The moral dilemma of International Politics

Kenneth T. Gund

The current crisis in Ukraine and the dispute over the Crimean peninsula has sparked an emotional debate on the legitimacy of Russia’s intervention that has eventually led to the Crimean parliament declaring itself independent from Ukraine to join the Russian Federation. Behind the strong words and propaganda narratives that are issued from both sides, ranging from crude conspiracy theories to direct threats, a much larger problem has begun to reveal itself.

Vladimir Putin’s policy is basically from the Cold War textbook, following the logic of power competition that has been described by realist theorists from Carl von Clausewitz to Kenneth Waltz. During the past twenty years, realism has not received much attention, the civil wars between ethnic groups and religious or ideological radicals shifted the focus of policy makers and scholars more towards liberal or constructivist approaches that are more capable of explaining violence among non-state actors.

Due to the…

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