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Doesn't this belong as part of an article on "diplomacy"? This is a dictionary entry, not an encyclopedia article.

It is a pretty important concept, not very well fleshed out here yet, but if an article includes a definition that alone doesn't make it a dictionary entry. This article suggests some historical and cultural context. A dictionary would never mention Machiavelli, for instance. Ortolan88
Yes, but I would suggest that it is better dealt with as a part of a wider discussion of diplomacy. I think this is a wider point that sometimes just because something is worth discussing in the wikipedia, it's not necessarily best dealt with in a seperate article. --Robert Merkel 13:45 Oct 9, 2002 (UTC)

Realpolitik seems to extend beyond diplomacy, although patterns of alliance often reflect it, for example the current alliance of the United States and Saudi Arabia or the alliance of China and Pakistan. Could it be said to apply to the internal affairs of a country? Mostly it seems to be an attitude supporting action independent of principle. User:Fredbauder

I would be wanting to say realpolitik is also about achieving a greater goal by any mean necessary. __earth 00:43, May 8, 2004 (UTC)

I feel like the phrase "sentimental illusions" is inherently biased. It's true that realpolitik involves disregard of ideals, but "sentimental illusions" seems like a phrase that would be employed by supporters of a realpolitik outlook.

Was Nazi Germany doomed from the start?[edit]

"the unsuccessful war of Nazi-Germany would be considered unrealistic from the beginning."

I don't know the military history, but a German friend has argued that Germany would have won if they hadn't made a major blunder: declaring war on the U.S. right after Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor got the U.S. "into World War II", but (the argument goes) would naturally have focused their attention on Japan. With the US shifting resources to the Pacific, Germany would likely have been able to take over Europe including England. At that point, with no foothold from which to launch invasions, we would probably have had to cut a deal.

It could be argued that Hitler's personality was both the genesis of Nazi Germany's aggression and the genesis of its overconfidence. But that's an indirect and speculative argument. The question is, if Germany had been just a bit wiser (in which case they maybe wouldn't have attacked Russia so soon, either), did they have the military ability to take and hold Europe? If so, it does not appear that their war was "unrealistic from the beginning."

Cphoenix 17:23, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I see more problems in WWII for Germany - GB was technologically superior(???): They had electronic computers, while the Germans only had mechatronical calculators(???). They had efficient Radar, while the Germans always lagged behind(???). They had airplanes about as powerful as the first (German) jets, but much more usable(???). Their industrial output was comparable to Germany's, even after the occupation of northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Western Poland. They had access to oil, precious metals, and so on, unlike the Germans. They didn't loose many a talent to racist ideology, partly helping their enemy, unlike Germany. They didn't have a Fuehrer-Ideology which made everything dependent on the decisions of one non-specialist person(???). Also, the intensely concentrated German economy had positive synergies at the beginning - but after some time, the lack of competition lead to corruption, inefficiency and so on. Similar is true for the political workings inside Germany, where strong competition lead to a lot of confusion after the first positive effects faded. The V1 could be handled by the British, while the V2 cost the Germans as much to produce, as it cost the English in damage. As I see it, even GB alone had good chances of winning the war(???). After Hitler declared war on Russia, the war was effectively decided. The US only made the war end a year or two earlier.


I wont go into a lenghty debate about Germany's chances in WWII, but I'm quite sure what you say about Germany being technologically inferior is wrong. At the outbreak of the war they were far superior to any other nation when it came to warfare technology, they had superior U-boats, planes and tanks, and they were also well ahead in electronics (?), rocketry and many other important military sciences. Their technological lead was one of the major reasons for their extreme success in the first year of the war. That being said, I agree the war was over when they started the war on the east front (against Russia), or at least when it stranded so catastrophically that first winter. 14:29, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

No matter how strong a military is, after wining a war you have to deal with the aftermath. Germany occupied various countries but the majority of the people there where dissatisfied. In Greece during the German occupation even members of the fascist party started guerrilla groups against the german forces. The same happened in every nation nazi Germany concurred. There was no way that Germany could keep the concurred countries for ever because of the way they governed them.

