Other Names:
Cold War realpolitik

Realpolitik (from German: real; "realistic", "practical", or "actual"; and Politik; "politics", German pronunciation: [ʁeˈaːlpoliˌtiːk]) is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical approach with those of realism and pragmatism. It is often simply referred to as "pragmatism" in politics, e.g. "pursuing pragmatic policies". The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are perceived as coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian.

Foreign policy is developed to back governments in power because they are known, because they claim to be on the same side and embrace the same ideology, even though this is often the only means whereby such governments can stay in power. This tends to ensure that those who eventually replace them will not be equally supportive. In the past the West has managed to waste enormous resources and antagonize whole generations by backing Chiang Kai-shek in China, impotent anti-Communist generals in Indonesia, and the shah in Iran. The West (through the USA, the UK and Australia) actively intervened to oppose the democratic election of Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore in 1959 because of his criticism of colonialism. By contrast, the West quite arbitrarily backs Boris Yeltsin in his forceful dissolution of the national parliament.
Cold war
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Defence Espionage, subversion
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET