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Conflicting Approaches to American Foreign Policy

The reality of sin is a consistent theme in the philosophical writings of Reinhold Niebuhr. Further, Niebuhr decried the secular tendency to discount sin, because he thought that the "Christian doctrine of original sin . . . makes an important contribution to any adequate social and political theory."1 He thought that the absence of a consideration of the reality of sin "robbed bourgeois theory (of which American political theory is a part) of any real wisdom."2

Niebuhr contended that the absence of a consideration of the reality of sin in the development of political theory and policy led to the development of unrealistic assumptions about the character of both human beings and the nation states that they create. As a consequence, according to Niebuhr, the "result of this persistent blindness to the obvious . . . is that democracy has had to maintain itself precariously against the guile and malice of the children of darkness, while its statesmen . . . conjured up all sorts of abstract and abortive plans for the creation of perfect national and international communities."3

Niebuhr's condemnation of "moral idealists who are not conscious of the corruption of selfinterest in their professed ideals" led him to the development of his concept of human nature which has placed his ideas in the realist school.4 He extended to the realm of political intercourse between nations the effects


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