'What-if history' is for silly people, not for driven intellectuals like us wiki-editors ;) Krastain 17:19, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Is this referring to the EU?[edit]

Ironically, the very cautious European approach has led to one of the greatest unifications and expansions ever seen on this planet - though with a slight danger of a reversal of this process.

Is this referring to the European Union? If so, I think it would be better to state so explicitly and what the author thinks the "slight danger of reversal" is exactly.

I did mean the European Union and it's expansion over the last 40 years. And the slight danger of reversal is the possibility of some disagreements, rising nationalism or economic turmoil making the member nations go back all or some steps of the unification process - maybe even similar to former Yugoslavia.

Questioned paragraph[edit]

The following text is moved from the article. It's no good style to argue in the article. That's what talk pages are for. Maybe some kind of agreement on the talk page could lead to the re-introduction of parts of the text?

Accordingly, the term Realpolitik is often also used to distinguish successful foreign policy, which is usually within realistic limits, from unsuccessful foreign policy, which is often based on wars motivated by greed or ideology. The successful expansion of Prussia under Bismarck would be called Realpolitik, while the unsuccessful war of Nazi-Germany would be considered unrealistic from the beginning [questionable; see discussion page]. Difficulties in determining what is realistic has lead to a very cautious foreign policy in war torn Europe, while victorious or less ravaged countries are usually less cautious. Ironically, the very cautious European approach has led to one of the greatest unifications and expansions ever seen on this planet — though with a slight danger of a reversal of this process.

--Johan Magnus 22:28, 1 Nov 2004 (UTC)

How about this one:

In Germany, the term Realpolitik is more often used to distinguish modest (realistic) politics from overzealeous (unrealistic) politics. Not demanding territory from defeated Austria-Hungary was coined with this term, as was the sometimes very slow or indirect steps towards German unification under Prussia. Avoiding values like justice, nationalism or religious goals is in this definition only a temporary means to avoid loosing everything. Today, the "Realos" of a political party don't mind making compromises on issues to ensure at least some progress, while the "Fundis" (fundamentalists) avoid compromises, even if it means they can't join the decision making.
The "Realo-Fundi" thing solely applies to the Green Party. That may be partly because all other major parties only have "Realos" --Gafyr 16:42, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Back in school they told me Bismarck came up with realpolitik, well I think they did. Should he atleast be referenced somewhere?

Almost twenty. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Krastain (talkcontribs) 17:21, 13 April 2007 (UTC).


Why was "green-lighting" Suahrto's invasion of East Timor realpolitik? What American interest was served? This area needs more explanation. Ehusman 02:38, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Kant Example[edit]

This example makes no sense. Can someone shed some light on this? It seems like a shoddy example of realpolitik, considering that there is no penalty to the questionee to lie to the assailant.

Maybe a better example, as far as an historic example, would be the political procedures of Stalin. There are other examples of realpolitik thinkers, but Stalin is a very appropiate one. Just throwing that out there.

Applying ethics and ideals is not simple, and this section is biased in favor of realpolitik[edit]

This absurd and obviously biased attempt to paint anyone who believes that the ends do not justify the means as a radical, outsider, or simpleton is quite offensive. The application of ideals to behavior that aims at being truly ethical is far from simple or easy, as this section seems to suggest. The idea that realpolitik is more in accordance with reality completely neglects the fact that a person's soul can be negatively affected in the process of pursuing some supposedly noble end by whatever means necessary, and that the person whose soul(or heart, or mind, say it how you like) is thus affected will then negatively influence the society he is in contact with. This is, I would say, how the Holocaust happened. People wanted a strong Germany and believed the end justified the means, so they ignored or overlooked the atrocities going on in the name of that strong Germany. The very term realpolitik, according to the article, has roots in that very part of the world, and its gradual effect can be seen in the Holocaust. The souls and minds of these people(those who knew-and many did) were so affected by the idea of realpolitik that they allowed these atrocities to begin, continue, and lead to the deaths of millions. There are laws of spirit and/or heart that need to be attended to for the soul's protection from harm, just as there are physical laws that need to be attended to for the protection of one's body from harm. When a person knowingly does something wrong, even for a supposedly greater good, he damages his own and sometimes others' souls. This damage is not without consequence, any more than having a heavy object fall on you is without consequences.

