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This chapter examines U.S. foreign policy debates and policy management under the direction of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It first provides an overview of post-Cold War American internationalism before discussing the so-called ‘Kennan sweepstakes’: a conscious effort to find a post-Soviet statement of purpose to rival George Kennan’s early Cold War concept of ‘containment’ of communism. It then considers U.S. foreign policy making in the new order and in the post-Cold War era. Both the Bush and Clinton administrations wrestled with the problem of deciding on a clear, publicly defensible, strategy for U.S. foreign policy in the new era. Clinton’s first term was dominated by free trade agendas and by efforts to operationalize the policy of ‘selective engagement’, while his second term involved a noticeable turn towards unilateralism and remilitarization. The New World Order was Bush’s main contribution to thinking beyond the Cold War.

Chapter

This chapter examines how the external environment of US foreign policy and internal pressures on policy makers both shifted radically in the 1990s. Internationally, the ‘long 1990s’ were characterized by intense democratic possibility. Yet they were also years of atavistic negativity and irrationality, as seen in Rwanda and Bosnia. Two questions arise: First, how should the United States respond to a world which was apparently both rapidly integrating and rapidly disintegrating? Second, was it inevitable, desirable, or even possible that the US should provide global leadership? Before discussing various approaches to these questions, the chapter considers the wider international environment of apparent unipolarity and globalization. It also analyzes the development of American foreign policy under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, focusing in particular on the so-called ‘Kennan sweepstakes’ during the first year of Clinton’s presidency as well as Clinton’s turn towards unilateralism and remilitarization.