formulation and execution of foreign policy, the “state as actor”can be conceived in terms of shared interests among the members of the body politic--that is to say, by “state as actor” it is assumed that the shared interests ofthe body politicare driving (or ought to be driving) state action. The operative idea here is the notion ofshared interests and, consequently, by “state as actor” the American body politic isconceived as a society in the classical sense of the term. In the following pages I hope toshow not only that this assumption is based on a dubious political theory, but that it isanother of the main sources of confusion about the idea of the national interest.The notion that statesmen act (or ought to act) on what they judge will benefit thebody politic, on the other hand, is much closer to the truth concerning the facts of theAmerican political predicament. Paradoxically, the empirical version of this statement-i.e., that statesmen act on what they judge will benefit the body politic--is much moredifficult to prove than the imperative version is. Most, if not all, Americans know thatstatesmen ought to acton the basis ofwhat they judge will benefit the body politic, butmany are equally sceptical about whether this is indeed the case in any given instance.Many observers of foreign policy, rather than supposing that statesmen acted on the basis115ofwhat they judged will benefit the body politic, suppose that statesmen acted on thebasis ofwhat they judged would benefit themselves personally, their party, or somegroup other than the American body politic.’ But even in the best of conditions, suchsuspicions are intractably difficult to prove definitively--if only because it is impossibleto know, with metaphysical or physical certainty, the motives of another. A person’smotive (or motives) may or may not correctly be inferred by another merely on the basisof that person1sexternal, physical act. For although the external act generally has onevisible object, it can serve any number ofboth good and/or evil motives or ends.2Although it might not immediately be evident, to say that statesmen ought to acton the basis ofwhat they judge will be best for the body politic is very different fromsaying that statesmen ought to act on the basis of interests widely shared by the membersof the American body politic. Each of these views is grounded in an entirely differentassumption about the nature of the American body politic. The first statement does notassume that the American body politic is a society in the classical sense of the term,whereas the latter does. As indicated, this assumption is mistaken on the grounds that itdoes not reflect American political realities and, consequently, it contributes to much of‘This is the basic thrust Christopher Layne’s view. I shall be examining his argumentin chapter eight.2M example of an act with one object and at least two evil ends is the case of acontract killer. The object of the external, physical act is the death of the victim. Theends, however, can vary between those who contracted the killing and the contract killerhimself. The contractor merely could want to make money. Those who are paying themoney, on the other hand, could have any number of reasons. For more on thedistinction between the object and the end of a act See Thomas Aquinas, SummaTheologica, I-il, q. 18, a. 6.116the confusion about the idea of the national interest. This can be demonstrated, in part,by getting to the bottom of the abstraction: state as actor.Getting to the bottom of “State as actor”To conceive international relations in terms ofhuman conduct, then, one first must dealwith the notion that states are the primary actors in international relations. For if statesare conceived as actors, let alone primary actors, international relations cannot properlybe conceived in terms ofhuman conduct. My contention is that the notion “state asactor” is not an expression of reality but, rather, an abstraction from reality--and anentirely legitimate one at that. However, as long as it is remembered that it is justthat--i.e., an abstraction--the notion does not place an obstacle in the way of conceivinginternational relations in terms of human conduct. The aim of this section, then, is to getto the bottom of the abstraction. Once this has been done it will become clear that, inreality, human persons are the only actors in international relations, and that humanpersons occupying the special role of statesman are the primary actors.As a convenient short-hand expression and as a legal fiction, the expression “stateas actor” is used in its proper sense and should not be discredited in any way. Problemsarise, however, when the expression--in both a literal and a figurative sense--takes on alife of its own. In other words, problems arise when the abstraction is no longerconceived as an abstraction and is confused with reality itself These are the problemsthat need to be addressed before the national interest can be conceived as an intrinsicprinciple ofhuman action and not as a law or principle ofstate action. Only by117embracing the “state as actor” as a real living entity and infusing into it a meaningbeyond that ofmerely employing it as a short-hand expression or legal fiction does itbecome possible to speak of the state as acting in its own interests.What does one mean by the expression “state as actor?” Is it true to say that statesact? In one sense it is true, but in a more fundamental sense it is false. That thestatement is in one sense true and in another sense false is due largely to the ambiguity ofthe term “state.” This ambiguity is evident particularly when one considers the commonuse of the term in political theory or in discussions of domestic politics, on the one hand,and the common use of the term in international relations theory or in discussions ofinternational politics, on the other. What, exactly, is being referred to by “state” in eachof these two perspectives? The basic difference is that from a domestic perspective,citizens or “the public” are not generally considered as part of “the state,” whereas fromthe international perspective they are. In other words, from the international perspective,the term “state” often is used to mean “body politic,” whereas from the domesticperspective, “state” often signifies a functional, and categorically juridical idea in relationto the body politic. Put yet another way, from the international perspective, “state” oftensignifies a special type of concrete human organization, whereas from the domesticperspective--to the extent that it is ever employed to refer to an organization of concretepersons--it refers exclusively to the government and its apparatus. Hence, the ambiguityof the term “state” stems from its dual use as a categorically juridical idea signifying alegal person, on the one hand, and as a sociological idea signifying a particular groupingofhuman persons--whether it be the government or the body politic as a whole--on the118other. For the sake of this discussion, I attempt to avoid this initial ambiguity byreferring to countries like Canada, the United States, Iraq, and so on, as bodies politicrather than as states. And, when referring to governing bodies or their members, I shallemploy the terms “governments” or “statesmen,” as the case may be.With the foregoing specifications in mind, let me now consider first the sense inwhich the notion “state as actor” is true, and second the sense in which it is false, In thejuridical sense--that is, as a juridical abstraction signifying the body politic as a legalperson--the expression “state as actor” is entirely true, in the same sense that “corporationas actor” is entirely true. For in this sense we are speaking of legal persons, and it isentirely meaningful to speak of legal persons as actors in a legal sense. But it must beemphasized that a legal person is an abstraction, something which has no counterpart inthe real world. You cannot walk into a room and see states in the same way they you cansee tables, chairs, and living human beings.The notion “state as actor” breaks down, however, when we emphasize theconcrete reality behind the abstraction instead of the abstraction itself. This is the worldof concrete persons fulfilling a special role within the body politic, namely: the world ofhuman beings called statesmen who act on behalf of the body politic in relations withtheir counterparts acting on behalf of other bodies politic. When reflecting on this world,it does not make sense to speak of the state as actor because two categorically distinctentities are being confused thereby, namely: human persons, one the one hand, and legalpersons, on the other. This is what I refer to as the world of human conduct--Viz., aworld where it makes sense to rethink and discuss the human dispositions, frailties, and119thoughts behind real people in the persona of statesmen, the world from which the notion“state as actor” has been abstracted. The primary objects of study with respect to thisworld, then, are human persons along with their thoughts and actions from which theevents stem, and not the events themselves. To examine this world, one must draw uponbranches of knowledge not normally drawn upon in the more abstract levels of analysis.With respect to the organizational settings within which statesmen conduct their business,one must draw upon the branch of knowledge called political philosophy. With respectto human dispositions, fculties, and the nature of human choice and action, one mustdraw upon the branch of knowledge called philosophy of the human person. And,finally, with respect to the goodness or evil of those actions, one must draw upon thebranch of knowledge called moral philosophy.In the legal world, states are actors. In the world ofhuman conduct, on the otherhad, only human persons are actors. The state is not a living entity, therefore it cannot beconsidered as an actor in the world of human conduct, In this world, human beings acton behalf of other human beings which constitute a given body politic. With respect tointernational relations, these human acts of state are called foreign policies. And theseacts set in motion a whole series of other human acts on the part of other members of thebody politic (in the case ofwar, soldiers, sailors, and airmen--to mention a few) in orderto achieve the objectives set by those initial acts. In the world of human conduct, then, itis meaningful to conceive foreign policies not as “things” but, rather, as the consequencesof deliberative human action. To re-emphasize the words ofCharles Hughes: “foreign120policies are not built upon abstractions.”3 Instead, they are built upon practical humanchoices about what is best for the country in the circumstances. Although they areclearly acts performed by human beings--and, consequently, the proper objects of studyfor the philosophy of the human person--are foreign policies imputable human acts--viz.,are they categorically moral acts? In other words, are they proper objects of study formoral philosophy?At least tentatively, one can answer “yes” to those questions. Detailed reasons forsuch a response will be outlined in the next chapter. For now, logically prior questionsneed to be addressed in greater detail. What are the relationships between groups andinterests? Is there a distinction between the pursuer of an interest and a beneficiary ofthat interest? What is the nature of the body politic? Is it a society in the classical senseof the word? And what is the statesman’s relationship to the body politic? In short, Ineed to clarify for the reader my understanding of the nature of the body politic, thenature of interests with respect to the body politic, and the nature of the statesman’srelationship to the body politic before I can address questions ofwhether or not his or heractions are indeed imputable ones.Interests and their beneficiariesSince interests, it will be recalled, are desired states of affairs defined in terms ofcomplex norms, it is meaningful to conceive of interests as objectives or tangible3Cited in Charles Beard, The Idea ofNational Interest (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1966),p. 1,121purposes. Objectives and purposes, however, presuppose the existence of human actorsboth to establish those objectives and to pursue them through action, In light of this,what does one mean by the expression national interests? It means that at least some ofthe members of the body politic have set objectives in the name of the body politic. Itdoes not necessarily mean that all members have set those objectives--although there isan implication here that, regardless ofwhoever set those objectives, they were set for thebenefit of the body politic as a whole and not for the exclusive personal benefit of thosewho set them.But to say that objectives or purposes are set for the benefit of the body politic,does this imply that all members share those interests? Certainly not. What it implies isthat those who set those objectives expect a good portion of the body politic to derivesome benefit from those objectives, purposes, or interests once they have been secured.A distinction needs to be made, then, between purposes, objectives, or interests, on theone hand, and the intended beneficiaries of those interests, on the other.Often the distinction is not made between the interest itself (i.e., purpose,objective, or desired state of affairs), who actively is pursuing that interest, and theintended beneficiaries of that interest. This is particularly the case when nationalinterests are viewed as interests widely shared by the members of the body politic. Onreflection, however, the interests, purposes or desired states of affairs are not what arewidely shared among the members of the body politic. Instead, the benefits of thoseinterests are presumed and intended by statesmen to be widely shared among themembers of the body politic. Statesmen, on the other hand, do share those interests once122a collective decision has been made to pursue them. National interests, then, are notshared purposes of the body politic. They are shared purposes of statesmen which, oncerealized, are intended for the benefit of the body politic.Now, as it will be argued more fully in the following paragraphs, the notion ofshared purposes is the crowning principle of association and the defining feature of a“society” in the classical sense of the term. This suggests that the broad membership ofthe body politic, since they do not have a shared purpose, cannot constitute a society inthe classical sense of the term, It also suggests that statesmen, since they do share acommon purpose, do constitute a society in the classical sense of the term. That a bodypolitic cannot (and many would argue, ought not) be a society in the classical sense, andthat the government of the body politic is such a society, appear to be borne by the factsof our experience--at least of the American body politic and its government at the time,and in the context, of the Gulfwar.4 Our experience of that episode substantiates theclaim that the American body politic is not a society in the classical sense, and that theAmerican government is.The majority ofAmerican citizens did not actively share in the immediate interestor purpose of a liberated Kuwait. For that matter, as I will show in chapters seven andeight, many American citizens were not convinced that they even would derivea singular4This might be true for all times and all contexts, but I am not prepared to make such ageneralization. For in the context of total war, bodies politic most resemble societies inthe classical sense in that almost every adult member appears to share actively in asingular, united purpose, namely: total victory. The Gulfwar, at least from the Americanperspective, was not a total war. From the Iraqi perspective, on the other hand, it mighthave been.123benefit from that interest if and when it indeed was secured. The members of theAmerican government, on the other