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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 WAR By Terence Joseph Kersch B.A. (Hons), The University of British Columbia, 1989 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 1990 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Political Science We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA April 1995 ©  Terence Joseph Kersch  In presenting this  thesis in  partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced  degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  (Signature)  Department of  Political Science  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date  DE-6 (2188)  3 April,  1995  11  ABSTRACT  In this thesis I attempt to show that there is no apparent good reason why one ought to embrace the sceptic’s claim that international relations lies beyond the pale of moral inquiry. The state, in the sceptic’s view, grounds its foreign policy in the national interest and not in morality. To assert otherwise is to mistake the fundamental essence of international 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 of conceptual understanding about the idea “the national interest” before such a claim can be sustained. Although much has been said by many authors about the kinds of substantive policies which, in their respective views, actually serve the national interest-e.g., policies which contribute to the maintenance or enhancement of national power--the idea of “the national interest” itself has attracted very little conceptual scrutiny. In this study, then, I attempt to shift the focus away from a concentration on the standards for determining whether this or that policy actually serves the national interest to a concentration on the idea of the national interest itself. Before this logically prior task is completed--an immense task for which my contribution can be interpreted as only a small one--there is no reason to embrace the notion that “morality” and “interest” are either antithetical 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 a proper object of study for students of moral and political philosophy.  111  TAELE OF CONTENTS  Abstract Acknowledgements.  .  .  ii v  .  Chapter one:  Introduction --The “apparent” paradox of realism --The scope and orientation --The traditional assumption --The argument  1 4 9 22 29  Chapter two:  Employing and Understanding the National Interest --Employing “the national interest” (1) General substantive conceptions (2) Specific substantive conceptions --Understanding “the national interest” (1) Charles Beard (2) James N. Rosenau (3) Joseph Frankel --The approach  43 44 44 46 50 51 55 61 69  Chapter three:  Preliminary Distinctions --National interests and the national interest. --Justifications and reasons --National interest as an explanatory tool. --The Fallacy of Swapping Horses  83 84 88 95 100  .  Chapter four:  .  International Relations as Human Conduct. --Getting to the bottom of “state as actor” --Interests and their beneficiaries --Societies and non-social communities .  Chapter five:  The Problem of Choice --The national interest and choice --The problem of choice --The nature and structure of choice  .  .  .  .  .113 116 120 127 151 153 166 174  iv Chapter six:  The Application and Limitation of Rules in Human Choice --The principle of double effect --The just war tradition --The limitations of rules --The virtue of prudence  Chapter seven:  The United States Senate and the Problem of Choice --The problem --United States Senate Resolution 318 (1990) (1) The world order threat (2) The security of the region threat --The Senate debates: 10, 11, 12 January 1991  228 229 230 236 248  Chapter eight:  Judgements About Choice --Joseph S. Nyc, Jr --Christopher Layne  275 285 298  Chapter nine:  Conclusion --The question of “vital 0 interests --Conclusion  311 311 329  Bibliography  186 188 193 207 212  255  339  V  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS There are a number of people and institutions who, in addition to helping to make this work possible, eased the process in significant ways. These include the members of my research committee, Kal Hoisti and Brian Job, who painstakingly read earlier draft chapters and who were always ready to offer valuable advice. Much of my thinking about the Gulf War was developed in collaboration with my research supervisor, Robert Jackson. In addition to proof-reading the work, Rev. Victor B. Brezik, CSB provided many insights and challenged my thinking on some important points. Rev. Neil Kelly, CSB encouraged me to reinvestigate the classical tradition of moral philosophy and helped me to understand the thought of St Thomas. Although these people helped to shape my ideas, any errors in the work are my own. My good friends Mike Meade, Kim Meade, and Kirsten Sigerson were constant sources of encouragement, refuge, and delight throughout the period of research and writing. Alan Cairns guided me through some of the more difficult and frustrating moments merely by pointing out that all academics share the same lot. Finally, I acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the generous patronage of the Basilian Fathers of Toronto.  1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION  This study is an attempt to clarify a central idea in the theory and practice of international relations, namely: the national interest. Because I attempt to clarify the idea in light of how American statesmen and scholars employed it during the Persian Gulf war (199091), my approach broadly can be described as “historical-conceptual.” But my concern with clarifying the idea of the national interest is only instrumental to a larger concern about international moral scepticism--a position often identified, I think erroneously, with the Realist school of international thought. Thus, by setting out to clarify the idea in the context of the Gulf war from within the Realist tradition, I am concurrently, and purposively, assaulting the position maintained by the moral sceptic that international relations is beyond the pale of ethical inquiry. If it can be shown that the idea of the national interest is a categorically moral concept and, further, if it can be clarified by drawing upon that body of knowledge called moral philosophy, a main bastion of the sceptical position thereby collapses. By the expression “historical-conceptual” I mean that I look to a particular crisis in order to elucidate an otherwise conceptual argument with a specific and narrow range of examples. The purpose for limiting the historical scope is not to achieve historical depth but, rather, to make the analysis of an otherwise intractable concept more manageable. Given that I have adopted as my primary purpose an assault on moral scepticism in international relations, only one example is needed to cast a reasonable  2 doubt upon its exclusive claim. Hence, although the historical scope of the following argument is both narrow and shallow, I suggest nevertheless that the conceptual claims advanced 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 all countries. This, of course, raises serious questions about the validity of the concept as an explanatory pivot for some international relations theories. But the entire thrust of the argument challenges some conventional understandings about the idea. In particular, the national interest is the conventional fall-back position from which 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 between the defenders of “interest” and the champions of “morality” ensues--a battle continually Ihelled by the great antithesis between “interest” and “morality.” However, greatly disproportionate to its central importance in that perennial debate, and the theory and practice of international relations in general, the idea of the national interest has received surprisingly little conceptual treatment. This in itself ought to raise at least some reservations about the sceptical claim. In his 1968 contribution to the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, James Rosenau notes that “while textbooks on international politics continue to assert that nations act to protect and realize their national interests, the research literature of the field has not been increased and  3 1 Producing a enriched by monographs which give central prominence to the concept,” survey of the state of research into the concept nine years later, Fred Sondermann is only able to report one additional attempt at conceptual analysis, thus bringing the total up to 2 No further attempts at conceptual analysis have been produced since Joseph three. Frankel’s 1970 study. The paucity of conceptual analyses is particularly troubling given that the national interest was invoked as ajust/1cation for mutually exclusive policy options during the January 1991 debates in United States Senate on the question of whether or not to go to war against Iraq. Senator Sam Nunn, for example, clearly expressed his unease by noting that “we throw around the word ‘vital’ very carelessly.” And he added that on questions of war, it is cmcial to “think carefully about what we mean” by the words 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, the  context of a passionate debate on critical questions of national policy is hardly the appropriate time and place for embarking upon painstaking conceptual clarification. That task is left for the scholar to pursue in reflection and in the comfort of his or her study.  ‘James N. Rosenau, “National Interest,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York: Crowell Collier & Macmillan, 1968), p. 36. 2 F red A. Sondermann, “The Concept of the National Interest,” Orbis 21 (Spring 1977): 121-138. The three attempts include: Charles A. Beard, The Idea ofNational Interest: 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). United States, CongressionalRecord Vol 137 No. 7 (January 11, 1991): S 190. 3  4 Consequently, I view Senator Nunn’s remarks as an urgent invitation rather than as an admonition.  The “apparent” paradox of realism The paucity of strict conceptual analyses and Senator Nunn’s invitation, however, are only two of my reasons for attempting to clarij the idea of the national interest. Further conceptual clarification is needed in order to resolve a pervasive paradox at the core of 4 what Nardin and Mapel refer to as the realist ethical tradition in international relations. Jack Donnelly notes that this paradox can be expressed as a “moral imperative to an 5 Further, he argues that “this paradox of a moral ground for an amoral foreign policy.” 6 amoral foreign policy is usually obscured by realists.” This paradox takes on a variety of shapes and forms. “The essence of international realism, Steven Forde argues, “is its belief in the primacy of self-interest 7 He then goes on to explain that this over moral principle” in international affairs. statement “can mean either that self-interest confers a positive right of some kind, as when ‘national interest’ is seen as a moralprinciple , or that morality is wholly  erry Nardin and David R. Mapel, eds., Traditions ofInternational Ethics 4 T (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). ack Donnelly, “Twentieth Century Realism,” in Nardin and Mapel, eds., Traditions J5 ofInternational Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 96. onnelly, p. 96. 6 D teven Forde, “Classical Realism,” in Nardin and Mapel, eds., Traditions of 7 S International Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 62.  5  inapplicable to international politics. “ In other words, some realists view the national interest--rather than other substantive moral principles--as the moral basis for foreign policy choices, whereas other realists view international relations as an essentially amoral realm 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 the essence of international realism is its belief in the primacy of self-interest over moral principle? In other words, if the national interest is a moral principle--as some realists maintain--how can one continue to describe the essence of realism as the primacy of national interest over moral principle? Hence, under the heading of realism one encounters a paradox involving the assertion of a moral principle, on the one hand, and the denial of morality, on the other. But this paradox is not limited to attempts at generalizing about the essence of the realist world view, It also appears within the arguments of some of the realists themselves. George Kennan, for example, argues that: The interests of the national society for which government has to concern itself are basically those of its military security, the integrity of its political life and well being of its people. These needs have no moral quality.... They are unavoidable necessities of a national existence and therefore not subject to classfication as either “good” or “bad “ But having denied outright the moral quality of goods such as security, political life, and  Donnelly, p. 62. 8 George F. Kennan, “Morality and Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, 64 (1985/6): 206. 9 My emphasis.  6 the well being of a country’s people, he goes on to outline the statesman’s moral imperative to secure those goods. When [the statesman] accepts the responsibility of governing, implicit in that acceptance is the assumption that it is right that the state should be sovereign, the integrity of its political life should be assured, that its people should enjoy the blessings of military security, material prosperity and a reasonable opportunity for, as the Declaration of Independence put it, the pursuit of happiness. For these assumptions, the [statesman] needs no moral justification, nor need [he] accept any moral reproach for acting on the basis of them.’° Although Kennan does not explicitly identify the foregoing imperative as a moral imperative, it seems to me that if his argument is pushed a little further he would not only have to admit the categorically moral nature of his imperative, but he would also have to admit that the goods he means the statesman to secure are also moral goods. This can be demonstrated by applying the “reverse proof’ to his arguments--viz., by assuming his assertions are true and following them through to logical conclusions Kennan himself certainly would not accept, thus leading to a retraction of those initial assertions. For example, one might ask Kennan how he would label a statesman who intentionally refused to secure the goods he identifies as categorically amoral goods? Is it meaningful to call him a bad statesman? It seems to me that Kennan must concede that it is meaningful to do so. But one he has conceded this, he has opened himself to the further question: why would the statesman be bad for refusing to secure those goods? Faced with 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.  7 subject to moral classification. The apparent paradox in realism, then, is just that--an apparent paradox. In many cases it simply involves a denial that one is advancing a categorically moral argument when in fact one is advancing such an argument. Clearly Nardin and Mapel recognize this because they identify realism as one of many traditions of international ethics. Further, Terry Nardin concludes that not only does classical realism go beyond moral skepticism to embrace a definite ethical outlook, but that this outlook has both principles and a history. Its practitioners argue about the relative importance of rules and consequences, and each has articulated his own version of a morality of rules with an escape clause for emergencies. Each is participating in an ongoing debate about where to draw the line, how to define an emergency, and other perennial topics of realist discourse, All draw upon the concepts and principles--necessity, security, vital interests, prudence, responsibility--that defme a particular tradition of ethical judgement, regardless of whether they think of themselves, or are thought of by others, as ‘political realists.’ What they are rejecting is not [an ethical] tradition as such but the principles of alternative ethical traditions. 11 Leaving aside the question of structural or neo-realism, why is it that many realists deny they are advancing a categorically moral argument when in fact they are advancing such an argument? Nye suggests that the reason for this originates in the realist’s attempt to avoid “hard questions about why he should treat his nation as the only international value.” 2 The best way, in his view, to avoid asking (and attempting to answer) messy moral questions is to banish them from existence by asserting that international politics is essentially an amoral realm of human existence. There is,  “Nardin, “Ethical Traditions,” pp., 16, 17. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Nuclear Ethics (New York: The Free Press, 1986), p. 10. 2 ‘  8 perhaps, some truth to this. Isaiah Berlin, for example, argues persuasively that this movement toward banishing moral questions from existence is a notorious peculiarity of twentieth century scholarship. According to Berlin, moral questions throughout the history of Western civilization were considered to be “of vital importance for the conduct of 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 the  questions 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 of dealing with questions, particularly those recurrent issues which had perplexed and often tormented original and honest minds in every generation, was not by employing the tools of reason, still less those of more mysterious capacities called ‘insight’ and ‘intuition,’ but by obliterating the questions themselves. And this method consists not in removing them by rational means--by proving, for example, that they are founded on intellectual error or verbal muddles or ignorance of the facts-for to prove this would in turn presuppose the need for rational methods of philosophical or psychological argument. Rather, it consists in so treating the questioner that problems which appeared at once overwhelmingly important and utterly insoluble vanish from the questioner’s consciousness like evil dreams and trouble him no more, 13 Perhaps the reasons I offer are a little more generous than those suggested by Nye and elaborated upon by Berlin, I suggest there are three related reasons why many realists deny they are advancing a categorically moral argument when in fact they are.  lsaiah Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), pp., 13 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 well underway 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 social and political problems by simply denying that they existed. The New Leviathan.’ Or Man, Society, Civilization and Barbarism. Revised edition, David Boucher, ed., (Oxford: Clarendon Press, [1943] 1992), p. 136.  9  These reasons include: an inadequate understanding of the nature of moral agency, a muddled understanding of the idea of the national interest, and the pervasiveness of the traditional assumption that interest and morality are antithetical. It is precisely on questions such as these that I think students of political and moral philosophy have significant contributions to make in the study of international relations. Thus, if I must place my argument within a tradition of international discourse, I place it within the classical realist tradition to the extent that “classical realists tend.  .  .  to be more  philosophical in their approach and orientation” and “are engaged in a serious dialogue 14 But I do so reluctantly and with some very serious with moral philosophy.” reservations. Although I am prepared both to argue from within that tradition and to draw on that branch of knowledge called moral philosophy in order to demonstrate that the concept of the national interest is a categorically moral idea--an argument supporting Nardin’s claim that realism is indeed an ethical (i.e., a categorically moral) tradition--I am not quite prepared to make any claims about its moral quality. In other words, I cannot assert that the national interest is either morally good or evil. I am merely addressing the logically prior question concerning whether the idea is open to the kind of inquiry for which such epithets are stated as conclusions.  The orientation and scope  My aim is to think about what people mean by the expression “the national interest”  Steven Forde, “Classical Realism,” in Nardin and Mapel, eds., Traditions of 4 ‘ International Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 62.  10 when they employ it in both direct and indirect forms of political argument--in addition to those veiy few souls before me who have also attempted to clarilj the concept--in order to reach some conclusions about the role it plays in foreign policy decisions. In short, to borrow the words of Hedley Bull, I attempt here to deal with an apparently intractable but nevertheless cmcial concept merely by thinking it through. 15 Although only three attempts have been made at what I call strict conceptual analysis, many more have been made--although much fewer than might be expected--to  offer substantive conceptions of national interest. This is usually accomplished by merely prescribing much more tangible national objectives or interests such as the maintenance or enhancement of national power, the defence against potential or actual foreign military threats, the maintenance or enhancement of economic well being, the protection 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. 16 This is why I do not identify Morgenthau’s contribution on the subject as a strict conceptual analysis. Far from treating the concept as his primary object of study, Morgenthau argues that the primary objective a statesman must pursue is the enhancement and maintenance of national power. In short, he offers a substantive conception of national interest and not a conceptual analysis of the idea of the national  Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society (London, 1977), p. x. I am also inspired by 15 Robert H. Jackson’s remark: “My study is simply an attempt. to think the new sovereignty regime through to some conclusions.” Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990), p. 5. .  .  ‘ further distinction between general substantive conceptions and specific A 6 substantive conceptions will be made below.  11 interest.  Because theory is the stepchild of practice, 17 it is important that any theorizing about a concept take place not only in the context of a tradition of thought about the idea, but also in the context of particular contingent circumstances within which it is employed in political practice. The Gulf War (1990-9 1), as seen from the American perspective, provides one such set of contingent circumstances. My choice of the Gulf War, however, is far from arbitrary. Indeed, my inquiry about the concept of the national interest arose in the course of reflecting about the Gulf war. In particular, the inquiry arose in the course of trying to  resolve the contrary arguments advanced by United States senators in their debate about whether to commit troops to combat in the Persian Gulf, and the contrary arguments advanced by Christopher Layne and Joseph S. Nye in their post war debate about whether the war served the American national interest, Three basic questions drove my reflections at that time. Is the occurrence of war open to moral approbation and disapprobation? If so, what implications does this have for the sceptical position which stipulates that such relations lie outside the realm of moral inquiry? Finally, if the occurrence of war is indeed open to moral approbation and disapprobation, was the Gulf War a °just” war as most world leaders, including the President of the United States, had stipulated? In the course of attempting to answer these questions I found that although  17 for example, R.G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan: Or Man, Society. See, Civilization and Barbarism, 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.  12 the vocabulary of the just war was particularly salient at the international level, the vocabulary of the national interest dominated the American domestic debates--in particular, the January 1991 debate in the United States Senate, and a subsequent debate between Christopher Layne and Joseph S. Nye Jr. on whether the Gulf war indeed served the American national interest. What is striking about both of these debates, however, is that the participants were essentially attempting tojustfy (in contrast with giving mere reasons for) their respective positions while nevertheless using the vocabulary of the national interest. Since I assumed at the time that foreign policy grounded in morality is antithetical to foreign policy grounded in the national interest, I wondered if these people were falling prey to category errors and, hence, confusing their discourse by employing an inappropriate idiom. On the other hand, I wondered if the national interest really is a categorically moral idea after all and, if it is, what kind of implications that might have on the conventional antithesis between the national interest and morality. Further, what implications might this have for the moral sceptic who embraces the national interest as a central value, but who nevertheless asserts that international relations lie beyond the pale of moral argument? The first step toward answering these questions, I decided at the time, is to acquire some understanding about what the idea of the national interest is all about. The natural course to take when such a question arises is to immerse oneself in the 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. The  13 existing attempts at conceptual analysis, although to some extent helpful, did not seem to approach the kind of understanding I needed in order to pursue my initial questions--that is, those questions which led me to inquire into the meaning of the national interest in the first place. Although Beard, Roseneau, and Frankel all suspect that the idea is intimately related to the values people hold, their attempts do not sufficiently establish this relationship. And the reason they do not sufficiently establish it is because they do not draw upon the body of knowledge necessary to do so, namely: moral philosophy. What does “the national interest” mean? What, in conceptual rather than purely substantive terms, is “the national interest?” I ask these questions in the same spirit as one would ask: what is “sovereignty?” What is “gravity?” Or, what is “the good?” In other words, to what genus and species does it belong? Is it a juridical concept, like 8 Or, is it a moral concept, sovereignty? Is it a natural scientific concept, like gravity?’  like “the good”? It became clear to me that any comprehensive answer about the meaning of the national interest would take many years of careful inquiry in addition to filling many volumes. In K. J. Holsti’s terms, the national interest as an object of inquiry is a bottomless pit. Consequently, I have limited my answer to establishing the epistemological category to which the idea properly belongs. I conclude that because it is best conceived as an intrinsic principle of human conduct--i.e., a motive for action which, in terms of conventional American political morality, ought to be embraced by the agent taking those actions--it is a categorically  ‘ 1 8 n other words, can it be understood and explained in the idiom of the natural sciences?  14 moral idea. By “categorically moral idea,” however, I do not mean that it is a morally good idea, thus distinguishing it from a morally evil one. Instead, I mean that the idea of the national interest is a proper object of study for that branch of knowledge called moral philosophy or, more commonly, ethics. If it is universally true that the idea is a categorically moral idea, to the extent that the national interest is indeed a central concept in the study and practice of international relations, one must therefore conclude that international relations itself is at least a generic object of study for moral philosophy. In other words, any version of a claim that morality or ethics have nothing to do with international relations must be patently false if it is universally true that the idea of the national interest is indeed a categorically moral idea. Because of the limited scope of this study, however, I cannot make. such a definitive claim. The only claim I can make is that--strictly by virtue of the way in which the concept was employed by American politicians and scholars in the context of the Gulf War--the national interest is a categorically moral idea. But even this claim, at a minimum, raises serious questions about the sceptical position. In the context of the Gulf War, conceiving the national interest as a categorically moral idea helps to shed light on the overall discourse in which it was employed. That is to say, it helps to clarify the concept as well as a myriad of other issues raised during the crisis, Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether or not it helps to clarify the idea in all contexts. Hence, the claim I make is not a universal claim, it is only potentially so. The test would be to apply the national interest, conceived as an intrinsic principle of human action, to other American foreign policy contexts as they arise and see if that conception  15 fits 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 could strike some readers as unusual, if not misconceived, because it directly contradicts the traditional assumption that interest and morality are antithetical. Further, it could be objected that one must first show the idea to be a categorically moral one before appealing to moral philosophy in order to help clarify it. In response I can only point out that the true test does not rest upon any preconceived notions about whether or not international relations is a proper object of study for moral philosophy. Instead, it rests upon the degree to which that branch of knowledge helps to clarify an otherwise intractable idea. If my approach and the idiom I employ actually sheds conceptual light on 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 embrace the traditional assumption in the first place. Moral philosophy, or ethics, is a branch of knowledge. And like all branches of knowledge, it has its proper object of study--viz., something that distinguishes it from other branches of knowledge. The overarching question guiding this conceptual analysis of the idea of the national interest, then, is whether or not international relations can be a proper object of study for that branch of knowledge called moral philosophy. I argue that it 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 proper  16 object of study for ethics, One of the tasks needed to establish international relations as a proper object of ethics, then, is to show that it indeed can be conceived as human conduct. But the key argument is to show that the idea of the national interest, a central concept in both the study and practice of international relations, is an intrinsic principle of human action--viz., a categorically moral idea. Consequently, if the idea of the national 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 that international relations is a proper object of study for ethics, As indicated in the opening paragraph, my argument is directed not only to the conceptual debate aboUt the idea of the national interest, but the larger issue of moral 9 Neither of these questions is new, nor scepticism in the study of international relations.’ are they unrelated. For that matter, I am fi.illy convinced that the least controversial way to address the question of moral scepticism is by clarifjing the concept of the national interest. My basic point is that moral scepticism, on the one hand, and self-righteous moralizing, on the other, are each grounded in conceptual misunderstandings of both morality and the national interest. Both the moral sceptic and the moralizer ground their respective assertions on the traditional assumption about the relationship (or lack thereof)  For a filler account of this scepticism, see Charles R. Beitz, Political Theory 9 ‘ and International Relations (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979); Marshall Cohen, “Moral Skepticism and International Relations,” Philosophy and Public 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 Terry Nardin and David R. Mapel, eds., Traditions ofInternational Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 14-19; and, Robert W. McElroy, Morality andAmerican Foreign Policy (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 13-29.  17 between interest and morality. 20 In the study of international relations, the moral sceptic raises the question about whether moral questions legitimately can be asked. He answers that they cannot because, in his view, international relations is an essentially amoral enterprise. I confront the moral sceptic with a far less controversial question and claim. Instead of directly confronting the sceptic’s assertion with the counter-assertion that international relations is an essentially moral enterprise, or even the much more muted claim that international relations embodies an ethical “dimension” in addition to its other “dimensions” (whatever they are), I simply ask whether international relations is a proper object of study for that branch of knowledge called moral philosophy or, more commonly, ethics. And I answer that it probably is because the idea of the national interest--at least from the American  Essentially, I adopt Nye’s distinction between the practices of moral reasoning 20 and moralizing as well as his definition of a moralizer as one who has a mistaken understanding about the nature and project of moral philosophy, namely: a self righteous moral crusader who passes judgements on the actions of others on the basis of an oversimplified 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, “The Scientific Versus the Moralistic Approach in International Affairs, International Affairs, XXVII, no. 4 (October, 1951): 411-422. Perhaps unaware of the distinction, Butterfield does not distinguish the projects of moral philosophy and moralizing and thus contributes to the mistaken notion that the two projects are identical Further, it is argued that by virtue of Niebuhr’s influence, Hans Morgenthau, far from being opposed to morality in international affairs, was opposed to moralizing in such affairs. Unfortunately, and perhaps unwittingly, he helped to confuse the issue by identifying the entirely legitimate project of moral philosophy with the illegitimate project moralizing. See Kenneth W. Thompson, “Beyond National Interest: A Critical Evaluation of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Theory of International Politics,” Review ofPolitics, XVIII (1955): 167-188; Robert C. Good, “The National Interest and Political Realism: Niebuhr’s ‘Debate’ with Morgenthau and 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.  