A memo by George Kennan, Head of the US State Department Policy Planning Staff, which was written on February 28, 1948 was quite clear on how the United States should conduct its foreign policy. He said, “We should dispense with the aspiration to “be liked” or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers’ keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague and–for the Far East–unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.” http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Memo_PPS23_by_George_Kennan .
Of course, Kennan got it wrong, far from the United States being hampered by idealistic slogans, idealistic slogans are, in fact, used to camoulage America’s real foreign policy aims and in doing this they facilitate the achieving of machiavellian goals. What would have been the reaction to the invasion of Iraq if the idealistic slogans had been dropped and the international community had been told, “we are going war to secure our oil supplies and to cement our hegemony in the Middle East and this is going to lead to a lot of people dying?” Idealistic slogans do not obstruct foreign policy goals but rather accompany them, support them and can, inded ensure that those goals are achieved. They are, invariably, part of a “Realpolitik” that provides a pretext when the straight power concepts mentioned by Kennan would be unacceptable to both the American public and the international community. Nevertheless, we should be able to see past the hypocrisy of the slogans and in doing so understand the real reason behind the pretext.