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MORALITY IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

MORALITY IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

  • The first aspect, pertains to observance of rules of Morality in international relations. However, many would consider it to be not strictly relevant and germane to the question of ethics in public life.
  • In any event, they would consider its relevance to be rather remote and far-fetched. Others would consider that there is a close relationship between the two.
  • According to them, elimination of rules of morality from one would necessarily affect the other.
  • One form which this aspect has taken is how to settle the contest for dominance between moral principles and national interests. One writer has posed the question: Can a great Power afford to have moral principles?’
  • Many experts in diplomacy would perhaps answer this question in the negative. Others might add that to We by too precise moral standards is a heavy handicap for a statestman.
  • A very thought provoking analysis of the question is to be found in the Pacificus articles written by Alexander Hamilton. He added that all contracts should receive- a reasonable construction.
  • Selfpreservation was the first duty of a nation; and though in the performance of stipulations relating to war, good faith required that its ordinary hazards should be fairly met, because they were directly contemplated by such stipulations, yet it cid not require that extraordinary and extreme hazards should be run.
  • He further observed: ‘Indeed, the rule of morality in this respect is not precisely the same between nations as between individuals.                        MORALITY IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
  • The duty of making its own welfare the guide or its actions is much stronger upon the former than upon the latter; in proportion to the greater magnitude and importance of national compared with individual happiness, and to the greater permanency of the effects of national than of individual conduct.
  • Existing millions, and for the most part future generations, are concerned in the present measures of a government; while the consequences of the private actions of an individual ordinarily terminate with himself, or are circumscribed within a narrow compass.’
  • George Washington emphasised this aspect when he declared that it is a maxim, founded on the universal experience of mankind, ‘that no nation is to be trusted further than it is bound by its interest; and no prudent statesman or politician will venture to depart from it’.
  • Since then an attempt was made to make it appear that moral principles coincided with national interest. Woodrow Wilson abandoned the theory of identity of national interest and moral principles. He venturedthe view that in a given situation, National interest can be sacrificed for moral principles.
  • The end of World War-I and the treaty negotiations which followed it, disillusioned Wilson a great deal. The 1920’s witnessed a revival of the concept of national interest.
  • The approach now advocated by the school of political realists is that the contest between utopianism and realism is not tantamount to a contest between principles and expediency or between morality and immorality.
  • The contest is rather between one type of political morality and another type of political morality, one taking as its standard universal moral principles against the moral requirements of concrete political action, their relative merits to be decided by a prudent evaluation of the political consequences to which they are likely to lead.                        MORALITY IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

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ETHICS LECTURES

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