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US Foreign Policy

US Foreign Policy (3rd edn)

Michael Cox and Doug Stokes
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date: 07 December 2023

p. 72. Theories of US foreign policylocked

p. 72. Theories of US foreign policylocked

  • Brian Schmidt


This chapter considers some of the competing theories that have been proposed to explain US foreign policy. It first provides an overview of some of the obstacles to constructing a theory of foreign policy before discussing some of the competing theories of US foreign policy, including systemic theories such as defensive realism and offensive realism, theories that accentuate domestic factors like liberalism and Marxism, and a theory that combines systemic and domestic factors, such as neoclassical realism and constructivism. The chapter also revisits the theoretical debate over the origins of the Cold War and concludes by analysing the debate on the most appropriate grand strategy that the United States should follow in the post-Cold War era, with particular emphasis on, primacy, liberal internationalism, and offshore balancing.

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