Responses to three issues in government: morality, conservativism and Sartre's The Wretched of the Earth

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1. Morality and Government

"Athenians. For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretences- either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us- and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Lacedaemonians, although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

(From The History of The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides)


What would George Kennan say about the above statement? Does he believe in international accepted standards of morality? Do you? Would Socrates disagree with Kennan? Would Kennan agree with Machiavelli that a Prince should learn "how to be other than good and to use or not to use his goodness as necessity requires."

Explain your answer. What are the implications of Kennan's comments on "defense has developed into a national addiction" (Hazan 277) for international affairs. Is this "addiction a case of a society "captive to its own lies?" Does Vance support or reject a human rights approach? Are Kennan's and Vance's thoughts on morality and human rights in foreign policy rendered moot by 911?

Many modern political thinkers and theorists argue that political activity, is, or at least idealistically should be, a simple extension of morality. The question remains of whether a supposedly moralistic government may forcibly impose its interpretation of morality...