18 perspective in the context of the Gulf war--is a categorically moral concept. One might be tempted to object at this point that my claim amounts to merely restating the usual moralist response to the sceptical claim--viz., it is no different than  arguing that international relations either embodies a moral dimension or is an essentially moral enterprise. Terry Nardin, for example, states one version of the moralist project as an attempt to understand the ethical dimension of international affairs, 21 I do not adopt Nardin’s conception because it is not clear to me in the first place what an ethical dimension of human activity in general, let alone of international affairs in particular, might be. Further, if one postulates an ethical dimension, one must presuppose other dimensions 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 such questions and, as far as I can tell, Nardin does not answer them either. To speak of dimensions of human existence is an exceptionally tricky business-the business of that body of knowledge called the philosophy of being or ontology-which ultimately forces one to make a decision about the fhndamental essence of that existence. Is the human person essentially a “soul” enslaved in a body, as Plato 22 Is he essentially a composite being made up of body and soul, as Aristotle asserted? and Aquinas asserted? 23 Is his existence best conceived as a “field” extending in space 21 Nardin, “Ethical Traditions in International Affairs,” in Terry Nardin and Terry David R. Mapel, eds., Traditions ofInternational Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 1.  See, for example, Phaedo, 65c-68b. 22 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, q. 76, aa. 1-4. See his references to 23 Aristotle’s Physics and de Anima.  19 and time, as Heidegger asserted? 24 Or is he Brahman, as the Hindu sages asserted? 25 If a thinker of the stature of R. G. Collingwood was unable to make a decision about the essential 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 fundamental essence of human existence, but about the fundamental essence of international affairs as well, 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 significant discursive gulf is created and maintained between others who postulate a different essence. This largely explains what Robert McElroy identifies as the ever widening gulf between the so called empirical and normative treatments of international affairs. The result of [the recent] resurgence in normative treatments of international relations has not been a substantive dialogue between empirical students of international affairs and ethical thinkers. Rather, there have emerged two separate scholarly communities, each operating from a different woridview, using different languages, and arriving at different conclusions about the essential nature of the politics among 26 nations, A central divisive issue, then, concerns the different answers given to the question of the essential nature of international affairs. And how one labels himself--e.g., as a realist, an idealist, a rationalist, or what have you--or the particular “school of thought”  William Barrett, Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy (New York: 24 Anchor Books, 1958), pp. 217-218. The Upanishads, Trans., Swami Prabhavananda and Fredrick Manchester (New 25 York: Penguin, 1975). See, for example, Katha, Isha, Kena, and Prasna. McElroy, pp. 3, 4. 26  20 one wishes to defend or propagate, largely depends on the decision one makes about the essential nature of international affairs. And, as indicated, divergent decisions about the 27 essence of international affairs contributes to the divisiveness in the discipline. My claim that the national interest is a categorically moral idea does not exacerbate this divisiveness. It is far less controversial than it might appear at first, for I am not making any claims about the essence of international relations. Instead, I am making a claim about the kinds of questions that legitimately can be asked about international relations, and the particular body of knowledge that must be drawn upon in order to answer such questions. Rather than confronting the moral sceptic’s claim by postulating a contrary essence--a kind of claim that widens, in my view, the discursive gulf between empirical and ethical thinkers--I am asking whether it is meaningful to consider 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 meant to avoid (or at least temporarily postpone) consider, for example the question about the fundamental 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 immediately confronted with complicated and, perhaps, unanswerable questions about the relation between these two dimensions. Likewise, the notion of studying an ethical dimension of  Md this divisiveness has not served to improve the tone of moral debate. Nye, 27 Nuclear Ethics, pp. 10-13.  21 international relations suggests the presence of other dimensions thus leading to the question 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, confronting the question of the relationship between the two, he asserts that man is either all body or all mind depending on the branch of knowledge employed to study him. If one employs that branch of knowledge called natural science in order to study him, man is all body. If, on the other hand, one employs the science of mind (what he refers to as history), man is all mind. The question then, is not what man is essentially but, rather, what is the most appropriate body of knowledge to employ in order to answer the kinds of questions one has set out to answer. If one starts out with asking a bodily question--e.g. what causes the arm to break, or the skull to crack, or the person to drown--one employs that branch of knowledge most suitable for answering such questions, namely: natural science. If, on the other hand, one sets out with the “mind” question--e.g., why did he break that person’s arm, crack that person’s skull, or throw that person off the bridge?--one has to employ an entirely different branch of knowledge. In the case of international relations, I consider the question about the meaning of the idea of the national interest. Since this idea evidently plays some kind of role in the decisions that statesmen make, and since the problem of human choice is a proper object of study for moral philosophy, I speculate that the idea can be addressed with that body of knowledge. But such a reply leads to immediate objections, particularly the kind stemming from the “traditional assumption” that interest and morality are fundamentally opposed. And this assumption is embraced equally tightly by moral sceptics and those who set out  22 to study the ethical “dimension” of international relations. I will now consider this objection.  The traditional assumption Suppose an alien visitor to earth sits in on an international relations seminar and listens to a debate between proponents of the “Realist” and “Idealist” schools. What questions is he likely to ask during the debate? Chances are that his first two questions will be about  the central concepts around which the debate pivots, namely, the national interest and morality. The Realist, on the one hand, asserts with great conviction that foreign policy ought to be grounded in the national interest while the Idealist, on the other hand, asserts with equal conviction that foreign policy ought to be grounded in morality. 28 The disputants assert their presumed mutually exclusive claims with such conviction that the alien supposes the respective meanings of the national interest and morality must be blatantly obvious to everyone else present in the room. But, being an alien, he is not afraid to excuse himself from interrupting the fray and to ask: “What, precisely, is the national interest? and what, precisely, is morality? If you convey to me your knowledge about each of these apparently antagonistic concepts, maybe then I can make some sense about the relative merits of each of your points of view.”  There are, of course, more fruitful ways of framing the debate. Robert Osgood, for 28 example, poses the problem as one of resolving ideals and self interest. Stated in this way, one can remain open to the understanding that the opposition is not so much between morality and interest, as it is between two distinct but nevertheless explicitly ethical traditions. Robert Endicott Osgood, Ideals and Self-Interest in America’s Foreign Relations: The Great Transformation of the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953).  23 How does one go about answering these questions? Clearly they cannot be answered 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 a room 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 what is the chair? and what is the table?” Faced with this last pair of questions, the earthbound scholar has two choices. Recognizing that the visitor is inappropriately asking conceptual questions about common-place material objects, he can dismiss the question as irrelevant by saying: “here on earth, at least since the time Aristotle responded to Plato’s doctrine of the “Forms,” it does not really matter what the chair is or what the table is, all that really matters is that this is what a chair looks like and this is what a table looks like,” Or, again recognizing that the visitor is asking conceptual questions, he can engage in painstaking philosophical discourse about the concepts of chair and table. The scholar, however, does not have the same range of choices with respect to questions about the national interest and morality. That is, he cannot choose to dismiss the questions by taking the visitor to a room filled with objects and pointing out the national 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 obtaining and conveying knowledge about material things are insufficient for acquiring knowledge about immaterial things like ideas such as the national interest and morality. If the scholar takes the visitor’s question seriously and hopes to answer them, he must appeal to the philosophical branches of knowledge.  24 The questions “what is the national interest?” and “what is morality?” are not empirical questions. They are conceptual questions. Concepts, unlike matter, are not creatures of nature. Instead they are creatures of human artifice--that is to say, they are creatures of the human mind. Chairs and tables too are creatures of the mind, but with nature as its object--the mind shaping matter for its own purposes, resulting in artifacts composed of matter. 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 on  conceptual analysis. The object of conceptual analysis is to rethink the thoughts of those who employ the concept. It is an attempt to answer the question: what do people mean when they use the words signi1ring the concepts in question? But, as far as I can tell, the nature and extent of analysis of “the national interest” and “morality” that is needed in order to sustain sufficiently the “traditional assumption” has not been pursued by international relations scholars. Put differently, there are no apparent good reasons for embracing the traditional assumption. In K. J. Holsti’s words: Regardless of historical context, commitments to self-interest or ethical principles have, to most observers, appeared incompatible. The difficulty with this sort of view is that it oversimplifies reality. 29 .  .  .  Although the view is oversimplified, what does someone actually mean when they assert that interest and morality are opposed? It seems to me that this can only be meant in one of two ways, namely: categorically or qualitatively, Categorical opposition  Hoisti, International Politics: A Frameworkfor Analysis. Fifth Ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988), pp. 380-381. T(J 29  25 is captured by the expression: “essentially, international relations is about interests and power. Hence, to ask moral questions about international relations is to misconceive the essential nature of those relations.” Qualitative opposition, on the other hand, is captured by the expression: “Self interested and moral acts belong to the moral category of human actions--that is to say, they are both imputable actions in that they issue from moral agency--but they differ in their moral quality. The ‘self interested’ act is a qualitatively immoral act and the ‘other interested’ or ‘altruistic’ act is a qualitatively moral one,” Hans Morgenthau appears to have adopted the “categorical” view on the opposition between interest and morality--that is to say, acts grounded in morality are categorically distinct from 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 political sphere, as the economist, the lawyer, [and] the moralist maintain theirs. He thinks in terms of interest defined as power, as the economist thinks in terms of interest defined as wealth; the lawyer, of the conformity of action with legal rules; the moralist, of the conformity of action with moral principles. The economist asks: “How does this policy affect the wealth of society, or a segment of it?” The lawyer asks: “Is this policy in accord with the rules of law?” The moralist asks: “Is this policy in accord with moral principles?” And the political realist asks: “How does this policy affect the power of the nation?” ° 3 In other words, because the political realist, moralist, lawyer and economist ask different questions, their proper objects of study are therefore presumed to be different. If the  °3 Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, Fifth ed., (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 19’73),p. 11.  26 proper objects of study are different, a distinct branch of knowledge 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 generic and proper objects of study and the methods used to study those objects is, in many ways, at the heart of my analysis and it is evident Morgenthau would agree that generically distinct objects of study belong to distinct categories. The point at issue, however, is whether economic man, political man, moral man, and legal man are indeed generically distinct. He appears to think that they are. But if he indeed does think this, and if he is right, he deserves credit for a magnificent intellectual achievement because this thinking would contradict a 2500 year-old tradition of Western thinking on the question. Indeed, for many Western political and moral philosophers “ethics and politics were [considered to be] one subject.” ’ Morgenthau, in contrast, appears to suggest they are different 3 subjects. 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 an abstraction from reality. “Real man,” according to Morgenthau, “is a composite of ‘economic man,’ political man,’ ‘moral man,’ ‘religious man,’ etc.” 32 Morgenthau’s purpose, then, is not to distinguish “moral man” from “political man” as distinct generic objects of study. Instead, his purpose is to abstract from “real man” the political dimension of his total experience. In other words, he wants to narrow his field of enquiry  p H. Nowell-Smith, Ethics (Middlesex: Penguin, 1954), p. 15. 31 Morgenthau, p. 14. 32  27 by abstracting from the total human experience. One cannot conclude from this that Morgenthau is a moral sceptic. On the contrary, the basic thrust of his argument is that statesmen ought to act on the basis of national interest (defined substantively in terms of power), and that he ought not to act on the basis of abstract moral principles. Morgenthau, then, opposes two distinct substantive moralities and not morality and interest as distinct categories. Hence, if one wishes to sustain the traditional assumption about the antithesis between interest and morality, one must look elsewhere than to 33 Morgenthau’s arguments. In contrast with the “categorical” view, Charles Beitz, advances the “qualitative” view of the 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 thought  to be inappropriate to make moral judgements about international affairs. 34 He does not do this, however, by engaging metaethical questions, but by assuming that people “share some basic ideas about the nature and requirements of morality”--what he refers to as moral intuitions--and by seeing “whether international scepticism is consistent with 35 The basic moral intuition he has in mind is this: them.”  33 on this point, Robert McEfroy argues that, far from intending to widen Further the gulf between normative and empirical thinkers, Morgenthau attempted to bridge the gulf. Morality andAmerican Foreign Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 4. Charles R. Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), p. 5. Beitz, p. 17. 35  28 a [moral] theory must distinguish morality from egoism and explain how it can be rational to act on reasons that are (or might be) inconsistent with considerations of prudence or self interest. Indeed, the idea that considerations ofadvantage are distinctfrom those ofmorality, and that it might be rational to allow the latter to override theformer, seems to be at 36 the core of our intuitions about morality. Although it is questionable to do so, even if one does concede that a morally good act is one that benefits others rather than one’s self, one cannot conclude from this that the self serving act is beyond the pale of moral analysis and judgement. On the contrary, if one judges the self serving as morally evil, one must have already made the logically prior conclusion that self serving actions are within the purview of moral knowledge and debate--viz., a proper object of moral philosophy. Beitz, however, does not argue that all self serving acts are necessarily morally evil acts. Instead, he argues that the requirements of a substantive morality may require a person to sacrifice his or her own good for another’s good in some circumstances. Whether or not this is true will depend largely 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 perform the logically prior task of establishing the idea of the national interest as a categorically moral 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 necessarily identical to an act in that statesman’s personal, or self interest. At the level of human conduct, national interest and self interest do not mean the same thing. For that matter, at  Beitz, p. 16. My emphasis. 36  29 least in terms of American conventional morality, the statesman is obligated to sacrifice his personal interest for the national interest if and when they happen to conflict. Even Under Beitz’s account of moral intuition, then, the national interest can be viewed not only as a categorically moral idea, but as a qualitatively moral one as well. For to act in the national interest can often entail acts of extreme altruism. In order to sustain the traditional assumption that the national interest is opposed--either categorically or qualitatively--to morality, one must advance an argument grounded in a clear conceptual understanding of both ideas. As far as I can tell, no such argument has been made that can adequately sustain such an assumption. But until such an argument is made, it is unsafe to hold the assumption that interest and morality are antithetical. Consequently, the traditional assumption is a very weak basis for grounding the assertion that the national interest is not a categorically moral idea.  The argument  I again emphasize that by arguing that the national interest is a categorically moral idea, I am not suggesting that it is a morally good idea, I am simply saying that, as a categorically moral idea, the national interest therefore is subject to the judgements of any substantive morality. In other words, in order to vindicate the national interest as a morally good idea, on the one hand, or in order to condenm it as a morally evil one, on the other, one needs to employ substantive moral arguments. And it is conceivable that one substantive morality might judge it to be a morally good idea, whereas another might judge it to be a morally evil one. This, it seems to me, is the real point of contention  30 between international Realists and Idealists. Nevertheless, although different substantive moralities clearly are proper objects of study for metaethics, I shall not pursue such an analysis in this work. Instead, I merely demonstrate that the idea of the national interest is a categorically moral idea and, consequently, it is a proper object of study for moral philosophy. And this, it should be emphasized, is an exercise logically prior to that of imputing morally good or evil qualities to the idea. However, to be able to appeal to moral philosophy in order to assist the analysis of 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 and systems, then, cannot be proper objects of study for moral philosophy. Individual human persons, on the other hand, can be such objects. More specifically, human conduct as good or evil, and human actions to be done or not to be done, are proper objects of study for this branch of knowledge. 37 In the context of this analysis, however, I am not interested in inquiring into all human conduct. Instead, I am interested in a particular class of persons and only in so far as the idea of the national interest bears upon their conduct. In short, I am interested in statesmen in their active capacity as statesmen. But why just statesmen? For it appears that “the national interest” signifies the aggregate of shared purposes or interests of all citizens. The body politic, in this view, is an association of persons. Further, the idea of association presupposes shared purposes  37 D. O’Keefe, S. J., Known From the Things that Are: Fundamental Theory of Martin the Moral Lfe (Houston, TX: Center For Thomistic Studies, 1987), p. 8.  31 or interests. Consequently, in order to clarify the national interest, one must consider the citizens and their interests, This view, however, is mistaken because its conception of the body politic is based on a dubious political theory. More specifically, it is a view based on a sociology masquerading as a political theory. It supposes that the body politic is a society in the classical sense of the word, when really it is only a society in the sociological sense of the word. Hence, there are two senses of the word “society” that need to be distinguished. If the body politic were a society in the classical sense of the word, it would then, and only then, be meaningful to speak of an aggregate of shared purposes and interests among citizens. The American body politic, however, clearly is not a society in the classical sense of 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 would be meaningless to speak of rocks or plants, as the case may be, as having shared interests or purposes. Nevertheless, it is entirely meaningful to speak of such societies as having shared characteristics, That there is very little agreement, except at an impractically high level of generality, about what American citizens’ shared purposes or interests are, is a reasonable indication that there are none, Without shared purposes or interests, the American body politic, by definition, cannot be a society in the classical sense of the word because such interests define society in this sense. And those who value pluralism think it is a very good thing that the American body politic is not a society in the classical sense. Consequently, “the national interest,” if it means anything at all, must signify something other than an aggregate of shared purposes or interests among American  32 citizens. Further, that some people continue to search for that substantively defined aggregate of shared interests, indicates that they mistakenly suppose the American body politic to be a society in the classical sense of the term. Nevertheless, American statesmen continue to invoke the national interest as the crowningjustification for their actions. This was particularly evident during the Gulf  crisis. But given that the American body politic is not a society in the classical sense of the term--hence, no reference properly can be made to an aggregate of shared interests since there are none--does this suggest a profound ignorance on their part? Not necessarily, because American statesmen indeed are members of a society (in the classical sense of the word) within the American body politic, namely: the governing body. And one of the purposes of this body--a purpose presumably shared by its members--is pursuing policies that presumably benefit the country in general. But this is an open-ended purpose because what the statesman specifically needs to do in any given set of contingent circumstances is in large part defined and constrained by the details, subtleties, and nuances of those contingent circumstances, Regardless, one thing does remain constant when a person becomes member of the governing body. And that is the obligation he or she takes upon him or herself by virtue of membership. The American statesman (and not necessarily the statesmen of all countries), in light of the shared purposes of the governing association, is obliged to incline his or her choices toward the national 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. The national interest, then, is an intrinsic principle of action. In terms of the interior act of the  33 will, 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 or persona of  statesman. 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 moral quality. One would need to employ substantive moral arguments either to vindicate or condemn the idea as morally good or evil, respectively. Even though I assert my work is an attempt merely to “think through” a difficult and hopelessly tangled concept, the order of presentation in the following chapters should not be confused with the order of discovery. Instead, the chapters are ordered in such a way to lead the reader to the same conclusions I have already reached. In chapter two I outline existing thinking about the idea and point to some problems and deficiencies my argument is meant to remedy. The reason for doing this is to learn from and build upon what they got right and to find a way around what they got wrong. In other words, I cannot hope to transcend existing thought about the national interest unless I know something about the existing successes and failures in that thinking. A broad distinction can be drawn between those who primarily employ the idea and those who primarily attempt to understand it, and I examine each half of this distinction in the next chapter. Of all the authors referring to the idea of the national interest there are only three whose primary goal is to understand the idea. In the vast majority of cases, on the other hand, the authors attempt to employ it for a variety of reasons, such as vindicating and condemning foreign policies, justifying proposed policies, or simply using it as an analytical tool in order to aid one’s understanding of  34 international relations in general. In chapter three I outline some important distinctions employed throughout the work. Of course, these distinctions were generated only after thinking through the idea of the national interest. But I present them at the outset because they are instrumental for an understanding of the remainder of the argument. In highlighting these distinctions, I have in mind a critique of a particular view of the national interest which, if not dealt with 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 distinguish  the national interest from a national interest, they fail to recognize that statesmen do not use the formula merely to give reasons for their policy choices but, rather, they use it as an impassionedjustfication. Thus, I begin this chapter by distinguishing the national interest 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 is based on a logical fallacy called the fallacy of swapping horses. With the preliminary distinctions aside, I turn to establishing the idea of the national interest as an intrinsic principle of action. The overall argument is carried out in four stages: I begin with an argument for viewing international relations in terms of human conduct as a preliminary to conceiving foreign policy problems as problems of choice (Chapter 4); I offer an account of the problem of choice indicating the role “the national interest,” conceived as an intrinsic principle of action, plays in the problem of  35 choice and raise the issue of rules or criteria for helping the decisionmaker make the best possible choices (Chapter 5); I then turn to an account of the uses and limitations of rules in making choices (Chapter 6) and, finally; I test the clarified conception of the national interest suggested here in light of the Senate debates on the war (Chapter 7) and the judgements of Christopher 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 only because it is employed to justify choices made in the here and now about objectives to be pursued and the appropriate means for pursuing them. Further, it suggests that the concept plays a central role in rendering those choices. However, in light of my supposition that abstract state and system level theories of international relations are not entirely 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 less abstract level of analysis is needed in order to clarify the idea. For example, even though it is an entirely legitimate conclusion made by balance of power theory, that states always balance does not help an individual senator to decide between specific courses of action in a given set of contingent circumstances. That the senator has been put in a position to decide between courses of action in the first place presupposes that the decision to offset or balance existing states of affairs has already been taken. The question, then, is not about whether balancing will or will not occur. Instead, the question confronting the senator concerns choosing the best means for achieving the desired balance--the kind of balance that benefits the American body politic. It seems to me that the most appropriate  36 level of analysis to account for such questions and the answers given to them is not the state or the system level but, rather, the individual level. In short, one must conceive international relations in terms of human conduct. Hence, in order to conceive the idea of the national interest as an intrinsic principle of human action, one must conceive international relations in a special way. International relations viewed from the perspective of state or system levels of analysis have 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, does yield some fruit. However, once international relations is conceived in terms of human conduct, 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 about the nature of their relationship to the body politic they are charged to govern and, finally, questions about the problem of human choice and how the national interest relates to that problem. Not only is this level of analysis the most appropriate for addressing the problem of human choice, conceiving international relations in terms of human conduct demands that the problem of choice be addressed. It could be argued that the more abstract levels of analysis conveniently circumvent the pressing and perplexing problem of choice. Having selected the level of analysis best suited for dealing with the problem of choice, I begin to address that problem directly in Chapter 5. The problem of choice--a problem not expressly addressed by Beard and Rosenau, and expressly avoided by  37 Frankel--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 foreign policy are intimately related, he argues that the solution lies beyond the pale of “scientific” reasoning. Hence, he circumvents the question altogether. However, having not bound myself to a method grounded in an analogy with natural science, there is no reason for me to avoid the question. For that matter, my conclusion that the national interest is an intrinsic principle of action depends on some kind of an answer to the question; but not necessarily the answer I advance in Chapter 5 and subsequent chapters. Thus, although I draw upon the insights of Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, and Collingwood to provide my answer to the problem of choice, I do not suggest thereby that it is the only answer to the question. Nor do I bind myself thereby to the entire body of their respective systematic philosophies. Other answers to the problem of choice could very well be equally suitable for developing the idea of the national interest as an intrinsic principle of human action. Essentially, I argue that whatever a person actually chooses in a given set of circumstances 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 highly possible (but not necessarily the case) that the substantive object of desire and the subsequent 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 political morality, the “right” motive for a statesman while acting in that capacity is the national interest and not his personal or some other interest. The extent that a statesman embraces  38 the “right” motive for making choices in his capacity as statesman is the same extent to which 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 is likely--that two individual statesmen, each embracing the “right” motive, can disagree about which policy alternative is the best alternative in any given situation. Thus, there is nothing inherently contradictory about two statesmen, each proposing mutually exclusive policy options, justifjing their choices in terms of the national interest. If each indeed embraces the “right” motive, each is equally justified in asserting their respective mutually exclusive choices as serving the national interest. Nevertheless, even if one is convinced that each of the two policy options is genuinely founded upon the “right” motive, a third party--also embracing the national interest as his intrinsic principle of action--still has to confront the painfhl choice about which of the two alternatives to employ. This was precisely the problem faced by United States Senators in January 1991 when they had to choose between the Dole-Warner resolution (authorizing the president to use armed force against Iraq in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 678) and the Mitchell-Nunn resolution (continuing the economic blockade indefinitely). How does one faced with such a choice go about deciding 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 the national interest. This is the conventional wisdom about the national interest, namely, it is the criterion that must be employed in deciding among foreign policy alternatives. It  39 should be evident, however, that this is precisely where the conventional wisdom runs aground. The foreign policy observer must make a choice here. Either the national interest is the “right” motive behind the policy proposals in the first place, or it is the criterion 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 another question, namely: what is the motive for choosing the best alternative for the country in the first place? Clearly, the answer is: the national interest. Thus, if the motive for choosing the best alternative is the national interest, the criterion for making the best choice cannot also be the national interest. In short, the conventional wisdom confuses something that is actually a subjective motive--an intrinsic principle of action--for making the best choice with an objective criterion—an external standard or rule--for making the best choice. Thus, the adherents of this “objectivist” view of the national interest suppose that the proper standard, rule, or measurement to be used in deciding between policy alternatives is the national interest. Despite this mistake, they nevertheless recognize that the formula “the national interest” on its own is not very helpfi.ul until it isinfised with substantive content. Consequently, the “objectivist” project is to seek out and articulate that content. For example, Hans Morgenthau defines the national interest in terms of power. Thus, when a statesman is attempting to decide among policy options, he needs only to ask himself the question: which of these alternatives contributes most to the preservation or enhancement of national power? And, presuming the question can be answered with absolute certainty (which, under most circumstances, it probably cannot),  40 the 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 earlier than he allows. For one might inquire of the objectivist: why would you even bother seeking out the criteria of choice in the first place? In the case of Morgenthau it is evident (but by no means absolutely certain) that his project itself is motivated, if only in part, by the national interest. In other words, the national interest evidently was his motive 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 objective criterion. Further, in an attempt to infuse substantive content into “the national interest” with the idea of power, Morgenthau is confusing means with motives, Whereas the maintenance or enhancement of power is the means, the national interest is the motive for pursuing 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 of American conventional political morality, the national interest is that content. Far from being the solution to the problem of choice, then, the national interest is the source of the problem. Nevertheless, there are criteria that can be used in order to help the statesman decide. But they do only just that--viz., they only help the statesman to decide. They do not make the choice for him. Thus, when it comes to the problem of choice, the inherent limitations of rules, standards, or measurements of choice become most painfully evident--regardless of what rules one employs. What the statesman decides depends ultimately on what he himself brings to the choice situation--i.e., his  41 total makeup as a person here and now. To the extent that he is possessed by the virtue of prudence is the extent to which the choice he makes is the best that can possibly be made. The quality of an actual choice, then, does not ultimately depend on the rules employed in making that choice. Instead, it depends on the qualities of the person making that choice. In Chapter 6, I examine the limitations of rules and the role of prudence in detail. I articulate two sets of rules that a statesman could have employed (and, as will be shown in Chapter 7, that many senators did in fact employ), and demonstrate that choice cannot ultimately be reduced to rules. Presuming a senator is genuinely motivated by the national interest, which is the best choice to make? The Dole-Warner resolution? The Mitchell-Nunn resolution? In hindsight, it appears that the former may have been the best 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 they had to confront the choice facing them. That luxury was left for Joseph Nye and Christopher Layne to enjoy seven months later when they set out to pass judgement on the choice actually made by the members of United States Senate, among others. I examine the arguments among the senators and those between Nye and Layne in Chapters 7 and 8, respectively. The purpose of examining these arguments is not to determine whether the choice made by the senators was indeed the best choice, nor is it to determine which ofNye and Layne’s judgements was indeed the best judgement. Instead, these two chapters constitute the “testing ground,” so to speak, for my conception of the national interest understood as an intrinsic principle of action--viz., as a  42 motive in the act of choice. To the extent that this understanding clarifies the real substantive issues raised in the respective debates is the extent to which it can be considered an accurate understanding. If the national interest can accurately be conceived as an intrinsic principle of action, one must conclude thereby that it is a categorically moral concept. Further, if the central concept in the study and practice of international relations is indeed a categorically moral concept, it is reasonable to conclude that the conduct of international relations is a proper object of study for moral philosophy or, more commonly, ethics. