Those who call themselves Realists generally refer to the 'common sense' realism and not Morgenthau, Waltz etc. They hold the view that people and States act out of fear and greed and will use force to secure their interests. I have no problem agreeing with this view, the problems are:
Contradiction N1: Realists state that morality has no place in politics because States and people act out of interest BUT they often make moral justifications for it.
E.g. France and Russia had an economic interest not to invade Iraq while invading was morally right because it would have freed Iraqis from a tyrannical regime.
Contradiction N2: Realists label statements referring to US interests as Conspiracy Theories. Interestingly, this does not apply to any other country.
E.g. France and Russia wanted to preserve their oil contracts with Iraq while the US did not go invade for oil, or for lucrative reconstruction contracts.
Contradiction N3: Although they tend to resort to history to prove the point that the only option is the use of force, they 'forget' precedents when arguing and fail to argue on the basis of interest only.
E.g. If you say that invading Iraq would be a bad idea because it would increase terrorism around the world, plunge Iraq into chaos (precedent: Afghanistan) and we cannot afford it (precedent: Yugoslavia), they reply that invasion will control terrorism (although they don't say how), Iraq would be a democracy (can't help laughing at this!) and weapons… never mind that!
Contradiction N4: The Cold War! It gave us two notions:
the US is a land of freedom, wealth and democracy while the USSR and any form of socialism is part of the Empire of Evil.
the notion of balance of power according to which, to preserve our beloved freedoms and democracy, we need to rely on maintaining power around the globe and exercise it through force if necessary to avoid the spreading of communism (e.g. Vietnam).
I have no problem subscribing to the view that the USSR was corrupt, authoritarian, plunged the country into poverty (well, most citizens, not oligarchs), and violated human and civil rights at home and abroad. Similarly though, the US violated human and civil rights abroad, maintained a discriminatory system at home and applied the craziest economic policies that plunged the mass into poverty and the very few into superwealth. Nevertheless, The US were a democracy and a country were rights were generally respected (that's pre-Bush America).
Realists don't see the contradiction of seeing the US as the saviour of our civilisation, guarantor of freedom, democracy and rights but still refusing to sign treaties to end discrimination against women, for the rights of the child etc and trying to end or obstruct those to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons, to establish the international criminal court, prevent environmental disasters etc.
They also justify the use of force, allegedly in defence of those splendid values of our western civilisation, even when force and money were used to support dictators (Saddam, the Talibans!), crush the opposition and thwart any development (e.g. Latin America).
In conclusion, Realists are simply wimps with a very facile understanding of world affairs, who are stuck in the past and flaunt their hypocrisy (or stupidity) by labelling the opposition as ingenious pacifists and conspiracy theorists. I am no pacifist, I simply believe that although our fear and greed lead us to evil, there is something within us that leads us to the Truth, be it in the form of human rights or peace or whatever the issue of the day.
With regards to Conspiracy Theories, believing that the Pope, the Queen & Microsoft are behind whatever happens that is bad, now that's a conspiracy theory. Looking at what economical interests the US had in invading Iraq is….ehm, realism!
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