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Chapter

Daniel Deudney and Jeffrey Meiser

This chapter examines how America can be described as different and exceptional. The belief in American exceptionalism is based upon a number of core realities, including American military primacy, economic dynamism, and political diversity. Understanding understanding American exceptionalism is essential for understanding not only U.S. foreign policy but also major aspects of contemporary world politics. The chapter first considers the meaning of exceptionalism, the critics of American exceptionalism, and the roots of American success. It then discusses the liberalism that makes the United States exceptional, along with peculiar American identity formations of ethnicity, religion, and ‘race’. It also explores the role of American exceptionality across the five major epochs of American foreign policy, from the nation’s founding to the present. It concludes by reflecting on the significance of the election of Barack Obama as president in 2008 to the story of American exceptionalism, difference, and peculiar Americanism.

Chapter

This chapter examines the U.S. foreign policy process which encompasses the executive, Congress, and intelligence. It first considers American foreign policy as a primary agency of government adaptation before discussing the role of the executive as the lead agency of systemic evolution in response to foreign policy needs, taking into account the executive prerogative and judicial recognition of inherent executive power. It then describes the political and technical difficulties experienced by Congress in matching the executive in foreign policy. It also explores the ramifications of 9/11 and the war on terror for American foreign policy and concludes with an overview of U.S. foreign policy under Barack Obama.

Chapter

Robyn Eckersley

This chapter examines the evolution of U.S. foreign policy on environmental issues over four decades, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. It first considers U.S. environmental multilateralism and foreign environment policy before explaining how the United States, despite being widely regarded as an environmental leader during the Cold War period, has increasingly become an environmental laggard in the post-Cold War period. The chapter attributes the decline in U.S. leadership to the country’s new status as the sole superpower, the more challenging character of the new generation of global environmental problems that emerged in the late 1980s, the structure of the U.S. economy and political system, and key features of U.S. grand strategy.

Chapter

Joseph S. Nye Jr.

This chapter examines Barack Obama’s foreign policy agenda. The Obama administration referred to its foreign policy as ‘smart power’, which combines soft and hard power resources in different contexts. In sending additional troops to Afghanistan, his use of military force in support of a no-fly zone in Libya, and his use of sanctions against Iran, Obama showed that he was not afraid to use the hard components of smart power. The chapter first considers power in a global information age before discussing soft power in U.S. foreign policy. It then explains how public diplomacy came to be incorporated into American foreign policy and concludes by highlighting problems in wielding soft power.

Chapter

This chapter examines the main dynamics that have transformed U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East over the last eighty-five years, from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama. It first considers the applicability of realist, Marxist, and constructivist theories of international relations before discussing the role that the Cold War, oil, and Israel have played in shaping U.S. foreign policy. It shows how, in each of these three areas, U.S. tactical approach to the Middle East has produced unintended consequences that have increased resentment towards America, destabilized the region, and undermined its long-term strategic goals. The chapter also explores the Bush Doctrine, launched after 9/11 and the resultant invasion of Iraq. It concludes by assessing Obama’s attempts to overcome the tensions and suspicion causes by previous U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Chapter

This chapter focuses on the ‘war on terror’ of the US and its involvement in the war in Afghanistan. In the later years of the twentieth century, Middle Eastern groups launched terrorist acts against Western targets. The advent of suicide bombers and groups like al-Qaeda changed the relationships between means and ends in the use of terror. The end of the Cold War severely undermined the effectiveness of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in gathering intelligence on terrorists. The chapter first provides an overview of terrorism prior to 9/11, before discussing George W. Bush’s ‘war on terror’, the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan during the period 2001–3 and its revival, and the problem of Pakistan. It concludes with an assessment of Barack Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan.

Book

Edited by Michael Cox and Doug Stokes

U.S. Foreign Policy provides a comprehensive overview of the United States’s role in international politics. Chapters focus in turn on the historical background, institutions, regional relations, and contemporary issues that are key to the superpower’s foreign policy making. The second edition includes two new chapters on Barack Obama’s use of smart power and a debate on the nature of U.S. hegemony. All chapters have been updated with important developments including the effects of the global financial crisis, the on-going conflict in Afghanistan, and political uprisings in the Middle East.