hand, for the most part evidently shared a purpose intrying to do what they thought best for the American body politic in the circumstances.In pure definitional terms, then, because the American body politic did not (and usuallydoes not) pursue a shared purpose, and because the American government did (andprobably usually does) pursue a shared purpose, the body politic is not, and thegovernment is a society in the classical sense.That is why it is meaningfiul to speak ofnational interests. Not because theAmerican body politic shares those interests (it cannot, because it is not a society), butbecause the members of the Government share those interests (they can, because they aremembers of a society). Further, the members of the government presume and intend thatthe body politic will benefit from those interests if and when they indeed are secured.Hence, They are called national interests because it is supposed that the body politic willbenefit from their procurement.It is meaningful to speak of a group’s interests, then, because some kinds ofhuman groups are defined as such by virtue of the shared interests or purposes of itsmembers. In such a grouping, human beings associate in order to pursue some specifiedshared interest. This kind ofhuman group is called a society or association, in theclassical sense of these terms. But there is another kind of human grouping--one which ismore accurately referred to as a class--that is not defined by shared interests but, rather,by shared characteristics. Hence, a group ofblonde and blue eyed persons can be definedas a group by virtue of sharing the characteristics of blonde hair and blue eyes--they need124not share any purpose in order to be conceived as a group. Further, there is a third kindofgroup--one which is often referred to as a civil society or non-social community--that“consists of a multitude of people engaged in the harmonious pursuit ofseparatepurposes.”5 That these three kinds of human groupings actually exist is not the realproblem here. Instead, the problem is that the same names--i.e., “society” or“association”--often are used to signif.j the three kinds ofgroups, whereas in politicaltheory it is crucial to distinguish them. And the important question here is this:Although the American body politic is clearly a human grouping, which of these threekinds does it most resemble?One might be tempted here to assume that the American body politic is a societyin the classic sense. On reflection, however, this is not a very safe assumption to make.For, it will be recalled, that a society in the classical sense is defined by virtue of theshared interests or purposes of its members, The S.P.C.A. is clearly a society in theclassical sense because people join the association for the interest or purpose ofpreventing cruelty to animals. Further, there is little dispute among the members aboutwhat their society’s purposes are. But it is by no means clear what the shared interests orpurposes are of that human grouping called the United States or, for that matter, theUnited Kingdom or Canada. Further, that there is much dispute about the aggregate ofAmerican shared interests leads one to suspect that perhaps there are none to be found in5Michael Donelan, Elements ofInternational Political Theory (Oxford: ClarendonPress 1990), p. 59. Emphasis mine. See also Michael Oakeshott, On Human Conduct(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975); and R. 0. Collingwood, The New Leviathan (Oxford:Clarendon Press, [1943] 1992), Part II.125the first place. And if this indeed is the case, it is questionable to assume that it is asociety in the classical sense of the term.Nevertheless, the idea of the national interest still seems to have somesignificance. For even if one were to reject, or merely to doubt, the assumption that theUnited States is a society in the classical sense of the term, one still is haunted with anagging suspicion that the expressions “the national interest” and “national interests”have significant meanings. After all, American statesmen invoked the national interestboth to oppose and to support offensive military action against Iraqi forces. Further,American scholars invoked the national interest both to condemn and to vindicate theAmerican decision to employ such force. How, then, does one reconcile the saferassumption that the American body politic is not a society in the classical sense with thepersistent notion that the national interest is significant?The two can be reconciled if it can be shown that the statesman him or herself is amember of an association in the classical sense, and that the overriding shared purpose ofthose persons is to pursue what is best for the body politic as a whole--viz., to pursueobjectives which benefit the body politic. But that state of affairs or interest which isbest to pursue cannot be stated in the abstract, but only in substantive terms in light ofcontingent circumstances. At the individual level this is determined through the normalhuman process of deliberation and choice. At the collective level this is determined byconstitutionally prescribed deliberative procedures and decision rules. Nevertheless,specific choices made by this society ofgovernors are (or ought to be) always inclined ina certain direction. The national interest is an affirmation that one’s choices are inclined126to the good of the body politic, and not toward the statesman’s personal interest, a sub-national group or person’s interest, or an extra-national group or person’s interest. Butmerely to reaffirm that one’s choices are inclined toward the national interest, explainslittle about why the statesman thinks those choices are best for the country. Hence, whena statesman in response to public scrutiny justifies his or her policy choice on grounds of“the national interest,” one perhaps should squeeze the issue fhrther by asking: “Ah yes!You have reaffirmed for me the interior inclination ofyour will to act in the best interestof the United States and not some other interest, And I thank you for that. But by merelyreaffirming the interior inclination of your will--i.e., toward the national interest--youhave not explained to me why you think this policy is best.” Perhaps the reason why “thenational interest” has so much rhetorical power is because it is a partial justificationmasquerading as a fhll one.But the national interest is only part of the story, What about national interests?The national interest is not the aggregate of interests shared by the country’s citizens. Itcannot be the case because only a society can have shared interests and American citizensdo not constitute a society in the classical sense. Nevertheless, it is still meaningful tospeak about American national interests. It is meaningfi.ii because the governmentpursues (or ought to pursue) interests--i.e., purposes, desired states of affairs, orobjectives--for the benefit of the American body politic and the members ofgovernmentdo constitute a society in the classical sense. In other words, the members ofgovernmentconstitute a society by virtue of having shared purposes or interests, and the members ofthe body politic do not constitute a society by virtue of not having shared purposes or127interests. Because the members of government (“statesmen,” for the sake of thisdiscussion) pursue common purposes for the benefit of the body politic, it is meaningfulto refer to those shared purposes as national interests.The notion “state as actor,” although a convenient short hand expression, obscuresa rather complex set of relationships--viz., relationships between statesmen, citizens, thestatesmen of other body politics, and their citizens--that come to light when one attemptsto conceive international relations in terms of human conduct. Primarily, it obscures thedistinction between the different kinds of human groupings that are involved--distinctionsthat must be maintained if one wants to clarifS’ the idea of the national interest. I shallnow examine these distinctions in greater detail.Societies and non-social communitiesThat not all human groupings necessarily have shared purposes or interests is noticed, invarying degrees of clarity, by a number of political theorists. Michael Oakeshott, amongothers, notices this and Terry Nardin borrows this insight and attempts to apply it tointernational relations theory. More specifically, Nardin attempts to apply a modificationof Oakeshott’s ideas to questions of international organization and justice.6 He arguesthatmany people (including some distinguished political theorists) haveunderstood the state. . . as an enterprise whose purpose is the promotionof the common interests of its members.The tendency to think in purposive terms disposes us to see human6Terry Nardin, Law, Morality, and the Relations ofStates (Princeton NJ: PrincetonUP, 1983).128arrangements and institutions as springing from transactions grounded inshared values and aims. Some of these transactions are ephemeral, merebargains struck between individuals who then proceed along their separatepaths. Others result in the foundation ofmore lasting relationships, in theestablishment of families, corporations, universities, or churches. In eachcase, however, the key to the relationship is to be found in the benefitsanticipated from exchange or from more enduring cooperative behaviour.To understand human beings as related on the basis of shared purposes isto see them as united above all else by an interest in what association canprovide: by wants satisfied, values realized, beliefs reaffirmed, interestsprotected, goals achieved.7Without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with the general thrust of hisargument, Nardin nevertheless obscures an important distinction by grouping togetherunder the rubric “purposive association” both “ephemeral” transactions and “more lastingrelationships.” A mere transaction between buyer and seller is indeed a transactionalrelationship between persons, and it is most probably a purposive transaction as well.But there is a categorical difference between, on the one hand, a mere transaction ofexchange and, on the other hand, a group of persons getting together to pursue a sharedpurpose or interest. The problem here is not with the adjective “purposive,” but what isbeing modified by that adjective in each instance.It seems to me that a human transaction, on the one hand, and a humanassociation, on the other, are categorically distinct. Certainly, each instance describes apurposive human relationship, but they are categorically different kinds of relationship.The first instance--that is, between buyer and seller--is an example of a humanrelationship called a transaction. But the latter instance--that is, what results whenpeople become associates--is an example of a human relationship called an association.7Nardin, p. 4.129Transactions and associations are not the same thing; but association does presuppose atransaction of a special kind. Although Nardin often confhses the two, I will take“purposive association” to mean exclusively the latter form of relation. This, I think, isalso what Oakeshott takes it to mean.Like Nardin, Oakeshott begins his account by grouping together the moreephemeral buyer and seller relation with the more durable relation under the rubric“transactional mode of association.” But Oakeshott soon recognizes the force of thedistinction and refers to the latter as an “enterprise association.” In an enterpriseassociation “the associates recognize themselves, not as parties related in an engagementof exchange designed to satisfy their different wants, but as colleagues, partners,comrades or accomplices joined in seeking a common substantive satisfaction.”8 R. G.Collingwood refers to this kind of association as a society; but “society” in what heconsiders to be the narrow and classical sense of the word. Why Oakeshott and Nardinchoose to create new terms rather than employ the classical one might be due to theambiguous meaning of the word “society.” Nevertheless, Oakeshott, Nardin, andCollingwood, although they use different terms, are talking about the same thing, namely:a “society” in the narrower classical sense of the word.Collingwood anticipates the possible confusion due to the multiple senses of“society” and sets out to distinguish them. He argues that there are at least two senses of8Michael Oakeshott, “The Rule ofLaw,” On History and Other Essays (Oxford: BasilBlackwell, 1983), pp. 122-23. In another work, Oakeshott refers to the transactionalmode of human association as “enterprise association” and “purposive association”, OnHuman Conduct (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975), pp. 114-118, 157-158, 313, 315-317.130the term ‘society’: a specific and classical sense borrowed from Roman Law, and a muchbroader sense developed in the seventeenth century. Collmgwood emphasizes that thesetwo senses, “for the purposes ofpolitical study must be distinguished: confhsion isfatal.”9 The broader sense of the term is used, for example, to refer to a “society ofplants”, “society of animals”, “society of ants”, or a “society of bees.” In short, the wordis used “in a sense that would have outraged a Roman lawyer, not so much because itinvolved speaking of an ant or bee as if it were a Roman citizen but because it involvedspeaking of it as if it were possessed of free will,”10A society in the narrower classical sense, on the other hand, is a relation betweenmoral agents who “join together of their own free will in joint action.”1Collingwoodgives examples such as “the Co-operative Wholesale Society”, “the Royal Society”, and“the County Society.”2 Oakeshott gives examples such as “the Society for thePropagation ofChristian Knowledge”, “the Anti-Bloodsports League”, and the “LicensedVictuallers Association.”13 Finally, Nardin gives more generic examples such ascorporations, universities and churches.To identify the individual members of a society as free agents is to say that theymust be capable ofbeing accountable to the society and capable of holding others within9R. G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 130.10Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 134.‘Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 132.‘2Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 133.13Oakeshott, p. 123.131that society accountable. In the context ofRoman Law, free moral agents werepersonae--that is, “human beings capable of sueing and being sued, who must be freemen and not slaves, Roman citizens and not foreigners, male and adult, not in the manusorpatriapotestas of another but heads of families.”14 Ofcourse, these particulars havenot been maintained to this day. Forpersona Collingwood substitutes “person,” meaning“an agent possessed of, and exercising free will.”5 Oakeshott retains the expressionpersona, but means by it an abstract singular aspect of a person’s total relationships withothers and defined in terms of a particular mode of association, In his words, “whilepersons may have (and indeed be largely composed oO a variety of kinds of relationshipwith others and move between them without confbsion, the subject in a mode ofrelationship is always an abstraction, apersona, a person in respect ofbeing related toothers in terms of distinct and exclusive conditions.”6 For example, between concretepersons, say, in a family situation, there can exist a diversity ofmodal relationships thatcan be abstracted from. the concrete relationship. The two people can be related in thepersona of lovers in the spiritual sense, as lovers in the emotional sense, as sexualpartners in the biological sense, and as marriage partners in the legal sense, Anotherexample is the statesman. He or she is a person in Collingwood’s sense and can beattributed with van ous personae in Oakeshott’s sense. Hence, in addition to the personaof statesman, the person could also be a spouse, citizen, lodge member, and what have‘4Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 132.