#OldiebutaGoodie: A Realist Celebration of St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2014

As the world goes green for St. Patrick’ Day, it is good to reflect on what Ireland’s experiences teach us. We might ask, why should a realist care about Ireland? What might be learned from the experiences of this small Island in the North Atlantic — home to just 4.5 million people?

Realists care about strategy, of course, which is one good reason to ponder Irish history. Ireland was for centuries a key component of England’s rear defense against the risk of foreign enemies. Realists also are keen to understand new tactics in warfare and anyone wishing to get a sense of how guerilla campaigns proceed — and how state responses to them can backfire would be well advised to study Michael Collins and the Irish quest for independence. Add to that the personal risks to those who negotiate an exchange of land for peace — Michael Collins to Yitzhak Rabin show this only too tragically. The Irish experience in managing its strategic relationship with Britain after independence — by building tight transatlantic advocacy networks and by integrating into the European community — also demonstrates how creative diplomacy can achieve major strategic goals.

Read more at Foreign Policy!

Sean Kay, Ph.D. is Director of the Arneson Institute for Practical Politics and Public Affairs, and also Robson Professor of Politics and International Studies Chair at Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the author of the forthcomingAmerica’s Search for Security:  The Triumph of Idealism and the Return of Realism (2014).


Image: Bkkbrad, CC, modified by WOTR