It does appear biased article to me. A disguise of 'realism' is used to justify an evil policy based on theft and murder. "Realism" would mean applying the real human factors into decision making - but realpolitik involves removal of the human factors. For instance, in realpolitik, the genocide of a foreign nation can be seen as a good thing, and one to promote rather than extinguish, if the USA can make a few million dollars from it. Peoplesunionpro 20:36, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
No, Realpolitik does not mean condoning bad things, it oftens means ignoring them, because you can't do anything about it, or because trying to fix it would make it worse. An example from the autobiography of George Bush Senior, was that ideally Saddam Hussein should be removed because he was a terrible dictator, but the Realpolitik in the region dictated staying out, since the status quo was much to be prefered. His son on the other hand was an idealist. (talk) 19:18, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, I don't think that was the reason they wanted to get Saddam, since as Junior did what Senior couldn't, more and more suspected the whole thing was about oil and military strategic areas. The entire war was as we now know based on lies, inventing all sorts of evil plans Saddam was planning, and which when proved wrong was then claimed to be bad intelligence and blamed on the CIA, just like in the cold war, with the same people. Today we are supposed to be there to help the women, and like in George Orwell's 1984, that is what we have been doing all along. God praise America who only want peace. --Nabo0o (talk) 17:21, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

Realpolitik = Machiavellianism?[edit]

"Realpolitik ... is a term that is synonomous to Machiavellianism" -- I would certainly agree that Realpolitik and Machiavellianism are very similar, but it's not dead obvious to me that they're synonomous. I've never seen this claim anywhere else, and I wonder why von Rochau felt it necessary to coin this new word rather than just using the term Machiavellismus [1]. Could we please substantiate the claim that the two are synonymous, or clarify the distinction if they are not? -- Writtenonsand 12:38, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

They certainly are not synonymous[2], so I removed the statement. Much of this article is a caricature of realpolitik, written from the perspective of detractors who assume it to be necessarily amoral or Machiavellian. Djcastel 20:38, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

I think it would be better to make the connection between Realpolitik and Cardinal Richelieu's Raison D'etat. These are much more analogous than realpolitik and machiavellianism —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:31, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

The terms are not identical, but in some aspects they are related, which is described in the given references as well.--Kmhkmh (talk) 09:57, 16 November 2010 (UTC)

link to more detail on Prussia/Austria[edit]

The following reference needs more explanation. A link to the proper subsection of a wikipedia article explaining that move would be fine. (I didn't quickly find the right place, not knowing the history myself.)

Prussia's seemingly illogical move of not demanding territory from a defeated Austria, a move that later led to the unification of Germany, is one of the often-cited examples of

sbump (talk) 23:42, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Strange wording[edit]

"The term realpolitik is often used pejoratively to imply politics that are coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian."

How do you talk of something pejoratively of realpolitik when you recognize politic's amoral nature? This sentence doesn't make sense to me.

Unless, of course, the original author intended to describe how some people do NOT recognize amoral nature of politics and attempt to integrate morality with politics. In that case, the wording would better be changed to

"The term realpolitik is often used pejoratively to imply political actions that are perceived to be coercive, immoral, or Machiavellian." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Shimo1989 (talkcontribs) 00:02, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Who REALLY did coin the term "Realpolitik"[edit]

