Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 50, 2008

Social and Political Philosophy

Barry L. Gan
Pages 177-184

Means and Ends, Nonviolence and Politics

During the latter half of the twentieth century political realism dominated national and international landscapes. The twenty-first century has seen the rise of neo‐conservatism, what Charles Krauthammer has called “democratic realism” and what others see as a re-birth of Wilsonianism—making the world safe for democracy. Robert M. Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense, in a speech on Sept. 17, 2007 in Williamsburg, VA, at the World Forum on the Future of Democracy, acknowledged these different strains of current U.S. policy, saying that “once again [people are] talking about the competing impulses in U.S. foreign policy: realism versus idealism, freedom versus security, values versus interests.” These competing concerns—but especially fear about terrorism coupled with a sense of retributive justice—have divided much of the world. Nonetheless, it is clear that no matter what terms one gives to domestic and foreign policies, they are all in one way or another mired in the attitude that the end justifies the means, an attitude that will remain both morally and politically bankrupt until such time as people, policies, and programs embrace the concept of principled nonviolence, if not principled nonviolence itself.