‘5Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 144.‘6Oakeshott, p. 120.132you. Each one of these senses represents a distinct mode of relationship, which in turn isdefined by distinct and exclusive conditions. Whereas a real person can wear all of these“hats” at the same time, the abstract conception ofpersona, as Oakeshott defines it, canonly wear one of them.But what are the “distinct and exclusive conditions” that define that entity knownas the enterprise association (as Oakeshott calls it), the purposive association (as Nardincalls it), and society (as Collingwood calls it)? For Oakeshott:Association here is the assemblage of an aggregate of power to compose acorporate or an associational identity designed to procure a wished-forsatisfaction, It is constituted in the choice and recognition of a commonpurpose to the pursuit ofwhich each associate undertakes to devote aquantum of his power; that is, his time, energy, means, skill and so on.The Associates arepersonae, persons in respect of their devotion to thecommon cause. The engagement occupies time, it is a call uponresources, it looks to the thture, it is inherently terminable and mayterminate with the achievement of its purpose or the dissolution of theassociation. “Collingwood identifies this view with the classical understanding of association.But, unlike Oakeshott and Nardin, he limits his use of the terms “society” and“association” to the classical understanding. For Collingwood, the difference betweensociety understood in the broader sense developed in the 17th century as standing for agenus, and society understood in the narrower classical sense developed by Roman law isan essential difference:each of them has a suum cuique; [i.e.] in each of them the members have ashare in something that is divided among them; but in a society proper theestablishment and maintenance of the suum cuique is effected by their‘7Oakeshott, p. 123.133joint activity asfree agents.’8The activity that brings a society in its classical sense into existence is a social contract,“a contract to become socii, [i.e.] partners.” According to Roman Law, there are threeindispensable elements to a social contract:(1) reciprocal agreement(2) common interest (all parties must stand to gain under the terms of thepartnership); and(3) affectus societatis, a bona fide intention to form a partnership.’9In addition, a social contract gives rise to three obligations:(1) to make your own contribution to the expenses of the partnership;(2) to promote the interests of the partnership with the same care whichyou would devote to your private interests;(3) to share profit and loss with the other partners.2°Given this account it should be evident that not all human groupings, therefore, aresocieties narrowly conceived. A family consisting ofparents and small children is aperfect example. The relationship between the parents can be conceived as a society inthe classical sense, but the relationship between the parents and children cannot.Collingwood refers to this kind of human grouping as a non-social community. That thiskind ofhuman grouping is not a society in the classical sense remains true even when the‘8Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 136.‘9Collingwood, The New Leviathan, pp. 132-33.20Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 133.134Roman definition is updated and modified--modified, that is, not in its essentials (as the17th century definition) but in its inessentials. Instead of being initiated by a socialcontract--that is, adhering to the three conditions of reciprocal agreement, commoninterest, and affectus societatis--associates need only to decide to initiate partnership “inany terms that make his decision clear to the other or others.” And, instead of giving riseto the three obligations, “every party, by making the contract, declares his will to pursuethe common aim of the society,” whatever obligations such an aim may entail.What he contracts to do (what Roman law calls the ‘obligation’ to whichhis participation in the contract subjects hi±n) is solely to pursue thecommon aim: the detail of this ‘obligation’ will depend on the detail of theaim. By what [is called] the Principle ofLimitedLiability his ‘obligation’is limited to this aim and all it implies, the latter often including much notspecified in any description of the aim.No society has a claim on its members involving more than this. Itis in the nature of a society that the obligations ofmembership should belimited to obligations involved in the pursuit of the common aim.21A small child does not declare his membership in the family unit: he is simply born intoit, Nor does he declare his will to contribute to the common aim of his parents, whateverit may be: he simply does what his parents tell him to do. A hockey team, on the otherhand, is a society whose associates endorse the common aim--by virtue of declaring theirmembership in terms acceptable to that society--to win hockey games. Hence, it is in theteam’s interest to win hockey games, and the intrinsic principle of each members actionsin their capacity as members is the team interest. By declaring his intention to become amember of that society, the player incurs obligations implied by the aim of the team: hemust keep fit during the off-season, he must show up at practices and on time, he must21Collingwood, The New Leviathan, pp. 144-45.135concentrate on maintaining and developing the instrumental skill which his role in thesociety (position on the team) entails, he must show up at the practices and games sober,his personal conduct during play must adhere to the adverbial conditions which, takentogether, define the game of hockey--that is, he must know and play by the rules of thegame. By the Principle ofLimited Liability, however, the associate is not obligated bythe team to marry this person rather than another. Nor is he required to buy this brand ofautomobile rather than that. In short, where the member’s activities bear no relation tothe society’s principle aim--to win hockey games--no obligation is incurred.Nardin, Oakeshott, and Collingwood, then, all agree that purposiveness is theessence of association properly understood in the narrower classical sense. Mereexistence side by side, mere participation or share in that quality called humanity, mutualreceipt of each other’s infliction ofmilitary power, or having a fhnction and place withinthe bee hive or ant nest, does not even approach the classical meaning of the verb: toassociate.Nevertheless, by using the term “association” to identify different modes ofhuman relationship, Oakeshott and Nardin possibly invite some confusion about theirrespective projects. Oakeshott, perhaps with good reason, believes that a body politicorganized as a society in the classical sense would lead to a questionable, if notintolerable, existence on the part of its citizens. Instead, he appears to value a mode ofrelationship based on the rule of law. However, he calls that ideal relationship a mode ofassociation, And this might not be entirely appropriate given that he wants to distinguish“society” in its classical sense from an entirely different kind of relationship. In other136words, his proposed ideal structure based on the notion of the rule of law or civilassociation--that is, a set of adverbial non-instrumental conditions which, in his view,ought to govern the relationships and transactions between people, associations, andstates--would more accurately be referred to as a mode ofrelationship rather than a modeof association. In this way, the crucial distinction between society understood in theclassical sense and society understood in the broader sociological sense can bemaintained with greater clarity.Given the foregoing discussion, we are in a much better position to considerwhether or not the American body politic is a society in the classical sense of the term. Isit the kind ofgrouping “where men come together to co-operate in a single commonpurpose, as, for example, in a business company?” For, according to Michael Donelan,“the more mercantile type ofRealist habitually talks as though his country were a greattrading corporation, competing with the rest of the world.”22 On the grounds that sharedpurposes or interests among the members of the American body politic are conspicuouslyabsent, I have argued that it is not. Further, in pointing to the history of political thoughton the question, Collingwood notes that even though the body politic was regarded as asociety by the Greeks and Romans, it is not generally regarded as such by modernthinkers.23And this change in thinking, he argues, occurred not in the twentieth centurybut, rather, in the middle ages.Ancient political life is the life, and ancient political theory the theory, of22Donelan, pp. 59-60.23Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 177,137the city (polls), which was a society made up of citizens upon whom non-citizens were dependent. Medieval political life is the life, and medievalpolitical theory the theory, of the ‘state’ (l’etat, lo stato), a term belongingto the international European language of the later Middle ages andderived from the Latin status, used as a legal term for a man’s status withregard to rights.In the Middle Ages a very remarkable change of opinion had comeabout as to what the body politic was. People had come to think of thebody politic no longer as a society, a community of free and adult mencollectively managing their own affairs; they had come to think of it moreas a collection of human animals, not necessarily free and not necessarilymale, but just human. Hence in the Middle Ages a body politic wasconceived as a non-social community; not a self-ruling body of adultEnglishmen or what not, but simply a collective name for people born in acertain place.24In short, the ancients conceived the body politic or city not as a mere collection ofpeopleand buildings within a demarcated geographical space but, rather, as an association ofcitizens--a society. To be sure, women, children, slaves, and foreigners inhabited theconfines of the space controlled by the citizens, but they were either “privately dependenton individual citizens,” or “publicly dependent upon groups of citizens.”25Hence, suchpeople were not conceived as part of the body politic but, rather, as dependents either ofindividual associates (citizens), or of the body politic itself (the city). During the MiddleAges, a wider--but not necessarily more inclusive--conception ofbody politic came intobeing, not because all human beings were conceived as self-ruling associates but, rather,because the body politic became more and more identified with geographical space andnot with any particular qualities ofmoral agency.It is unsafe to assume, then, that the United States is a society conceived in the24Collingwood, The New Leviathan, pp. 178-79.25Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 177.138narrow classical sense. Instead, it is safer to assume that it is what Collingwood refers toas a non-social community. For the vast majority ofnew members to a nationalcommunity are simply born into it and, although this is an accepted way ofbecoming amember of the national community, it is not the way one associates with anyone oranything. The activity of association requires free moral agency--a faculty infant humanbeings do not possess. Since the nation state is not an association, it is very difficult,under normal circumstances, to speak of national interests as being shared by allmembers of the body politic because a group’s interests presuppose shared purposes orends. If the group does not have a purpose or objective, it cannot be said to have anygeneral interest--although the people and groups that constitute it can have particularinterests. Shared purposes or objectives--hence, interests--are the essence of association.Without shared interests, there is no reason to associate, There is, however, no suchrequirement for communities to exist. Communities are a mere anthropological fact--they require no act ofmoral agency on the part of anyone to bring them into existence.They simply exist.Communities, then, can exist without having a shared purpose and, consequently,the members need no shared interests in order to sustain the community. The momentmembers of a community agree on an interest to preserve or pursue marks itstransformation from a mere community into a society with respect to that interest. Or, ifthere is no general agreement on one interest but partial agreement on separate interests,the community is transformed into a community of societies with respect to thoseseparate interests. Sociologists call these separate entities within the community “interest139groups,” but a Roman lawyer would call them societies, Oakeshott calls them enterpriseassociations, and Nardin calls them purposive associations. Many such associations callthemselves societies, for example, the Royal Society or the Society for the Prevention ofCruelty against Animals. Others call themselves associations, for example, the CanadianManufacturers Association or the Licensed Victuallers Association. And the conditioncalled “pluralism” refers to a community made up ofmany such societies. That thiscondition accurately describes the American body politic, as far as I can tell, is beyonddispute--at least among domestic political theorists.But the fact that some or all members of a community can agree on one or moreshared interests presupposes not only a way that the associates are mutually intelligible toeach other (how else could they know that they have a common interest?), but a “mutualrecognition of certain conditions which. . . specif’ right and wrong in conduct. .The members of the community must have some grounds for reasonably anticipating thatforming a society on the basis of a shared interest will actually prove to serve thatinterest. In other words, they must have some preconceived notion about socialobligations and what they entail from associates. Hence, association presupposes amorality conceived as “a vernacular language of intercourse.”27Association, then,presupposes both community and a shared morality--a moral community. Oakeshottcalls this moral association, but keeping in mind the distinction between the two sensesof the word society, it would be more accurate to call it a moral community.26Oakeshott, p. 132.27Oakeshott, p. 133.140It is meaningful to speak of a community of humankind by virtue of the fact thatall human beings share in that quality called humanity. It is not clear, however, whetherit is meaningful to speak of humankind as a moral community. Nevertheless, it ismeaningful to speak of a moral community of states. Hence, what Hedley Bull calls asociety of states, is more properly referred to as a moral community of states. There is,however, an international entity that is properly called a society of states, namely, theUnited Nations, And by virtue of his country’s membership in that society, anothercomplexity is added to the life of the statesman. In his persona as statesman, he is anassociate of his country’s governing body and an associate of the United Nations--although in a somewhat indirect sense.By design, the United Nations, for which the UN Charter is the expression orconstitution, conforms very much to the classical idea of society. This is not to say,however, that all the partners have always fulfilled their obligations under the contractsince its inception; for it can easily be shown that this is not the case. But a failure tomeet one’s obligations, far from proving that a contract does not exist, proves the preciseopposite. For to argue that one has not lived up to the requirements of a contractpresupposes that a contract indeed exists.The first indispensable element of a social contract--reciprocal agreement--isclearly evident through the number of signatories to the Charter. The common interest orpurpose of the society--viz., world peace and security--is explicitly stated in