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether the idea of the national interest is a morally evil idea or a morally good one. This thesis merely helps to set the terms in which the perennial debate between international realists and idealists must eventually be resolved.  43 CHAPTER TWO EMPLOYING AND UNDERSTANDING “THE NATIONAL INTEREST”  In this chapter I will set out the nature of the existing literature dealing, in one way or another, with the national interest. I distinguish two broad categories of literature: one in which the authors primarily employ the concept, and one in which the authors primarily seek to understand it. The first category is practically oriented whereas the second category is theoretically oriented. The basic question driving the authors of the first category is: How should (or does) a statesman conduct his business? And the basic question driving the second category is: What does the national interest mean? In the first 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 object of study. Hence, the literature in each of the two broad categories reflects a distinctive disposition of the authors toward the idea. Of course, in an attempt to understand the idea one must pay attention to how it is employed in practice and, conversely, in an attempt to employ the idea one presumably must understand it. The authors in each category, then, are not engaged in mutually exclusive enterprises. But this does not negate the basic distinction--a distinction established by asking: what is the primary concern of the author? Is it about the idea itself? Is it about using the idea as an analytical tool? Or is it about providing prescriptive rules and principles for the conduct of statecraft at the international level?  44 Employing “The National Interest” Of the group employing the concept, I distinguish those who advance general substantive conceptions from those who advance specfic conceptions about what substantive policy options are best in light of the motive “the national interest.” Of the authors advancing specific substantive conceptions, I identifj two groups. First, there are those who advance 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. 1 Second, there are those who advance and Christopher Layne fall into this category. their conceptions during the process of reaching a foreign policy decision. The United 2 States Senate debates held on 10, 11, and 12 January 1991 fall into this category.  General Substantive Conceptions General substantive conceptions, like specific substantive conceptions, are not so much 3 Unlike the concerned with “the national interest” as they are with “national interests.” specific substantive conception sub-category, however, the authors in this sub-category are not concerned with national interests in any particular historical context or in the context of any particular foreign policy problem. Instead, they are concerned with what Joseph S. Nye Jr, “Why the Gulf War Served the National Interest,” The Atlantic 1 Monthly (July 1991): 56-64, and Christopher Layne, “Why the Gulf War was not in the National Interest,” The Atlantic Monthly (July 1991): 65-8 1. I will examine in detail their respective arguments in chapter eight. 21  will examine these debates in detail in chapter seven.  3 T he distinction between the national interest and national interests will be explained more filly in chapter three. I mention the distinction now merely to draw the reader’s attention to it.  45 I call °standing” national interests. This body of literature remains open to the question about how to apply abstract prescriptive principles and rules to specific cases. George 4 for example, begin their treatment of the concept of national interests by and Keohane, noting that: Foreign policy problems. typically engage a multiplicity of competing values and interests, so much so that policymakers often have great difficulty in attempting to reduce them to a single criterion of utility with which to judge which course of action is “best.” In principle, the criterion of national interest, which occupies so central a place in discussions of foreign policy, should assist decisionmakers to cut through much of this In practice, however, value complexity and improve judgements. national interest has become so elastic and ambiguous a concept that its role as a guide to foreign policy is problematic and controversial. [In this work we examine] some of the reasons for this development and point to ways in which the concept can be clarified in order to strengthen the 5 guidance it can give to foreign-policymakers. .  .  .  .  .  George and Keohane’s primary purpose, then, is to assist the statesman in making better decisions. But although this is their primary purpose, they necessarily set out to achieve some kind of understanding about the idea. As a direct consequence of their aim--hence, their disposition toward the idea of the national interest--they proceed to break down the idea into what they believe to be the irreducible national interests (or 6 The reason for vital interests) of physical survival, liberty, and economic subsistence. doing so--again, as their aim suggests--is “to introduce discipline and restraint into the  4 A lexander L. George and RobertO. Keohane,”The Concept ofNational Interests: Uses and Limitations,” in Alexander L. George, ed., Presidential Decisionmaking in Foreign Policy: The Effective Use ofInformation and Advice (Boulder: Westview Press, 1980), pp. 217-237. George and Keohane, p. 217. 5 George and Keohane, p. 224. 6  46 formulation of foreign policy” in order to prevent other interests from being “smuggled” 7 into the process “under the legitimizing umbrella of the term ‘national interests.” The immediate issue here is not to examine George and Keohane’s substantive  claims--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 nature --from specific 8 of their project--what I refer to as a general substantive conception substantive conceptions. The basic distinction is that George and Keohane advance substantive conceptions of national interest that ideally would apply in all foreign policy situations. Specific substantive conceptions, on the other hand, are specific to a particular set of contingent historical circumstances.  Specific Substantive Conceptions Specific substantive conceptions, then, are not concerned so much with national interests in the abstract as they are with one or more of these interests in a particular set of contingent circumstances. Unlike the authors of general substantive conceptions, these persons do not ask and attempt to answer the “abstract” and, hence, quasi-practical question, namely: what should leaders do in general? Instead, they ask and attempt to  George and Keohane, p. 227. 7 8 O ther examples of general substantive conceptions include: Grayson Kirk, “In Search of the National Interest,” World Politics (1952): 110-115; John L. Chase, “Defining the National Interest of the United States,” Journal ofPolitics (November 1956): 720-724; Hans J. Morgenthau, “Another ‘Great Debate’: The National Interest of the United States,” American Political Science Review (December 1952): 961-988; and, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 5th ed., (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1973).  47 answer a concrete practical question, namely: What should leaders do (or have done) in these (or those) concrete contingent circumstances as they face (or when they faced) this (or that) specific practical problem? For example, questions like: given the predicament we find ourselves in, should we go to war or not? Or, given the predicament they found themselves in at the time, should they have gone to war or not? These two kinds of questions, however, point to another crucial distinction, namely: specific conceptions advanced after the fact and specific conceptions advanced during the process of reaching a decision.  a) Specific Conceptions After the Fact: In temporal terms, the question “given the predicament they found themselves in at the time, should they have gone to war or not?” can only arise after a particular choice was made and executed. In short, it is an historical question and, as such, requires the skilful application of historical methods in order to answer it correctly. But it is a special kind of historical question because it does  not seek historical knowledge for its own sake, but, rather, for the sake of evaluating decisions already made, For historical knowledge is essentially “theoretical knowledge,” and theoretical knowledge is knowledge that something is or has been--it is knowledge of 9 But the question, although it presupposes an answer to it, does not ask “did they in fact. fact go to war?” it asks instead “should they have gone to war or not, given the fact that they did (or did not) go to war?” In short, the question does not seek theoretical  Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, p. 40; Collingwood, The New Leviathan: Or Man, 9 Society, Civilization and Barbarism, Revised edition, David Boucher ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), chapter XIV; Gilbert Ryle, The Concept ofMind (London: Hutchinson, 1955), chapter II.  48 knowledge about someone’s actual conduct for its own sake, but for the sake ofjudging human choices. In this case, the authors ground their respective judgements in specific substantive conceptions of national interest. From this body of literature we learn that, at the very least, the national interest is often employed as a standard against which particular foreign policy choices are evaluated and judged. But why would someone want to try to determine how someone else should have conducted themselves in a given set of contingent circumstances? For regardless of what standard 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 pass judgement, 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 it can be done, if a similar set of circumstances arises again. Joseph S. Nye and Christopher Layne’s respective replies to the question of whether or not the Gulf War was in the American national interest are two examples of this kind of treatment.’° b) Specific Conceptions During the Fact: This second half of the distinction seeks to answer a practical question of choice, exemplified by the question: given the predicament 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 arise only after the fact and, consequently, seeks historical knowledge, the question “should we  ‘°Another example is: Stephen D. Krasner, Defending the National Interest: Raw Materials, Investments, and US. Foreign Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978). Krasner, however, does not examine one particular foreign policy choice but a series of choices in one particular policy area.  49 go to war or not?” seeks practical knowledge. One possesses theoretical knowledge the moment he “makes up his mind that” something is or was.” One possesses practical knowledge, on the other hand, the moment he “makes up his mind to” do some particular thing--that is to say, the moment he formulates a special type of proposition called an 2 An intention usually takes the shape of something like: “I will close the intention.’ window,” or, “I will secure the liberation of Kuwait,” or, “I will lead my country into war,” or, “I will continue sanctions indefinitely.” But formulating the intention is only part of the decision process. Once the agent has decided upon the object to be secured, he must then decide upon the best means to employ in order to secure it. The process of making up one’s mind--that is, the thought process that occurs before an election is made about means--is called deliberation. A person’s capacity for deliberating well is what Aristotle refers to as “practical wisdom,” “phronesis,” or “pdence.” 13 Collingwood, The New Leviathan. p. 99. 11 ‘t should be evident that most of a person’s routine activities are not preceded 1 2 (temporally or logically) by the formulation of an intention. Most activities stem from habit. This is equally true with complex and difficult activities. We are considered skilled at an activity when we have acquired the complex habits of action pertaining to that activity. Hence, the expression “practical knowledge” often refers to skills acquired through training and habit, and this is the sense in which Ryle uses the term “knowing how.” Concept ofMind, chapter II. But this clearly is not the sense in which I am using it here. Here I understand by “practical knowledge” the knowledge of what one either intends or wills to do in a given situation. And such knowledge is expressed in the form of a special proposition called an “intention.” The idea of an intention will be addressed in more detail when I examine the problem of choice in chapter five, Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1 140a25-35. The idea of prudence and how it relates 13 to the problem of choice will be explored in greater detail in chapter six, I mention it now merely to indicate a point of contact between the questions addressed by the philosophy of the human person, moral philosophy, and questions addressed about  50  Thus, 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 to do. Many bodies politic have incorporated this practice into their collective decisionmaking not only by allowing, but insisting, that public deliberation take place on important questions such as whether or not to commit the country to war, The United States Constitution, for example, requires the collective wills of Congress for a declaration of war. The record of the deliberation process for a country’s particular decision in a particular set of contingent circumstances in light of a particular problem, is the kind of literature I am referring to here. The best, but by no means the only literature available in any set of contingent circumstances is that produced by the authors of the decision itself. In the case of the Gulf War, I draw upon the United States Congressional Record of the January 1991 Senate debate on whether or not to employ offensive military force against Iraq. 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 who explicitly set out to understand it, I shall now turn to the latter group. In particular, I shall examine the works of Charles Beard, James Rosenau, and Joseph Frankel. Although these three authors have made an important contribution to our understanding of the idea of the national interest, they do not address the question of how the idea  foreign policy decision making.  51 relates to the problem of choice. The key to reaching the kind of understanding I hope to achieve is determining just how the notion of national interest relates to the problem of human choices--human choices, that is, of persons acting in their capacity as American statesmen.  Charles Beard By far, the most impressive and sustained attempt at clarifying the idea of the national interest was originally published in 1933 by Charles Beard. 14 In that work, Beard examines what American statesmen and publicists meant when they invoked the expression “the national interest”--viz., he examines and distinguishes the kinds of policies that the expression reflected. For Beard, “the national interest” is merely an abstract formula that is meaningless outside the contingencies of the situation and the actual complex of values embraced by the individual person employing the term. In the words of Charles E. Hughes: “foreign policies are not built upon abstractions,” but “are the result ofpractical conceptions of the national interest arising from some immediate exigency or standing 15 Hence, it is a kind of shorthand expression out vividly in historical perspective.” presumably embodying a deeper meaning intimately known by the person employing the term in the context of contingent circumstances. Beard, therefore, sets out to establish  Charles A. Beard, The Idea ofNational Interest: An Analytical Study in American 14 Foreign Policy, reprinted, (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1966). Cited in Beard, p. 1. My emphasis. 15  52 these meanings from the founding of the Republic until the early 193 Os and, in keeping with Charles Hughes’ dictum, the only way he thinks this can be done is by examining what people said and did in the context within which they said and did it. Determining the substantive practical meaning ascribed to the national interest in any set of circumstances is, for Beard, an historical problem--that is to say, a problem to be addressed by historical methods. Although he argues effectively that a “traditional thesis” can be discerned about its use as a formula to “explain and justi1,r policy,” it is notable from his overall account that the national interest did not have the same substantive meaning for all Americans in all concrete historical circumstances. Nor did it have the same substantive meaning for all Americans even in identical circumstances. For example, Alexander Hamilton’s substantive conception of the American national interest “meant a consolidation of commercial, manufacturing, financial, and agricultural interests at home.” In foreign policy, it meant “the promotion of trade in all parts of the world by the engines of diplomacy, the defense of that trade by a powerfhl navy, the supremacy of the United States in the Western Hemisphere, and the use of military and naval strength in the rivalry of nations to secure economic advantages for the citizens of the United States.” In short, Hamilton conceived American interests in terms of machtpolitik. 16 Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, “was essentially isolationist in outlook and opposed to territorial adventures which brought the United States into economic rivalry with the imperialist powers of Europe and hence into the diplomatic entanglements  Beard, pp. 48-49. 16  53 inevitably associated with it.” 17 Even though these two views are inherently incompatible, their respective proponents justified and articulated them in terms of the “iron law” of national interest. However, despite its (divergent) employment by statesmen and publicists “as if it were a fixed principle, somewhat like the law of gravitation,” Beard notes that it cannot be such a law if only because “the idea of national interest is, relatively speaking, a newcomer among the formulas of diplomacy and 18 international morality.” From 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 the national honour--but that there is rarely universal agreement about what the national interest means in substantive practical terms. The national interest has no fixed and permanent substantive practical meaning. There is no “objective” substantive conception that can hold true in all times and circumstances. In addition, the national interest merely understood in the abstract is virtually meaningless. In Kenneth Waltz’s terms, “to say that a state seeks its own preservation or pursues its national interest is interesting only if 19 But despite its we figure out what the national interest requires a country to do.” divergent meanings in practice and its relative meaningless when employed in the abstract, there does appear to be a common thread in its use--that is, it is used by statesmen and commentators alike as ajustfication for (often divergent) policy options. Beard, p. 87. 7 ‘ Beard, p. 4. 8 ‘ ‘ K 9 enneth N. Waltz, Theoty ofInternational Politics, First edition (New York: Newbery Award Records Inc., 1979), p. 134.  54 In this particular work, Charles Beard does not fulfil his ultimate objective to produce a conceptual, rather than purely historical, treatment of the idea and concedes that 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 a conceptual understanding of the national interest is first to examine the way the formula is employed in practice, determine its substantive meaning in those contexts in light of the actual policies appended to the expression, and then to proceed with an analysis of a more conceptual nature. For Beard, the starting point of any conceptual analysis, then, is human conduct in an historical context--that is to say, one must first employ historical methods and then move on to more conceptual ones. Unlike Beard, however, my treatment cannot claim the same degree of historical scope and emphasis. This task has afready been performed, and performed expertly, by Beard himself. Instead, I shall examine the employment of the idea in the context of a singular historical event, namely, the Gulf War. Nevertheless, I draw upon his insight that no conceptual analysis can be undertaken without reference to concrete historical circumstances. Perhaps as a consequence of not addressing the question of how the national interest relates to the problem of choice, Beard may not have been dealing specifically with the idea of the national interest after all. Instead, he was dealing with the substantive nature of American foreign policies presumably motivated by the national interest. He attempted to distil American foreign policies down to a common set of ideas and found that this could not be done. However, he could not deny that all of those  55  divergent policies were probably motivated by the national interest. People with the same motive to do what is best for the body politic can make different judgements about what is best. Hence, Beard clearly distinguishes human judgements from human motives in the sense that the same motive shared by two different people does not necessarily lead to the same policy choices.  James N Rosenau  In his analysis of “the national interest,” Rosenau clearly is not using the concept “to describe, 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 an analytical tool. Although he argues convincingly that it is not suitable as such, he ° 2 concedes that “its use in politics will long continue to be a datum requiring analysis.” Keeping in mind the broad distinction between employing the concept and understanding it, Rosenau’s account clearly fits into the latter category; even though he  approaches the problem in a primarily negative way. In other words, he shows how the concept cannot be used instead of developing a positive account of what its role might be in a concrete decision making context. Regardless, Rosenau’s account serves as an effective critique of some of the ways in which the concept is employed. And a large part of any understanding about what a concept means can be obtained by learning how it cannot properly be used. In the course of demonstrating its inadequacy as an analytical tool, he attempts  Rosenau, p. 39. 20  56  first to distinguish analytical from political usages of the idea. As an analytic tool, it is employed to describe, explain, or evaluate the sources or adequacy of a nation’s foreign policy. As an instrument of political action, it serves as a means ofjustifjing, denouncing, or proposing policies. Both usages. refer to what is best for a national 21 society. .  .  There is a problem with this distinction because Rosenau groups together under the heading of “analysis” the activities of “explanation,” “description,” and “evaluation.” For much of what is produced under the guise of evaluation is veiy difficult to distinguish from political action. Layne and Nye, for example, evaluate the American decision to go to war and they use the idea of the national interest to justif,r their mutually exclusive judgements--a form of political action in my view. Nevertheless, Rosenau’s mistaken distinction does not affect the remainder of his analysis. The activity of evaluation aside, Rosenau essentially agrees with both Beard and Waltz’s critique that the national interest employed as a description or explanation of foreign policy does not tell us very much. A national interest, in his view, is whatever a country’s decisionmakers decide, 22 Rosenau refers to this .s the “subjectivist” account. Rosenau’s most formidable critique, however, is directed against what he calls the “objectivist” account of the national interest. And the “objectivists,” in my view, are primarily engaged in a form of political  Rosenau, p. 34. 21 Although this is stated in universal terms, it is clear that Rosenau’s “subjectivist” 22 emerges from within the Western Liberal-Democratic experience. Hence, the subjectivist presupposes that the decision about interests was reached by due political process. If the subjectivist notion is extended to embody the decisions of all national leaders--including the most malevolent of tyrants--it merely becomes a purely descriptive statement.  57 action, if only an indirect form. Of the objectivists, Rosenau identifies Hans Morgenthau as the most sophisticated member. 23 In tracing the development of the objectivist account, he notes that although the term was employed by American political actors since the late 18th century, it was during the interwar period that the first serious attempt to clarifr the 24 After World War II, however, many analysts began to employ the concept was made, concept to criticize the British, French, and American policies which, they believed, led to that war. It seemed obvious to these analysts “that the best interest of a nation is a matter of objective reality and that by describing this reality one is able to use the concept of the national, interest as a basis for evaluating the appropriateness of the policies which a nation pursues.” Perhaps the most penetrating criticism of the objectivist perspective is that its adherents merely enjoy “the benefits of hindsight to justify the superiority, of [their] own values over those of the British and French policy makers who decided to acquiesce to Hitler (obviously, the policy makers would have acted differently if they could have foreseen the consequences of acquiesence).” Further, it is entirely unreasonable to criticize another’s conception of the national interest on the basis of hindsight because “if the British and the French believed they were satisfying their wants and needs when they compromised at Munich, who is to say they were wrong and acted in violation of their  Rosenau, p. 35 Rosenau, pp. 34-35. That attempt was made by Charles Beard. 24  58 national interests?” 25 In contrast with the objectivist view, Rosenau argues that “[w]hat is best for a nation in foreign affairs is never self evident. More important, it is not even potentially knowable as a singular objective truth. Persons are bound to differ on what the most appropriate 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 the cumulation of national interest into a single complex of values is bound to be as variable as the number of observers who use different value frameworks.” That objectivists hold such a value framework is clear because they “proceed on the assumption that some values are preferable to others (for example, that it is better for the nation to survive than not to survive).” 26 The thrust of Rosenau’s critique is clear. There is no universal substantive conception of the (presumably American) national interest that applies to all circumstances. There are simply competing views about what it the best thing for the country to do in any given set of circumstances. And the holder of one view is not necessarily acting any more or less in the national interest than the holder. of another--that is, 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 an analytic concept when “the discipline of political science gave increasing emphasis to scientific explanation.” This group was concerned “less with evaluating the worth of  Rosenau, p. 36. 25 Rosenau, p. 36. 26  59  foreign policies and more with explaining why nations do what they do when they engage in international action.  .  .  .“  The subjectivists “reasoned that nations do what they  do in order to satisfy their best interests and that by describing these needs and wants the analyst would be in a position to use the concept of the national interest as a tool for explanation. These analysts.  .  .  deny the existence of an objective reality which is  discoverable through systematic inquiry.” National interest is not “a singular objective truth 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 requirements and aspirations of the nation’s members change.” 27 The decisionmaking approach pioneered by Furniss and Snyder provided an additional rationale for the subjectivist approach to the national interest. The “students of decision making contend that the national interest, being composed of values (what people want), is not susceptible of objective measurement even if defined in terms of power and that, accordingly, the only way to uncover what people need and want is to assume that their requirements and aspirations are reflected in the actions of a nation’s policy makers.” In other words, “The national interest is what the nation, i.e., the decision-maker, decides it is.” 28 The better of the subjectivist approaches “rely on the society’s political process” to determine what of the many conflicting interests are indeed national interests. There is little doubt in his mind “that the national interest is rooted in values (‘what is best’).” And this value laden character of the concept is why analysts  Rosenau, p. 35. 27 Rosenau, p. 36. 28  60 have found “it difficult to employ as a tool of rigorous investigation..  ii29  Rosenau’s critique of the “subjectivist” account probably could have been more penetrating had he distinguished the national interest from national interes’ts, and both of these from “foreign policies.” For a country’s leaders do not decide what the national interest is in a given situation. Instead, they decide what the nation’s interests are--that is to say, the specific goals to be pursued. Further, they decide on the means to be employed in pursuit of those goals and these are embodied in foreign policies. Finally, they employ the expression “the national interest” as ajustUi cation for the chosen policy. Hence, strictly speaking, it is a mistake to say that the national interest is what a country’s leaders decide. But it is not necessarily a mistake to say that in any given situation that a country’s leaders genuinely are trying to do what is best for the country by choosing this policy and not another. Perhaps this is what statesmen mean when they say that they are acting in the national interest--they are merely claiming that they are trying to do what they think is best for the country. Hence, by asserting the national interest as a justification for a given policy choice, the statesman merely is reaffirming that his or her choice is inclined toward the good of the country. If he or she were to respond to the further question “but why do you think this rather than that policy is best for the country?” with “because it is in the national interest,” he or she simply would be arguing in a circle. In short, “the national interest” is the statesman’s answer to the question about whose good toward which his or her intentions are inclined in choosing the given policy. But it does not answer the  Rosenau, p. 34. 