This article entitled "Realpolitik" reads that Ludwig von Rochau coined the term. However, the wikipedia article entitled "Ludwig von Rochau" reads that Klemens von Metternich coined the term. That article reads, "From this work, the Austrian diplomat Klemens Wenzel, Prince von Metternich coined the term "Realpolitik," a political philosophy based on a practical or pragmatic approach to political policy." XXXpinoy777 (talk) 23:20, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Rocheau wrote an influential book in which he used the term and in that sense coined it. His book however might have been influenced by Metternich (see sources in the reference section)--Kmhkmh (talk) 00:30, 1 November 2010 (UTC)


I'm quite certain that, if you asked a German about Realpolitik today, he or she would immediately think about the Green party and not about something as historic as Metternich. A German would therefore surely wonder, if someone states that the term Realpolitik is "used pejoratively to imply politics that are coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian". Rather, the term comprises all those green politicians that were, unlike Jutta Ditfurth, no so-called "ecological fundamentalists", e.g. Joschka Fischer or Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Realpoliticians are those who are not dogmatic, but who still keep their idealism, e.g. anti-nuclear politicians who accept an extension of nuclear power for a "reasonable" number of years. To my, German, ears realpolitik has a quite positive connotation. The term combines politics, idealism, and realism. (talk) 22:30, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

First of all this is about the english term "Realpolitik" not the German one. And most German would consider Realpolitik hardly a green thing despite their realo versus fundi debate. Most German (at least those with some background in history) will probably associate the term Realpolitik with Bismarck and later on maybe Genscher und possibly as latest variety the green in the colalition government from 1998 - 2005. It is probably true that the German usage of term has less of a negative macchiavellian connotation, but used with that connotation in German as well for instance to describe US foreign policy under Kissinger/Nixon.--Kmhkmh (talk) 04:31, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Origins of realpolitik[edit]

It was the British who first practiced realpolitik according to Der Speigal, in their 'bye bye Britain' piece they make it quite clear that the UK is the birthplace of realpolitik. (talk) 23:58, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

End of opening paragraph seems jumbled[edit]

Final two sentences: "The term realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian. Balancing power to keep the European pentarchy was the means for keeping the peace, and careful Realpolitikers tried to avoid arms races." The first of the two follows perfectly well from the rest of the paragraph; the closing sentence looks like a remnant of some sort of historical illustration of the concept. I can only assume it either belongs elsewhere, or requires embellished relevance within its current paragraph or an additional one. TheNuszAbides (talk) 22:25, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

Political realism and Realpolitik[edit]

I am inserting three paragraphs from three Wikipedia articles, in order to call attention to the fact that "Political realism" and "Realpolitik", at least as presented in Wikipedia, are the same thing.

The following is the head paragraph of Realism page:

Realism is an international relations theory which states that world politics is driven by competitive self-interest.

This is the opening paragraph for Realpolitik article:

Realpolitik (from German: real "realistic", "practical", or "actual"; and Politik "politics", German pronunciation: [ʁeˈaːlpoliˌtɪk]) is politics or diplomacy based primarily on power and on practical and material factors and considerations, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral or ethical premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical approach with those of realism and pragmatism. The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian.

And the third one comes from Thucydides article:

Thucydides, Hobbes and Machiavelli are together considered the founding fathers of political realism, according to which state policy must primarily or solely focus on the need to maintain military and economic power rather than on ideals or ethics.

It is surprising that given all that, the page on realism opens with a "distinguish" template.

I think that some action is needed, either to admit that both names refer to the same thing, or clarifying which the distinctions between the two are.--Auró (talk) 18:56, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

There is a section in this article, whose title is "Relation to realism". Basically it says that Political realism is a theory and Realpolitik is a praxis. There is no reference, but it is coherent with the definition of Realpolitik at Encyclopedia Britannica. May be then, it will be more appropriate to shift the discussion to the political realism page.--Auró (talk) 20:01, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Signapore section[edit]

I think some summarizing ought to be done for the Singapore section of this article, which is nearly as long as the definition, European and American sections combined. Not that it's necessarily bad info but it's not exactly concise either. The American section could easily be much longer as well but is kept relatively brief. (talk) 18:24, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

Agreed - the lengths of quotations from a single source seem excessive as well.