thepreamble:WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINEDto save succeeding generations from the scourge ofwar, which141twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.,AND FOR THESE ENDSto practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another asgood neighbours, andto unite our strength to maintain international peace and security,andto ensure, by the acceptance ofprinciples and the institution ofmethods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the commoninterest.HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISHTHESE AIMSAt least according to HG. Nicholas’ account2X, it appears that the parties had a bona fideintention to form a partnership. Finally, Article 2 of the Charter imposes on its membersthe following obligations, among others:3) All members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful meansin such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are notendangered.4) All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threator use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of anystate, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.5)All members shall give the United Nations every assistance in anyaction it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain fromgiving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is takingpreventative or enforcement action.But these obligations entail further obligations. The UN Security Council, “[i]n order toensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations,” has the “primaryresponsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.. . “(Art 24 para1), and it “shall act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles [Arts 1 and 2] of theUnited Nations” (Art 24 para 2). In view of this burden, the Security Council is granted“specific powers. . . for the discharge of these duties” which “are laid down in Chapters28H G. Nicholas, The UnitedNations as a Political Institution, 5th ed. (London:Oxford UP, 1975), especially chapters 1 through 4.142W,VII, VIII, and XII” (Art 24 para 2). Finally, “Members of the United Nations agree toaccept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the presentCharter” (Art 25).Although the United Nations is clearly a society in the classical sense (inOakeshott’s terms, an enterprise association; and in Nardin’s terms, a purposiveassociation) it sets out to accomplish its purposes by establishing “non-instrumental ruleswhich impose obligations to subscribe to adverbial conditions in the performance of theself chosen actions of all who fall within their jurisdiction”29in addition to remedial rulesfor fulfilling that purpose ifMembers do not fulfil their social obligations. Hence, in theUN we have an example of an enterprise association achieving its purposes through whatOakeshott considers to be non-instrumental rules--a kind of rule that he ascribes to themode of association based on the rule of law. Also, in the UN we have a response to E.H. Carr’s penetrating critique of the so-called internationalist core argument:The utopian assumption that there is a world interest in peace which isidentifiable with the interest of each individual nation helped politiciansand political writers everywhere to evade the unpalatable fact of afundamental divergence of interest between nations desirous ofmaintaining the status quo and nations desirous of changing it.3°What Carr realistically failed to foresee at the time he advanced his critique was that theutopian vision would to a certain extent prevail as a hard reality in post-second world warinternational relations. There are many weak states--what Robert H. Jackson refers to as29Oakeshott, p 136.30Cited in Robert W. McElroy, Morality andAmerican Foreign Policy: The Role ofEthics in InternationalAffairs (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992), p. 17.143quasi-states31--th t owe their continued existence almost entirely to the principles andpurposes upheld by the UN Charter. This was particularly evident during the SecurityCouncil debates on Resolution 660 (1990) immediately following the Iraqi invasion ofKuwait. The representative from Malaysia argued that the principles of the UN Charterare “particularly important to protect the sovereignty of small States.”32 Likewise, therepresentative from Colombia argued that “the sovereignty and self-determination ofsmall states, which make up the majority ofmembers of the United Nations, will bejeopardized if. . . we were to condone the use of force. . . . Finally, that the vastmajority of states are signatories to the UN Charter is a reasonable indication that there isa widespread tendency at least to pay lip service to a shared interest in world interstatepeace and security--the purpose for which it is the United Nations to maintain.Although it is possible to establish the purposes, and thereby the general interests,of the United Nations, it is not quite that simple to establish the purposes--henceinterests--of any state. Keeping in mind the general purposes of the United Nations, it isrelatively easy to establish what its specific substantive interests are in any given set ofconcrete historical circumstances. For example, the purpose of the United Nations is tomaintain international peace and security--a purpose explicitly stated in the Charter.Hence, it is in the general interest of the United Nations that international peace and31Robert H. Jackson, Quasi-states: Sovereignly, InternationalRelations and the ThirdWorld (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990), pp. 22-26; and “Quasi-states, Dual Regimes,and Neoclassical Theory”, International Organization, Vol 41 (Autumn 1987): 5 19-49.32E Lauterpacht, et al., eds., The Kuwait Crisis—Basic Documents (Cambridge:Grotius, 1991), p. 101.33Lauterpacht et al., p. 100.144security be maintained. If and when a situation arises that threatens or breachesinternational peace and security, it is in the interest of the United Nations to dispel thethreat or repair the breach. But what is the purpose of the United States ofAmerica? Orwhat is the purpose ofCanada? The United Kingdom? In other words, what is thepurpose of the body politic called a nation state? This question cannot be answeredbecause these bodies politic are not enterprise associations (in Oakeshott’s terms),purposive associations (in Nardin’s terms), or, in other words, societies in the classicalsense.34The question ofwhether the American body politic is a society in the classicalsense--and, therefore, an enterprise association--I have answered in the negative.Nevertheless, it is a question which structures the main division among what Rosenauidentifies as the two main views about the idea of national interest. One approach--whatRosenau refers to as the “objectivist view”--assumes that the nation state is indeed asociety. Consequently, the adherents of this view continue to search for that final andundisputed substantive definition of the national interest--conceived as the aggregate ofshared purposes. The other approach--what Rosenau refers to as the “subjectivist view”-does not necessarily assume that the nation state is a society (although many do), butdoes assume that its governing body necessarily is. Consequently, many adherents ofthis view suppose that the search for a substantive definition of shared purposes amongthe body politic is futile. Instead, they look to what a country’s decisionmakers decide.345ee Collingwood’s discussion on whether the body politic is a society or a non-socialcommunity, The New Leviathan, pp. 177-83.145This latter assumption appears to be borne out by the facts.But, having said that contemporary bodies politic such as the United States arenot societies in the classical sense and, consequently, have no shared purposes orinterests, through their foreign policies they nevertheless project a unity ofpurposeleading one to suppose that there is indeed a unity of purpose that can be ascribed to thecountry as a whole. How does one resolve this projection ofunited purpose in foreignpolicy with the fact that bodies politic are not societies in the classical sense? For only asociety in the classical sense can have a unity of purpose or interest.Although it is safe to assume that the American body politic is more like a nonsocial community than a society, its governing body is more like a society in the classicalsense of the term. Hence, it makes sense to speak of the governing body as having sharedpurposes or interests. And that shared interest or purpose is (or ought to be) to take careof the good of the body politic. I am glossing over some distinctions here, for it ispossible to identifj more specific purposes for each of the executive, legislative, andjudicial branches of government. But for the purpose of this discussion it is reasonable tocombine their separate purposes under the more general one because the institutionalchecks and balances between the three branches were put in place for the general good ofthe body politic.The American Constitution not only specifies the role of the governing body inrelation to the body politic, but specifies how it is to be structured as well. Interestingly,the preamble to the Constitution also states the purpose of the body politic itself. Hence,the United States was originally conceived as a society in the classical sense:146We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfectUnion, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for thecommon defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the BlessingsofLiberty to ourselves and to our Posterity do ordain and establish thisCONSTITUTION for the United States ofAmerica.I have emphasized the words “in Order to” in the preamble to show that the body politicwas constituted for a number of purposes. Hence, at its conception the American bodypolitic was constituted as a purposive association, in Oakeshott’s terms, or a society in theclassical sense. Since it originally was conceived as a society, it is meaningfi.il to speakof its fi.mdamental domestic interests at that time, namely: union, justice, tranquillity,defence, the general welfare, and liberty. Further, since it was conceived as a society, theassociates took on an obligation to promote those fundamental common interests with thesame effort he would promote his own interests.Although initially conceived as a society, the United States today is more like anon-social community. Regardless, the governing body is clearly a society whosepurposive duty it is to uphold the Constitution and all that it entails, including theresponsibilities to maintain the union, to maintain justice, to maintain domestictranquillity, to defend the body politic, to promote the general welfare, and to maintainthe liberty of its citizens. People become members of this society by election orappointment as established by United States law. Because legislative power and thepurse is vested in Congress and executive power and the sword is vested in the President,political35 activity within and between the two branches is required to produce policy in35j mean political activity in the specific and non-pejorative sense developed byBernard Crick, In Defence ofPolitics (Middlesex: Penguin, 1964)147any given set of circumstances. Since the explicit duty and purpose of the state is togovern for the general good of the body politic, the specific policies it produces are bydefinition in the interest of the United States. This, according to Rosenau, is the centralinsight of the “subjectivist” view on the national interest.36 But merely becauseindividual statesmen have a duty to establish and pursue those objectives which benefitthe body politic, it does not mean they always will, either because ofmalevolent intent orincompetence.From the subjectivist perspective, the substantive national interests in anyindividual set of circumstances are whatever the country’s decision makers decide.37Nye, for example, argues that, “In a democracy the national interest is what a majority,after discussion and debate, decides are its legitimate long-run shared interests in relationto the outside world.” Consequently, he concludes, “there is nothing mysterious aboutthe national interest. It is simply the set of interests that are widely shared by Americansin their relations with the rest of the world.”38 It should be noted, however, that what thecountry’s decisionmakers decide is not necessarily the set of interests American citizenswidely share--although it could be. It should also be noted that although Nye is using theexpression “the national interest” in this context he is actually referring to nationalinterests, Nevertheless, a virtue of the subjectivist view is that it posits no necessary36James Rosenau, “National Interest,” International Encyclopedia of the SocialSciences, p. 36.37Rosenau, p. 36.38Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “Why the GulfWar Served the National Interest” AtlanticMonthly (July 1991): 54, 56.148relationship between interests widely shared by citizens and the foreign policy choicesmade by the government. At the same time it does not deny that this could be the case.Nor does it assert--for the purpose ofvalue free empirical and conceptual analysis on thepart of the observer--that this ought to be so. Hence, one ofRosenau’s critiques of thesubjectivist view does not stand up to scrutiny.The recognition that many groups in a nation have different and oftenconflicting concepts ofwhat external actions and policies are best forit. . . gives rise to as many conceptual and methodological difficulties as itavoids.39Having stated this objection, however, he quickly backs out of it by asserting that “mostsubjectivists avoid these complex, seemingly insurmountable problems by relying on aprocedural rather than a substantive definition of the national interest,”40 Thus, hisobjection is really no objection after all. He defines the subjectivist view as one thatrecognizes national interests as those states of affairs which a country’s decision makerspursue in any given situation, and then goes on to show, in the course of criticizing theview, why the subjectivist probably adopts that view in the first place. Then heconcludes:Operationally, the substantive content of the national interest thusbecomes whatever a society’s officials decide it to be, and the maindeterminant of the content is the procedure by which such decisions aremade.41Far from being a critique of the subjectivist view, it is merely a restatement of its39Rosenau, p. 37.4°Rosenau, p. 38.41Rosenau, p. 38.149virtue. It is a view that--perhaps implicitly--distinguishes the state as a society separatefrom the body politic it is charged to govern. As a distinct enterprise association itnecessarily has a general purpose for which it was constituted as well as specificidentifiable purposes in any given set of concrete circumstances. The purposes of asociety, it will be recalled, determine what its substantive interests are likely to be, andthe purposes of the American government include preserving the union, justice, defence,liberty, and the general welfare of the body politic. Of course, in any given set ofcircumstances it is not always evident which specific policy choice will serve, forexample, the general welfare of the American body politic. There are bound to bedifferent opinions and some particular interests are bound to suffer regardless ofwhichpolicy decisions are made. That is the nature of the human predicament. The true markof the political man is one who may want everything but nevertheless accepts peacefullythat he cannot.Politics arises. . . in organized [bodies politic] which recognizethemselves to be an aggregate ofmany members, not a single tribe,religion, interest, or tradition. Politics arises from accepting the fact of thesimultaneous existence of different groups, hence different interests anddifferent traditions, within a territorial unit under a common rule.42The statesman’s role in the United States is to formulate policy in light of these differentinterests and