29  61 question about why he or she thinks that choice is the best in the circumstances. Nevertheless, Frankel offers a penetrating critique of both the subjectivist and objectivist views. He does not, however, address the notion of the national interest as “a datum requiring analysis.” It is not clear what he means by this. But if he means that fi.irther investigation is needed into the role the idea plays in the practice of making foreign policies, I have taken up that challenge in this thesis.  Joseph Frankel Joseph 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 unified only by the fact that they all have some bearing on the idea. For example, in his review of Frankel’s book, Werner Levi concludes that “it brings confusion into chaos,” and that anyone looking “for clarification of the concept will not find it in this book--mostly because, as the author conveys fairly convincingly, it cannot be found anywhere.” ° 3 Frankel himself admits, albeit obliquely, that his diverse thoughts on the subject lacked an element of focus. In his conclusion, he concedes that: With a subject of this nature, it would be impracticable to attempt a summary and conclusion of the book in the customary way. The argument is much too condensed to allow a meaningful brief summary; so many conclusions could be drawn from it that any selected by the author may strike the readers as idiosyncratic and arbitrary. The task of forming conclusions as to the nature of the concept will then be left to the individual reader who can, if necessary, easily refresh his memory of the argument by looking again through the whole book which is, after all,  30 Levi, Review of Joseph Frankel’s, National Interest in The American Werner Political Science Review 65 (June 1971): 588.  62  quite short. 31 Frankel’s inability to give form and structure to the idea, however, is no reflection on 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 ought not 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 commended rather than criticized for his pains. The only general critique one can reasonably offer about Frankel’s attempt is that he tries to do too much in too little time and space. But such a critique must go hand in hand with a sincere acknowledgement that at least he has said something about it, and that what he has said--although diflhse and varied--is certainly relevant. Nevertheless, I have 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 establishing the 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 the 32 his diffuse discussion permits a variety of ways to join the debate--that is to subject, say, he opens up numerous “entry points” for someone else to join the conversation about the idea of the national interest. In view of this, I shall take up the issues he raises in  Frankel, p. 141. 31 Because his work is the only existing monograph on the subject, perhaps he should 32 be considered as such.  63 chapters seven and eight on the questions of human decision and choice, and in chapter one on the question of methodology. Frankel argues that “the ultimate mystery of decisions which, in some cases at least, 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, is rather surprising given that Frankel indicates an important relationship between human decisions 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 most comprehensive description of the whole value complex of foreign policy.” 35 But, having postulated a relationship between values, decisions, the national interest, and foreign policy, he forestalls any attempt to probe the “mystery” of human choice because, apparently, it escapes fill explanation. This cannot be true because if there is any problem that has preoccupied the greatest minds of moral and political philosophy from dawn of Western civilization to the present, it is the so-called “mystery” of human choice. What is the answer moral and political philosophy have given to the question? I shall answer this by means of an analogy. Whereas moral and political philosophers from the dawn of Western civilization have been preoccupied with the “mystery” of  Frankel, p. 119. 33 Frankel, p. 113. 34 Frankel, p. 26. 35  64 human choice, natural philosophers--often the same people--have been preoccupied with the “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 that body of knowledge called “the history of thought” in order to answer it. One must enter the conversation by rethinking the thoughts of Plato, Aristotle, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, and Einstein, among many others, in order to answer it. Have these thinkers fully explained the “mystery” of nature? No, they have not, Despite the magnificent achievements of natural science in the last three centuries, the caretakers of that body of knowledge still remain committed to explaining the “mystery” of nature. The “mystery” of nature is an ongoing conversation among natural philosophers and scientists. Likewise, the caretakers of moral and political philosophy have not fully explained the “mystery” of human choice. The mystery is still at the centre of conversation among moral philosophers. Hence, when Frankel justifies circumventing the question by asserting that it escapes full explanation, perhaps what he means to say is that he finds little agreement among those who have attempted to answer it. Or maybe he means to say that, in his view, existing answers are unsatisfactory. He cannot mean to say that no answers have been offered. Probably the most significant difference between Frankel’s attempt at c1arifjing the 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 postulating the relationship between value, choice, national interest, and foreign policy. Let me suggest that Frankel’s attempt to clarifj the idea falls short because he circumvents the  65  question about the mystely of human choice. But why is the provision of some kind of answer to this problem a crucial part of any attempt to clarifS’ the idea of the national interest? It is crucial because, if it is used for anything, the idea is used as a ground or justification for foreign policy choices, And this was particularly true in the United States 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 national interest, and foreign policy. Perhaps the two overriding reasons why Frankel does not attempt to develop this relationship in any systematic way is because of the distinctive body 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 in his opening arguments, the body of knowledge he ultimately appeals to is painfully illequipped to deal with relationships of value, choice, the national interest, and foreign policy.  Frankel asserts that his book “is written in the Aristotelian tradition of political theory,” and adds that “the argument is structured around a logical analysis of the major aspects of the concept.” 36 If this were indeed the case, the body of knowledge both he  and I appeal to would be identical. But this evidently is not the case. Whereas I draw significantly on Aristotle’s answer to the problem of choice, Frankel circumvents the problem 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 not  Frankel, p. ii. My emphasis. 36  66 clear to me what he means by it. Perhaps he means that, unlike Plato, he is convinced that the world apprehended by the senses is not a mere shadow of ultimate reality and, consequently, a more or less empirical rather than a purely conceptual approach to the problem is warranted. But if this were indeed the case, our two approaches again would be identical. A thrther clue to his approach can be found in his chapter on methodology. The basic 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 social sciences to break down intractable social problems and concepts into more manageable 37 Frankel leaves little doubt about which approach he intends to adopt. The elements.” national interest, he argues: is an exceptionally unclear concept. Like all other difficult concepts it gives rise to the temptation to go to extremes. We can say that it is intractable, 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. An attempt is made here to pursue the second approach while avoiding its 38 extremes, By “science,” it appears that Frankel has in mind a very narrow definition of the  Frankel, p. 43. 37 Frankel, p. 26. 38  67 term. More specifically, he appears to have in mind a kind of method based on an analogy with the natural sciences--that is to say, the application of natural scientific methods not to “matter” but, rather, to the problems of human conduct within and among their communities, Frankel evidently recognizes, however, that the application of natural scientific methods can lead to absurdities which ultimately detract from any reasonable understanding of concepts such as the national interest. How does one go about avoiding such absurdities? He argues that: The most promising solution seems to lie in employing clearly defined models which concentrate upon one or a few dimensions selected as independent variables, leaving other significant and frequently still unexplored dimensions as constants. 39 In other words, Frankel aims “to break down the concept of national interest into factors which may ultimately be used in factor-analysis.” ° Whether such an approach ultimately 4 would serve to avoid the absurdities generated by applying the methods and assumptions of natural science to the problems of human conduct remains unproven because Frankel does not deliver on his promise. No matter how hard one looks for these “factors” in his section entitled “National Interest and its components” one cannot find them. ’ But this is 4 not surprising because, on reflection, there are none to be found. His error rests in employing a method which is entirely appropriate for figuring out, say, how a clock works, whereas it is entirely inappropriate for explaining things that are not made up with matter. In short, he fails to draw upon that body of knowledge which I think is best Frankel, p. 27. 39 Frankel, p. 29. 40 Frankel, pp. 42-44, 41  68 equipped 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 the nature 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 the foreign policy of any single state.... Second, in the analysis of inter state relations, the specific objective is to use national interest as an organizing concept for the comparison of foreign policies. ,42 Hence, the question Frankel seeks to answer about the concept is entirely different from mine. And the nature of the question Frankel seeks to answer largely informs the methodology he actually employs in order to answer it. Likewise, the nature of the question I seek to answer largely informs mine. Whereas he seeks to establish how the concept can be employed more effectively in the analysis of foreign policy--and, consequently, to assist the policymaker in formulating more effective policies--I seek to establish the role the idea plays in decisions. Hence, keeping in mind the broad distinction outlined at the beginning of this chapter, Frankel’s work clearly fits into the category of “understanding” the national interest but with the aim of employing it as an analytical tool. Evidently Frankel was not convinced by Rosenau’s critique. My work also fits into the category of “understanding” the national interest. But one of my 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 an unclarified version of the idea effectively obscured. In other words, by clarifying the  Frankel, p. 29. 42  69 concept in light of the Gulf crisis, I am suggesting that other issues can be clarified as well.  The Approach The fundamental issue at stake between Frankel’s approach and the one I propose here concerns the most appropriate body of knowledge to draw upon in order to clarify the idea 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, their proper 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 knowledge because 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 particular group of people. Bodies of knowledge are a little more difficult to distinguish when they share the same generic object of study. The medical sciences and the philosophy of the human person, for example, share the same generic object of study. They study the human  The following discussion on the distinction between branches of knowledge is a 43 synthesis based on the arguments of Martin D. O’Keefe, Known From the Things that Are: Fundamental Theory of the Moral Lfe (Houston TX: Center for Thomistic Studies, 1987), pp. 1-12; and R. G. Collingwood, New Leviathan, pp. 1-18. The following distinctions are approximations and are meant only to isolate the approach I take as well as some of the assumptions upon which that approach rests. To advance a definitive account of the distinctions between the various bodies of knowledge would be a major undertaking in itself--not to mention a highly contentious one. 0’Keefe, p. 6. 44  70 person as a living being. They differ, however, in their proper object and method. The medical 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 human person primarily conceived as “soul” or “mind,” Since the body is composed of “matter,” the medical sciences admit the methods employed by the sciences of matter such as physics, chemistry, and biology--that is to say, medical science admits the methods of natural science. It remains an open question whether the philosophy of the human person effectively can be served by the methods of natural science. R. G. Collingwood and Plato were convinced that they cannot. 45 Thomas Hobbes, in contrast, arguably was convinced that they can, 46 Regardless, I shall adopt Collingwood’s position and assume throughout this work that the philosophy of the human person cannot be served by the methods of natural science. It will become evident that this assumption helps to cut through 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 is whether his assertion, employed as an assumption, helps to clarify the idea of the national interest,  R. G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan.’ Or Man, Society, Civilization & Barbarism, 45 Revised Edition. David Boucher, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), pp. 1-18; The Idea ofHistory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1946), pp. 205-231. Plato, Phaedo 97c-99d; Republic V, VI, VII.  This, however, is disputed. See, for example, the discussion in Richard Tuck, 46 Hobbes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), Ch III; Michael Oakeshott, Hobbes on Civil Association (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975).  71 In addition to the branches of knowledge of medical science and the philosophy of human nature, moral philosophy also shares the same generic object of study. Having  distinguished medical science and the philosophy of the human person on the grounds of their respective proper objects and methods, a further distinction is needed between moral philosophy and the philosophy of human nature because these two branches of knowledge often share the same method, Whereas the philosophy of human nature has as its proper object man as “mind” or “soul,” moral philosophy has as its proper object human 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 of human nature, moral philosophy and, in some cases, medical science. Nevertheless, they differ in their proper objects. Whereas the proper object of moral philosophy is human conduct--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 concerns non-imputable actions and the latter concerns imputable ones. And the difference between an imputable and a non-imputable human act is that the former is taken by virtue of knowledge and choice whereas the latter is not--a person can be held responsible for an imputable act whereas he cannot for a non-imputable one. The act of eating, for example, might be considered as a non-imputable act because nourishment requires  47 p. 12. It should be noted that some attempts have been made to combine 0’Keefe, both psychology and moral philosophy in order to account for human conduct as good or evil, actions to be done or not to be done. The two branches of knowledge have proved very difficult to reconcile. Collingwood would argue that any attempt is misconceived from the outset. However, I am still not sure if! am prepared to follow him on this claim.  72 eating out of necessity. On reflection, however, for most adults eating is an imputable act--that is, one chooses to abide by community norms regarding where, when, how, and what to eat, That eating is an imputable act is most evident when a person chooses not to abide by community norms while eating. That an imputable act is distinguished from a non-imputable one by virtue of knowledge and the exercise of choice presupposes the doctrine of free will. And the question of whether or not human beings indeed possess a free will belongs to the philosophy of human nature. Hence, moral philosophy not only presupposes the philosophy of human nature, but those philosophies which postulate the existence of free will. For if free will is denied, it is meaningless to engage questions of moral philosophy because there would be no such thing as an imputable act. Further, by embracing the doctrine of free will, one is logically bound to reject the doctrine of necessity as governing human conduct. Hence, if an action can be shown to issue from necessity rather than from choice, that action cannot be conceived as an imputable act. Consequently, such an act is not the proper object of moral philosophy. Since the national interest appears to be related intimately to value, choice, and foreign policy, the first question concerns whether or not the formulation and execution of foreign policies are indeed human acts. One can safely assume that they are for it is difficult to imagine what else they could possibly be. But having established them as human acts, the next question concerns whether or not they are imputable acts. For, if they are, they then belong to moral philosophy as a proper object of study. There is good reason to suppose that the choice and execution of foreign policies are imputable human  73 acts, if only because it is normal to hold statesmen responsible for such acts. The only reason one can be held responsible for any action is because that action is indeed an imputable one. Hence, if the choice and execution of foreign policies are imputable human acts, and if imputable human acts are the proper object of study of moral philosophy, the choice and execution of foreign policies are the proper object of study of moral philosophy or, more commonly, ethics. But a further distinction needs to be made between moral philosophy and moral theology because both have as their proper object imputable human acts--that is, acts to which the epithets of good and evil meaningfully can be applied. Here the two bodies of knowledge are distinguished by method. “In ethics,” according to O’Keefe, “the method (broadly speaking) is human reasoning, independent of authority; in moral theology, the method is human reasoning relying upon (divine) authority,” 48 Although it is debatable whether 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 substantive terms, whether the national interest is a morally good idea. Instead, my purpose is limited merely to establishing that the idea of the national interest is the proper object of study 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 of whether the idea is a morally good or bad one. It is only after the idea is established as a categorically moral one that the question of its moral goodness (or badness) can be addressed,  0’Keefe, p. 7. 48  74 Thus assuming (on reasonable grounds) that the idea of the national interest is a categorically moral idea, and assuming further (on admittedly debatable grounds) that moral philosophy does not admit natural scientific methods, the approach I adopt here to clarify the national interest is fundamentally opposed to that adopted by Joseph Frankel, It is an application of the methods and idiom of what loosely can be referred to as classical 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 is particularly suited to the problem of conceptual clarification--whether it be the concept of the state, the mind, the good, law, liberty, property, sovereignty, virtue, prudence, or the national interest. A large part of conceptual clarification concerns the task of elaborating the relationship between the idea in question and concrete human action at the level of individual moral agency in the context of particular contingent circumstances. Because among such thinkers there are a variety of schools of thought, it is perhaps better described as a particular style of thinking rather than as a methodology. The aim of this particular style of thinking is to achieve the degree of precision 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, although not this question in particular. Further, in the words of Aristotle: Our discussion will be adequate if it achieves clarity within the limits of the subject matter. For a well-schooled man is one who searches for that degree of precision in each kind of study which the nature of the subject at hand admits. .  .  .  .  .  Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1 094b 10-25. 49  75 Joseph Frankel is unquestionably a well-schooled man and, consequently, he sought a degree of precision which the nature of the subject admitted. The body of knowledge he drew upon, however, frustrated his attempt because the methods of natural science were designed to achieve a much higher degree of precision than his subject matter allows. Consequently, he achieved a much lower degree of precision than he could have if he had drawn upon a body of knowledge more suited to the task. The success of the body of knowledge I draw upon will be determined by the degree of clarity it achieves, and one of the tests of clarity is introspection. In the words of Thomas Hobbes: But let one man read another by his actions never so perfectly, it serves him onely with his acquaintance, which are but few. He that is to govern a whole Nation, must read in himself, not this, or that particular man; but Man-kind: which though it be hard to do, harder than to learn any Language, or Science; yet, when I shall have set down my own reading orderly, and perspicuously, the pains left another, will be onely to consider, if he also find not the same in himself. For this kind of Doctrine, admitteth no other Demonstration. 50 In short, the test of whether or not my account of the national interest is satisfactory depends on the degree to which it clarifies the role of the idea in light of the readers own reflection upon the American foreign policy experience. Does the clarification I offer here allow the American foreign policy experience during the Gulf war “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 get to the bottom of some of the commonplace abstractions used in international discourse.  Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, p. 2. 50  76 The most important of these is the notion of “state as actor.” This notion establishes a convenient dividing line between the academic sub-disciplines of “domestic” politics and “international” politics. In the “domestic” half of this distinction, actors are usually conceived as individuals, sub-state groups of various kinds, and institutions of government. In the “international” half of this distinction, on the other hand, actors are  generally conceived as states and other entities called NGO’s. On reflection, however, to conceive such an entity as an actor is merely an abstraction. The only real tangible actors that exist in human relations are human beings themselves. Groups, no matter what the specification, 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 human beings. But this does not change the fact that only individual human beings can act in any tangible sense. Neither do human beings act in the abstract. Instead, human action always takes place in the context of contingent circumstances. And contingent circumstances are the answers to the questions of what, where, why, when, and how. Take the act of eating, for example. The act of eating, conceived in the abstract, could be considered as a morally neutral 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 a normal way in normal circumstances in order to fill normal social and biological needslike eating a turkey dinner with one’s family on Christmas day. But this does not render the activity of eating amoral, we simply judge it to be normal in those circumstances. It  77 is equally conceivable to judge the activity to be immoral if, for example, a person is gorging himself with the limited food available in order to murder his starving children. Likewise, one does not defend himself unless the situation suggests such an action. And he defends himself at a particular time, in a particular place, against particular individuals, and in a particular way. Nor does one prepare to defend himself unless the situation suggests it. Such circumstances not only place constraints on particular 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. The situation, 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 are the extrinsic principles to human action. In order to act at all, a person must be able to focus his attention--that is to say, he must select from an infinite range of complexity those factors in the here and, now that are the most important to him as an individual. A painter sitting down to paint a panoramic landscape, for example, will select the nuance of colour lying before him. A large 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 of advance and likely enemy positions. Further, a couple intent on a romantic picnic will select entirely different features from the landscape while choosing a place to settle down to relax. The point here is that the subjective purpose, talents, and acquired skills of the individual agent determines the finite complexity selected from the infinite complexity of  78 ion there are n to the extrinsic principles of act itio add in , nce He n. atio situ en the giv nt--i.e., his by the mind of the individual age ied bod em ion act of s ple nci pri intrinsic nciples is the purpose or end that pri sic rin int se the of e On e. tiv subjective purpose or mo ist, the we see in the examples of the art as n, atio situ the to ngs bri l dua ivi the ind duce a work of ereas the artist’s motive is to pro Wh . ers lov of r pai the and an, infantrym en line of advance, tralize enemy resistance on a giv neu to is e tiv mo s an’ rym ant inf art, the man’s motive is (or turing of a relationship, the states nur the is e tiv mo er’s lov the and n, politic. The national interest, the y bod t the efi ben t tha s ive ect ought to be) to pursue obj statesman. But a statesman loyal to his role as for ion act of ple nci pri sic rin int is an l. In addition to that he will perform that role wel tee ran gua not s doe e rol his to y fidelit possesses which ion also depends on the virtues he act ht rig , ion act of end d pte ado his tesman is a good t activity well. To say that a sta tha ng mi for per of e abl cap him make e necessary virtues of ses--to a satisfactory degree--th ses pos he t tha say to is n ma tes sta tue of prudence. important of these is the moral vir st mo the s hap Per ip. nsh ma states disciplinary nciples of human action knows no Any discussion about intrinsic pri anted, the substantive ational and domestic politics. Gr ern int , say en, we bet s rie nda bou are h statesmen of foreign countries wit ons ati rel his in s ter oun enc n problems the statesma the encounters with the members of he ms ble pro ve nti sta sub the m often very different fro grass of domestic ern. Finding the tigers in the tall gov to d rge cha is he itic pol y bod ls than those ive repertoire and observational skil nit cog ent fer dif a es uir req s itic pol politics. Hence, an ’ the jungle of international 5 in ers tig the g din fin for ed uir req  79 argument can be made for an academic disciplinary distinction between international and domestic politics. A prudent statesman would seek counsel from the caretakers of each of these cognitive repertoires when confronted with international problems--which, by definition, have domestic significance, otherwise they would not be problems in the first place--and domestic problems of international significance. Unlike the academic, then, the good statesman cannot afford to divide his persona between domestic and international relations. For him, presuming he subscribes to what can be defined broadly as a “liberal-democratic” notion of his role in the body politic, international relations is merely a function of domestic relations. The statesman conceived as an individual moral agent--that is, a human being in his capacity and activity of making choices--occupies the no-man’s land between two broad academic disciplines: international politics and domestic politics. Since my purpose is to clarify one of the intrinsic principles of action of individual statesman--namely, the national interest--I must follow him into that no-man’s land, The danger here is that a piece of work will be produced that appears neither like international relations theory nor political theory--a danger of ending up between two stools, so to speak. However, as any good soldier will attest, there is always a danger in roaming about in no-man’s land regardless of which side one initially emerged from, for 51 metaphors, however conventional, might be misplaced. On reflection, the These notion of domestic order contrasted with international disorder does not seem to me to fit the facts of our existence. The threat posed to the security of one’s person and property is at least as great (in not greater) among one’s fellow nationals than it is between nations. It seems to me that the probability of being robbed, mugged, or killed by a fellow citizen is at least as great as suffering violence at the hands of the armed aggression of a foreign national.  80 occupants of the trenches on both sides of any motion in no-man’s land always spooks the it because that is where the solutions to the divide. Unfortunately, somebody has to do otherwise intractable problems often lie. conducted by individual moral To recapitulate, because international relations is politic, it is nevertheless a agents, albeit on behalf of the members of a body would not be able to apportion praise or categorically moral enterprise. If it were not, we ulation and execution of the country’s blame to the conduct of statesmen in their form orically moral enterprise because it foreign policy. International relations is a categ often use abstractions to help us involves human choices and action. Granted, we tractions such as “state as actor” which understand and explain international relations--abs ” or “systems.” These abstractions may lead to further abstractions such as “billiard balls rdless of whether they help or hinder or may not be helpful as heuristic devices. But rega our sight that individual people--not our understanding, we must never let it pass out of s. And they do not conduct these 2 relation abstract entities--conduct international 5 rather, in the context of “green” world relations in the “grey” world of the abstract but, ing point of my analysis; the theoretical contingent circumstances. And this is the start perspective upon which it rests. international relations is about When it is held in the forefront of one’s mind that ing through real circumstances, one real people who are, to the best of their abilities, work  remember that states are led by human 52 the words of Stanley Hoffmann: “We must 1n outside: considerations of good and beings whose actions affect human beings within and e and legitimate.” Duties Beyond Borders evil, right or wrong are therefore both inevitabl xii. (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1981), p.  81 cannot avoid the conclusion that international relations, like all other forms of human relations, belong ultimately to the moral realm. Human relations do not belong to the realm of necessity. They belong to the realm of choice. What it is that defines a categorically moral act--that is, an act for which praise or blame can be apportioned--is choice. To say that choice is dictated by necessity is to speak nonsense because necessity, by definition, precludes choice. When a statesman says that his choice was dictated by necessity, then, what he really means to say is that his choice, in view of the contingent 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 in terms of the motive for which it was made, namely, the national interest. While he is deliberating the alternatives with himself or with others he is still in the process of making a choice--that is to say, he is engaged in the activity of deliberating. Like all human activities, it can be done either well or poorly. If he deliberates well, the choice following such deliberation will be the best choice that can be made. If he deliberates poorly, he still must make a choice but it will not necessarily be the best choice, The quality, or virtue, of being able to deliberate well is called prudence. A prudent statesman, then, is one who deliberates well about the alternatives--and hence chooses the best alternative--for achieving the ultimate end of statesmanship, namely: the national interest. The national interest, then, is the end of statesmanship. The extent to which a statesman achieves that end depends on his virtues as a statesman. A prudent statesman recoils from moral ideals as determinants of action because, as extrinsic principles of  82 action, he knows intuitively that they cannot ordain action. The only thing that can ordain action is his choice. He also knows intuitively that moral ideals are formulated in the abstract but what he is dealing with “in the here and now” are specific problems of choice in the context of particular contingent circumstances. For example, a categorical imperative telling him never to lie does not tell him how much of the truth to divulge in a particular set of contingent circumstances. Likewise, a tactical prescription telling a soldier to always use flanking rather than frontal manoeuvres does not tell him which flank 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 every situation will yield an infinite range of alternatives to choose from. For not only is the situation interpreted in light of the end, the end itself suggests a finite range of choices. From the point of view of the American Senate, for example, the national interest in mid January 1991 during the Gulf crisis yielded two alternatives: either to continue the armed embargo of Iraq indefinitely or to employ offensive military force against Iraq at a time to be determined by the President. Cancelling the embargo was not an option. Nor was a new trade agreement for Iraqi dairy products. If developments since the summer of 1990 had no bearing on American concerns, they would have done nothing because all human action--that is, all action resulting from choice--is oriented toward an end. This, it seems to me, adequately justifies an appeal to moral philosophy in order to help clarifr the idea of the national interest.  