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15. The USA, China, and rising Asia  

Michael Cox

This chapter examines the United States’ relations with China and other countries in Asia. It considers how a region wracked by insurgencies and wars for almost forty years was transformed from being one of the most disturbed and contested in the second half of the twentieth century, into becoming one of the more stable and prosperous by century’s end. The chapter begins with a discussion of the United States’ relations with Japan and then with China and Korea. It shows that at the end of the Cold War in Europe, hostility continued in the Korean peninsula, and that North Korea has consciously used nuclear weapons as a bargaining chip in order to ensure the survival of the regime. The chapter concludes by assessing the outlook for the Asia-Pacific region and future prospects for American hegemony in East Asia.

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22. The future of US foreign policy  

Anatol Lieven

This chapter examines possible futures for American foreign policy in terms of the interests and ideology of the U.S. elites (and to a lesser extent the population at large), the structures of U.S. political life, and the real or perceived national interests of the United States. It first provides an overview of the ideological roots of U.S. foreign policy before discussing key contemporary challenges for U.S. foreign policy. In particular, it considers American relations with China, how to mobilize U.S. military power for foreign policy goals, and the issue of foreign aid. The chapter proceeds by analysing the most important features of America’s future foreign policies, focusing on the Middle East, the Far East, Russia and the former Soviet Union, and Europe and the transatlantic relationship. It concludes by describing some catastrophic scenarios that could accelerate the decline of US power.

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22. The American liberal order: from creation to crisis  

G. John Ikenberry

This chapter examines the rise and evolution of the liberal order that was created by the United States and and other liberal democratic states in the decades after World War II, along with the modern challenges to it. The liberal order that emerged after World War II paved the way for a rapid expansion in world trade, the successful integration of former enemies such as Japan and Germany, and the transition to liberal democracy in formerly authoritarian states. Furthermore, the collapse of communism was considered a triumph of liberalism. The chapter first explains how the American liberal order was constructed after World War II before discussing the successes of that order and the end of the ‘socialist’ project in the 1980s. It also analyzes some of the major threats to this liberal order today, particularly those from within, as a result of Donald Trump’s rejection of the American liberal tradition.

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25. US decline or primacy? A debate  

Christopher Layne, William Wohlforth, and Stephen G. Brooks

This chapter presents two opposing views on the question of whether US power is in decline, and if so, what would be the best grand strategy that the United States need to pursue. According to Christopher Layne, the United States is now in inexorable decline and that this process of decline has been hastened by the pursuit of global primacy in the post-Cold War era. He also contends that primacy engenders balancing by other great powers as well as eroding America’s ‘soft power’ global consensual leadership. On the other hand, William Wohlforth and Steven Brooks insist that the United States remains the sole superpower in the world and that it faces comparatively weak systemic constraints on the global exercise of its power. The chapter considers issues of unipolarity and multipolarity, along with the implications of China’s rise as a great power status for US foreign policy and hegemony.

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Introduction: US foreign policy—past, present, and future  

Michael Cox and Doug Stokes

This edition provides an account of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. There are at least five broad themes that inform the text. The first is the importance of the past for understanding the present. The second concerns the complex relationship between foreign policy and America’s longer-term goals and interests. Policy makers have assumed that the international order that would best advance American interests would be composed primarily of democratic states, open markets, and self-determining nations. The third theme is the importance of the ‘domestic’ in shaping U.S. foreign policy choices, including factors such as interest groups, the role of institutions, and the power of ideas. The fourth theme relates to the issue of perspective or ‘balance’, and the fifth and final theme refers to the fact that whatever one might think of the United States past, present, or future, it is simply too important to be ignored.

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1. Theories of US foreign policy  

Brian Schmidt

This chapter examines some of the competing theories that have been advanced to explain U.S. foreign policy. In trying to explain the foreign policy of the United States, a number of competing theories have been developed by International Relations scholars. Some theories focus on the role of the international system in shaping American foreign policy while others argue that various domestic factors are the driving force. The chapter first considers some of the obstacles to constructing a theory of foreign policy before discussing some of the competing theories of American foreign policy, including defensive realism, offensive realism, liberalism, Marxism, neoclassical realism, and constructivism. The chapter proceeds by reviewing the theoretical debate over the origins of the Cold War and the debate over the most appropriate grand strategy that the United States should follow in the post-Cold War era.

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13. The USA and the EU  

Mike Smith

This chapter examines the United States’ involvement in the transatlantic relationship with the European integration project. In particular, it considers the ways in which U.S. foreign policy makers have developed images of the European Community and now the European Union on the challenges posed by European integration for U.S. policy processes and the uses of U.S. power. It also explores how these challenges have been met in the very different conditions of the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. It concludes by raising a number of questions about the capacity of the United States to shape and adapt to European integration, and thus about the future of U.S.–EU relations.