in line with the general purpose assigned to him by the Constitution. Whena statesman says that he is acting in the national interest by choosing this rather than thatpolicy in light of the contingent circumstances, he is merely identifjing his role asstatesman and affirming his fidelity to that role. He is saying that in his judgement, this42Crick, pp. 17-18150policy choice rather than that is what is best for the body politic. Of course, anotherAmerican statesmen might disagree and assert that in his judgement the opposite policyoption is what is best for the body politic. Which of these two statesmen, then, is actingin the national interest? The answer is that they both are. By saying that their respectivepolicy choices are in the national interest, they are merely identifying their role asgoverning members of the body politic and affirming their fidelity to the role of actingfor the good of the body politic--that is to say, in the interest of the body politic. In otherwords, they are merely asserting (truthfully or untruthfully) the intrinsic principle ormotive guiding their respective choices, namely, the national interest. And anydifferences in substantive choices are worked out politically--that is to say, throughdeliberation and consensus if possible, or through a majority decision rule if necessary.By examining the abstraction “state as actor,” one can shift levels of analysis fromthe level of “state” to the level of “human conduct.” Having conceived internationalrelations in terms of human conduct by drawing upon the body of knowledge calledpolitical philosophy, the argument has moved one step closer to explaining in greaterdetail my contention that the idea of the national interest is a categorically moral idea.151CHAPTER FiVETilE PROBLEM OF CHOICEFrom the outset of this work I have merely asserted the idea of the national interest as anintrinsic principle of action. Now it is time to argue that assertion in detail. Essentially,an intrinsic principle of an action is the motive or proximate end toward which that actionis directed or inclined. As such, it must be distinguished from the object of the physicalact itself, which, it will be recalled is an interest or an objective. That is to say, the objectof the physical act is the desired state of affairs sought by that action, The motive (ormotives), on the other hand, is the reason (or reasons) why that state of affairs is desired,If those reasons are “right” reasons, they justify the act. In terms of conventionalAmerican political morality, the “right” reason for a statesman’s action is the nationalinterest.The distinction between the object of an action and the end of an action is not asforeign to our everyday, commonplace experience as it first might appear. It is thedistinction between the visible consequences (both foreseen and unforseen) of thephysical act and the reason why the expected consequences were sought by the actor inthe first place. In short, it is the distinction between the intended consequences of thephysical act, on the one hand, and the actor’s motive for pursuing those consequences byaction, on the other. In Aristotelian and Thomistic language, each half of this distinctionis called the object of the action and the end of the action, respectively. I use the term“intrinsic principle of action” in order to maintain the distinction more clearly for the152benefit of those not fully versed with the Aristotelian and Thomistic idiom ofmoraldiscourse. Hence, the “intrinsic principle” of any given action, when translated into theAristotelian and Thomistic idiom, is the “end” of that action--the motive of the person forwhich the object of the act and the act itself are physical manifestations.1Again, in terms ofAmerican conventional morality, the end which ought togovern the actions of a statesman is the national interest--that is to say, the objects of thestatesman’s physical actions must be intended for the benefit of the American bodypolitic, and not intended for his or her own personal benefit or the benefit of some othersub-national or extra-national person or group of persons. In other words, the statesman’sproper motive for any of his actions, in his capacity as statesman, ought to be the nationalinterest. Although some people might dispute whether or not the national interest oughtto be the intrinsic principle of action ofAmerican statesmen, the issue here is not aboutthe moral quality of the idea. Instead, the issue is to establish the idea as a categoricallymoral one.To establish the national interest as a categorically moral idea is to demonstratethe role it plays (and does not play) in the choices that statesmen make. Although it doesnot necessarily belong to the exclusive domain ofmoral philosophy, the problem ofhuman choice clearly is one of its proper objects of study. The discussion that followsmakes no attempt to represent what all moral philosophers have said about the problem.For that matter, many of the positions I adopt are, and will probably continue to remain‘Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-Il, q. 18, aa. 1-11; Aristotle, NicomacheanEthics, I, 1, (1094a 1-6).153highly contentious. But I again must emphasize the immediate purpose of this work.And, given that purpose, I must point out that it is not necessary to account for, let alonesettle, perennial metaethical disputes.2The national interest and choiceIt will be recalled that those advancing substantive conceptions of standing nationalinterests--such as Morgenthau and George and Keohane, among others--are not doing soout ofmere intellectual curiosity. Instead, their concerns are about the conduct ofstatecraft. They seek to establish more or less objective guidelines statesmen can employto ensure that the states of affairs or objectives they choose to pursue are indeed for thegood of the body politic, and to aid them in choosing the .best means for achieving thoseobjectives. In short, they are trying to come up with objective criteria to aid thestatesman in his problem ofmaking choices about what ought to be done. The nationalinterest, they argue, provides one of those criteria. Nevertheless, there is a seriouscontradiction underlying this kind of project--a contradiction which, once brought tolight, helps to clarifSr the idea of the national interest as an intrinsic principle of action2The precedent for such a disclaimer has already been set, Although Charles Beitzadvances a substantive moral theory, he argues that the leading controversies inmetaethics need not occupy his attention, even though he concedes such questions arelogically prior. p. 16. I, on the other hand, do not even pretend to advance a substantivemoral argument. Instead, I am attempting merely to establish the idea of the nationalinterest as a categorically moral idea--a project that is logically prior to establishing itsmoral goodness or evil, as the case may be. Hence, there is even less reason for me toengage perennial metaethical controversies. For that matter, most moral philosophers,regardless of the substantive moral positions they adopt, should welcome my project. Itsimply adds more grist for their mills, so to speak.154and not as an external criterion or objective rule for making foreign policy choices.George, Keohane, Morgenthau, and others would not embark upon such a projectunless they supposed that objectives and the means for pursuing them are never given.For if they were given, there would be no need to assist statesmen in choosing objectivesand means--they simply would be given. On the other hand, however, they also supposethat objective criteria exist in order to help guide statesmen in making choices ofnationalobjectives and the means to achieve them. They see their task as one of seeking out theseobjective realities and shedding light on them in order to guide the statesman on hisperilous path. But the supposition that objective realities exist “out there” underminestheir first supposition that objectives and means are never given. How is this so? And, ifso, which of these two suppositions is the correct one?National interests, it will be recalled, are desired “states of affairs”--that is to say,“states of affairs” desired for the benefit of the body politic and not for any exclusivepersonal or particular interest. If, in the context of contingent circumstances a statesmanis properly acting in the national interest, and not in a particular or self interest, theobjectives he chooses to pursue are called national interests. Of course, among acountry’s leaders there are often different views on what these objectives ought to be inany given set of contingent circumstances, Hence the question is raised about which ofthese objectives is the best one for the country’s government to pursue. During the Gulfcrisis, however, there was very little disagreement about objectives. With very fewexceptions, all Senators agreed that the desired state of affairs (or national interest) to bepursued in this situation was a Kuwait liberated from Iraqi occupation. Instead, their155deliberations centred on the best means for securing that interest or objective, Althoughin this instance there was wide agreement about the interest or objective to be pursued,and disagreement about the best means to pursue it, this is not necessarily always thecase. It is possible to think of situations where no agreement about national interests(objectives) is immediately forthcoming.For example, if the territorial United States came under direct armed attack,chances are that the government would choose to repel the attack with its own armedforce. What is the objective to be secured in this instance? The apparent answer here is:“to repel the attack.” On reflection, however, this answer is not necessarily correct, forthe action of repelling an attack is the means employed to achieve the desired objectiveand not the objective itself. Instead, the objective in this instance is that “state of affairs”to be achieved by employing armed force against the aggressor. That desired “state ofaffairs” could simply be a return to the condition of existence which prevailedimmediately prior to the attack, it could be the complete subjugation of the hostilepower’s national territory, or it could be the complete destruction of the hostile power’swar fighting capability while leaving its national territory and governing bodies intact,Which one of these ought to be the objective in the circumstances? Although the firstalternative might appear to be “given,” at least in the initial stage of the crisis, it is by nomeans “given” because the decision makers have the initial, albeit unlikely, option ofsurrendering rather than fighting.Supposing, however, that the decision makers do not choose to surrender, thequestion still remains about which objective to pursue. The only initial answer to this156question is that it depends on the circumstances. But even if the fill circumstances wereknown by those responsible for choosing among the alternatives, they may neverthelessstill disagree among themselves about which is the best objective to pursue. Hence, thebasic point here does not change--that is to say, objectives, as well as the means forachieving those objectives, are never merely given. They are always chosen.George, Keohane, Morgenthau, and others are filly aware of this difficultquestion about choosing the best objective--if indeed any objective is chosen at all--inany set of contingent circumstances. They are also aware of the difficulties indetermining whether any given alternative actually is intended to serve the nationalinterest, a particular interest, or the self interest of the person proposing it. In otherwords, is the objective that statesman A is proposing in opposition to statesman B’sproposal really inclined toward the national interest? Or is it inclined toward a particularinterest (e.g., partisan concerns) or even his own personal interest (e.g. re-electionconcerns)? Because they recognize these difficulties, George, Keohane, Morgenthau,and others seek to undercut them by introducing “objective” criteria for making the bestchoice of objectives in any given set of contingent circumstances.Whereas American statesmen place their faith in the outcome of their collectivedeliberations for establishing the best choice of ends in a given situation, George,Keohane, Morgenthau, and others place their faith in “objective” criteria. The problem,however, is that although people might agree that the words “national interest” somehowsignify objective criteria for choosing ends, they do not necessarily agree about whatthese so called “objective” criteria are in substantive terms. Far from transcending the157problem of choice, then, the “objectivists” are merely offering additional alternatives thatneed to be deliberated upon. In Rosenau’s words, the objectivists are simply not aware“that their own values serve as criteria for determining the substantive content of thenational interest,”3 Let me suggest that the only objective criterion that might beaccepted universally is this: whatever objective or end the statesman chooses, thatinterest must be intended primarily to benefit the body politic as a whole and not somesub- or extra-national person or group of persons. The national interest, then, indeed is astandard for making choices. But it is not a standard that can be stated in such terms as“security,” “economic well-being,” “national survival,” “power,” or what have you. Forthese are objectives--viz., states of affairs desired for the benefit of the body politic--and,hence, national interests and not the national interest, Something that is chosen cannot,at the same time, be the criterion for making that choice,Why is it that the “objectivists” mistake what is chosen for the criterion of choice?One explanation is that they fail to distinguish the national interest from a nationalinterest. Had they made this distinction it would become clear that a national interestsignifies a state of affairs or objective desired for the benefit of the body politic, and thatthe national interest signifies the intrinsic principle that ought to guide statesmen in theirchoices of objectives. Another possible explanation is that they are not aware of the fatalcontradiction underlying their project. On the one hand, they recognize that objectives-i.e., national interests--are never “given” whereas, on the other hand, to seek objective3James Rosenau, “National Interest,” InternationalEncyclopedia of the SocialSciences, p. 37. My emphasis.158criteria necessarily presupposes that they are “given.”Since the foregoing points are crucial, let me review--in greater detail and at somerisk of repetition--the reasoning employed to reach them. Recall that there is afundamental distinction between national interests, on the one hand, and the idea of thenational interest, on the other. It already has been argued that national interests are notdesired things or actions, they are desired “states of affairs.” And states of affairs areconditions of existence which can be described in terms of complex norms. For example,oil as a material entity was not in itself an objective of the United States during the GulfCrisis. In other words, simply to say that the United States had an interest in oil as amaterial entity is not very meaningful. Instead, what the United States governmentdesired was a certain state of affairs regarding the oil commodity. It desired thecontinued world supply ofPersian Gulf oil at a price to be determined by existing marketconditions which favoured the United States, and not by the new price demanded bySaddam Hussein’s if he were to monopolize the majority of the world’s oil reserves.To say that a state of affairs is desiredmeans that it can be conceived as anobjective to be pursued. This is still the case even if the desired state of affairs happensto be the status quo. However, although all desired states of affairs are objectives, andalthough objectives are interests, not all interests are national