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Discussion #4:Realism focuses on power politics. This does not automatically mean war. Instead, realism responds to challenges to vital national interests, particularly shifts in the relative distribution of power between rival states. Realism predicts states are most motivated to act when there are opportunities to make gains at the expense of rivals, or when rivals are making gains at their expense. This means that humanitarian issues in other parts of the world – famine, civil war, human rights abuses, and even ethnic cleansing – do not always require a military response. If it is not a vital interest to a country, realists prefer to avoid entanglement. For example, American realists were opposed to the Iraq war and largely opposed to American intervention in Syria. However, realists believe that when vital national interests are at stake, the threat or use of military power is the best way to achieve your objectives. Liberalism believes people can be made better and injects foreign policy with a moral streak of free markets, democracy, and human rights. While liberalism tends to prefer solving problems through cooperation and collective action – think about the diplomacy of the recent Iran deal or the role of the UN in international politics – military engagement is not off the table. Liberal foreign policy can “crusade” to make space for, or protect, values like free markets, democracy, and human rights. This means using military power to solve moral problems around the world.For this question, discuss which theory you feel is better suited for American foreign policy. In your estimation, should the U.S. have a realist foreign policy or a liberal foreign policy? Be sure to relate your response to readings and videos. Finally, based on your response, in your estimation what are the positive and negative consequences of adopting realist or liberal foreign policy?Discussion #5:Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the parliamentary systems of democracy explored in Chapter 10. Next, assess the strengths and weaknesses of our presidential system. Do you think the separation of powers and checks and balances scheme of the American presidential system has a detrimental impact on government performance? Would it be better to have a parliamentary system with a powerful chief executive? In such a system, you have clear accountability and a powerful figure that can push the government past gridlock. However, you are then absent checks on political power that prevent any one person or branch from accumulating so much political power they can command government without interference. Think about arguments made by Machiavelli and Madison in respect to unconstrained and constrained power.

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