...And I'm sorry not to be able to get all these thoughts into a single box here, but it strikes me as ironic as hell that those who criticize leaders on realist-nationalist grounds for throwing a bone now and again to the humanitarian interventionists have taken to supporting these criticisms by pointing out the ways in which the actual interventions fail to achieve their desired humanitarian ends. Guess what: *that's not a realist critique*, fellaz!
As to the mythical merits of such causes and concepts, I'm on the fence on them, and I perceive Barack Obama to be on it with me. The main point is that they aren't foremost in his mind or decisionmaking when addressing matters where they are invoked or implicated. I'm actually willing to give that much to Mitt Romney as well, though I'm less thoroughly convinced it's true for him.
For realism to be a real thing, it has to have iterations that apply to worlds younger than that of the 1970s, in other words, ones in which the liberal internationalists have significantly reshaped the global order (not remade it entirely, but merely significantly influenced its processes and power relationships and the outcomes those combine to produce) - despite realist practitioners' objections that such things weren't possible. They were possible and they happened, but this doesn't mean that realism was annihilated as an viable analytic and programmatic system. It still appl and can still work - it just happened t make certain predictions about how the world would evolve that turned out to be wrong. The world is different, so realism's treatment of it will not look like backward-looking venerators expect it to. So Obama's FP doesn't look realist to Daniel Larison. And fair enough. Even with this necessary update to the lacuna, Obama's foreign policy isn't ideally realist, as you aptly put it. It's merely recognizably realist in that context. But Daniel Larison won't be able to see that. He's a bit too happily wedded to an analytic mood that went obsolete slightly before he was born.
None of which means Daniel Larison isn't still a true goddam American hero in my book. He is.
I feel like misspelling Libya in that comment merely served its point.
Great post. The real concern was with sustaining the present international system and preserving the trajectory of the United States' rehabilitation within it. Tending to constituencies, in this case the earnest R2Pers. From a realist U.S. perspective, Lybia was just the unhappy fellow who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe the IC actually did some good there - who knows, who cares?). This is cynical as hell. That's a telltale sign.