interests. Hence, theproblem arises about how to determine which states of affairs are national interests. Inother words, which objectives should the statesman pursue? What are the criteria fordistinguishing national objectives or interests from particular and self interests? Further,what is the criterion for making the best choice about which objectives the statesman159ought to pursue on behalf of the body politic? In short, what are the national interests inany given set of contingent circumstances? These are the important questions ofstatecraft which the “objectivists,” among others, attempt to answer. Since they takethese questions up, they must suppose that the answers are not “given.”Nevertheless, they suppose that there are “objective” answers to these questions, asupposition undermining their first supposition that the answers are not given (the firstcontradiction). Further, they suppose that national interests are the objective answers tothese questions (the second contradiction). But no amount of reasoning can convince methat the question itself can also be the answer to that question. The objectivist sets out toestablish the criteria for determining national interests--thus conceding it is a problem ofhuman choice--and concludes that national interests are those “objective” criteria--thusdenying it is a problem of human choice and asserting that the question itself is theanswer to the question. Hence, the objectivist is no fhrther ahead from where he started.His magical journey has come to an abrupt end at the same point where it began. And thefallacy he has committed here to get him into this predicament is by now a familiar one,namely: the fallacy of swapping horses. If there were objective criteria for makingchoices, the problem of choice would not exist. By suggesting objective criteria formaking choices, the objectivist project essentially serves to eradicate the question and notto provide an answer for it.Regardless of the contradictions, however, their first assumption nevertheless iscorrect. Objectives to be pursued in any set of contingent circumstances are not given,although in some situations they are more obvious than in others. Objectives are never160determined or necessitated by the situation, although they may appear to be when theyare obvious. Objectives are always chosen. In the United States, they are chosen bythose responsible for making such decisions after deliberating upon the alternatives. Ifand when they finally choose an objective, it meaningfully can be referred to as anational interest. This conclusion about what is meant by a national interest, however,does not solve the logically prior problem about how to go about identifying the motivesbehind particular proposals advanced during the deliberation process.When any individual in the course of the deliberation process proposes anobjective which he or she asserts to be the best alternative, it is meaningful to ask of thatperson’s proposal: “best for what or whom?” It is meaningful to ask this questionbecause, although an objective is always a state of affairs, and although all nationalinterests are states of affairs, not all objectives are necessarily national interests. Further,a proposed objective could be the best alternative for the country, the individualproposing it, and a particular sub-national group ofpeople. But it is also possible thatwhat is best for the individual proposing it, or what is best for a particular sub-nationalgroup of people, is not necessarily what is best for the country. Finally, what is best forthe country is not necessarily what is best for humanity at large. Nevertheless, what isbest for humanity at large could also be what is best for the country. In short, it ismeaningful to ask “best for what or whom?” because it is not necessarily evident forwhose benefit the proposed objective is intended. “Who is the intended beneficiary ofthe secured objective?” is not only a meaningful question, it is also an important one.But why is it important?161The answer to this question marks a significant step toward conceiving thenational interest as an intrinsic principle ofhuman action and not as a “basket” withinwhich a country’s national interests are held. The question is significant if only becauseconventional American political morality deems it important to guard against conflicts ofinterest, It involves a recognition, first of all, that in any given set of contingentcircumstances diverse interests may be at stake. Secondly, the question reflects anormative concern. It reflects the existence of an imperative which obliges statesmen togive priority to the good of the body politic at the expense of his own or anothe?s good ifand when there is indeed a conflict of interests, For example, a fundamental problem ofstatecraft in any given set of contingent circumstances, as George and Keohane see it, isto “determine which values, and therefore which interests, are to be included, and whichexcluded, from the set of national interests.”4 But this can be conceived as a fundamentalproblem of statecraft only if it is presupposed that the statesman is obliged to distinguishsuch interests, Not only is he obliged--at least by conventional morality--to distinguishthem, he is obliged to incline his choices toward the national interest, and not toward hispersonal, party, or some other interest.This obligation, however, is not borne by all citizens of the United States. It isonly borne by those citizens who fulfil a special role or office within the body politic,namely: the statesman. There can be good statesmen, bad statesman and a whole range4Alexander L. George and Robert 0. Keohane, “The Concept ofNational Interests:Uses and Limitations,” in Alexander L. George, ed., PresidentialDecisionmaking inForeign Policy (Boulder: Westview, 1980), p. 221. It should be noted, however, that notonly is this a fundamental problem of statecraft, but a fundamental problem ofpolitics--aproblem that political philosophers have traditionally dealt with.162of statesmen in between, and an example of a bad statesman is one who either is disloyalto this obligation or is incompetent to fliffil it. A statesman disloyal to this obligationmight incline his choices toward his self interest rather than the national interest. But tothe extent that he remains loyal to the obligation, the end toward which his actions areinclined is the national interest--even if he is incompetent. It is in this sense that thenational interest is conceived as an intrinsic principle of action.If a person’s actions are inclined toward obtaining what is best for himself to theexclusion of others, we say that the intrinsic principle guiding his actions is self interest.If his actions are inclined toward what is best for the country, we say that the intrinsicprinciple guiding his actions is the national interest. If his actions are inclined towardwhat is best for humanity at large, we say that the intrinsic principle of action is thehuman interest. Which of these principles ought to guide the actions of statesmen whilefulfilling that office? In the United States at least, all statesmen appear to agree that thenational interest defines the proper role of statecrafi. Since the end of statecraft is thenational interest, the rational principle guiding a statesman’s choice of objective in anyset of contingent circumstances is that which benefits the country. If he remains loyal tohis obligation, what he chooses will be that which, in his personal best judgement,benefits the body politic. Consequently, because we are dealing with the judgements ofdiscrete individuals, statesmen are bound to differ about what objectives they think arebest to pursue in any given set of circumstances. Nevertheless, they remain united byvirtue of the intrinsic principle guiding their actions in their role as a statesman. Asimplified example might serve to bring some of these foregoing points into greater163relief.Suppose a person purchases a home in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Let usfurther suppose that his choice of property was not capricious but, rather, founded on adesire to live in peace and quiet away from traffic noise. Hence, a part of his conceptionof the good life is to live in peace and quiet. This conception of the good life for himselfis his reason for living in a quiet residential neighbourhood, and the intrinsic principle ormotive guiding his choice of property is his personal interest.Now, let us further suppose that the local department of highways has decided toconstruct a super-highway adjacent to his backyard. Given this new development in hiscircumstances, chances are that he will decide it to oppose the project. But the act ofopposition--because it is an action and not a state of affairs--is not his interest here. His“interest” in this instance is the “state of affairs” sought by virtue of the physical act ofopposition, whatever that act might be. In Aristotelian and Thomistic terms, the interestis the “object” of his physical act. The motive of his act, however, is a different questionaltogether. In this case, his motive is personal interest. lii Aristotelian and Thomisticterms, his motive is the “end” of his interior act of the will. In this case, then, personalinterest is the intrinsic principle guiding his action.In the foregoing example, the person’s motive is known simply because I definedit as “personal interest” for the sake of demonstration. In real life, however, even toestablish one’s own motives is often a difficult matter, let alone establishing the motivesof others. Nevertheless, there is generally broad, if only vague agreement that certainkinds ofmotives are more appropriate than others in certain kinds of situations for certain164kinds of people. In the foregoing example, “personal interest” probably would be viewedas an entirely appropriate motive for opposing the project.If, on the other hand, that person also happened to be a public official, thesituation is entirely different. Here there is strong potential for a conflict of interests onhis part. If he opposes the project, what are his real motives? Personal interest? Thepublic interest? Even if he supports the project, what are his real motives? It is no easytask for an observer to answer these questions. Only the person himself and his makercan know for sure. Nevertheless, regardless ofwhether he supports or opposes theproject, there is a sense in which the motive which ought to guide his actions--because heis a public official in addition to being a private citizen--is the public interest.The national interest is a similar kind of idea--viz., it is an intrinsic principle ofaction inclining the actor toward choosing objectives and means that are intended tobenefit the body politic. Again, foreign policies are acts and, as such, they are not inthemselves interests, Instead they are means for securing interests, Interests, on theother hand, are desired states of affairs--that is to say, the objectives sought by foreignpolicies. The statesman, then, has two basic problems facing him in any given set ofcontingent circumstances. He must choose the objectives to be pursued as well as thebest course of action--the means--for achieving them. The objectives proposed or chosencan vary depending on the intrinsic principle guiding his actions. In other words, if he isacting in his personal interest the objectives he proposes or chooses can be different fromthose if he were acting in the national interest. Regardless, the objective settled uponthrough due political process in the United States can be referred to as a national interest.165Given this definition of a national interest, then, it is clear that a liberated Kuwait--i.e.,the state of affairs desired by the collective wills of the Bush administration andCongress--was indeed a national interest. However, although there was almostunanimous agreement about the objective to be sought, the best means for securing thatobjective was highly contentious. In other words, contrary to conventional wisdom, thequestion ofwhether or not to go to war against Iraq was not a question ofnationalinterest--that question was already settled by virtue of almost unanimous agreement tosecure an end to the Iraqi occupation ofKuwait. Instead, it was a question of the bestmeans for securing that national interest.Some people thought that a policy of continued sanctions was the best means,whereas others thought that offensive military force was more appropriate. Both sides inthe debate, however, were convinced that the United States and the internationalcommunity had a just cause to fight.5 But both sides in the debate were equallyconvinced that a just cause, by itself, provided an insufficient justification to fight. Howdoes one go about choosing between the two alternatives? It is often supposed that“national interest” provides the key. As indicated, however, this is a mistake. If onemeans by “national interest” the national interest, this simply signifies an intrinsicprinciple of action--that is to say, the end toward which his choices ought to be inclined.And if the statesman merely asserts that his choice of either the means or the objective is5A just cause, it will be recalled, is not any national interest but, rather, a nationalinterest that can legitimately be pursued by war. International norms, embodied by theCharter of the United Nations, limits these interests to two, namely: self defence andworld order.166in the national interest, it is reasonable to ask why he thinks his choice will benefit thebody politic. For, by asserting the national interest, he merely has reaffirmed the motiveof his actions.If, on the other hand, one means by “national interest” a national interest, thissimply signifies that the country’s leaders have decided upon an objective--desiredbecause it benefits the body politic--in the circumstances. And merely knowing theobjective does not help him to choose among alternative means for achieving it. In otherwords, the problem of choice among means presupposes that a national interest alreadyexists. In short, “national interest” is not an answer to the problem of choice amongmeans. It merely begs the question. For if there were no national interests at stake, thequestion ofwhich means to employ to pursue those interests simply would not arise. Inthis case, a national interest, far from serving as a criterion for making choices, generatedthe problem of choice in the first place.The Problem of choiceIs there such thing as the problem of choice? Some might assert that the problem ofchoice is a bogus problem because human beings do not have any choice about theiractions in the first place. Instead, human actions are predestined, necessitated, orotherwise determined by divine, astrological, social, psychological, historical, oreconomic forces. Much serious thinking has been generated and even more ink has beenspilled throughout millennia ofWestern civilization on this question. In Kant’s words,freedom of the will, along with God and immortality, are the three great problems of167philosophy.6 I cannot even begin to settle the question here to the satisfaction of allpossible objections. I can, however, outline my thoughts on the matter; if only todisclose my assumptions “up front,” as it were. At bottom, I think the problem of choiceis a real problem because it is one I experience personally on a daily basis, and I have noreason to suppose that I am deluding myself. And since I experience the problem, I havelittle grounds to suppose that other human beings--including statesmen--do not. Further,it would have been difficult to convince United States Senators in January 1991 that theproblem they faced was an imaginary one. But to assert that the problem of choice is areal problem is not to say that each and every choice situation presents itselfwith aninfinite range of alternatives, On the contrary, often the range of choices is limited totwo: either to do something (whatever it is) or to do nothing. Obviously, the choice “todo