83 CHAPTER THREE PRELIMiNARY DISTINCTIONS  The purpose of this chapter is to set out some preliminary distinctions before the more intensive theoretical discussion begins in chapter four. It is particularly important to set out 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 of the work, I also explain here the difference between reasons and justifications in order to show the moral “character” of the idea as it is employed in common practice. Not only is this 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 this distinction is to strengthen my contention that the national interest must be a categorically moral idea. I do this by showing that the idea commonly is used as a justfication, and not as a mere reason, for war. With these initial distinctions in place, I can then deal more effectively with the practice of using the national interest as an explanatory tool. I argue that one can continue the practice if one wishes, but one must do so at the expense of using it as a just/Ication. In other words, one must decide between using it either as a justification or as an explanatory tool. One cannot have it both ways. For to have it both ways is to fall victim to a fallacy which is probably the main cause of all the confusion surrounding the idea. Further, given that the national interest as an explanatory tool does not tell us very much anyway, one does not lose much by abandoning it as such. Finally, I will examine  84  in detail the fallacy that appears to be the main culprit of all the conflision surrounding the concept. R. G. Collingwood calls it the “fallacy of swapping horses,” and Gilbert Ryle simply calls it a “category error.”  National interests and the national interest Whereas a national interest refers to a state of affairs, the national interest refers to an intrinsic principle of human action--i.e., an internally embraced motive. Security, for example, is a state of affairs of a certain kind, and wealth is a state of affairs of a different kind. Both of these states of affairs can be actively pursued by statesmen. in the course of fblfllling their special role in the body politic. But security is not a state of affairs achieved once and for all. It is a state of affairs pursued in the context of ongoing and changing contingent circumstances. Each new situation will give rise to new requirements and, hence, new means are needed to achieve security on an ongoing basis. Nevertheless, the underlying motive for pursuing such a state of affairs is the national interest. The same applies in the case of national wealth. In this sense, national interests are particular objectives, conceived as states of affairs, pursued in the ever-changing context of contingent circumstances. Likewise, the motive for pursuing such objectives is the national interest. An interest cannot be conceived as an activity. Instead, it is a state of affairs pursued by an activity. Whereas the activity is the means, the desired state of affairs is the objective toward which that activity is directed. National interests, then, are identical to national objectives--whether they are defined in general terms such as “security,” or in  85  context specific terms such as “a liberated Kuwait.” And the underlying motive for securing 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 chapter between “general substantive conceptions” and “specific substantive conceptions” of a national interest. “Standing” national interests are merely general statements about the good life of the body politic. For example, it is difficult to imagine any kind of good life within the body politic unless one has a sense of security from foreign acts of aggression or armed coercion. Security of person and property from foreign aggression and armed coercion is one of the goods the United States government is charged to provide for its citizens. And that it is a “standing” requirement and not merely an ad hoc one is reflected in the permanent institutions of government. The American Defense Department along with an array of intelligence gathering agencies are permanent fixtures of government thus suggesting that defence is a permanent concern and not merely a situational one. As a permanent or standing national interest, it is not surprising that an immense body of specialists in both the public and private sector would emerge and serve as “caretakers” of this particular standing national interest. When any situation arises having significant bearing on this standing national interest, it is not surprising that many of those specialists will have something to say about it. Further, by no means is it guaranteed that all these specialists will have the same advice to offer. Depending on the situation and the nature of the decision that needs to be made, it is the statesman who must decide and take fill responsibility for the decision. The same can be said about the  86 standing national interest of material well-being or wealth. Perhaps one way of determining precisely what a country’s standing national interests are is to examine the list of its government departments--each of which is charged with the care of a particular standing national interest. In other words, if someone wanted to draw up an exhaustive list of American standing national interests, he need only look at the names of all the government departments. “Context specific” national interests, on the other hand, arise out of the contingencies of the given situation, and are defined in much more specific terms. They are a statesman’s response to the question: given the situation we find ourselves in, what are the specific objectives we should pursue for the benefit of the body politic? For example, should we allow Kuwait and its oil reserves to remain under Iraqi control? Or should we seek a liberated Kuwait? Similarly, substantive conceptions of context specific national interests are the answers given by commentators on foreign policy to the question: given the situation the statesmen found themselves in, what objectives should they have pursued for the benefit of the body politic? National interests, then, are specific objectives which can also be couched in general terms such as security, power, world order, economic well being, and what have you. For example, security is a national interest because it is in the national interest to be secure from foreign military attacks, But it is not the national interest because one can easily 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 dimension or element of the national interest. On reflection, however, this is a mistake. Further, to  87 conceive a national interest as a dimension or element of the national interest, is to conceive 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 a larger material thing. A dimension is a spatial measurement of a thing or a reference to the 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. One might object that I am being overly pedantic here because everybody knows that the national 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 tasks  is to get to the bottom of commonly used abstractions, One may continue to use the expressions 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 national interest, is not a thing but a state of affairs pursued by an ongoing purposive activity of a certain kind--namely: the activity of securing the body politic from armed attack or coercion.  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 end which can be distinguished from other ends such as “the self interest” or “the human interest.” As such, it is an intrinsic principle of human action which defines the role of the statesman--just like “the family interest” is the intrinsic principle of action which defines the role of the parent, “the corporate interest” defines the role of the company  88 associate, or “the team interest” defines the role of the hockey player. Given that an activity (e.g., fighting) cannot be an interest, the question of whether or not the Gulf War 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 Gulf war appears as that state of affairs in which Americans have an interest. But how can a state of war be in any reasonable person’s interest? It cannot. The objective sought by war, however, can be in someone’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 of war itself but, rather, the particular state of affairs sought by going to war. To answer the question about whether or not the Gulf War served American national interests, one must first establish the intended objectives of the war. Further, once those objectives have been identified, 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 served those interests. The question, however, is whether these interestsjustfj’ war or whether they are simply reasons for going to war.  Justifications and Reasons Logically, justifications and reasons relate as a species to a genus. Whereas a reason is the genus, a justification is a species of reason. Therefore, something that we would call a justification is a special kind of reason, ground, or end. Whereas all justifications are  89 reasons, not all reasons are justifications. What, then, distinguishes a justification from a mere 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 mere reasons, are demanded by the circumstances--that is, when a reason is demanded for an imputable act. War is but one of many circumstances where justifications, and not mere reasons, are demanded. In a democratic state, justifications for hostile acts by that state are demanded both by the citizenry and the international community. In a dictatorial state, justifications for hostile acts by that state are demanded only by the international community. Reasons and justifications can be either true or false depending on whether their utterance reflects the actual intentions of the agent offering them. In other words, an agent can lie just as much as he can tell the truth. A false justification is a lie just as much as a false reason is a lie. Likewise, a justification offered in place of a reason when the agent really only has a mere reason for that action is also a lie. Among students of government, particularly among students of government whose primary object of study is international relations, this kind of lie is often called °window dressing”--that is to say, it is an indictment that the justifications offered are merely attempts by government to obscure morally dubious acts with moral language in order to rally popular support for those actions; support that otherwise would not be forthcoming if the truth were really known. Often many students of government can justify their charge. But perhaps equally often many cannot. As it will be shown in chapter eight, Christopher Layne curiously appears to turn  90 the usual “window dressing” argument on its head. Whereas politicians are often accused of using moral rhetoric to obscure--or “window dress”--Layne suggests, paradoxically, that the Bush administration camouflaged an intention based on moral principle behind the rhetoric of national interest, He argues that since Bush’s national interest justification does 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 acted immorally by “window dressing” what he considered to be a moral act with the rhetoric of the national interest. In short, Layne believes it is immoral for governments to ground foreign policy in moral principles, whereas he believes it moral for them to ground policy in the national interest. If Layne really means to say that foreign policy ought to be grounded in the national interest and not in abstract moral ideals, then what he says makes complete sense. 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 a statesman’s actions ought to be inclined. Hence, Layne does not turn the “window dressing” 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 stumbles into recognizing that both the national interest and moral principles are indeed motives for action, he does not recognize that by asserting governments ought to be motivated by former instead of the latter, he himself is asserting a moral principle. Although he fails to recognize it, Layne is not so much concerned about moral  91 principles driving foreign policies but, rather, he is concerned about which moral principle ought to drive it. Let me suggest that Layne’s confusion here is due to the traditional assumption that morality and the national interest are opposed. Although it is vaguely implied, Layne, however, stops short of accusing the Bush administration outright for lying about its justifications. Instead, he suggests that the national interest justification offered was mistaken. Besides being either true or false, then, both reasons and justifications can be either accurate or mistaken. Reasons and justifications stand a very high chance of being mistaken when they are offered by one person or state on behalf of, or in the place of another person or state in an attempt to explain or make sense of their actions. This is  often the problem that an historian recognizes and confronts when he or she takes on the task of reconstructing an event in terms of the thoughts and actions of the persons involved in that event.’ A diplomat recognizes and confronts this problem almost daily in his or her dealings with other states, and often serious consequences arise out of miscalculations. It is also a problem recognized and confronted by those charged with delivering justice in the law courts. If they are mistaken about the intentions of the accused, an otherwise innocent person may suffer punishment, or an otherwise guilty person may walk free. In short, it is a problem encountered by all human beings, with greater 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. -  92 2 In a which the acts take place. I will discuss here only the sufficiency ofjustiflcations, particular set of circumstances where justifications are demanded but reasons are only offered, those reasons are considered to be insufficient justifications. For example, let us suppose that a man breaks a woman’s arm through an act of intentional violence. When  asked 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 about who is boss in the household. It should immediately be evident, however, that although this reason may be both truthfiul and accurate, it is merely a reason for his action and as such it is an insufficient justification. A law court, after duly establishing the truth of the matter, would have sufficient justification to find the man guilty of an offense and punish him accordingly. Let us also consider Saddam Hussein’s decision to move his armed forces into Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Let us suppose that he responded to the question about why he did it by explaining that Iraq’s economic well being depended on its control over Kuwaiti oil reserves. Again, this is clearly a reason which, even if it were both true and accurate, is nevertheless an insufficient justification for the action. This, however, was not one of the reasons offered. Instead, the RCC initially explained to the international community that its action was a response to an invitation by the new government of “free Kuwait” to send Iraqi forces to help in putting down a civil insurrection. In contemporary international relations this is a sufficient justification--if it did indeed  2 F or a discussion on the sufficiency of reasons, see Collingwood, The New Leviathan, pp. 99-130.  93 reflect the bonafide motives of the RCC--for sending armed forces across the frontier of another country. The only problem, however, is that virtually every government on the face of the earth--including that of Yemen and Cuba--was not convinced. They may have believed 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 Saddam Hussein had merely invoked “the Iraqi national interest” it is unlikely that the international community would have accepted it as a sufficient justification either. Although members of the Bush Administration rarely referred to national interests or the national interest during the international debate, the use of the concept was predominant during the domestic debate, particularly among members of Congress. At a superficial level this may appear to be duplicitous--that is, using one kind ofjustification for the benefit of the international audience and using a different kind ofjustification for the domestic audience to garner maximum moral support for its actions--but it is unlikely that any duplicity could have been intended here, For if duplicity was intended by either the executive or by members of Congress, there must have been at least an expectation that the wrong information would not reach the wrong audience. Due to mass media coverage, practically the whole world might as well have been America’s domestic audience, and virtually every US citizen the international audience. Whenever a US official speaks publicly in an international forum, he or she realizes that just about every US citizen has the means to scrutinize those remarks. Similarly, whenever a Senator or Representative speaks in Congress, he or she realizes that any government around the  94 world has the means to scrutinize and compare them. Why did American statesmen employ the idea of the national interest at the domestic but not the international level? Were they merely explaining something to the domestic audience in the same sense that a teacher explains differential calculus to a class of students? In other words, by their use of the idea, did American statesmen suppose that it was merely an explanatory tool? Certainly not. War demands sacrifices. Among other things, the prospect of war 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, demands much more than merely technical explanations from the country’s leaders. It demands justification. And American statesmen justified the war in terms of the benefits for those from whom the sacrifices were required. The short-hand expression signifying this is generally the national interest. But, as indicated, all this can really signify is that the statesman 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 the country. To explain why he or she thinks it is the best course, the statesman must refer to and specify the national interests being pursued by war and how those objectives benefit the body politic. At the international level, however, the story is quite different. Rightly or wrongly the international community either assumes or is indifferent about whether a government leads its citizens into war for the good of that country. Instead, what it is concerned about is whether or not that country is rightfully waging war in terms of  95 existing international norms. Hence, the statesman wears two hats. He is responsible for the particular good of his country’s citizens while concurrently holding membership in a society responsible for the general good of the world as a whole. 3 Two kinds of justification, then, are required: one for the domestic community and one for the international society. Hence, It appears that a sufficient justification for war requires both kinds.  National Interest as an Explanatory Tool The thesis that national interests are necessary but insufficient components of any complete justification for war again raises the question about whether the notion that either “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 a temptation to use “national interest” in this way. In order to dispel confusion about what is 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 and Keohane argue that the concept of “national interest” (they do not distinguish national interests and the national interest) is generally used “in two different ways: first, as a criterion to assess what is at stake in any given situation and to evaluate what course of  action 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 is  Namely, the United Nations. 3  96 reason to be uneasy and dissatisfied.” 4 Here George and Keohane account for only two uses of the concept and appear to be 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, for George and Keohane are not interested in explaining the sources of a country’s foreign policy. Instead, they are interested in advancing a general substantive conception of national interest--i.e., national interest conceived as an aggregate of fhndamental standing national interests--that statesmen can refer to as a standard against which foreign policy alternatives can be measured. Although there are difficulties with this view as well, it is not the view I refer to as one that conceives the idea as an explanatory tool. It only appears they are conceiving it as such because they set up an opposition between the concept’s use as criterion and justification. But what they are setting out is standard for justifying certain types of foreign policies--that is to say, they are setting out “to specify a means by which policymakers can make disciplined choices among interests and therefore among policy alternatives.” 5 If the standard is the means for making policy choices, it is therefore the ground or reason for those choices. Since a statesman’s choices are imputable acts, the reasons for them must be categorically moral reasons--that is to say, justifications. When George  4 A lexander L. George and RobertO. Keohane, “The Concept ofNational Interests: Uses and Limitations,” in Alexander L. George, ed., Presidential Decisionmaking in Foreign Policy: The Effective Use ofInformation andAdvice (Boulder: Westview Press, 1980), p. 218. George and Keohane, p. 227. 5  97  and Keohane oppose criterion and justification, they must have something else in mind by the latter term because, objectively speaking, what they refer to as criterion is a 6 Consequently, when they refer to the idea as a criterion, they clearly are justification. not conceiving it as a value free explanatory tool. Nor do they intend to refer to it as such. George and Keohane’s use, then, is not what I have in mind when I set out to criticize 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 the question: “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 the explanatory 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 merely a short-hand explanation of how things are. National interest as an explanatory tool is an expression of what is considered to be the flindamental nature of international politics, namely, that states act in their national interest. Consequently, in this view, it makes no sense to speak of international ethics: for to speak of international ethics mistakes the fi.indamental nature of international relations. In view of how things (presumably) are, questions about value are misplaced. Although it is both vacuous as well as a classic statement of the traditional assumption, there is undeniably a small advantage in holding this view, For example,  l6 nstead, they have in mind by “justification” the practice of using “the national interest” as a rhetorical device. As indicated, such use is merely a reaffirmation on the part of the statesman that his choice is merely what he thinks to be the best choice for the country. 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.  98 having asserted that national interests are part of any sufficient justification for going to war, if it can be shown that the invasion of Kuwait served Iraqi national interests, can one conclude thereby that it was justified? And, if it was justified, was the world justified in responding to Iraq the way it did? Hence, if national interests justily war in Americ&s case, is there any reason why they should not justif’ war in Iraq’s case? The simplest way to get around this awkward question is to assert that national interests really have nothing to do withjust/Ications after all. Instead, national interests are explanations of why states go to war--not unlike the way the law of universal gravitation is a scientific explanation of why things fall to the ground. There is nothing inherently wrong with conceiving national interests as explanations rather than as justifications. A justification is, after all, a special type of explanation. But one must think seriously about the implications and limitations involved in adopting such a view. As explanatory devices, national interests are not very meaningful, although they provide quick and easy answers to difficult questions about why states do what they do. For example, in response to the question “why did state A go 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 of state B? one might reply “because it was in state A’s national interest.” Such answers are presumed 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 their national interests. But if this law were indeed true, why do Nye and Layne bother to consider the question about whether or not the Gulf War served American national  99  interests? For such a question presupposes that the United States night not have acted in its best interest after all. Further, why did the United States Senate even bother deliberating about what course is the best course of action for the United States in the circumstances? For such deliberation presupposes that the best course of action is not immediately given and that decision-makers can be mistaken about American interests. Finally, why do George and Keohane even bother to propose criterion to help statesmen make the choices that are best for the country if they supposed that their actions would be in the national interest anyway. Hence, if one supposes that the questions addressed by Nye, 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, if one holds the view that the national interest (or national interests) are a fi.indamental scientific explanation of what states do, one cannot also find meaning in the questions addressed by Nye, Layne, the United States Senate, and George and Keohane. The second limitation in adopting the explanatory view of national interests is that in order to remain consistent with that view, one also must refrain from having any opinion on whether or not a war ought to be fought in the national interest. One  nevertheless is still welcome to make moral judgements about particular wars if he wishes, but he must purge the words “national interest” from his vocabulary while doing so. For in his chosen understanding of the concept, it makes no moral difference whether a war is fought in the national interest or not. If he decides that national interests make no moral difference on the question of war, he must cease employing them as if they did. For example, one cannot consistently say that a particular war was “bad” because it was  100  not fought in the national interest and at the same time insist that national interests are explanations of what states do. The acid test for determining whether a person adopts an understanding of national interest as either a justification or an explanation is his answer to this question: Does it make any moral difference whether a state goes to war in the national interest? If so, that person understands national interest as a justification and therefore he cannot choose to understand it as an explanation, regardless of how tempted he is tO do so when confronted by perplexing questions like: why is it that national interests can justif’ war in the American case but not in the Iraqi case? Faced with difficult 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 next section, this fallacy is one of the major common impediments obstructing.a better conceptual understanding of the idea of the national interest. For the moment, an example of when this occurs will suffice. If a person starts out by holding the view that national interests justi1’ (or ought to justit’) America’s involvement in war and, when confronted with the issue of what is good for America ought to be good for Iraq as well, the person then shifts his understanding of national interest from justification to explanation in order to circumvent the difficult question, one has thereby fallen victim to the fallacy of swapping horses.  The Fallacy of Swapping Horses Put briefly, the fallacy consists in switching categories in the course of answering a  question which arose in the category one began with. More specifically, it involves the  101 attempt to import ideas properly belonging to the natural scientific category (such as “scientific laws” of state behaviour) into discussions of ideas properly belonging to the moral category (such as the question about why national interests justfy American actions but not Iraqi ones). In this case, it involves switching one’s understanding of national interest as ajustfication to an understanding of national interest as an  explanation, thus bypassing the difficult moral question altogether. Generally, the fallacy serves either to create an illusion that the initial question has been answered when in fact one is really no further ahead from where one started, or to obliterate the original question altogether. If an explicitly moral question arises in the course 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 a categorically moral discourse. To introduce natural scientific concepts the moment one recognizes a categorically moral question in an attempt either to answer or to bypass that question, 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 flog him, or you can coax him, or you can get out and lead him; or you can drown as better men than you have drowned before, But you must not swap 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 and 7 you will find yourself back where you started. .  The 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 generic  Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 13. 7  102 objects 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 the behaviour of a falling rock. That “mind” (or “soul”) and “matter” (that which constitutes “body”) are generically different is not a recent discovery. Plato, for example, argued that the soul is a non-corporeal entity that is enslaved in a body, but which is nevertheless that body’s life principle. For Plato, one could never have knowledge (in the proper sense of the word) of matter--that which is apprehended by the senses--because the material world is in a constant state of flux--i.e., in a state of becoming. The world of “forms” or “essences,” on the other hand, constitute the real world--i.e., the world of being. To have  knowledge 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. For Plato the relationship between mind and body was not so much a theoretical problem as it was a practical one. “If we are ever to have pure knowledge of anything, we must get rid 8 of the body and contemplate things by themselves with the soul by itself.” Aristotle and Aquinas, on the other hand, took the material world much more seriously. 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 soul 9 Collingwood imprisoned in and using a body as Plato insisted, but both body and soul. takes up the same distinction. But largely to avoid questions about the relation between  See Phaedo, 66c-e. and Republic, books V, VI, VII. 8 Aristotle, De Anima, III, 4; Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, q. 75 a. 4, q. 76. 9  103 body and soul, he conceives the human person as all body and all soul (mind) depending on the branch of knowledge employed. Hence, man is body in so far that the science of nature is employed to study it, and man is mind in so far as the science of mind is  employed to study it. To employ the science of nature to study mind, or the science of mind 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 are both bodies and minds and not just bodies alone. But since we are reasonably certain that rocks are not minds, it makes no sense to apply moral epithets to their behaviour. In the same way it makes no sense to apply moral epithets to the non-voluntary functions of human body parts. A child cannot help sneezing and a parent would be silly if he admonished him for doing so. He can, however, help covering his mouth when he sneezes, and a parent rightly admonishes the child for not doing what he can and ought to do. With respect to the formulation and execution of foreign policy, are statesmen properly conceived as bodies or as minds? Are they properly conceived as rocks--viz., objects of natural scientific analysis--or as thinking and feeling human persons--viz., objects of that branch of knowledge called moral philosophy or ethics. It is obvious that they properly are conceived as minds and not as bodies. But this basic point often becomes lost as discussions about international relations become more and more ° As discussions approach state and system levels of analysis, that statesmen are 1 abstract.  This problem, however, is by no means limited to the study of international relations. t0 This is one of the core existentialist critiques of modern man, a critique which must be taken seriously. See William Barrett, Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy  104 feeling and thinicing human persons becomes less and less evident. Perhaps this is because the body of knowledge employed in more abstract forms of analysis is based on an analogy with the natural sciences. The question, however, is whether the knowledge obtained through these more abstract forms of analysis can be applied to the practice of statecraft at the level of human conduct. I do not think that it can. For to assert the abstract explanatory principle that states always act in their national interest does not help the statesman to decide between two or more policy alternatives “here and now” in the context of contingent circumstances, It does not help the statesman in the “here and now” because two categorically distinct bodies of knowledge are involved. And to switch between these two bodies of knowledge is to commit, in Gilbert Ryle’s terms, a category error; or, in Collingwood’s terms, the fallacy of swapping horses. Let me now present these errors in the terms that these two metaphysicians explained them. A concept, regardless of whether it concerns knowledge about mind events or nature events, is itself a mind event: an artifact. Chairs and tables are mind events in that they take human skill to produce them with the materials of nature. Hence, they too are artifacts. 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 essentially indeterminate. This is especially true with concepts such as “the national interest,” “the state,” “corporation,” “sovereignty,””law,” or “right,” among many others. Efforts to define such concepts “reveal that these do not have the straightforward connection with  (New York: Doubleday, 1958), especially Chapter I.  105 counterparts in the world of fact which most ordinary words have and to which we appeal ’ 1 in our definition of ordinary words.” Many mind events can be assessed and described qualitatively and human beings express this capacity with qualitative epithets. Gilbert Ryle calls these “mental-conduct epithets” and,  “in  describing the minds of others and in prescribing for them” most people  have learned how to apply in concrete situations such mental-conduct epithets as ‘careful’, ‘stupid’, ‘logical’, ‘unobservant’, ‘ingenious’, ‘vain’, ‘methodical’, ‘credulous’, ‘witty’, ‘self 2 controlled’ and a thousand others.” It would be unthinkable to apply mental-conduct epithets to nature events. For example, 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’s behaviour quantitatively using the idiom of mathematics. Nature events, however, can also be described qualitatively as when we speak of a beautiful sunset or an ugly tree. However, such assessments belong not to that category of mind event called natural science but, rather, to that category of mind event called aesthetics. Mind events themselves cannot be described quantitatively because for something to be described in such a way it needs to be quantitatively determinate. The ability of an adult mind to distinguish readily a mind  event from a nature  event requires little instruction and only a moment’s reflection. It should also be evident  ‘. L. A. Hart, “Definition and Theory in Jurisprudence”, The Law Quarterly Review H 1 70 (1954): 37. Gilbert Ryle, The Concept ofMind (London: Hutchinson’s, 1955), p 7. 