This introductory volume discusses American foreign policy since 1945 in three broad areas: defense policies; economic policy and trade, and the ethical dimensions of human rights and environmental politics; and US policy toward the Third World. The book uses an historical approach rather than theoretical or policymaking approaches to give readers an understanding of how post-Cold War policy has evolved from the structural constraints of the Cold War era. American foreign policy issues discussed include security policy from Yalta to Vietnam and from Détente to the end of the Cold War and beyond, nuclear deterrence and arms control, war and peace in the Middle East and military intervention and peacekeeping after the Cold War, as well as a history of America's foreign economic policies, US policy toward the IMF, World Bank and the World Trade Organization, foreign policy and human rights and American policy toward Third World nations. For those interested in contemporary and future American foreign policy.
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Every destination is determined, at least in part, by the road that lies behind us, the road already traveled.
"You know where it ends, yo, it usually depends on where you start."1
Global political trends and American foreign policy are changing in more ways, and changing more quickly, than at any other time in history. Because the world is changing so rapidly, we are in greater need of understanding the recent past. What is the status of U.S. foreign policy at the outset of the new millennium? What are the important trends and likely future prospects for American policy? To answer these questions, we must begin by looking at our past. To know where we are headed, we must first know where we have been. Where we end up usually depends on where we started. Every destination is determined in part by the path already traveled. Knowing the history of certain Cold War events is indispensable for understanding foreign policies of the present and the future. The overall goal of this book is to provide the historical background necessary for students to understand contemporary and future American foreign policies.
This book employs a historical approach for understanding U.S. foreign policy in three areas: security policy, economic policy, and ethical dimensions of foreign policy. For each of these three areas there is a separate subsection in the text. Each subsection begins with a history of American foreign policy in that area. Each section then proceeds to separate chapters on the most important and most salient areas of contemporary foreign policy. This book was produced by a joint effort involving seven people in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware. Roughly half of the text was contributed by the book's principal author and editor, William Meyer. Six chapters come from the works of other current or former members of the department.
Part I begins with a two-chapter history of defense policies since World War II, including the Cold War conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. Looking at the Korean War of the 1950s helps us to understand important contemporary U.S. policies, such as current troop deployments in South Korea and American fears of a possible missile attack from North Korea in the twenty-first century. Similarly, a look back at the Vietnam War informs a proper understanding of contemporary U.S. intervention doctrines, such as the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine. Chapter 3 then moves to a history of nuclear defense policies and arms control. Chapter 3 also considers the topic of strategic defense. Reviewing the evolution of two theories of nuclear deterrence (e.g., MAD vs. NUTS) helps one understand why the United States is now engaged in a long process of reducing nuclear arsenals and why America is wrestling with a debate over national missile defense. Chapters 4 and 5 look in more detail at U.S foreign policy in the Middle East and at post-Cold War humanitarian intervention.
The Middle East warrants inclusion as the only region in this text with a separate chapter, due to America's geopolitical interests. Everyone understands the importance of oil to U.S. national interests. The Middle East deserves close attention due to the Gulf War of 1990-91 (in addition to the aftermath of that war) and due to the ongoing U.S. war against terrorism. Chapter 4 was written by Bahrain Rajaee, the University of Delaware's resident expert on American foreign policy toward the Middle East. Chapter 5 on humanitarian intervention is by Robert DiPrizio, now teaching at the U.S. Air Force's Air Command and Staff College. DiPrizio previously did research on post-Cold War intervention tactics at the University of Delaware.
Part I concludes with a chapter by Mark J. Miller on American foreign policy in regard to terrorism. The importance of this topic is familiar to all Americans since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, a date that no American will forget. The events of that day have had a profound impact on U.S. foreign policy as well. Immediately after September 11, a common claim in the media and by political pundits was that "everything has changed." This is true in one crucial sense. After 9/11, Americans lost their sense of the invulnerability of American soil. Despite the nuclear balance of terror during the Cold War, few Americans ever felt threatened by direct foreign attack while inside the fifty states. That certainly has changed. But in so many other respects, the assertion that everything changed after 9/11 was an exaggerated (though understandable) claim. As Mark Miller points out in chapter 6, even current U.S. foreign policy for fighting terrorism has its roots in decisions (and mistakes) made during the Cold War.