nothing” does not necessarily manifest itself in an external physical act of some sort.Nevertheless, to choose “to do nothing” is still an act--although it is an interior act: an actof the will. But because there is no physical act in a given situation, one cannot concludethereby that there is necessarily an act of the will corresponding with that external “non-act.”For example, one observes two people sitting at a table in a crowded restaurant.The woman asks the man a question but the man continues to eat in silence. What can beconcluded about this situation? Perhaps the man is still trying to formulate a response to6Cited in J. R. Lucas, The Freedom of the Will (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), p. 1.For some other accounts of this problem, see Joseph M. Boyle, Jr., et al., Free Choice: ASelfReferentialArgument (Notre Dame: University ofNotre Dame Press, 1976),especially chapter 1.168the question. Perhaps he is deliberating about whether or not to answer the question.Perhaps he has decided not to answer the question. Or perhaps he is not conscious ofbeing asked the question. In the first instance, the man has willed to answer the questionbut he has not yet decided how to answer it. In the second instance, the man has not yetwilled anything. In the third instance, the man has willed to not answer the question.Finally, in the fourth instance, the man has not willed anything. In short, a “non-act” isnot necessarily a manifestation ofwilling. But nor is it necessarily a manifestation of“not-willing.” The basic point, then, does not change. To “not to do” something can be aconsequence of choice, namely: to will “not to do” something.7 One cannot, then, pointto an instance of “non-action” as proving lack of choice on the part of the person who isnot acting in any visible way.By virtue of recognizing that I am often exercising choice even when I do not actin a visible way, can I conclude thereby that all visible actions necessarily areconsequences of choice? Certainly not. Sneezing is a visible action--one over which Ihave no control. Because a person has no choice whether or not to sneeze, the act ofsneezing holds absolutely no interest for moral philosophers. But what about my“choice” to wear a red jacket rather than a khaki one? Taken by itself, the physical act ofwearing a jacket of a particular colour is morally neutral. But physical acts are rarely, ifever, taken by themselves. They are taken in the context of the contingent circumstances7Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-IT, q. 6, a. 3.169of real life.8 In real life, physical actions must be viewed in the context of the person’smotives and the circumstances in which those physical acts are undertaken. If thecircumstances allow a person to choose what to wear, his subjective preference is morallyneutral. If, on the other hand, the person is a soldier and, as part of his circumstances“here and now” there either is a rule or a command that stipulates the wearing of a khakirather than of a red jacket, it is often judged that the person has no choice but to wear akhaki jacket. In one sense this judgement is correct. But in a more fundamental sense itis incorrect because the person still has a choice ofwhether or not to obey the rule orcommand. Consequently, the rule does not ordain his wearing of a khaki jacket. Hischoice to obey the rule, on the other hand, does. At bottom, then, he wears the khakijacket not because the rule stipulates it, but because he chooses to obey the rule. Whydoes he choose to obey the rule in this instance? The answers can vary. Perhaps he fearsthe sanctions for not obeying the rule. Perhaps he recognizes the instrumental,consequential, or utilitarian reason for the rule (e.g., camouflage). Perhaps he does notlike to be different. Or perhaps he thinks it is his duty to obey all rules and commandsissued by his superiors. Regardless, the basic point remains that rules do not ordainaction. The person’s choice to follow or not to follow the rule, on the other hand, doesordain action.Regardless of the soldier’s motive, the choice to follow the rule in this instance isprobably not very difficult. Nor is it difficult to determine the specific action the rule8Taking an action by itself is what Joseph S. Nye Jr. refers to as one dimensionalmoral reasoning. Nuclear Ethics (New York: Macmillan, 1986), pp. 16-26.170requires him to perform, namely: to wear a khaki jacket. The decision Americanstatesmen faced in January 1991 about whether or not to use offensive military forceagainst Iraq, on the other hand, was a problem of choice of an entirely different order ofmagnitude and complexity. But, returning to the question at the beginning of thissection, is there such a thing as the problem of choice in the first place? Or is it a bogusproblem resulting from a deluded belief in something called free will? A closeexamination of the Senate debates on the question supports the contrary assumption thatthere is such a thing. For the outcome of those debates was anything but a foregoneconclusion. Passage of the Dole-Warner resolution depended on the majority of senatorschoosing to vote in favour of it. Likewise, passage of the Mitchell-Nunn resolutiondepended on the majority of senators choosing to vote in its favour. If indeed there weredivine, astrological, social, or economic forces determining the actions of the senators,why did they not all vote for one resolution and, by implication, against the other?It might be conceded that the formal process of decisionmaking in the UnitedStates is a pretty good indication that such forces do not determine collective decisions.Nevertheless, it still might be objected that splits in collective decisions do not disprovepsychological forces as the determinant of individual actions. In other words, it can stillbe asserted that the individual actions of senators in voting for or against a resolution arenot really exercising choice after all: their actions are simply determined bypsychological forces,Although there are perhaps many possible responses to this objection, I shallmention only one. If one wishes to hold the individual senators responsible for their171actions, one must assume that each has control over them. Further, to suppose a personhas control over his actions, one must assume his capacity to choose at least betweendoing something and doing nothing. Finally, if one admits at least this capacity, onemust therefore believe that people are possessed of free will. The other alternative is todeny that people can be responsible for what they do or neglect to do, as the case may be.In short, if one admits that a person can be held responsible for his actions (or non-actions), one thereby repudiates the doctrine of necessity with respect to human actions,and one necessarily admits that people are possessed of free will. It should beemphasized, however, that nothing in the foregoing discussion denies the possibility thatvarious forces and factors can influence the choices a person makes. It simply denies--except in the case of neurosis--that these forces and factors determine actions.My basic assumption, therefore, is that the actions of the senators were acts offree will. That is not to say that each voted for or against a particular resolution out offree will. It is possible, but highly unlikely, that some or all of them voted in this or thatway for this or that resolution against their will. If this were indeed the case--that is, ifsome or all senators acted either under duress or under physical compulsion (i.e., force)to vote this or that way--their physical act ofvoting would then lack a certain voluntarycharacter. Although the physical act may be involuntary, the interior act of the will isnot, If it were otherwise, it would be meaningless to speak of acting against one’s will.And there are many examples ofpeople acting against their will. The case ofmaterialcooperation in evil (contrasted with formal cooperation) is one of them. In such cases,what it is that gets the agent “off the moral and legal hook,” so to speak, is his lack of172consent with another’s evil intent--either the agent does not know about the evil intent ofanother in which his own physical act plays a part, or he is forced against his will toparticipate.9Nevertheless, there is no evidence to suppose that the senators acted against theirindividual wills in voting this or that way. Consequently, it is reasonable to suppose thattheir particular, physical and verifiable acts of voting accurately reflected each senator’sactual will. This, however, does not mean that their particular actions--althoughaccurately reflecting their wills--corresponded with their individual consciences. Hence,not only is it possible to act against one’s will, it also is possible to will against one’sconscience,’° For example, suppose a person embraces the general moral precept thatone must never lie. In the situation here and now, however, that same person supposes9For example, without my knowledge, a bomb or other contraband is planted in myluggage and subsequently I carry that luggage onto an airplane. Although it is my agencythat brings the luggage onto the airplane and, consequently, the bomb or contraband aswell, I am therefore materially cooperating in evil. I am not formally cooperating in evilbecause I have no intention to blow up the airplane or smuggle contraband, Consideranother example: As a bank manager, I am the only one with the combination to the safe.At gun point, the bank robber orders me to open the safe. By opening the safe I amcooperating in the robber’s evil, but I am doing so against my will. I do not will to givemoney to the thief. In fact, I will not to give him the money. Although cooperating inthe evil, I am only cooperating materially and not formally, therefore I cannot be heldresponsible for the evil, For further examples anda more detailed explanation see Martin O’Keefe, Knownfrom the Things thatAre:Fundamental Theory of theMoralLfe (Houston TX: Center for Thomistic Studies,1987), pp. 66-69; see also Aquinas, Summa, I-Il, q. 6, aa. 3, 4, 5, 6.10A distinction is made between antecedent conscience (a judgement of consciencebefore the act) and the judgement of conscience that approves or condemns acts alreadytaken. For the purpose of this discussion I am referring to conscience in the first sense,Reginald Doherty, The Judgements ofConscience andPrudence (River Forest IL: TheAquinas Library, 1961), pp. 31-60; Aquinas, Summa, I, q. 79, a. 13; I-il q. 19, aa. 5, 6.173that telling a lie would save him a lot of trouble. He knows it is a lie by virtue ofhisconscience. Nevertheless, he wills to tell it and, fhrther, actually does tell it anyway. Inthis instance, the person wills against his conscience. There are, however, otherpossibilities. A person embracing the same moral precept might make a statement that asecond party believes to be really a lie. By virtue of the first person’s judgement ofconscience, however, it is not a lie and therefore goes ahead and makes the statement.This person does not will against his conscience, even though--objectively speaking--hisjudgement of conscience is erroneous.Since the act of the will and the judgement of conscience both are interior acts,how can an observer determine whether or not a person has acted with or against his will,on the one hand, and whether or not his act ofwill accorded with his conscience, on theother? I do not think it is possible for an observer to make such determinations, at leastnot in an absolute sense. This is one of the reasons why airlines insist that the travellerpacks his or her baggage personally and never leaves it unattended before boarding theflight. The traveller, having stated that he conformed to these conditions, has no groundsto deny formal cooperation if it is subsequently found that he is carrying contraband,Determinations about another person’s judgement of conscience are even more difficult tomake. Who is to say that a person did not act in good conscience--viz., that his act didnot conform to his conscience--if he asserts that he did? It is because of these difficultiesthat I take the statements and arguments of senators at face value. I give them the benefitof the doubt that they acted in accordance with their respective wills and in goodconscience.174There is, however, a more important reason for bringing up the issues ofconscience and interior acts of the will. These are crucial elements of human choice andthe issue I am addressing here is the problem of choice. Any discussion of the problemof choice, then, must include these elements. Having asserted my basic assumption thatthe problem of choice is a real problem and not an imaginary one, let me now turn to adiscussion about the structure of choice with particular emphasis on the role of the virtueofprudence in making good choices--viz., the best possible choices that can be made inthe context of contingent circumstances.The nature and structure of choiceBecause the thought of Thomas Hobbes often occupies a central place in discussions ofinternational relations theory, I shall begin with his account of the structure of choice or,what is often referred to as the “psychology” of choice,” Although Hobbes took greatpains to include forty-seven chapters in his Leviathan, international theorists have tendedto emphasize only one of these chapters, namely: chapter 13, ‘Of the Naturall ConditionofMankind”--and this emphasis generally (and unfortunately) is isolated from thecontext of the entire work. This narrow emphasis raises questions, and doubts, aboutwhether Hobbes’ actual contribution to international relations theory is that which itgenerally is taken to be.’2 Be that as it may, Hobbes deals extensively with the problem“O’Keefe, p. 13; Doherty, p. 18.‘2There is a debate on whether or not one can correctly speak of a genuine“Hobbesian” tradition in international relations. See, for example, Martin Wight,“Why is there no International Relations Theory?” in H. Butterfield and M. Wight175of choice in chapter six of that same work: “On the Interior Beginnings ofVoluntaryMotions.”For Hobbes, the beginning ofmotion in man, before it appears in a physical act, iscalled endeavour. When endeavour is toward some object (either a thing or a state ofaffairs) it is called appetite or desire. And when endeavour is directed away from someobject, this is called aversion. The object of desire is what a person calls good, and theobject of aversion is what a person calls evil. Given these basic definitions, Hobbes goeson to describe the problem of choice as he conceives it:When in the mind ofman, Appetites, and Aversions, Hopes, and Feares,concerning one and the same thing, arise alternately; and divers good andevill consequences of the doing, or omitting the thing propounded, comesuccessively into our thoughts; so that sometimes we have an Appetite toit; sometimes an Aversion from it; sometimes Hope to be able to do it;sometimes Despaire, or Feare to attempt it; the whole summe ofDesires,Aversions, Hopes and Fears, continued till the thing be either done, orthought impossible, is what we call Deliberation.And it is called Deliberation; because it is a puttingan end to the Liberty we had of doing, or omitting, according to our ownAppetite or Aversion,13In Hobbes’ account of choice so far, there is not much that Aristotle or Aquinas woulddisagree with. Their only objection might be about his profound lack of detail. Hisaccount of the actual choice following deliberation, however, is where he parts ways withthem. For he argues that:eds., Diplomatic Investigations (London: Allen and Unwin, 1966); John R. Vincent,“The Hobbesian Tradition in Twentieth Century International Thought,” Millennium 10no. 2 (1981): 91-101; Cornelia Navari, “Hobbes and the ‘Hobbesian Tradition’ inInternational Thought,” Millennium 11 no. 3 (1982): 203-223.13Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, p. 28.176In Deliberation, the last Appetite, or Aversion, immediately adhaering tothe action, or to the omission thereof, is that wee call the Will; the Act (notthe faculty,) ofWilling.... The definition of the Will, given commonlyby the Schooles, that it is a RationallAppetite, is not good. For if it were,then could there be no Voluntary Act against Reason. For a Voluntary Actis that, which proceedeth from the will, and no other. 