Article Review: “The Case for Progressive Realism”

Author: David Lammy

Source: Foreign Affairs, May/June 2024

Introduction: David Lammy’s article “The Case for Progressive Realism” offers a compelling argument for a new direction in British foreign policy. Lammy advocates for “progressive realism,” a concept that seeks to redefine the UK’s role on the global stage in light of contemporary challenges. This review outlines Lammy’s arguments and discusses the feasibility and potential impact of this approach.

Lammy begins by highlighting the significant changes in the UK and the world over the past 27 years. When Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997, the UK’s economic and global influence was markedly different. Today, with China emerging as a superpower and the UK facing economic stagnation, there is a pressing need to reassess the country’s global position. Lammy criticizes the Conservative governments for turning inward and diminishing the UK’s international standing.

Defining Progressive Realism: Progressive realism, as defined by Lammy, involves using realist means to achieve progressive ends. This approach seeks to use the logic of realism not merely to accumulate power but to serve just causes such as combating climate change, defending democracy, and promoting global economic development. Lammy draws connections between this concept and the policies of past Foreign Secretaries Ernest Bevin and Robin Cook.

The Legacy of Ernest Bevin and Robin Cook: Ernest Bevin, who became Foreign Secretary in 1945, exemplified realism in his approach to European security and NATO’s formation. However, his justification of colonialism reflects the limits of his time. Robin Cook, in 1997, introduced an “ethical dimension” to foreign policy, focusing on human rights and climate change. While Cook’s idealism sometimes clashed with practical constraints, Lammy argues that combining progressive ideals with realism remains crucial.

Current Challenges and Solutions: Lammy discusses how progressive realism can address contemporary challenges. The assumption that economic globalization would spread liberal democratic values has proven false, with China’s rise ending the era of US hegemony. Lammy emphasizes the need for the UK to engage more closely with the EU and develop strategic partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.

Climate Change and Technological Change: Lammy underscores the dual threats of climate change and technological disruption. He advocates for global cooperation to tackle these issues, emphasizing fairness in climate agreements and establishing international regulations for technology and AI.

Conclusion: David Lammy’s article presents a nuanced vision for British foreign policy through progressive realism. By learning from past mistakes and addressing current global dynamics, Lammy argues that the UK can reclaim a significant role on the world stage. His approach calls for a balanced strategy that combines realism with progressive goals to effectively navigate today’s complex geopolitical landscape.

Suggestions and Criticisms: Lammy’s concept of progressive realism offers a promising framework for addressing modern challenges. However, its implementation and practical outcomes remain uncertain. The UK’s internal political and economic conditions will play a critical role in the success of this strategy. Moreover, fostering international cooperation and partnerships is essential to achieving the proposed goals. The UK must adopt a consistent and coherent approach both domestically and internationally to realize the potential of progressive realism.

Sosyal Medyada Paylaş


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