The events of September 11, 2001, also revealed the interrelated nature of the three previously mentioned areas of foreign policy: security policy, economic policy, and the ethical dimensions of foreign policy. Security policy was shaken to its foundations by these attacks on the American homeland. Symbols of America's economic power, the World Trade Center towers, were the principal targets of the terrorists' attacks. The moral legitimacy of America's methods for conducting its war against terrorism was a subject of debate immediately after 9/11, especially in regard to the treatment of Al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay military base. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch leveled accusations that some of these prisoners had been tortured. In that respect, 9/11 reinforced the consensus among the authors of this text that defense policies, economic policies, and ethical policies are inextricably intertwined; hence the logic of this book's format.
Part II of this text begins with a history of America's foreign economic policies, broken down into the areas of trade policy and monetary policy. Follow-up chapters in part II by Daniel Green and Candace Archer go into more detail on contemporary policies toward the IMF and the WTO. Green has been researching U.S. policy toward international financial institutions for many years. Archer has specialized in research on economic regimes, including the GATT/WTO trade regime.
Part III addresses a mixed bag of topics that are often overlooked in textbooks on American foreign policy: human rights, the environment, and policy toward Third World nations. These topics are linked together by their normative dimensions. They are areas that force us to consider the ethical aspects of U.S international policies. Human rights policy has certain obvious links to moral standards. International environmental policy is supremely important to America due to the moral obligations we owe to current and future generations. The environment has economic and security impacts as well, but by including environmental politics in part III, the authors hope to stress (albeit indirectly) the moral dimensions of sound environmental policy.
U.S. relations with the less-developed countries (LDCs) of the Third World are closely related to environmental politics. The Third World is often overlooked by students of U.S. policy because it has limited economic importance for American trade and because the end of the Cold War greatly reduced perceptions of the Third World's importance to U.S. security. The United States became engaged in relations with the Third World after the Cold War mainly due to its moral obligations to promote development in LDCs (this is a topic discussed in more detail in the introduction to part III).
Part III opens with a review of two theories linking morality to U.S. foreign policy. Chapter 10 also presents a history of human rights policies. Part III then proceeds to a history of U.S. relations with the Third World, focusing on environmental politics between the north and the south. Chapter 12 by Richard Sylves wraps up part III. Sylves's areas of expertise at the University of Delaware include global environmental politics.
The conclusion to this text considers both continuity and changes in American foreign policy (for all of the previously mentioned areas) under the administration of President George W. Bush (who was well into his second year in office at the time of this writing).
This preface must end with two caveats regarding what this book is not about. This book will not use "theories" of American foreign policy to structure each chapter. Use of abstract theory is a common approach to foreign policy used in other textbooks, but not here. Nor will the primary focus of this text be on the processes involved in making American foreign policy. This is another common approach used in other literatures for the study of U.S policy. These methods (theory and policy making) are important and instructive, but they cannot substitute for good historical research on American foreign policy.
One must always be very careful when making theoretical claims as they apply to the social sciences. This is especially true in the study of foreign policy. Each case is highly unique. Therefore, to try to generalize across cases is hazardous at best. One simply cannot generalize across cases for most aspects of foreign policy. Because generalizations are not possible in most cases, the historical approach is even more necessary and justified. "Theory building" via higher and higher levels of abstraction and generalization is problematic for studies of foreign policy. By contrast, it is certainly possible (and even necessary) to understand how one policy approach evolves over time into subsequent policies." For example, many post-Cold War foreign policies cannot be fully understood until after certain Cold War historical facts have been mastered. But the history of Cold War politics needs to be told in such a way as to make it as relevant as possible to current and future policy.
Likewise, the making of foreign policy is a topic that is separate and distinct (in some ways) from the history of the policies themselves. In this text, the focus must be on the latter. Policy-making approaches focus on process. Here the focus will be on policy outputs.
It is not possible in a single text to adequately cover (a) foreign policy "theory," (b) foreign policy making, and (c) the evolutionary history of a wide range of specific foreign policies. In the collective view of these seven authors, the last of these three areas is, indeed, a prerequisite to studies regarding the first two areas. This text can be seen as providing a necessary first step for students who plan to go on to broader or more in-depth studies of American foreign policy.
With these caveats in mind, we hasten to add that theories of foreign policy will not be ignored in this text. Each subsection has its own introduction. Each introduction will lay out the basic theoretical debates relevant to a given area of foreign policy. Theories of national security, of international political economy, and of international norms have given us the conceptual frameworks and the terminology often employed in (descriptive) historical analyses. The introduction to part I begins our study with a brief summary of theories relevant to U.S. defense policy.
William H. Meyer
University of Delaware
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