Morgenthau discusses the concept of power in his book Politics among Nations. Morgenthau argues that power is the anything that enables and helps to establish control of man by man. He further argues that power covers all social relationships of the people. It is a tool of social control that helps man to dominate his fellow men. In western democracies and other civilized countries the conduct of people is regulated not only by moral codes but also constitutional safeguards. Balance of power is therefore guaranteed and the possibility of abuse of power driven to obscurity.
In his writing, Morgenthau sought to establish a realistic approach to foreign policy and international politics. He argues that the quality of foreign policy is not determined by motive of those making the policies. Morgenthau gives the example of Neville Chamberlin, the British prime minister who came up with the appeasement policy. Chamberlin sought to ensure that peace reigned for all. His policies in a big way contributed to the Second World War. He contrasts his policies to those of Winston Churchill, who is further from being classified as a saint because his policies traversed the moral codes of the society he hailed from. His policies in international relations secure victory for the British Empire.
In the Politics among Nations, Morgenthau propounded six principles of political realism in the interaction among nations. Politics are governed by objective laws that are inherent in the human nature. Morgenthau argues that in order to register positive improvement in society, statesmen have to understand the laws under which the society operates. He further argues that human nature has not changed since the classical philosophies of Greece and China, in understanding international relations were postulated. The second principle is considered the main post of political realism. International politics can only be understood in relation to the interests of nations. Morgenthau argues that personal motives and ideologies of statesmen do not count in international relation. To him a good foreign policy is that which maximizes the benefits of the mother state and minimizes the risks.
The third precept of political realism recognizes that the interests of a nation are not permanently fixed. According to Morgenthau, interests of a nation vary according to political and cultural context. While quoting Max Weber, Morgenthau argued that the actions of men are dominated by interest as opposed to ideas. The fourth principle states that political realism is aware of the moral significance associated with a political action. The fourth principle obliterates that universal moral principles cannot be applied in international relations. Whereas individuals would easily let the world perish to see that justice is done, states cannot do so because of the obligation they have for those whom they represent. A universal moral principle must be carefully filtered and tailored to fit the circumstances of the moment.
The fifth principle argues that political realism refuses to identify with the universal moral codes that govern the universe. Morgenthau recognizes the temptations nations have in tailoring their aspirations to fall within the moral codes of the universe. The last principle differentiates political realism with other schools of thought in an attempt to secure the autonomy of political realism. It sets a standard of thought that separates political realism from legalistic and moralistic considerations.
In conclusion, sovereign nations protect their interests by threatening each other. Nations employ power tactics such as conspicuous nuclear weapons development, economic sanctions and covert actions to gain advantage and manifestly, cause harm to others. Nations ignore universal moral principles to ensure their survival and ensure their success in the world.