14Hobbes recognizes, then, that there can be voluntary acts against reason. Weknow this is true. Take a smoker, for example, who knows that smoking is bad for hishealth. He knows it is reasonable to stop smoking, yet he continues to smoke anyway.Hence, what Hobbes is arguing here is that if one conceives will as a rational appetiterather than the last act of deliberating, one therefore cannot account for voluntary actsagainst reason. But Hobbes is either playing on words to make his point, or he genuinelymisunderstood what Aquinas meant by the signification “rational appetite.”5What Hobbes fails to distinguish is the difference between an act of the will, onthe one hand, and the physical act commanded by the will, on the other.16 Without thisdistinction, one cannot distinguish a variety of intentions for a singular physical act. Forexample, a hunter aims his rifle and pulls the trigger. The object of this physical act is tohit the target 100 meters yonder. On approaching his target after firing, he finds that hehas mistaken his hunting partner for a deer, In this case, the act commanded by the will‘4Hobbes, p. 28.‘5That is, ifHobbes even had known ofAquinas and had access to his works. Hobbeswas, after all, writing more that 150 years after the Protestant reformation in England.There is no indication that Hobbes was debating directly with Aquinas. That is to say,there is no indication that Hobbes was advancing his account ofwill with the account inthe Summa in mind. He could just have easily been arguing against misinterpretations ofthe account in the Summa which might have been prevalent in his day. Sorting thesequestions ought might be an interesting project for an historian of thought.‘6Aquinas, Summa, I-Il, q. 6, a. 4.177is to aim and fire his rifle in order to kill a deer. He did not will to kill his partner. Butby Hobbes account of the will merely as the last act in deliberating, one must concludethat the act commanded by the will is to aim and fire his rifle in order to kill his partner.In other words, by aiming and firing his rifle, the hunter made a choice. But he did notchoose to kill his partner. In short, by describing the will as the last act of deliberating,Hobbes was descriptively correct in the sense that the act of the will indeed does followdeliberation. But he was wrong to think that his account was a complete account of thewill--an account that fails to mark commonplace distinctions between willing to kill apartner and the act of accidentally killing a partner while willing to kill a deer.Aquinas, on the other hand, conceives the will as rational appetit& andconsequently is able to draw the finer distinctions that are commonplace in our everydayjudgements about our own actions as well as the actions of others. Customarily, Aquinasaccount of the psychology of choice has been synthesized into twelve discreet stages--akind of dialogue, so to speak, between the appetitive and intellectual dimensions of thesoul.17 I shall reduce these stages to ten but I shall only discuss the first eight. First, Ishall list the ten stages followed by a brief explanation of each stage. Then I shallattempt to breath life into the abstractions by introducing a specific problem of choice,namely, the problem of deciding whether or not to use offensive military power againstIraq. In order to demonstrate this, I shall put myself in the ‘shoes, so to speak, of an‘7Aquinas, Summa, I-Il, qq. 12, 14, 15, 16, 17. For the conventional synthesis intotwelve stages, see Doherty, pp. 19-29, For an unconventional synthesis into nine stages,see OKeefe, pp. 13-16. Compare these with R. 0. Collingwood, The New Leviathan,Part I, “Man,”178individual senator trying to decide whether to vote for the Dole-Warner or the MitchellNunn resolution--that is, the resolution authorizing the President of the United States touse offensive military power in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolution 678(1990), or the resolution to continue economic sanctions indefinitely.The following are the ten stages:--Apprehension of desirable object (intellect),--Affective movement ofwill toward object (will),--Initial judgement (Intellect),--Intention (will),--Counsel (intellect),--Consent (will),--Final judgement (Intellect),--Election (will),--Command (intellect),--Completion ofAct,1) Apprehension of desirable object. The intellect apprehends the object worthyto be sought. In the case of the imaginary senator, he apprehends that a liberated Kuwaitis desirable, but not necessarily desirable for the benefit of the United States in thecircumstances. Even though his intellect identifies a liberated Kuwait as a desirableobject, he might not necessarily want to consider pursuing it. This is commonplace inour everyday experiences. For we generally recognize many more desirable objects thanwe personally are willing to pursue. Wealth, power, a better car, a bigger house, for179example, are viewed by many to be desirable objects. Nevertheless, they do notnecessarily attract us personally. Likewise, a liberated Kuwait can be held to be adesirable object, but an object which one is not necessarily willing to pursue--either forhis own benefit or the benefit of the body politic.2) Affective movement ofwill toward object. This is the stage wherein intrinsicprinciples of action play a prominent role. Our imaginary senator might have identified aliberated Kuwait as desirable but not necessarily befitting his personal interest. Or, if hehappened to have a lot of personal money invested in Kuwait, he might find a liberatedKuwait befitting his own personal interest but not necessarily the national interest of theUnited States. Finally, he might find a liberated Kuwait befitting the American nationalinterest but not necessarily his own personal interest. His duty as statesman, however, isto incline his will toward those goods or objectives befitting the United States and not hisown personal or other interest. For whatever reason, the vast majority ofUnited Statessenators found the liberation ofKuwait befitting the United States. Consequently, theyidentified it as a national interest. It was chosen as a national interest because, forwhatever reason, the majority ofUnited States statesmen affectively moved their will tothe object. Let us suppose that our imaginary senator is one of these people.3) Initial Judement. The will, having affectively moved toward the desirableobject in the last stage, hands the problem back to the intellect with the question: “I wantit, but is it possible to obtain it?” It should be evident that this stage also is in accordwith everyday commonplace experience. For example, having identified a new car as adesirable object (first stage), and having decided that it might be something I want to180pursue personally (second stage), my intellect then begins to consider whether it ispossible or realistic for me to pursue it. The intellect begins to conduct a cursory searchfor the various ways and means that are available to me. It might respond to the will bysaying: “look, you are a starving graduate student. You do not even know where nextmonth’s rent is coming from. Forget about getting a new car11’ Ifthis were the case, thedecision process would end here. In the case of the imaginary senator, however, a varietyofways and means for securing a liberated Kuwait can come to mind. Pressure can beput on Iraq to secure its withdrawal by freezing its assets, by continued denunciations bythe international community, by cutting off all goods to Iraq or, if necessary, sufficientmilitary power is available to force him out. Having considered in a cursory way thevarious means, the intellect judges that the object realistically is attainable--viz., it judgesthat some means are available to pursue the interest.4) Intention. With the knowledge that the object is attainable by some meansavailable to it, the will then gets serious about pursuing the object. Whereas initially itmoved affectively toward the object, now it moves effectively toward it. In the case of thegraduate student desiring a new car, let us suppose that during the last stage the intellectinstead judged that means are available (e.g., the next instalment from the fellowshipcomes in next week, get a roommate to help defer present costs, get a different and higherpaying job, work at studies a little less and work for money a little more, give upgraduate studies altogether and get a full time job, etc.). Having judged that obtaining anew car is realistic, the student’s will now tells the intellect to be more specific about howit can be obtained. In short, the will shifts from a quasi-passive and interrogative mode181(can I get it?) to a more active and imperative mode (O.K., it looks like I can get it, nowtell me more specifically how I can go about getting it.) Likewise with the senator.Having judged that the liberation ofKuwait is a desirable object, having fi.irther decidedthat it is desirable object befitting the United States, and having judged that its pursuit iswithin the realm of possibility, he now gets more serious about pursuing the object andinstructs the intellect to specify the various means in greater detail.5) Counsel. Somewhat by trial and error, the intellect begins the painstaking taskof testing the means identified at stage three, and perhaps conjuring up a few morepossibilities. In the case of the graduate student his intellect begins to examine thevarious means in resolutory mode--viz., imaginatively he works back from the effect ofeach proposed means (i.e., the imaginatively secured object of desire, or last cause in theorder of execution but first cause in the order of planning) through each successive causeto what would be the first cause in the order of execution. For example:(plan A) to buy the car, I need to pay $15, 000.00. To raise $15,000.00, I can borrow itfrom my parents. To borrow the money from my parents, I must talk to them. Iam able to talk to them.(plan B) I can borrow the money from my bank. To borrow money from the bank I mustspeak to the bank manager. To speak to the bank manager I need to make anappointment. I can make an appointment.(plan C) To raise $15, 000.00 by the time my current car breaks down completely in sixmonths, I must quadruple my hours ofwork at the restaurant. To quadruple myhours ofwork, I need to work thirty two hours a day. This is impossible,182therefore I can eliminate plan C.Of course, in the case of the graduate student, the counsel stage can take only a matter ofminutes or perhaps even seconds. In the case of the imaginary senator, on the other hand,the situation is quite different.The more complicated the problem at hand, the more difficult it is to disentanglethe four stages of counsel, consent, judgement, and election or choice. This is perhapswhy Hobbes may have bunched these four discrete stages together under the heading ofdeliberation. As indicated, in one sense he was correct. For if he did bunch these fourstages together, the last act in the process indeed is an act of the will--that is to say, theact of choosing or electing a singular means from among the alternatives presented andtested by the intellect. But the indecisiveness that Hobbes identifies during thedeliberation process--that is, the tendency to vacillate between attraction and aversiontoward a particular course of action--is best identified with the seventh stage, namely: theintellectual process undertaken from the point that the will consents to at least two of thecourses of action proposed by the intellect at stage five, and ending in an intellectualjudgement about which course ought to be chosen. But the final intellectual judgement isnot the same as choice, it precedes choice. This is because choice is an act of the willand not of the intellect--a person can still will against his conscience.At this present “counsel” stage, however, there is no vacillation. It is a purelyintellectual exercise of testing the various alternatives in order to determine if each isproperly related to the desired object--to determine if there really is a means-endrelationship between the various possible means and the desired objective. What is183eliminated at this stage are those alternatives that physically cannot achieve the end inquestion. Let us suppose that our senator, on the basis of intelligence reports and militarybriefings, comes up with two alternative means: continue the armed embargo indefinitely,or employ offensive military force.186) Consent. At this stage, factors other than purely intellectual calculations ofmeans-end relationships are introduced, The rational appetite (will) is not only listeningto purely intellectual calculations, but it is listening to the voice of the sensitive appetiteas well. Also, the person’s character--i.e., his complex mix ofvirtues vices, paranoias,principles, and scruples--as well as the fhll complexity of the circumstances begin to haveinfluence. The graduate student, for example, might withhold consent from plan Abecause of his pride. Or, he might withhold it from plan B because he is afraid of beingturned down for the loan. The senator, on the other hand, might withhold consent fromthe use of offensive military force because he is an absolute pacifist. In short, the activityof the will at this stage is either to withhold consent to one or more of the alternativesproposed by the intellect during the counsel stage, or to remain complacent to one ormore of them. If the will is complacent to only one of the alternatives, consent is thesame as choice.’9 For the sake of discussion, however, let us suppose that the senatorconsents to both alternatives--viz., his will remains complacent to both alternatives.‘8These were in fact the two alternatives placed before the Senate for deliberation.The proposal to continue sanctions was the Mitchell-Nunn resolution, and the proposalauthorizing the President to use offensive military force was the Dole-Warner resolution,9Colljflgwood, however, does not call complacency of the will to one alternative“choice.” Instead, he calls it “preference.” The New Leviathan, p. 90.1847) Final Judgement. If there is more than one alternative remaining after theindividuating circumstances and predilections of character have taken their toll, theproblem is punted back to the intellect to determine which of those alternatives is best forachieving the desired object. Or, if there is an opportunity to try out all the alternatives,which is best to try first? Furthermore, how does he go about deciding? In the case of thegraduate student, he might skip this stage and simply flip a coin--that is to say, he canmake a capricious choice. In the case of the senator, however, there is a certain gravity tohis choice that precludes caprice.20 Perhaps he can appeal to the principle ofutility.21 Onreflection, however, he has already done this at stage five. He has afready judged thattwo courses of action can probably achieve the desired end. If not caprice and utility,perhaps, then, he can appeal to rules.22 As indicated, however, there are certainlimitations to rules, namely, they cannot ordain his choice. But they can help him in theprocess. In this case, he can apply the rules embodied by the principle of double effect tothe alternative of continued sanctions. With respect to the war option, on the other hand,he can appeal to a special application of the principle of double effect, namely, thejus adbellum criteria of the just war tradition. In the next chapter, then, let us examine each ofthese in turn. It must be emphasized, however, that these rules do not make the decisionfor him. The best decision possible ultimately will depend on the extent to