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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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9. Domestic influences on foreign policy making  

Valentina Aronica and Inderjeet Parmar

This chapter examines domestic factors that influence American foreign policy, focusing on the variety of ways in which pressure groups and elites determine and shape what the United States does in the international arena. It first considers how US foreign policy has evolved over time before discussing the US Constitution in terms of foreign policy making and implementation. It then explores institutional influences on foreign policy making, including Congress and the executive branch, as well as the role of ‘orthodox’ and ‘unorthodox’ actors involved in the making of foreign policy and how power is distributed among them. It also analyzes the Trump administration’s foreign policy, taking into account the ‘Trump Doctrine’ and the US strikes on Syria.

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15. US foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific  

Feng Zhang

This chapter examines US foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region. It first considers America’s rise as an major power and the introduction of the Open Door policy that became a major component of US policy during the period 1899–1941. It then shows how, with the conclusion of World War II, the United States achieved maritime hegemony in the Asia-Pacific and the historic policy of Open Door was rendered irrelevant by American preponderance. It also discusses the Korean War of 1950 and how it prompted the United States aggressively to apply the containment doctrine in Asia by establishing the so-called ‘hub-and-spokes’ bilateral alliance system; the outbreak of the Vietnam War; the Richard Nixon–Henry Kissinger opening to China in the early 1970s; and American foreign policy under Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

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21. Global environment  

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.

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11. Identities and US foreign policy  

Christina Rowley and Jutta Weldes

This chapter examines the role of identity in constructing U.S. foreign policy. Using a critical social constructivist approach, it argues that particular conceptions of U.S. identity constitute U.S. interests, thus providing the foundations for foreign policy. After providing an overview of the influence of interests on foreign policy, the chapter considers the basic assumptions of critical social constructivism, taking into account the social construction of reality and the concepts of discourse and articulation. It then analyses discourses as sites of power, identity, and representation, along with the importance of identity in U.S. foreign policy. It also looks at U.S. presidents’ articulations of state identity and foreign policy over the last six decades.

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2. American exceptionalism  

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.

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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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7. The foreign policy process: executive, Congress, intelligence  

Michael Foley

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.

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8. Military power and US foreign policy  

Beth A. Fischer

This chapter explores the relationship between American military power and foreign policy. It also considers important debates regarding containment, deterrence, preemption, and the limits of military power. The chapter begins with a discussion of the rise of American military power during the period 1945–91, focusing on the military implications of containment and deterrence as well as the role of deterrence in ending the arms race. It then examines the fundamental questions that the United States had to confront in the post-Cold War era regarding its role in the world and its military power; for example, whether nuclear weapons are still useful, and for what purpose the U.S. military should be deployed. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the U.S. response to terrorism, with particular emphasis on the U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan (2001) and the war in Iraq (2003).

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9. Regional shifts and US foreign policy  

Peter Trubowitz

This chapter examines the impact of regionalism on U.S. foreign policy. In contrast to accounts that grant primacy to ideas or institutions, it argues that America’s regional diversity is the most important source of tension and conflict over foreign policy. It also shows that conflicts over the purposes of American power, as well as the constitutional authority to exercise it, are fundamentally conflicts over the distribution of wealth and power in American society among coalitions with divergent interests and claims on the federal government’s resources. The chapter develops this argument by analysing debates over American foreign policy in three different periods: the 1890s, the 1930s, and the current era. After discussing the link between regional interests and foreign policy, the chapter considers the great debate over expansionism, the struggle over internationalism, and American primacy and the ‘new sectionalism’.

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

Michael Cox and Doug Stokes

This work examines how domestic politics and culture shape US foreign policy, with particular emphasis on the role of institutions and processes. It considers the ways in which pressure groups and elites determine influence what the United States does abroad, the importance of regional shifts and media and their impact on the making of US foreign policy, and US relations with Europe, the Middle East, Russia, the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, and Africa. The text also discusses key issues relevant to American foreign policy, such as global terrorism, the global environment, gender, and religion. It argues that whoever resides in the White House will continue to give the military a central role in the conduct of US foreign policy, and that whoever ‘runs’ American foreign policy will still have to deal with the same challenges both at home and abroad.

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10. Regional shifts and US foreign policy  

Peter Trubowitz

This chapter examines the impact of regional shifts on the making of US foreign policy. One of the most distinctive features of American politics is regionally based political competition and conflict. Scholars argue that regionalism in American politics is rooted in the geographically uneven nature of economic growth and development. The chapter first revisits debates over American foreign policy in the 1890s, the 1930s, and the current era, focusing on issues such as those relating to expansionism and hegemony, internationalism, militarism, and the disagreement between ‘red America’ and ‘blue America’ over foreign policy matters. It then explains how regional diversity causes tension and conflict in foreign policy and argues that conflicts over the purposes of American power, as well as the constitutional authority to exercise it, stem from the distribution of wealth and power in American society among coalitions with divergent interests and claims on the federal government’s resources.

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11. Media and US foreign policy  

Piers Robinson

This chapter examines the academic debates over the relationship between US public opinion, media, and foreign policy. It first considers the nature of US media and public opinion, including democratic expectations of mass media and public opinion, before discussing pluralist and elite approaches to understanding the links between media, public opinion, and foreign policy. It then explores the role of propaganda and persuasion with respect to US power projection, with particular emphasis on the ways in which public opinion and media can be understood as a source of power for — and as a constraint upon — US foreign policy. It also reviews contemporary debates regarding the impact of technological developments, such as the emergence of global media like the internet and social media, upon US power and influence.

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18. Global terrorism  

Paul Rogers

This chapter examines how global terrorism, and particularly the war on terror, has shaped US foreign policy. It first provides an overview of the 9/11 terror attacks and definitions of terrorism before discussing the US experience of terrorism prior to 9/11 as well as the political environment in Washington at the time of the attacks. It then considers the response of the Bush administration in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the nature and aims of the al-Qaeda organization. It also reviews the conduct of the war on terror in its first nine years, along with the decline and transformation of al-Qaeda after 2010. Finally, it analyzes the options available to the United States in the war against al-Qaeda, ISIS, and like-minded groups.

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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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10. Media and US foreign policy  

Piers Robinson

This chapter examines the influence of media and public opinion on U.S. foreign policy and vice versa. It considers the extent to which the media and public have been manipulated by the government, and the extent to which public opinion and media have shaped foreign policy during tumultuous times such as the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. It also explores the consequences of public opinion and media for U.S. power in the twenty-first century. The chapter describes pluralist and elite models of the public opinion/ media/foreign policy nexus, long with public and media diplomacy. It concludes with a discussion of the extent to which developments in communication technology have empowered U.S. public opinion and media, as well as the impact of this technology on global U.S. power and influence, in particular in the context of the current war on terror.

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12. US foreign policy in the Middle East1  

Toby Dodge

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.

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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.