2 ‘  106 that different idioms are used to express knowledge of mind events and nature events. What, however, is the basic feature that marks the distinction between mind events and nature events? The difference between the two is the difference between thought and matter. What is the relationship between the two? Collingwood argues that the problem of determining the relationship between thought and matter is a bogus problem which cannot be stated without making a false assumption. What is assumed is that man is partly body and partly mind. On this assumption questions arise about the relationship between the two parts; and these prove unanswerable. 13 Gilbert Ryle corroborates Collingwood’s claim by arguing that to suppose man is part 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 in the idioms appropriate to another. To explode a myth is not to deny the facts but to re allocate them.”’ 4 The myth that raises the question about the relation between body and mind Ryle labels, “with deliberate abusiveness, as ‘the dogma of the Ghost in the 5 And he hopes, in the course of his argument Machine.”  R G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 10. Plato, Augustine, Aristotle and 13 Aquinas vehemently disagree. See, for example, Aquinas, Summa, I qq. 75, 76. Quoting Augustine, Aquinas argues that “man is not the soul alone, nor the body alone, but both soul and body.” (q. 75, a. 4) Aquinas’ detailed arguments are worth considering if only because of his excellent commentary on the pre-Socratic, Platonic, and Neo-Platonic positions on this issue. Whether or not the question is indeed answerable, Collingwood’s position, 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 the assumptions and methods of natural science are positively ill-suited for studying human conduct. Ryle, p. 8. 4 ‘ Ryle, pp. 15, 16. 15  107 to prove that it is entirely false, and false not in detail but in principle. It is not merely an assemblage of particular mistakes. It is one big mistake and a mistake of a special kind. It is, namely, a category mistake. It represents the facts of mental life as if they belonged to one logical category (or range of types or categories), when they actually belong to another. 16 Philosophy, in Ryle’s view, is the replacement of often mistaken “category-habits by 17 category-disciplines.” Collingwood’s concern here is identical to Ryle’s. For Collingwood, “man’s body and 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 of man, but the whole of man, is body in so far as he approaches the problem of self knowledge by the methods of natural science. Not a part of man, but the whole of man, is mind in so far as he approaches the problem of self-knowledge by expanding and clarifying the data of reflection.’ 8 Why is not the appropriate method for obtaining knowledge about matter also suitable for obtaining knowledge about concepts? To attempt to obtain such knowledge by employing the methods appropriate to obtaining knowledge about matter is to commit, in Collingwood’s words, the Fallacy of Swapping Horses. And this mistaken attempt is based, in Ryle’s words, on the Dogma of the Ghost in the Machine. In both cases, the error in large part stems from a mistaken assumption about the relation between body (as conceived by the natural sciences) and mind (as conceived by the mental sciences) when there is, in his view, no relation between the two. Ryle, p. 16. 6 ‘ Ryle, p. 8. 7 ‘ Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 11. 18  108 Man’s body is made of matter and the study of man’s body belongs to that group of studies which are concerned with ‘the material world’: what are 9 called the natural sciences,’ Man’s mind, on the other hand, “is made of thought.” And the “sciences which investigate mind.  .  .  have certain peculiarities distinguishing them from the ‘natural  sciences.” The main difference is that a person can often learn “something utterly new to him” through the natural sciences, whereas “the sciences of mind teach him only things of 20 This is because, unlike the natural sciences, “any which he was already conscious.” question in any science of mind is provided by reflection.” And regardless of the questions one asks himself, “the answers depend on the extent of his own reflection; not on distant travel, costly or difficult experiment, or profound and various learning.” Whereas “man as body is whatever the sciences of body say that he is.  .  .  man as mind is  whatever he is conscious of being.” The activity of becoming conscious of one’s being is called introspection. If knowledge of mind is obtained by thinking about one’s own thoughts (i.e., reflection or introspection), knowledge of another individual mind’s creation (e.g., a concept) is obtained by rethinking that other’s thoughts in one’s own mind. A student of political philosophy reading Plato’s Republic, for example, is trying to know what Plato thought when he expressed himself in certain words. 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’ the  R.G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan: Or Man, Society, Civilization and 19 Barbarism. Revised Edition, ed., David Boucher (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992), p. 2. Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 5-6. 20  109 ’ 2 words. For Ryle, understanding simply means following what is being done by the person advancing those arguments. Understanding, of course, does not involve “merely hearing the noises that your make, or merely seeing the movements that you perform. 22 On reflection, Instead, “it is appreciating how those operations are conducted.” however, it should be evident that although Ryle’s account is necessary, it is not a sufficient account of what 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 of what Hobbes is arguing about--that is, his objectives and concerns. In other words, to fully understand Hobbes, one must also know the question (or questions) in his head for which 23 One need not interview Hobbes to learn those what he wrote was meant as an answer. questions. They can be inferred from what he wrote. Consequently, to understand the national interest one needs to rethink the thoughts of those statesmen who employ the idea. This, it must be emphasized, is not merely a matter of repeating “parrot-wise” the words in which the national interest is 24 For the words themselves are not the data of understanding--they invoked or expressed. do not embody any material objects in the real world. Instead, the thoughts to which  RG Collingwood, The Idea of History (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1956), p. 215, 21 Ryle, p. 61. 22 R G. Collingwood, An Autobiography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1991), p. 31. 23 Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 7. 24  110 those words refer are the object of conceptual understanding. On reflection, however, this is also true of words which signify material objects. For example, if one hears the word “chair” for the first time, he does not understand what it means until he sees the object it was meant to signify. His understanding of the word occurs when an image of  the object is matched with the word. An image is a very complex sort of thought that would 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 voluntary signs, is that we generally call understanding... 25 .  .  Having no counterpart in the material world, however, concepts such as morality and the national interest, are not conducive to that kind of understanding. Another kind of understanding Hobbes refers as that kind of understanding “which is.. the .  Understanding not onely his will; but his conceptions and thoughts, by the sequell and contexture of the names of things into Affirmations, Negations, and other forms of Speech.  •26  Further: When a man upon the hearing of any Speech, hath those thoughts which the words of that speech and their connexion, were ordained and constituted to signify; Then he is said to understand it: Understanding being nothing else, but conception caused by Speech. 27  Hence, understanding the words “the national interest” is the conception raised in one’s mind by the use of those words--that is, to have those thoughts which the use of  Hobbes, p. 8. 25 Hobbes, p. 8. 26 Hobbes, p. 17. 27  111 those words were ordained and constituted to signify. To understand “matter,” on the other 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 of matter and that “everyone knows what matter is.” A beginner in physics or chemistry does not know what matter is, and if he thinks he does it is the duty of his teacher to disabuse him; but he knows what physics or chemistry is; it is the stuff in this red text-book, or the stuff old So-and-So teaches, or the stuff we have on Tuesday 2 mornings. If matter is the proper object of those branches of knowledge called physics and chemistry, can it also be the proper object of moral philosophy? Conversely, if the idea of the national interest is a proper object of that branch of knowledge called moral philosophy, can it also be the proper object of the natural sciences? If the arguments of Collingwood and Ryle are correct, the answers to each of these questions is “no.” The idea of the national interest, having no relation to matter, cannot be the object of study for chemistry or physics. Surely all chemists and physicists recognize this. For if they supposed that the national interest bore some relationship to matter, they would have provided some sort of a definition a long time ago. And, bearing no relationship to matter, doubts are raised about whether the methods embraced by the bodies of knowledge with matter as their proper object can be embraced by those bodies of knowledge with mind as their proper object. However, to conceive of states and international relations in terms of billiard balls, forces, and systems is to conceive those relations in terms of matter. Hence, any  28, The New Leviathan, p. 3. Collingwood  112 definition of the national interest that might work very well in light of those kinds of analyses cannot be transplanted into an analysis that conceives of those relations in terms of 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 abstract explanation of why states do what they do, cannot help the statesman to decide between policy alternatives in the “here and now.” To suppose that it can is to commit the fallacy of swapping horses,  113 CHAPTER FOUR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AS HUMAN CONDUCT  The basic contention in this chapter is that, rather than employing system level or state level perspectives, the idea of the national interest is clarified far more easily by conceiving international relations in terms of human conduct. Given this contention, I start out with the notion “state as actor” and inquire, from the perspective of human conduct, about what its most likely meaning is. In other words, one might say that my purpose here is to get to the bottom of that well-worn phrase. For it is often argued that states 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 likely answers. In view of the purely descriptive or empirical version of the expression, on the one hand, it could mean that statesmen formulate and execute foreign policies based on the aggregate of interests widely shared by the members of the body politic. Or it could mean that statesmen formulate and execute foreign policies based on what theyjudge will benefit the body politic. In view of the imperative version of the statement, on the other hand, it could mean that statesmen ought to formulate and execute foreign policies based on the aggregate of interests widely shared by the members of the body politic. Or it could mean that statesmen ought to formulate and execute foreign policies based on what theyjudge will benefit the body politic. It should be evident that Rosenau’s distinction between the subjectivist and  114 objectivist views of the national interest corresponds loosely with the first version of the two empirical statements and the first version of the two imperative statements, respectively. In other words, the subjectivist view of the national interest corresponds with the notion that statesmen act on the basis of interests widely shared by members of the body politic, and the objectivist view corresponds with the notion that statesmen ought to act on the basis of such interests. These two views share in common the notion that, 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 politic are driving (or ought to be driving) state action. The operative idea here is the notion of shared interests and, consequently, by “state as actor” the American body politic is conceived as a society in the classical sense of the term. In the following pages I hope to show not only that this assumption is based on a dubious political theory, but that it is another 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 the body politic, on the other hand, is much closer to the truth concerning the facts of the American political predicament. Paradoxically, the empirical version of this statementi.e., that statesmen act on what they judge will benefit the body politic--is much more difficult to prove than the imperative version is. Most, if not all, Americans know that statesmen ought to acton the basis of what they judge will benefit the body politic, but many 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 basis  115 of what they judged will benefit the body politic, suppose that statesmen acted on the basis of what they judged would benefit themselves personally, their party, or some group other than the American body politic.’ But even in the best of conditions, such suspicions are intractably difficult to prove definitively--if only because it is impossible to know, with metaphysical or physical certainty, the motives of another. A person’s motive (or motives) may or may not correctly be inferred by another merely on the basis of that person s external, physical act. For although the external act generally has one 1 2 visible object, it can serve any number of both good and/or evil motives or ends. Although it might not immediately be evident, to say that statesmen ought to act on the basis of what they judge will be best for the body politic is very different from saying that statesmen ought to act on the basis of interests widely shared by the members of the American body politic. Each of these views is grounded in an entirely different assumption about the nature of the American body politic. The first statement does not assume 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 it does 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 argument in chapter eight. 2 example of an act with one object and at least two evil ends is the case of a M contract killer. The object of the external, physical act is the death of the victim. The ends, however, can vary between those who contracted the killing and the contract killer himself. The contractor merely could want to make money. Those who are paying the money, on the other hand, could have any number of reasons. For more on the distinction between the object and the end of a act See Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-il, q. 18, a. 6.  116  the 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 of human conduct, then, one first must deal with the notion that states are the primary actors in international relations. For if states are conceived as actors, let alone primary actors, international relations cannot properly be conceived in terms of human conduct. My contention is that the notion “state as actor” is not an expression of reality but, rather, an abstraction from reality--and an entirely legitimate one at that. However, as long as it is remembered that it is just that--i.e., an abstraction--the notion does not place an obstacle in the way of conceiving international relations in terms of human conduct. The aim of this section, then, is to get to the bottom of the abstraction. Once this has been done it will become clear that, in reality, human persons are the only actors in international relations, and that human persons occupying the special role of statesman are the primary actors. As a convenient short-hand expression and as a legal fiction, the expression “state as actor” is used in its proper sense and should not be discredited in any way. Problems arise, however, when the expression--in both a literal and a figurative sense--takes on a life of its own. In other words, problems arise when the abstraction is no longer conceived as an abstraction and is confused with reality itself These are the problems that need to be addressed before the national interest can be conceived as an intrinsic principle of human action and not as a law or principle of state action. Only by  117 embracing the “state as actor” as a real living entity and infusing into it a meaning beyond that of merely employing it as a short-hand expression or legal fiction does it become 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 states act? In one sense it is true, but in a more fundamental sense it is false. That the statement is in one sense true and in another sense false is due largely to the ambiguity of the term “state.” This ambiguity is evident particularly when one considers the common use 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 of international politics, on the other. What, exactly, is being referred to by “state” in each of 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 from the international perspective they are. In other words, from the international perspective, the term “state” often is used to mean “body politic,” whereas from the domestic perspective, “state” often signifies a functional, and categorically juridical idea in relation to the body politic. Put yet another way, from the international perspective, “state” often signifies a special type of concrete human organization, whereas from the domestic perspective--to the extent that it is ever employed to refer to an organization of concrete persons--it refers exclusively to the government and its apparatus. Hence, the ambiguity of the term “state” stems from its dual use as a categorically juridical idea signifying a legal person, on the one hand, and as a sociological idea signifying a particular grouping of human persons--whether it be the government or the body politic as a whole--on the  118 other. For the sake of this discussion, I attempt to avoid this initial ambiguity by referring to countries like Canada, the United States, Iraq, and so on, as bodies politic rather than as states. And, when referring to governing bodies or their members, I shall employ the terms “governments” or “statesmen,” as the case may be. With the foregoing specifications in mind, let me now consider first the sense in which the notion “state as actor” is true, and second the sense in which it is false, In the juridical sense--that is, as a juridical abstraction signifying the body politic as a legal person--the expression “state as actor” is entirely true, in the same sense that “corporation as actor” is entirely true. For in this sense we are speaking of legal persons, and it is entirely meaningful to speak of legal persons as actors in a legal sense. But it must be emphasized that a legal person is an abstraction, something which has no counterpart in the real world. You cannot walk into a room and see states in the same way they you can see tables, chairs, and living human beings. The notion “state as actor” breaks down, however, when we emphasize the concrete reality behind the abstraction instead of the abstraction itself. This is the world of concrete persons fulfilling a special role within the body politic, namely: the world of human beings called statesmen who act on behalf of the body politic in relations with their 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 distinct entities are being confused thereby, namely: human persons, one the one hand, and legal persons, on the other. This is what I refer to as the world of human conduct--Viz., a world where it makes sense to rethink and discuss the human dispositions, frailties, and  119 thoughts 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 this world, then, are human persons along with their thoughts and actions from which the events stem, and not the events themselves. To examine this world, one must draw upon branches 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 respect to human dispositions, fculties, and the nature of human choice and action, one must draw 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 the branch of knowledge called moral philosophy. In the legal world, states are actors. In the world of human conduct, on the other had, only human persons are actors. The state is not a living entity, therefore it cannot be considered as an actor in the world of human conduct, In this world, human beings act on behalf of other human beings which constitute a given body politic. With respect to international relations, these human acts of state are called foreign policies. And these acts set in motion a whole series of other human acts on the part of other members of the body politic (in the case of war, soldiers, sailors, and airmen--to mention a few) in order to achieve the objectives set by those initial acts. In the world of human conduct, then, it is meaningful to conceive foreign policies not as “things” but, rather, as the consequences of deliberative human action. To re-emphasize the words of Charles Hughes: “foreign  120  3 Instead, they are built upon practical human policies are not built upon abstractions.” choices about what is best for the country in the circumstances. Although they are clearly acts performed by human beings--and, consequently, the proper objects of study for 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 for moral philosophy? At least tentatively, one can answer “yes” to those questions. Detailed reasons for such a response will be outlined in the next chapter. For now, logically prior questions need to be addressed in greater detail. What are the relationships between groups and interests? Is there a distinction between the pursuer of an interest and a beneficiary of that interest? What is the nature of the body politic? Is it a society in the classical sense of the word? And what is the statesman’s relationship to the body politic? In short, I need to clarify for the reader my understanding of the nature of the body politic, the nature of interests with respect to the body politic, and the nature of the statesman’s relationship to the body politic before I can address questions of whether or not his or her actions are indeed imputable ones.  Interests and their beneficiaries  Since interests, it will be recalled, are desired states of affairs defined in terms of complex norms, it is meaningful to conceive of interests as objectives or tangible  3 C ited in Charles Beard, The Idea ofNational Interest (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1966), p. 1,  121 purposes. Objectives and purposes, however, presuppose the existence of human actors  both 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 of the members of the body politic have set objectives in the name of the body politic. It does not necessarily mean that all members have set those objectives--although there is an implication here that, regardless of whoever set those objectives, they were set for the benefit of the body politic as a whole and not for the exclusive personal benefit of those who 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 is that those who set those objectives expect a good portion of the body politic to derive some 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 the one 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 the intended beneficiaries of that interest. This is particularly the case when national interests are viewed as interests widely shared by the members of the body politic. On reflection, however, the interests, purposes or desired states of affairs are not what are widely shared among the members of the body politic. Instead, the benefits of those interests are presumed and intended by statesmen to be widely shared among the members of the body politic. Statesmen, on the other hand, do share those interests once  122 a collective decision has been made to pursue them. National interests, then, are not shared purposes of the body politic. They are shared purposes of statesmen which, once realized, are intended for the benefit of the body politic. Now, as it will be argued more fully in the following paragraphs, the notion of shared 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 of the body politic, since they do not have a shared purpose, cannot constitute a society in the classical sense of the term, It also suggests that statesmen, since they do share a common purpose, do constitute a society in the classical sense of the term. That a body politic cannot (and many would argue, ought not) be a society in the classical sense, and that the government of the body politic is such a society, appear to be borne by the facts of our experience--at least of the American body politic and its government at the time, and in the context, of the Gulf war. 4 Our experience of that episode substantiates the claim that the American body politic is not a society in the classical sense, and that the American government is. The majority of American citizens did not actively share in the immediate interest or purpose of a liberated Kuwait. For that matter, as I will show in chapters seven and eight, many American citizens were not convinced that they even would derivea singular  4 T his might be true for all times and all contexts, but I am not prepared to make such a generalization. For in the context of total war, bodies politic most resemble societies in the classical sense in that almost every adult member appears to share actively in a singular, united purpose, namely: total victory. The Gulf war, at least from the American perspective, was not a total war. From the Iraqi perspective, on the other hand, it might have been.  123 benefit from that interest if and when it indeed was secured. The members of the American government, on the other hand, for the most part evidently shared a purpose in trying 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 usually does not) pursue a shared purpose, and because the American government did (and probably usually does) pursue a shared purpose, the body politic is not, and the government is a society in the classical sense. That is why it is meaningfiul to speak of national interests. Not because the American body politic shares those interests (it cannot, because it is not a society), but because the members of the Government share those interests (they can, because they are members of a society). Further, the members of the government presume and intend that the 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 will benefit from their procurement. It is meaningful to speak of a group’s interests, then, because some kinds of human groups are defined as such by virtue of the shared interests or purposes of its members. In such a grouping, human beings associate in order to pursue some specified shared interest. This kind of human group is called a society or association, in the classical sense of these terms. But there is another kind of human grouping--one which is more accurately referred to as a class--that is not defined by shared interests but, rather, by shared characteristics. Hence, a group of blonde and blue eyed persons can be defined as a group by virtue of sharing the characteristics of blonde hair and blue eyes--they need  124 not share any purpose in order to be conceived as a group. Further, there is a third kind of group--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 of separate 5 That these three kinds of human groupings actually exist is not the real purposes.” problem here. Instead, the problem is that the same names--i.e., “society” or “association”--often are used to signif.j the three kinds of groups, whereas in political theory 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 three kinds does it most resemble? One might be tempted here to assume that the American body politic is a society in 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 the shared interests or purposes of its members, The S.P.C.A. is clearly a society in the classical sense because people join the association for the interest or purpose of preventing cruelty to animals. Further, there is little dispute among the members about what their society’s purposes are. But it is by no means clear what the shared interests or purposes are of that human grouping called the United States or, for that matter, the United Kingdom or Canada. Further, that there is much dispute about the aggregate of American shared interests leads one to suspect that perhaps there are none to be found in  5 M ichael Donelan, Elements ofInternational Political Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press 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.  125 the first place. And if this indeed is the case, it is questionable to assume that it is a society in the classical sense of the term. Nevertheless, the idea of the national interest still seems to have some significance. For even if one were to reject, or merely to doubt, the assumption that the United States is a society in the classical sense of the term, one still is haunted with a nagging suspicion that the expressions “the national interest” and “national interests” have significant meanings. After all, American statesmen invoked the national interest both to oppose and to support offensive military action against Iraqi forces. Further, American scholars invoked the national interest both to condemn and to vindicate the American decision to employ such force. How, then, does one reconcile the safer  assumption that the American body politic is not a society in the classical sense with the persistent notion that the national interest is significant? The two can be reconciled if it can be shown that the statesman him or herself is a member of an association in the classical sense, and that the overriding shared purpose of those persons is to pursue what is best for the body politic as a whole--viz., to pursue objectives which benefit the body politic. But that state of affairs or interest which is best to pursue cannot be stated in the abstract, but only in substantive terms in light of contingent circumstances. At the individual level this is determined through the normal human process of deliberation and choice. At the collective level this is determined by constitutionally prescribed deliberative procedures and decision rules. Nevertheless, specific choices made by this society of governors are (or ought to be) always inclined in a certain direction. The national interest is an affirmation that one’s choices are inclined  126 to the good of the body politic, and not toward the statesman’s personal interest, a subnational group or person’s interest, or an extra-national group or person’s interest. But merely to reaffirm that one’s choices are inclined toward the national interest, explains little about why the statesman thinks those choices are best for the country. Hence, when a 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 of your will to act in the best interest of the United States and not some other interest, And I thank you for that. But by merely reaffirming the interior inclination of your will--i.e., toward the national interest--you have not explained to me why you think this policy is best.” Perhaps the reason why “the national interest” has so much rhetorical power is because it is a partial justification masquerading 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. It cannot be the case because only a society can have shared interests and American citizens do not constitute a society in the classical sense. Nevertheless, it is still meaningful to speak about American national interests. It is meaningfi.ii because the government pursues (or ought to pursue) interests--i.e., purposes, desired states of affairs, or objectives--for the benefit of the American body politic and the members of government do constitute a society in the classical sense. In other words, the members of government constitute a society by virtue of having shared purposes or interests, and the members of the body politic do not constitute a society by virtue of not having shared purposes or  127  interests. Because the members of government (“statesmen,” for the sake of this discussion) pursue common purposes for the benefit of the body politic, it is meaningful to refer to those shared purposes as national interests. The notion “state as actor,” although a convenient short hand expression, obscures a rather complex set of relationships--viz., relationships between statesmen, citizens, the statesmen of other body politics, and their citizens--that come to light when one attempts to conceive international relations in terms of human conduct. Primarily, it obscures the distinction between the different kinds of human groupings that are involved--distinctions that must be maintained if one wants to clarifS’ the idea of the national interest. I shall now examine these distinctions in greater detail.  Societies and non-social communities  That not all human groupings necessarily have shared purposes or interests is noticed, in varying degrees of clarity, by a number of political theorists. Michael Oakeshott, among others, notices this and Terry Nardin borrows this insight and attempts to apply it to international relations theory. More specifically, Nardin attempts to apply a modification of Oakeshott’s ideas to questions of international organization and justice. 6 He argues that many people (including some distinguished political theorists) have understood the state. as an enterprise whose purpose is the promotion of the common interests of its members. The tendency to think in purposive terms disposes us to see human .  .  Terry Nardin, Law, Morality, and the Relations ofStates (Princeton NJ: Princeton 6 UP, 1983).  128  arrangements and institutions as springing from transactions grounded in shared values and aims. Some of these transactions are ephemeral, mere bargains struck between individuals who then proceed along their separate paths. Others result in the foundation of more lasting relationships, in the establishment of families, corporations, universities, or churches. In each case, however, the key to the relationship is to be found in the benefits anticipated from exchange or from more enduring cooperative behaviour. To understand human beings as related on the basis of shared purposes is to see them as united above all else by an interest in what association can provide: by wants satisfied, values realized, beliefs reaffirmed, interests protected, goals achieved. 