Chapter

This chapter examines the main dynamics that have transformed US foreign policy towards the Middle East since World War I from the time of Woodrow Wilson to that of Donald Trump. It first considers the applicability of realist, Marxist, and constructivist theories of international relations before discussing the ways in which the Cold War, oil, and Israel have shaped American foreign policy. In particular, it shows how the United States’ tactical approach to the Middle East has increased resentment towards the Americans, destabilized the region, and undermined the USA’s long-term strategic goals. The chapter also explores the Bush Doctrine, launched after 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, and President Barack Obama’s attempts to deal with the Middle East during and after the Arab Spring. Finally, it asks whether the Trump administration’s policy toward the Middle East represents a radical change or a continuity with previous presidents.

Chapter

Robert G. Patman

This chapter examines the historical evolution of U.S. foreign policy in Africa. It first considers the history of U.S.–Africa relations, particularly during the Cold War era of U.S.–Soviet Union superpower rivalry. It then turns to the immediate post-Cold War era, in which a New World Order — a vision in which the United States and the United Nations could combine to establish freedom and respect for all nations — held out the possibility of positive U.S. involvement in Africa. It also discusses American policy towards Africa after 9/11, focusing on President George W. Bush’s efforts to incorporate Africa into Washington’s global strategic network as part of the new war on terror. The chapter concludes with an assessment of Barack Obama’s peace diplomacy as an approach to the civil war in Sudan.

Chapter

This chapter assesses the evolution of US policy towards the Middle East. It begins with a historical sketch of US involvement in the area, discussing the traditional US interests. The chapter then considers US policy in the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald J. Trump. President Obama's attempt to reset relations with the region produced mixed results: he reached an agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and oversaw the successful Bin Laden raid in 2011, but failed to offset continuing regional turmoil following the Arab uprisings and the rise of IS, or to make any progress on the Israel–Palestine question. While there are some observable continuities, President Trump has already upended US Middle East policy in several significant ways, as advisors attempt to restrain his apparent desire to undo his predecessor's legacy.

Chapter

Robyn Eckersley

This chapter examines how US foreign policy on environmental issues has evolved over a period of nearly five decades, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. It first considers the United States’ environmental multilateralism as well as environmental initiatives under Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, and Donald Trump before discussing key trends and puzzles in US foreign environmental policy. It shows the United States as an environmental leader during the Cold War, but an environmental laggard in the post–Cold War period, with the Obama administration’s re-engagement in climate diplomacy as a significant exception. The chapter also explains how the larger trend of waning environmental leadership from the United States has occurred at the same time as international environmental problems, especially climate change, have increasingly moved from the periphery towards the centre of world politics.

Chapter

This chapter examines US foreign policy in Russia. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 raised a number of questions that have profound implications for American foreign policy; for example, whether the Russian Federation, which inherited half the population and 70 per cent of the territory of the former Soviet Union, would become a friend and partner of the United States, a full and equal member of the community of democratic nations, or whether it would return to a hostile, expansionary communist or nationalist power. The chapter considers US–Russia relations at various times under Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, Dmitry Medvedev, and Donald Trump. It also discusses a host of issues affecting the US–Russia relations, including the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the crisis in Kosovo and Ukraine, and the civil war in Syria.

Chapter

Michael Smith

This chapter examines the United States’ transatlantic relationship with the European integration project and its implications for US foreign policy. In particular, it considers the ways in which US policy makers have developed images of the European Community (EC) and later the European Union (EU) on the challenges posed by European integration for US policy processes and the uses of US power. The chapter first explores key factors in the evolution of the relationship within US foreign policy up to the end of the Cold War before discussing trends and tensions in the period between 1990 and 2016 covering the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. It also analyzes the impact of Donald Trump’s policies on US relations with the EU before concluding with an assessment of a number of wider questions about the future of the US–EU relations.