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					         POLS 425
U.S. Foreign Policy

 Week 2: Major Worldviews
         January 10, 2007
Why We Fight

 Why does the United States
  fight? What the key reasons or
  motivations for US decisions to
  engage in violent international
  conflict?

 Are the reasons generally the
  same, or do they vary from one
  war to another?

 If they vary, why do you think
  this is the case?

 Are most wars necessary?

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                            U.S. Foreign Policy
                                                Introduction

Key Points

 Your answers reflect your personal theory of
  American foreign policy

    Personal theories are appropriate and even necessary, but
     they are often premised on a very shaky foundation

    Personal theories tend to be superficial

    Personal theories are often governed as much by emotion as
     they are by evidence and reason

                                                                 3
                           U.S. Foreign Policy
                                   Introduction

The First Basic Lesson for Studying U.S. Foreign
  Policy

 Cultivate and maintain
  an open mind

 Recognize that no on
  is likely to have a
  monopoly on the
  truth




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                U.S. Foreign Policy
                              Introduction

American Exceptionalism

  A major obstacle to developing an open-mind
   about U.S. foreign policy comes from the
   influence of American exceptionalism

   What is American exceptionalism?




                                             5
                    U.S. Foreign Policy
                                Introduction

The Grand Narrative of American Exceptionalism

  America as the “Chosen Country”

  American power is force of good

  America is obligated to create a “better
   world” for all


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                      U.S. Foreign Policy
                                     Introduction

Second Basic Lesson for Studying U.S. Foreign
  Policy

  We cannot allow ourselves to buy into the idea of
   American exceptionalism wholly and uncritically

  We need to create some intellectual and analytical
   and critical distance between ourselves and the
   grand narrative



                                                       7
                       U.S. Foreign Policy
                                   Introduction

Levels of Analysis: Points of Entrance


   Individual Level

   “State” Level

   System Level



                                              8
                        U.S. Foreign Policy
                                          Introduction

Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance

Individual Level

    The individual level of analysis
    begins at the level of a single
    individual or group of individuals:
    typically, presidents, prime
    ministers, and others directly
    involved in making policy

                                                     9
                                U.S. Foreign Policy
                                        Introduction

Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance

“State” Level

  Focuses more on institutionalized
  organizations or groups to
  explain foreign policy; also
  includes such things as
  national culture, public opinion,
  media, bureaucratic politics,
  and so on

                                                  10
                      U.S. Foreign Policy
                                     Introduction

Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance

“System” Level
 Assumes that the ideas, opinions, and actions of
 individuals is not really all that important, instead
 looks at the broad structures or overarching systems
 that shape the behavior and interactions of states




                                                     11
                      U.S. Foreign Policy
                                     Introduction

Levels of Analysis: Point of Entrance

Key Point
 The levels of analysis are conceptual tools we can
 use to make our study of foreign policy more
 manageable and systematic

 As with real tools, moreover,
 we need more than one to
 “build” an explanation
                                                      12
                      U.S. Foreign Policy
                                  Introduction

Worldviews and Theory

Another critical set of conceptual tools are
 worldviews and theories

  These might be considered the
  “power tools” of explanations
  about U.S. foreign policy



                                                13
                        U.S. Foreign Policy
                                Introduction

Worldviews and Theory

 Major worldviews and theories

  1.   Realism
  2.   Liberalism
  3.   Marxism
  4.   Constructivism



                                          14
                            U.S. Foreign Policy
                                                Introduction

Worldviews and Theory

 General Notes about Theory

     The author defines theory in the following manner: An
      explanation of how something works; theories are also used to
      help tell the future or to make predictions

     Another definition: A theory is a framework of analysis within
      which facts are not only selected, but also interpreted,
      organized, and fit together so that they create a coherent
      whole. A theory helps us explain and/or better understand the
      world in which we live.

                                                                       15
                      U.S. Foreign Policy
                                      Introduction

Worldviews and Theory

 General Notes about Theory

   Key Point: Theories are also necessarily
    simplifications of a more complex whole;
    theories are not reality, but they designed to tell
    us something meaningful about the real world



                                                     16
                          U.S. Foreign Policy
                                            Introduction

Worldviews and Theory

 Additional Points
   First, the various theories on US foreign policy are not
   dependent on whether they are accepted or even understood
   by policy-makers themselves
   Second, and in a related vein, theories are meant to help us
   better understand and explain the implications and
   consequences of different foreign policies

   Third, the theories we will study are sometimes compatible,
   but sometimes contradictory
                                                                 17
                             U.S. Foreign Policy
                                                 Introduction

Worldviews and Theory: Realism
 Core Premises
  1.   Central questions focus on conditions and causes of war and
       peace
  2.   Regard structure of international system as necessary but not
       always sufficient for explaining international relations
  3.   Primary unit of analysis is the sovereign state
  4.   States are first and foremost guided by national interest defined
       in terms of power
  5.   States are rational, unitary actors


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                     U.S. Foreign Policy
                                    Introduction

Worldviews and Theory: Realism

 The key concept in realism is anarchy

   To understand this condition, consider what would
   happen if a group of individuals lived on an
   isolated island in which there was no society, no
   rules, no law. And say, on this island, resources
   were limited and power unevenly distributed. What
   would happen?

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