7 Without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with the general thrust of his argument, Nardin nevertheless obscures an important distinction by grouping together under the rubric “purposive association” both “ephemeral” transactions and “more lasting relationships.” A mere transaction between buyer and seller is indeed a transactional relationship 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 of exchange and, on the other hand, a group of persons getting together to pursue a shared purpose or interest. The problem here is not with the adjective “purposive,” but what is being modified by that adjective in each instance. It seems to me that a human transaction, on the one hand, and a human association, on the other, are categorically distinct. Certainly, each instance describes a purposive human relationship, but they are categorically different kinds of relationship. The first instance--that is, between buyer and seller--is an example of a human relationship called a transaction. But the latter instance--that is, what results when people become associates--is an example of a human relationship called an association.  Nardin, p. 4. 7  129 Transactions and associations are not the same thing; but association does presuppose a transaction 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, is also what Oakeshott takes it to mean. Like Nardin, Oakeshott begins his account by grouping together the more ephemeral buyer and seller relation with the more durable relation under the rubric “transactional mode of association.” But Oakeshott soon recognizes the force of the distinction and refers to the latter as an “enterprise association.” In an enterprise association “the associates recognize themselves, not as parties related in an engagement of 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 he considers to be the narrow and classical sense of the word. Why Oakeshott and Nardin choose to create new terms rather than employ the classical one might be due to the ambiguous meaning of the word “society.” Nevertheless, Oakeshott, Nardin, and Collingwood, 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 of  Michael Oakeshott, “The Rule of Law,” On History and Other Essays (Oxford: Basil 8 Blackwell, 1983), pp. 122-23. In another work, Oakeshott refers to the transactional mode of human association as “enterprise association” and “purposive association”, On Human Conduct (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975), pp. 114-118, 157-158, 313, 315-317.  130 the term ‘society’: a specific and classical sense borrowed from Roman Law, and a much broader sense developed in the seventeenth century. Collmgwood emphasizes that these two senses, “for the purposes of political study must be distinguished: confhsion is 9 The broader sense of the term is used, for example, to refer to a “society of fatal.” plants”, “society of animals”, “society of ants”, or a “society of bees.” In short, the word is used “in a sense that would have outraged a Roman lawyer, not so much because it involved speaking of an ant or bee as if it were a Roman citizen but because it involved speaking of it as if it were possessed of free will,” 10 A society in the narrower classical sense, on the other hand, is a relation between moral agents who “join together of their own free will in joint action.” 1 Collingwood gives examples such as “the Co-operative Wholesale Society”, “the Royal Society”, and “the County Society.” 2 Oakeshott gives examples such as “the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge”, “the Anti-Bloodsports League”, and the “Licensed Victuallers Association.” 13 Finally, Nardin gives more generic examples such as corporations, universities and churches. To identify the individual members of a society as free agents is to say that they must be capable of being accountable to the society and capable of holding others within  R. G. Collingwood, The New Leviathan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 130. 9 Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 134. 10 ‘Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 132. Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 133. 2 ‘ Oakeshott, p. 123. 13  131 that society accountable. In the context of Roman Law, free moral agents were personae--that is, “human beings capable of sueing and being sued, who must be free  men and not slaves, Roman citizens and not foreigners, male and adult, not in the manus orpatria potestas of another but heads of 14 families.” Of course, these particulars have not been maintained to this day. For persona Collingwood substitutes “person,” meaning “an agent possessed of, and exercising free will.” 5 Oakeshott retains the expression persona, but means by it an abstract singular aspect of a person’s total relationships with  others and defined in terms of a particular mode of association, In his words, “while persons may have (and indeed be largely composed oO a variety of kinds of relationship with others and move between them without confbsion, the subject in a mode of relationship is always an abstraction, a persona, a person in respect of being related to others in terms of distinct and exclusive conditions.” 6 For example, between concrete persons, say, in a family situation, there can exist a diversity of modal relationships that can be abstracted from. the concrete relationship. The two people can be related in the persona of lovers in the spiritual sense, as lovers in the emotional sense, as sexual  partners in the biological sense, and as marriage partners in the legal sense, Another example is the statesman. He or she is a person in Collingwood’s sense and can be attributed with van ous personae in Oakeshott’s sense. Hence, in addition to the persona of statesman, the person could also be a spouse, citizen, lodge member, and what have  Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 132. 4 ‘ Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 144. 5 ‘ Oakeshott, p. 120. 6 ‘  132 you. Each one of these senses represents a distinct mode of relationship, which in turn is defined 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, can only wear one of them. But what are the “distinct and exclusive conditions” that define that entity known as the enterprise association (as Oakeshott calls it), the purposive association (as Nardin calls it), and society (as Collingwood calls it)? For Oakeshott: Association here is the assemblage of an aggregate of power to compose a corporate or an associational identity designed to procure a wished-for satisfaction, It is constituted in the choice and recognition of a common purpose to the pursuit of which each associate undertakes to devote a quantum of his power; that is, his time, energy, means, skill and so on. The Associates are personae, persons in respect of their devotion to the common cause. The engagement occupies time, it is a call upon resources, it looks to the thture, it is inherently terminable and may terminate with the achievement of its purpose or the dissolution of the association. “ 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 between society understood in the broader sense developed in the 17th century as standing for a genus, and society understood in the narrower classical sense developed by Roman law is an essential difference: each of them has a suum cuique; [i.e.] in each of them the members have a share in something that is divided among them; but in a society proper the establishment and maintenance of the suum cuique is effected by their  Oakeshott, p. 123. 7 ‘  133 joint activity asfree agents.’ 8 The 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 three indispensable elements to a social contract: (1) reciprocal agreement (2) common interest (all parties must stand to gain under the terms of the partnership); and (3) affectus societatis, a bona fide intention to form a partnership.’ 9 In 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 which you 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, are societies narrowly conceived. A family consisting of parents and small children is a perfect example. The relationship between the parents can be conceived as a society in the 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 this kind of human grouping is not a society in the classical sense remains true even when the  ‘ C 8 ollingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 136. Collingwood, The New Leviathan, pp. 132-33. 9 ‘ 20, The New Leviathan, p. 133. Collingwood  134 Roman definition is updated and modified--modified, that is, not in its essentials (as the 17th century definition) but in its inessentials. Instead of being initiated by a social contract--that is, adhering to the three conditions of reciprocal agreement, common interest, and affectus societatis--associates need only to decide to initiate partnership “in  any terms that make his decision clear to the other or others.” And, instead of giving rise to the three obligations, “every party, by making the contract, declares his will to pursue the common aim of the society,” whatever obligations such an aim may entail. What he contracts to do (what Roman law calls the ‘obligation’ to which his participation in the contract subjects hi±n) is solely to pursue the common aim: the detail of this ‘obligation’ will depend on the detail of the aim. By what [is called] the Principle ofLimited Liability his ‘obligation’ is limited to this aim and all it implies, the latter often including much not specified in any description of the aim. No society has a claim on its members involving more than this. It is in the nature of a society that the obligations of membership should be limited to obligations involved in the pursuit of the common aim. 21 A small child does not declare his membership in the family unit: he is simply born into it, Nor does he declare his will to contribute to the common aim of his parents, whatever it may be: he simply does what his parents tell him to do. A hockey team, on the other hand, is a society whose associates endorse the common aim--by virtue of declaring their membership in terms acceptable to that society--to win hockey games. Hence, it is in the team’s interest to win hockey games, and the intrinsic principle of each members actions in their capacity as members is the team interest. By declaring his intention to become a member of that society, the player incurs obligations implied by the aim of the team: he must keep fit during the off-season, he must show up at practices and on time, he must  Collingwood, The New Leviathan, pp. 144-45. 21  135 concentrate on maintaining and developing the instrumental skill which his role in the society (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, taken together, define the game of hockey--that is, he must know and play by the rules of the game. By the Principle of Limited Liability, however, the associate is not obligated by the team to marry this person rather than another. Nor is he required to buy this brand of automobile rather than that. In short, where the member’s activities bear no relation to the society’s principle aim--to win hockey games--no obligation is incurred. Nardin, Oakeshott, and Collingwood, then, all agree that purposiveness is the essence of association properly understood in the narrower classical sense. Mere existence side by side, mere participation or share in that quality called humanity, mutual receipt of each other’s infliction of military power, or having a fhnction and place within the bee hive or ant nest, does not even approach the classical meaning of the verb: to associate. Nevertheless, by using the term “association” to identify different modes of human relationship, Oakeshott and Nardin possibly invite some confusion about their respective projects. Oakeshott, perhaps with good reason, believes that a body politic organized as a society in the classical sense would lead to a questionable, if not intolerable, existence on the part of its citizens. Instead, he appears to value a mode of relationship based on the rule of law. However, he calls that ideal relationship a mode of association, 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 other  136 words, his proposed ideal structure based on the notion of the rule of law or civil association--that is, a set of adverbial non-instrumental conditions which, in his view, ought to govern the relationships and transactions between people, associations, and states--would more accurately be referred to as a mode of relationship rather than a mode of association. In this way, the crucial distinction between society understood in the classical sense and society understood in the broader sociological sense can be maintained with greater clarity. Given the foregoing discussion, we are in a much better position to consider whether or not the American body politic is a society in the classical sense of the term. Is it the kind of grouping “where men come together to co-operate in a single common purpose, as, for example, in a business company?” For, according to Michael Donelan, “the more mercantile type of Realist habitually talks as though his country were a great trading corporation, competing with the rest of the world.” 22 On the grounds that shared purposes or interests among the members of the American body politic are conspicuously absent, I have argued that it is not. Further, in pointing to the history of political thought on the question, Collingwood notes that even though the body politic was regarded as a society by the Greeks and Romans, it is not generally regarded as such by modern 23 And this change in thinking, he argues, occurred not in the twentieth century thinkers. but, rather, in the middle ages. Ancient political life is the life, and ancient political theory the theory, of  Donelan, pp. 59-60. 22 Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 177, 23  137 the city (polls), which was a society made up of citizens upon whom noncitizens were dependent. Medieval political life is the life, and medieval political theory the theory, of the ‘state’ (l’etat, lo stato), a term belonging to the international European language of the later Middle ages and derived from the Latin status, used as a legal term for a man’s status with regard to rights. In the Middle Ages a very remarkable change of opinion had come about as to what the body politic was. People had come to think of the body politic no longer as a society, a community of free and adult men collectively managing their own affairs; they had come to think of it more as a collection of human animals, not necessarily free and not necessarily male, but just human. Hence in the Middle Ages a body politic was conceived as a non-social community; not a self-ruling body of adult Englishmen or what not, but simply a collective name for people born in a certain place. 24 In short, the ancients conceived the body politic or city not as a mere collection of people and buildings within a demarcated geographical space but, rather, as an association of citizens--a society. To be sure, women, children, slaves, and foreigners inhabited the confines of the space controlled by the citizens, but they were either “privately dependent on individual citizens,” or “publicly dependent upon groups of citizens.” 25 Hence, such people were not conceived as part of the body politic but, rather, as dependents either of individual associates (citizens), or of the body politic itself (the city). During the Middle Ages, a wider--but not necessarily more inclusive--conception of body politic came into being, 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 and not with any particular qualities of moral agency. It is unsafe to assume, then, that the United States is a society conceived in the  Collingwood, The New Leviathan, pp. 178-79. 24 Collingwood, The New Leviathan, p. 177. 25  138 narrow classical sense. Instead, it is safer to assume that it is what Collingwood refers to as a non-social community. For the vast majority of new members to a national community are simply born into it and, although this is an accepted way of becoming a member of the national community, it is not the way one associates with anyone or anything. The activity of association requires free moral agency--a faculty infant human beings 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 all members of the body politic because a group’s interests presuppose shared purposes or ends. If the group does not have a purpose or objective, it cannot be said to have any general interest--although the people and groups that constitute it can have particular interests. Shared purposes or objectives--hence, interests--are the essence of association. Without shared interests, there is no reason to associate, There is, however, no such requirement for communities to exist. Communities are a mere anthropological fact-they require no act of moral 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 moment members of a community agree on an interest to preserve or pursue marks its transformation from a mere community into a society with respect to that interest. Or, if there 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 those separate interests. Sociologists call these separate entities within the community “interest  139 groups,” but a Roman lawyer would call them societies, Oakeshott calls them enterprise associations, and Nardin calls them purposive associations. Many such associations call themselves societies, for example, the Royal Society or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals. Others call themselves associations, for example, the Canadian Manufacturers Association or the Licensed Victuallers Association. And the condition called “pluralism” refers to a community made up of many such societies. That this condition accurately describes the American body politic, as far as I can tell, is beyond dispute--at least among domestic political theorists. But the fact that some or all members of a community can agree on one or more shared interests presupposes not only a way that the associates are mutually intelligible to each other (how else could they know that they have a common interest?), but a “mutual recognition of certain conditions which.  .  .  specif’ right and wrong in conduct.  .  The members of the community must have some grounds for reasonably anticipating that forming a society on the basis of a shared interest will actually prove to serve that interest. In other words, they must have some preconceived notion about social obligations and what they entail from associates. Hence, association presupposes a 27 Association, then, morality conceived as “a vernacular language of intercourse.” presupposes both community and a shared morality--a moral community. Oakeshott calls this moral association, but keeping in mind the distinction between the two senses of the word society, it would be more accurate to call it a moral community.  Oakeshott, p. 132. 26 Oakeshott, p. 133. 27  140 It is meaningful to speak of a community of humankind by virtue of the fact that all human beings share in that quality called humanity. It is not clear, however, whether it is meaningful to speak of humankind as a moral community. Nevertheless, it is meaningful to speak of a moral community of states. Hence, what Hedley Bull calls a society 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, the United Nations, And by virtue of his country’s membership in that society, another complexity is added to the life of the statesman. In his persona as statesman, he is an associate 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 or constitution, 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 contract since its inception; for it can easily be shown that this is not the case. But a failure to meet one’s obligations, far from proving that a contract does not exist, proves the precise opposite. For to argue that one has not lived up to the requirements of a contract presupposes that a contract indeed exists. The first indispensable element of a social contract--reciprocal agreement--is clearly evident through the number of signatories to the Charter. The common interest or purpose of the society--viz., world peace and security--is explicitly stated in the preamble: WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which  141 twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind., AND FOR THESE ENDS to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest. HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS X, it appears that the parties had a bona fide 2 At least according to HG. Nicholas’ account intention to form a partnership. Finally, Article 2 of the Charter imposes on its members the following obligations, among others: 3) All members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered. 4) All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. 5)All members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventative or enforcement action. But these obligations entail further obligations. The UN Security Council, “[i]n order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations,” has the “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.. “(Art 24 para .  1), and it “shall act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles [Arts 1 and 2] of the United 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 Chapters  H G. Nicholas, The United Nations as a Political Institution, 5th ed. (London: 28 Oxford UP, 1975), especially chapters 1 through 4.  142 W,VII, VIII, and XII” (Art 24 para 2). Finally, “Members of the United Nations agree to  accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter” (Art 25). Although the United Nations is clearly a society in the classical sense (in Oakeshott’s terms, an enterprise association; and in Nardin’s terms, a purposive association) it sets out to accomplish its purposes by establishing “non-instrumental rules which impose obligations to subscribe to adverbial conditions in the performance of the self chosen actions of all who fall within their jurisdiction” 29 in addition to remedial rules for fulfilling that purpose if Members do not fulfil their social obligations. Hence, in the UN we have an example of an enterprise association achieving its purposes through what Oakeshott considers to be non-instrumental rules--a kind of rule that he ascribes to the mode 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 is identifiable with the interest of each individual nation helped politicians and political writers everywhere to evade the unpalatable fact of a fundamental divergence of interest between nations desirous of maintaining 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 the utopian vision would to a certain extent prevail as a hard reality in post-second world war international relations. There are many weak states--what Robert H. Jackson refers to as  Oakeshott, p 136. 29 Cited in Robert W. McElroy, Morality and American Foreign Policy: The Role of 30 Ethics in International Affairs (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992), p. 17.  143 --that owe their continued existence almost entirely to the principles and 31 quasi-states purposes upheld by the UN Charter. This was particularly evident during the Security Council debates on Resolution 660 (1990) immediately following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The representative from Malaysia argued that the principles of the UN Charter are “particularly important to protect the sovereignty of small States.” 32 Likewise, the representative from Colombia argued that “the sovereignty and self-determination of small states, which make up the majority of members of the United Nations, will be jeopardized if.  .  .  we were to condone the use of force.  . .  .  Finally, that the vast  majority of states are signatories to the UN Charter is a reasonable indication that there is a widespread tendency at least to pay lip service to a shared interest in world interstate peace 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--hence interests--of any state. Keeping in mind the general purposes of the United Nations, it is relatively easy to establish what its specific substantive interests are in any given set of concrete historical circumstances. For example, the purpose of the United Nations is to maintain 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 and 31 H. Jackson, Quasi-states: Sovereignly, International Relations and the Third Robert World (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990), pp. 22-26; and “Quasi-states, Dual Regimes, and Neoclassical Theory”, International Organization, Vol 41 (Autumn 1987): 5 19-49. E Lauterpacht, et al., eds., The Kuwait Crisis—Basic Documents (Cambridge: 32 Grotius, 1991), p. 101. Lauterpacht et al., p. 100. 33  144  security be maintained. If and when a situation arises that threatens or breaches international peace and security, it is in the interest of the United Nations to dispel the threat or repair the breach. But what is the purpose of the United States of America? Or what is the purpose of Canada? The United Kingdom? In other words, what is the purpose of the body politic called a nation state? This question cannot be answered because these bodies politic are not enterprise associations (in Oakeshott’s terms), purposive associations (in Nardin’s terms), or, in other words, societies in the classical 34 sense. The question of whether the American body politic is a society in the classical sense--and, therefore, an enterprise association--I have answered in the negative. Nevertheless, it is a question which structures the main division among what Rosenau identifies as the two main views about the idea of national interest. One approach--what Rosenau refers to as the “objectivist view”--assumes that the nation state is indeed a society. Consequently, the adherents of this view continue to search for that final and undisputed substantive definition of the national interest--conceived as the aggregate of shared 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), but does assume that its governing body necessarily is. Consequently, many adherents of this view suppose that the search for a substantive definition of shared purposes among the body politic is futile. Instead, they look to what a country’s decisionmakers decide.  5ee Collingwood’s discussion on whether the body politic is a society or a non-social 34 community, The New Leviathan, pp. 177-83.  145  This latter assumption appears to be borne out by the facts. But, having said that contemporary bodies politic such as the United States are not societies in the classical sense and, consequently, have no shared purposes or interests, through their foreign policies they nevertheless project a unity of purpose leading one to suppose that there is indeed a unity of purpose that can be ascribed to the country as a whole. How does one resolve this projection of united purpose in foreign policy with the fact that bodies politic are not societies in the classical sense? For only a society 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 non social community than a society, its governing body is more like a society in the classical sense of the term. Hence, it makes sense to speak of the governing body as having shared purposes or interests. And that shared interest or purpose is (or ought to be) to take care of the good of the body politic. I am glossing over some distinctions here, for it is possible to identifj more specific purposes for each of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. But for the purpose of this discussion it is reasonable to combine their separate purposes under the more general one because the institutional checks and balances between the three branches were put in place for the general good of the body politic. The American Constitution not only specifies the role of the governing body in relation 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:  146 We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and to our Posterity do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America. I have emphasized the words “in Order to” in the preamble to show that the body politic was constituted for a number of purposes. Hence, at its conception the American body politic was constituted as a purposive association, in Oakeshott’s terms, or a society in the classical sense. Since it originally was conceived as a society, it is meaningfi.il to speak of 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, the associates took on an obligation to promote those fundamental common interests with the same effort he would promote his own interests. Although initially conceived as a society, the United States today is more like a non-social community. Regardless, the governing body is clearly a society whose purposive duty it is to uphold the Constitution and all that it entails, including the responsibilities to maintain the union, to maintain justice, to maintain domestic tranquillity, to defend the body politic, to promote the general welfare, and to maintain the liberty of its citizens. People become members of this society by election or appointment as established by United States law. Because legislative power and the purse is vested in Congress and executive power and the sword is vested in the President, 35 activity within and between the two branches is required to produce policy in political  35j  mean political activity in the specific and non-pejorative sense developed by Bernard Crick, In Defence ofPolitics (Middlesex: Penguin, 1964)  147 any given set of circumstances. Since the explicit duty and purpose of the state is to govern for the general good of the body politic, the specific policies it produces are by definition in the interest of the United States. This, according to Rosenau, is the central 36 But merely because insight of the “subjectivist” view on the national interest. individual statesmen have a duty to establish and pursue those objectives which benefit the body politic, it does not mean they always will, either because of malevolent intent or incompetence. From the subjectivist perspective, the substantive national interests in any individual set of circumstances are whatever the country’s decision makers decide. 37 Nye, 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 relation to the outside world.” Consequently, he concludes, “there is nothing mysterious about the national interest. It is simply the set of interests that are widely shared by Americans 38 It should be noted, however, that what the in their relations with the rest of the world.” country’s decisionmakers decide is not necessarily the set of interests American citizens widely share--although it could be. It should also be noted that although Nye is using the expression “the national interest” in this context he is actually referring to national interests, Nevertheless, a virtue of the subjectivist view is that it posits no necessary  36 Rosenau, “National Interest,” International Encyclopedia of the Social James Sciences, p. 36. Rosenau, p. 36. 37 Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “Why the Gulf War Served the National Interest” Atlantic 38 Monthly (July 1991): 54, 56.  148 relationship between interests widely shared by citizens and the foreign policy choices made by the government. At the same time it does not deny that this could be the case. Nor does it assert--for the purpose of value free empirical and conceptual analysis on the part of the observer--that this ought to be so. Hence, one of Rosenau’s critiques of the subjectivist view does not stand up to scrutiny. The recognition that many groups in a nation have different and often conflicting concepts of what external actions and policies are best for it. gives rise to as many conceptual and methodological difficulties as it 39 avoids. .  .  Having stated this objection, however, he quickly backs out of it by asserting that “most subjectivists avoid these complex, seemingly insurmountable problems by relying on a procedural rather than a substantive definition of the national interest,” 40 Thus, his objection is really no objection after all. He defines the subjectivist view as one that recognizes national interests as those states of affairs which a country’s decision makers pursue in any given situation, and then goes on to show, in the course of criticizing the view, why the subjectivist probably adopts that view in the first place. Then he concludes: Operationally, the substantive content of the national interest thus becomes whatever a society’s officials decide it to be, and the main determinant of the content is the procedure by which such decisions are 41 made. Far from being a critique of the subjectivist view, it is merely a restatement of its  Rosenau, p. 37. 39 °Rosenau, p. 38. 4 Rosenau, p. 38. 41  149 virtue. It is a view that--perhaps implicitly--distinguishes the state as a society separate from the body politic it is charged to govern. As a distinct enterprise association it necessarily has a general purpose for which it was constituted as well as specific identifiable purposes in any given set of concrete circumstances. The purposes of a society, it will be recalled, determine what its substantive interests are likely to be, and the 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 of circumstances it is not always evident which specific policy choice will serve, for example, the general welfare of the American body politic. There are bound to be different opinions and some particular interests are bound to suffer regardless of which policy decisions are made. That is the nature of the human predicament. The true mark of the political man is one who may want everything but nevertheless accepts peacefully that he cannot. Politics arises. in organized [bodies politic] which recognize themselves to be an aggregate of many members, not a single tribe, religion, interest, or tradition. Politics arises from accepting the fact of the simultaneous existence of different groups, hence different interests and different traditions, within a territorial unit under a common rule. 42 .  .  