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Back to Paper Details
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Foreign Affairs and Religion under an 'Empty Sky'

Foreign Policy
International Relations
Political Theory
Religion
Critical Theory
Realism
John-Harmen Valk
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden
John-Harmen Valk
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden

Abstract

Morgenthau lamented the “warring deities” of “nationalistic universalism” that arose with the collapse of the shared normative order that had enveloped the balance of power as an instrument for peace in European politics, a manifestation at the international level of the broader experience of secularization after the “death of God”. He advocated diplomacy as crucial to foreign policy in a system of sovereign states struggling for power in the absence of a higher political authority. While sympathetic to Morgenthau’s call for the exercise of practical wisdom within a post-foundational international politics, this paper appeals to the philosopher Paul Ricoeur’s rejoinder to Claude Lefort to articulate an alternative framework for foreign affairs that might better enable engagement with religion above and below the nation-state out of a recognition that the very proclamation of the international as an “empty sky” is a contestable characterization with implications for the conduct of foreign affairs.