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16. US foreign policy in Latin America  

James Dunkerley

This chapter examines the historical evolution of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. It begins with a discussion of the Monroe Doctrine and manifest destiny, which sought to contain European expansion and to justify that of the United States under an ethos of hemispherism. It then considers the projection of U.S. power beyond its frontiers in the early twentieth century, along with the effect of the Cold War on U.S. policy towards Latin America. It also explores American policy towards the left in Central America, where armed conflict prevailed in the 1980s, and that for South America, where the Washington Consensus brought an end to the anti-European aspects of the Monroe Doctrine by promoting globalization.

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18. Global economy  

Peter Gowan and Doug Stokes

This chapter examines some of the central debates on how we should understand the United States’ efforts to reshape international economic relations since the 1940s. It first considers debates on the sources and mechanisms of American economic strategy before turning to debates about the substance of American efforts to shape the global economy. It approaches the debates about the substance of U.S. foreign economic policy since 1945 by classifying varying perspectives on this question in three alternative images. The first such image is that of America as the promoter of a cooperative, multilateral order in international economics. The second image is that of an American economic nationalism and the third is that of an American empire. The chapter goes on to analyse the global financial crisis and concludes with an overview of some of the main current debates about the strength of American capitalism in the world economy.

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20. Global environment  

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.

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21. American foreign policy after 9/11  

Caroline Kennedy-Pipe

This chapter examines U.S. foreign policy after 9/11 with a view to looking at continuities as well as the disjunctions of Washington’s engagement with the world. It first considers the impact of 9/11 on the United States, particularly its foreign policy, before discussing the influence of neo-conservatism on the making of U.S. foreign policy during the presidency of George W. Bush. It then analyses debates about the nature of U.S. foreign policy over the last few decades and its ability to create antagonisms that can and have returned to haunt the United States both at home and abroad. It also explores how increasing belief in the utility of military power set the parameters of U.S. foreign policy after 9/11, along with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and concludes with an assessment of Barak Obama’s approach with regards to terrorism and his foreign policy agenda more generally.

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23. US decline or primacy? A debate  

Christopher Layne, William Wohlforth, and Stephen G. Brooks

This chapter focuses on the debate over whether U.S. power is in decline and if so, what is the best grand strategy that the United States needs to pursue. Three leading experts offer their views on the issue and its significance for U.S. foreign policy: Christopher Layne, William Wohlforth, and Steven Brooks. Layne argues that the United States is now in inexorable decline and attributes it to the end of unipolarity. He identifies two specific drivers of American decline, one external and one domestic. The external driver of U.S. decline is the emergence of new great powers in world politics, while domestic drivers include debt, deficits, and the dollar’s uncertain future. In contrast, Wohlforth and Brooks assert that the United States remains the sole superpower, and that multipolarity is not just around the corner.

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3. The US rise to world power, 1776–1945  

Walter LaFeber

This chapter examines how the United States evolved as a world power during the period 1776–1945. It first considers how Americans set out after the War of Independence to establish a continental empire. Thomas Jefferson called this an ‘empire for liberty’, but by the early nineteenth century the United States had become part of an empire containing human slavery. Abraham Lincoln determined to stop the territorial expansion of this slavery and thus helped bring about the Civil War. The reunification of the country after the Civil War, and the industrial revolution which followed, turned the United States into the world’s leading economic power by the early twentieth century. The chapter also discusses Woodrow Wilson’s empire of ideology and concludes with an analysis of U.S. economic depression and the onset of the Cold War.

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6. American foreign policy during the Cold War  

Richard Saull

This chapter examines US foreign policy during the Cold War, beginning with an overview of the main historical developments in US policy. It first considers the origins of the Cold War and containment, focusing on the breakdown of the wartime alliance between the United States and the USSR, the emergence of US–Soviet diplomatic hostility and geopolitical confrontation, and how the Cold War spread beyond Europe. It then explains how the communist revolution in China in 1949 and the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 propelled the US towards a much bolder and more ambitious containment policy. It also looks at US military interventions in the third world, the US role in the ending of the Cold War, and the geopolitical, ideational, and/or socio-economic factors that influenced American foreign policy during the Cold War. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the dual concerns of US foreign policy.

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7. America in the 1990s: searching for purpose  

John Dumbrell

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.

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23. Drifting apart? The emerging end of the transatlantic partnership  

Stephen M. Walt

This chapter examines the transatlantic partnership between Europe and the United States. It first considers US strategic interests and how they are now changing, along with the implications of this shift for US foreign and defence policy priorities. It then describes some of the fundamental challenges faced by the European Union, including over-expansion, the demise of the Warsaw Pact, the euro crisis, a deteriorating regional environment, the persistence of nationalism, and the refugee crisis. It argues that these challenges threaten the liberal order that is one of the West’s most salient achievements, raise serious questions about the EU’s long-term future, and make Europe a less reliable and valuable partner for the United States. The chapter concludes with an assessment of possible prospects for the US-Europe relations, including the (slim) possibility of a genuine renewal in transatlantic ties.

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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.