The statesman’s role in the United States is to formulate policy in light of these different interests and in line with the general purpose assigned to him by the Constitution. When a statesman says that he is acting in the national interest by choosing this rather than that policy in light of the contingent circumstances, he is merely identifjing his role as statesman and affirming his fidelity to that role. He is saying that in his judgement, this  Crick, pp. 17-18 42  150 policy choice rather than that is what is best for the body politic. Of course, another  American statesmen might disagree and assert that in his judgement the opposite policy option is what is best for the body politic. Which of these two statesmen, then, is acting in the national interest? The answer is that they both are. By saying that their respective policy choices are in the national interest, they are merely identifying their role as governing members of the body politic and affirming their fidelity to the role of acting for the good of the body politic--that is to say, in the interest of the body politic. In other words, they are merely asserting (truthfully or untruthfully) the intrinsic principle or motive guiding their respective choices, namely, the national interest. And any differences in substantive choices are worked out politically--that is to say, through deliberation 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 from the level of “state” to the level of “human conduct.” Having conceived international relations in terms of human conduct by drawing upon the body of knowledge called political philosophy, the argument has moved one step closer to explaining in greater detail my contention that the idea of the national interest is a categorically moral idea.  151 CHAPTER FiVE TilE PROBLEM OF CHOICE  From the outset of this work I have merely asserted the idea of the national interest as an intrinsic 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 action is directed or inclined. As such, it must be distinguished from the object of the physical act itself, which, it will be recalled is an interest or an objective. That is to say, the object of the physical act is the desired state of affairs sought by that action, The motive (or motives), 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 conventional American political morality, the “right” reason for a statesman’s action is the national interest. The distinction between the object of an action and the end of an action is not as foreign to our everyday, commonplace experience as it first might appear. It is the distinction between the visible consequences (both foreseen and unforseen) of the physical act and the reason why the expected consequences were sought by the actor in the first place. In short, it is the distinction between the intended consequences of the physical act, on the one hand, and the actor’s motive for pursuing those consequences by action, on the other. In Aristotelian and Thomistic language, each half of this distinction is 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 the  152 benefit of those not fully versed with the Aristotelian and Thomistic idiom of moral discourse. Hence, the “intrinsic principle” of any given action, when translated into the Aristotelian and Thomistic idiom, is the “end” of that action--the motive of the person for 1 which the object of the act and the act itself are physical manifestations. Again, in terms of American conventional morality, the end which ought to govern the actions of a statesman is the national interest--that is to say, the objects of the statesman’s physical actions must be intended for the benefit of the American body politic, and not intended for his or her own personal benefit or the benefit of some other sub-national or extra-national person or group of persons. In other words, the statesman’s proper motive for any of his actions, in his capacity as statesman, ought to be the national interest. Although some people might dispute whether or not the national interest ought to be the intrinsic principle of action of American statesmen, the issue here is not about the moral quality of the idea. Instead, the issue is to establish the idea as a categorically moral one. To establish the national interest as a categorically moral idea is to demonstrate the role it plays (and does not play) in the choices that statesmen make. Although it does not necessarily belong to the exclusive domain of moral philosophy, the problem of human choice clearly is one of its proper objects of study. The discussion that follows makes 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, Nicomachean Ethics, I, 1, (1094a 1-6).  153 highly 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 alone 2 settle, perennial metaethical disputes.  The national interest and choice It will be recalled that those advancing substantive conceptions of standing national interests--such as Morgenthau and George and Keohane, among others--are not doing so out of mere intellectual curiosity. Instead, their concerns are about the conduct of statecraft. They seek to establish more or less objective guidelines statesmen can employ to ensure that the states of affairs or objectives they choose to pursue are indeed for the good of the body politic, and to aid them in choosing the .best means for achieving those objectives. In short, they are trying to come up with objective criteria to aid the statesman in his problem of making choices about what ought to be done. The national interest, they argue, provides one of those criteria. Nevertheless, there is a serious contradiction underlying this kind of project--a contradiction which, once brought to light, helps to clarifSr the idea of the national interest as an intrinsic principle of action  The precedent for such a disclaimer has already been set, Although Charles Beitz 2 advances a substantive moral theory, he argues that the leading controversies in metaethics need not occupy his attention, even though he concedes such questions are logically prior. p. 16. I, on the other hand, do not even pretend to advance a substantive moral argument. Instead, I am attempting merely to establish the idea of the national interest as a categorically moral idea--a project that is logically prior to establishing its moral goodness or evil, as the case may be. Hence, there is even less reason for me to engage perennial metaethical controversies. For that matter, most moral philosophers, regardless of the substantive moral positions they adopt, should welcome my project. It simply adds more grist for their mills, so to speak.  154 and not as an external criterion or objective rule for making foreign policy choices. George, Keohane, Morgenthau, and others would not embark upon such a project unless 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 objectives and means--they simply would be given. On the other hand, however, they also suppose that objective criteria exist in order to help guide statesmen in making choices of national objectives and the means to achieve them. They see their task as one of seeking out these objective realities and shedding light on them in order to guide the statesman on his perilous path. But the supposition that objective realities exist “out there” undermines their first supposition that objectives and means are never given. How is this so? And, if so, 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 exclusive personal or particular interest. If, in the context of contingent circumstances a statesman is properly acting in the national interest, and not in a particular or self interest, the objectives he chooses to pursue are called national interests. Of course, among a country’s leaders there are often different views on what these objectives ought to be in any given set of contingent circumstances, Hence the question is raised about which of these objectives is the best one for the country’s government to pursue. During the Gulf crisis, however, there was very little disagreement about objectives. With very few exceptions, all Senators agreed that the desired state of affairs (or national interest) to be pursued in this situation was a Kuwait liberated from Iraqi occupation. Instead, their  155 deliberations centred on the best means for securing that interest or objective, Although in 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 the case. 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 armed force. 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, for the action of repelling an attack is the means employed to achieve the desired objective and 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 of affairs” could simply be a return to the condition of existence which prevailed immediately prior to the attack, it could be the complete subjugation of the hostile power’s national territory, or it could be the complete destruction of the hostile power’s war 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 first alternative might appear to be “given,” at least in the initial stage of the crisis, it is by no means “given” because the decision makers have the initial, albeit unlikely, option of surrendering rather than fighting. Supposing, however, that the decision makers do not choose to surrender, the question still remains about which objective to pursue. The only initial answer to this  156 question is that it depends on the circumstances. But even if the fill circumstances were known by those responsible for choosing among the alternatives, they may nevertheless still disagree among themselves about which is the best objective to pursue. Hence, the basic point here does not change--that is to say, objectives, as well as the means for achieving those objectives, are never merely given. They are always chosen. George, Keohane, Morgenthau, and others are filly aware of this difficult question about choosing the best objective--if indeed any objective is chosen at all--in any set of contingent circumstances. They are also aware of the difficulties in determining whether any given alternative actually is intended to serve the national interest, a particular interest, or the self interest of the person proposing it. In other words, is the objective that statesman A is proposing in opposition to statesman B’s proposal really inclined toward the national interest? Or is it inclined toward a particular interest (e.g., partisan concerns) or even his own personal interest (e.g. re-election concerns)? Because they recognize these difficulties, George, Keohane, Morgenthau, and others seek to undercut them by introducing “objective” criteria for making the best choice of objectives in any given set of contingent circumstances. Whereas American statesmen place their faith in the outcome of their collective deliberations 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” somehow signify objective criteria for choosing ends, they do not necessarily agree about what these so called “objective” criteria are in substantive terms. Far from transcending the  157 problem of choice, then, the “objectivists” are merely offering additional alternatives that need 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 the 3 Let me suggest that the only objective criterion that might be national interest,” accepted universally is this: whatever objective or end the statesman chooses, that interest must be intended primarily to benefit the body politic as a whole and not some sub- or extra-national person or group of persons. The national interest, then, indeed is a standard 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. For these 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 national interest. Had they made this distinction it would become clear that a national interest signifies a state of affairs or objective desired for the benefit of the body politic, and that the national interest signifies the intrinsic principle that ought to guide statesmen in their choices of objectives. Another possible explanation is that they are not aware of the fatal contradiction underlying their project. On the one hand, they recognize that objectivesi.e., national interests--are never “given” whereas, on the other hand, to seek objective  J3 ames Rosenau, “National Interest,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, p. 37. My emphasis.  158 criteria necessarily presupposes that they are “given.” Since the foregoing points are crucial, let me review--in greater detail and at some risk of repetition--the reasoning employed to reach them. Recall that there is a fundamental distinction between national interests, on the one hand, and the idea of the national interest, on the other. It already has been argued that national interests are not desired things or actions, they are desired “states of affairs.” And states of affairs are conditions 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 Gulf Crisis. In other words, simply to say that the United States had an interest in oil as a material entity is not very meaningful. Instead, what the United States government desired was a certain state of affairs regarding the oil commodity. It desired the continued world supply of Persian Gulf oil at a price to be determined by existing market conditions which favoured the United States, and not by the new price demanded by Saddam Hussein’s if he were to monopolize the majority of the world’s oil reserves. To say that a state of affairs is desired means that it can be conceived as an objective to be pursued. This is still the case even if the desired state of affairs happens to be the status quo. However, although all desired states of affairs are objectives, and although objectives are interests, not all interests are national interests. Hence, the problem arises about how to determine which states of affairs are national interests. In other words, which objectives should the statesman pursue? What are the criteria for distinguishing national objectives or interests from particular and self interests? Further, what is the criterion for making the best choice about which objectives the statesman  159 ought to pursue on behalf of the body politic? In short, what are the national interests in any given set of contingent circumstances? These are the important questions of statecraft which the “objectivists,” among others, attempt to answer. Since they take these questions up, they must suppose that the answers are not “given.” Nevertheless, they suppose that there are “objective” answers to these questions, a supposition undermining their first supposition that the answers are not given (the first contradiction). Further, they suppose that national interests are the objective answers to these questions (the second contradiction). But no amount of reasoning can convince me that the question itself can also be the answer to that question. The objectivist sets out to establish the criteria for determining national interests--thus conceding it is a problem of human choice--and concludes that national interests are those “objective” criteria--thus denying it is a problem of human choice and asserting that the question itself is the answer 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 the fallacy 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 making choices, the problem of choice would not exist. By suggesting objective criteria for making choices, the objectivist project essentially serves to eradicate the question and not to provide an answer for it. Regardless of the contradictions, however, their first assumption nevertheless is correct. 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 never  160 determined or necessitated by the situation, although they may appear to be when they are obvious. Objectives are always chosen. In the United States, they are chosen by those responsible for making such decisions after deliberating upon the alternatives. If and when they finally choose an objective, it meaningfully can be referred to as a national 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 motives behind particular proposals advanced during the deliberation process. When any individual in the course of the deliberation process proposes an objective which he or she asserts to be the best alternative, it is meaningful to ask of that person’s proposal: “best for what or whom?” It is meaningful to ask this question because, although an objective is always a state of affairs, and although all national interests are states of affairs, not all objectives are necessarily national interests. Further, a proposed objective could be the best alternative for the country, the individual proposing it, and a particular sub-national group of people. But it is also possible that what is best for the individual proposing it, or what is best for a particular sub-national group of people, is not necessarily what is best for the country. Finally, what is best for the country is not necessarily what is best for humanity at large. Nevertheless, what is best for humanity at large could also be what is best for the country. In short, it is meaningful to ask “best for what or whom?” because it is not necessarily evident for whose benefit the proposed objective is intended. “Who is the intended beneficiary of the secured objective?” is not only a meaningful question, it is also an important one. But why is it important?  161 The answer to this question marks a significant step toward conceiving the national interest as an intrinsic principle of human action and not as a “basket” within which a country’s national interests are held. The question is significant if only because conventional American political morality deems it important to guard against conflicts of interest, It involves a recognition, first of all, that in any given set of contingent circumstances diverse interests may be at stake. Secondly, the question reflects a normative concern. It reflects the existence of an imperative which obliges statesmen to give priority to the good of the body politic at the expense of his own or anothe?s good if and when there is indeed a conflict of interests, For example, a fundamental problem of statecraft in any given set of contingent circumstances, as George and Keohane see it, is to “determine which values, and therefore which interests, are to be included, and which excluded, from the set of national interests.” 4 But this can be conceived as a fundamental problem of statecraft only if it is presupposed that the statesman is obliged to distinguish such interests, Not only is he obliged--at least by conventional morality--to distinguish them, he is obliged to incline his choices toward the national interest, and not toward his personal, party, or some other interest. This obligation, however, is not borne by all citizens of the United States. It is only 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 range  Alexander L. George and Robert 0. Keohane, “The Concept ofNational Interests: 4 Uses and Limitations,” in Alexander L. George, ed., Presidential Decisionmaking in Foreign Policy (Boulder: Westview, 1980), p. 221. It should be noted, however, that not only is this a fundamental problem of statecraft, but a fundamental problem of politics--a problem that political philosophers have traditionally dealt with.  162 of statesmen in between, and an example of a bad statesman is one who either is disloyal to this obligation or is incompetent to fliffil it. A statesman disloyal to this obligation might incline his choices toward his self interest rather than the national interest. But to the extent that he remains loyal to the obligation, the end toward which his actions are inclined is the national interest--even if he is incompetent. It is in this sense that the national interest is conceived as an intrinsic principle of action. If a person’s actions are inclined toward obtaining what is best for himself to the exclusion 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 intrinsic principle guiding his actions is the national interest. If his actions are inclined toward what is best for humanity at large, we say that the intrinsic principle of action is the human interest. Which of these principles ought to guide the actions of statesmen while fulfilling that office? In the United States at least, all statesmen appear to agree that the national interest defines the proper role of statecrafi. Since the end of statecraft is the national interest, the rational principle guiding a statesman’s choice of objective in any set of contingent circumstances is that which benefits the country. If he remains loyal to his 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 of discrete individuals, statesmen are bound to differ about what objectives they think are best to pursue in any given set of circumstances. Nevertheless, they remain united by virtue of the intrinsic principle guiding their actions in their role as a statesman. A  simplified example might serve to bring some of these foregoing points into greater  163 relief.  Suppose a person purchases a home in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Let us further suppose that his choice of property was not capricious but, rather, founded on a desire to live in peace and quiet away from traffic noise. Hence, a part of his conception of the good life is to live in peace and quiet. This conception of the good life for himself is his reason for living in a quiet residential neighbourhood, and the intrinsic principle or motive guiding his choice of property is his personal interest. Now, let us further suppose that the local department of highways has decided to construct a super-highway adjacent to his backyard. Given this new development in his circumstances, chances are that he will decide it to oppose the project. But the act of opposition--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 of opposition, whatever that act might be. In Aristotelian and Thomistic terms, the interest is the “object” of his physical act. The motive of his act, however, is a different question altogether. In this case, his motive is personal interest. lii Aristotelian and Thomistic terms, his motive is the “end” of his interior act of the will. In this case, then, personal interest is the intrinsic principle guiding his action. In the foregoing example, the person’s motive is known simply because I defined it as “personal interest” for the sake of demonstration. In real life, however, even to establish one’s own motives is often a difficult matter, let alone establishing the motives of others. Nevertheless, there is generally broad, if only vague agreement that certain kinds of motives are more appropriate than others in certain kinds of situations for certain  164 kinds of people. In the foregoing example, “personal interest” probably would be viewed as an entirely appropriate motive for opposing the project. If, on the other hand, that person also happened to be a public official, the situation is entirely different. Here there is strong potential for a conflict of interests on his part. If he opposes the project, what are his real motives? Personal interest? The  public interest? Even if he supports the project, what are his real motives? It is no easy task for an observer to answer these questions. Only the person himself and his maker can know for sure. Nevertheless, regardless of whether he supports or opposes the project, there is a sense in which the motive which ought to guide his actions--because he is 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 of action inclining the actor toward choosing objectives and means that are intended to benefit the body politic. Again, foreign policies are acts and, as such, they are not in themselves interests, Instead they are means for securing interests, Interests, on the other hand, are desired states of affairs--that is to say, the objectives sought by foreign policies. The statesman, then, has two basic problems facing him in any given set of contingent circumstances. He must choose the objectives to be pursued as well as the best course of action--the means--for achieving them. The objectives proposed or chosen can vary depending on the intrinsic principle guiding his actions. In other words, if he is acting in his personal interest the objectives he proposes or chooses can be different from those if he were acting in the national interest. Regardless, the objective settled upon through due political process in the United States can be referred to as a national interest.  165 Given 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 and Congress--was indeed a national interest. However, although there was almost unanimous agreement about the objective to be sought, the best means for securing that objective was highly contentious. In other words, contrary to conventional wisdom, the question of whether or not to go to war against Iraq was not a question of national interest--that question was already settled by virtue of almost unanimous agreement to secure an end to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. Instead, it was a question of the best means 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 in the debate, however, were convinced that the United States and the international community had a just cause to fight. 5 But both sides in the debate were equally convinced that a just cause, by itself, provided an insufficient justification to fight. How does 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 one means by “national interest” the national interest, this simply signifies an intrinsic principle 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 is  5 just cause, it will be recalled, is not any national interest but, rather, a national A interest that can legitimately be pursued by war. International norms, embodied by the Charter of the United Nations, limits these interests to two, namely: self defence and world order.  166  in the national interest, it is reasonable to ask why he thinks his choice will benefit the body politic. For, by asserting the national interest, he merely has reaffirmed the motive of his actions. If, on the other hand, one means by “national interest” a national interest, this simply signifies that the country’s leaders have decided upon an objective--desired because it benefits the body politic--in the circumstances. And merely knowing the objective does not help him to choose among alternative means for achieving it. In other words, the problem of choice among means presupposes that a national interest already exists. In short, “national interest” is not an answer to the problem of choice among means. It merely begs the question. For if there were no national interests at stake, the question of which means to employ to pursue those interests simply would not arise. In this case, a national interest, far from serving as a criterion for making choices, generated the problem of choice in the first place.  The Problem of choice  Is there such thing as the problem of choice? Some might assert that the problem of choice is a bogus problem because human beings do not have any choice about their actions in the first place. Instead, human actions are predestined, necessitated, or otherwise determined by divine, astrological, social, psychological, historical, or economic forces. Much serious thinking has been generated and even more ink has been spilled throughout millennia of Western civilization on this question. In Kant’s words, freedom of the will, along with God and immortality, are the three great problems of  167 6 I cannot even begin to settle the question here to the satisfaction of all philosophy. possible objections. I can, however, outline my thoughts on the matter; if only to disclose my assumptions “up front,” as it were. At bottom, I think the problem of choice is a real problem because it is one I experience personally on a daily basis, and I have no reason to suppose that I am deluding myself. And since I experience the problem, I have little 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 the problem they faced was an imaginary one. But to assert that the problem of choice is a real problem is not to say that each and every choice situation presents itself with an infinite range of alternatives, On the contrary, often the range of choices is limited to two: either to do something (whatever it is) or to do nothing. Obviously, the choice “to do 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 act of the will. But because there is no physical act in a given situation, one cannot conclude thereby that there is necessarily an act of the will corresponding with that external “nonact.” 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 be concluded about this situation? Perhaps the man is still trying to formulate a response to  Cited in J. R. Lucas, The Freedom of the Will (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), p. 1. 6 For some other accounts of this problem, see Joseph M. Boyle, Jr., et al., Free Choice: A Self ReferentialArgument (Notre Dame: University ofNotre Dame Press, 1976), especially chapter 1.  168 the 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 of being asked the question. In the first instance, the man has willed to answer the question but he has not yet decided how to answer it. In the second instance, the man has not yet willed 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” is not necessarily a manifestation of willing. But nor is it necessarily a manifestation of “not-willing.” The basic point, then, does not change. To “not to do” something can be a consequence of choice, namely: to will “not to do” something. 7 One cannot, then, point to an instance of “non-action” as proving lack of choice on the part of the person who is not acting in any visible way. By virtue of recognizing that I am often exercising choice even when I do not act in a visible way, can I conclude thereby that all visible actions necessarily are consequences of choice? Certainly not. Sneezing is a visible action--one over which I have no control. Because a person has no choice whether or not to sneeze, the act of sneezing 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 of wearing a jacket of a particular colour is morally neutral. But physical acts are rarely, if ever, taken by themselves. They are taken in the context of the contingent circumstances  7 T homas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-IT, q. 6, a. 3.  169 of real life. 8 In real life, physical actions must be viewed in the context of the person’s motives and the circumstances in which those physical acts are undertaken. If the circumstances allow a person to choose what to wear, his subjective preference is morally neutral. 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 khaki rather than of a red jacket, it is often judged that the person has no choice but to wear a khaki jacket. In one sense this judgement is correct. But in a more fundamental sense it is incorrect because the person still has a choice of whether or not to obey the rule or command. Consequently, the rule does not ordain his wearing of a khaki jacket. His choice to obey the rule, on the other hand, does. At bottom, then, he wears the khaki jacket not because the rule stipulates it, but because he chooses to obey the rule. Why does he choose to obey the rule in this instance? The answers can vary. Perhaps he fears the sanctions for not obeying the rule. Perhaps he recognizes the instrumental, consequential, or utilitarian reason for the rule (e.g., camouflage). Perhaps he does not like to be different. Or perhaps he thinks it is his duty to obey all rules and commands issued by his superiors. Regardless, the basic point remains that rules do not ordain action. The person’s choice to follow or not to follow the rule, on the other hand, does ordain action. Regardless of the soldier’s motive, the choice to follow the rule in this instance is probably not very difficult. Nor is it difficult to determine the specific action the rule  Taking an action by itself is what Joseph S. Nye Jr. refers to as one dimensional 8 moral reasoning. Nuclear Ethics (New York: Macmillan, 1986), pp. 16-26.  170  requires him to perform, namely: to wear a khaki jacket. The decision American statesmen faced in January 1991 about whether or not to use offensive military force against Iraq, on the other hand, was a problem of choice of an entirely different order of magnitude and complexity. But, returning to the question at the beginning of this section, is there such a thing as the problem of choice in the first place? Or is it a bogus problem resulting from a deluded belief in something called free will? A close examination of the Senate debates on the question supports the contrary assumption that there is such a thing. For the outcome of those debates was anything but a foregone conclusion. Passage of the Dole-Warner resolution depended on the majority of senators choosing to vote in favour of it. Likewise, passage of the Mitchell-Nunn resolution depended on the majority of senators choosing to vote in its favour. If indeed there were divine, 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 United States 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 disprove psychological forces as the determinant of individual actions. In other words, it can still be asserted that the individual actions of senators in voting for or against a resolution are not really exercising choice after all: their actions are simply determined by psychological forces, Although there are perhaps many possible responses to this objection, I shall mention only one. If one wishes to hold the individual senators responsible for their  171 actions, one must assume that each has control over them. Further, to suppose a person has control over his actions, one must assume his capacity to choose at least between doing something and doing nothing. Finally, if one admits at least this capacity, one must therefore believe that people are possessed of free will. The other alternative is to deny 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 nonactions), 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 be emphasized, however, that nothing in the foregoing discussion denies the possibility that various 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 of free will. That is not to say that each voted for or against a particular resolution out of free will. It is possible, but highly unlikely, that some or all of them voted in this or that way for this or that resolution against their will. If this were indeed the case--that is, if some or all senators acted either under duress or under physical compulsion (i.e., force) to vote this or that way--their physical act of voting would then lack a certain voluntary character. Although the physical act may be involuntary, the interior act of the will is not, If it were otherwise, it would be meaningless to speak of acting against one’s will. And there are many examples of people acting against their will. The case of material  cooperation 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 of  172 consent with another’s evil intent--either the agent does not know about the evil intent of another in which his own physical act plays a part, or he is forced against his will to 9 participate. Nevertheless, there is no evidence to suppose that the senators acted against their individual wills in voting this or that way. Consequently, it is reasonable to suppose that their particular, physical and verifiable acts of voting accurately reflected each senator’s actual will. This, however, does not mean that their particular actions--although accurately 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’s conscience,’° For example, suppose a person embraces the general moral precept that one must never lie. In the situation here and now, however, that same person supposes  9 F or example, without my knowledge, a bomb or other contraband is planted in my luggage and subsequently I carry that luggage onto an airplane. Although it is my agency that brings the luggage onto the airplane and, consequently, the bomb or contraband as well, I am therefore materially cooperating in evil. I am not formally cooperating in evil because I have no