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Because American foreign policy in its development and application was not based on the foregoing premises, Niebuhr thought that the compelling justification for democracy was not well served by that foreign policy.8 Nevertheless, the combination of Niebuhr's concept of realism, his acceptance of the reality of sin, and his readiness to equate certain political systemsnotably the national socialism in Germany and communism in the Soviet Union to sin led him to the development of a justification for American actions that he would have otherwise considered to have been morally indefensible. In this context, he contended that "a sharp distinction must be drawn between the moral and social behavior of individuals and of social groups, national, racial, and economic; and . . . this distinction justifies and necessitates political policies which a purely individualistic ethic must always find embarrassing . . . ."9 Niebuhr appears to be somewhat inconsistent in this context, for, while he chastises moralists for not "understanding . . . the brutal character of the behavior of all human collectives," he

9Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1932), 7.

nevertheless justifies American collective political actions involving the use of nuclear weapons and the threat of the use of nuclear weaponsnuclear terror.10 In this context, Niebuhr stated that, while the prospect of nuclear war has given the pacifist position a new plausibility, the pacifist position must nevertheless be rejected. Niebuhr went on to hold that freedom cannot be won by renouncing the freedom to destroy. Thus, Niebuhr saw no hope for any effective disarmament.11

While Niebuhr condemned liberal moralists for their harmful illusions about human kind, he considered the communist concept that virtue is the exclusive province of the proletariat to be a "totally noxious one."12 He contended further that in "every insta...

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THE APPLICATION OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:18, August 17, 2017, from
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