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Clausewitz rules, OK? The future is the past—with GPS

  • COLIN GRAY
    • Published online: 01 December 1999
Abstract

The confessions of a neoclassical realist

In 1972, Hedley Bull wrote that ‘the sources of facile optimism and narrow moralism never dry up, and the lessons of the “realists” have to be learnt afresh by every new generation.‘ He proceeded to claim, with undue emphasis, that ‘in terms of the academic study of international relations, the stream of thinking and writing that began with Niebuhr and Carr has long run its course.’ The scholarly problems with classical realist theory are indeed severe. However, it would be a most grievous error to consign such theory to the bin marked ‘yesterday's solutions for yesterday's problems.’ If the academic study of international relations can find little save period-piece interest in the ideas of the classical realists, that is more a comment upon the competence of scholarship today than upon any change in world conditions.

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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