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American Foreign Policy

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4241-3
176 pages
April 2010, Polity
American Foreign Policy (0745642411) cover image
As the world’s only superpower, America’s foreign policy inevitably has a major impact Ð be it positive or negative - on contemporary international affairs. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, George W. Bush’s decision to move away from multilateral decision-making toward a more aggressive, pre-emptive style of foreign policy attracted widespread debate, and criticism, throughout the world. Reversing direction, the Barack Obama presidency is placing greater emphasis on constructive or peaceful engagement within multilateral frameworks, relying on special envoys to deal with some of the thorniest problems.

In this book, Paul Viotti explores American foreign policy from the founding of the republic in the late 18th Century to the present day. Part 1 examines the broad policy options available to the US government: namely, peaceful engagement, containment through deterrence or coercive diplomacy, and armed intervention. Part 2 looks at the American experience in foreign policy. By exploring early precedents and elite practices, the moralism of American exceptionalism as well as the roots of an expansionist American foreign policy, the discussion draws out the continuities running from the 18th century to the present. Part 3 concludes with an analysis of the politics of interest on the Potomac with analysis of the interplay of contending policy elites, factions and parties influencing foreign policy making today.

Assessing alternatives, the author concludes that even though containment and armed intervention will remain part of the way the United States conducts its foreign policy, diplomatic engagement options are the most promising course of action for the coming decades.
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  • Foreword by Kenneth M. Jensen
  • Preface and Acknowledegments
  • Introduction
  • Part One: Peaceful Engagement, Containment and Armed Intervention
  • Chapter One: Peaceful Engagement and Diplomacy
  • Chapter Two: Containment of Adversaries
  • Chapter Three: Armed Intervention and Warfare
  • Part Two: Foreign Policy in the American Experience
  • Chapter Four: Institutionalized Elite Practices and the Moralism of American Exceptionalism
  • Chapter Five: Intervention and ExpansionismÑAcquiring Territory, Spreading Ideas, and Pursuing Other Interests
  • Part Three: Theoretical Reflections and Practical Expectations
  • Chapter Six: Elite Understandings of Power
  • Chapter Seven: Politics on the PotomacÑInterests, Elites and Parties
  • Chapter Eight: Presidential Power in Politics on the Potomac
  • Conclusion
  • Selected Readings
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Paul R. Viotti, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, is a professor at the University of Denver s Josef Korbel School of International Studies where he is also Executive Director of the Institute on Globalization and Security (IGLOS). His publications include volumes on arms control, international relations and world politics, and international relations theory. He brings to this volume over four decades of work in international relations and foreign policy both as scholar and practitioner.
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• The latest addition to the War and Conflict in the Modern World series which focuses specifically on US foreign policy from the founding of the Republic in the late 18th Century to the present day
• The text explores the broad policy options available to the US government: namely, peaceful engagement, containment through deterrence or coercive diplomacy, and armed intervention. Viotti also looks at the American experience of foreign policy. The book concludes with concludes with an analysis of the politics of interest on the Potomac, analysing the interplay of contending policy elites, factions and parties influencing foreign policy making today
• Written by a very well-known US textbook author, who has recently produced a new course text on American Foreign Policy and National Security with Prentice Hall, whilst his blockbuster textbook ‘International Relations and World Politics: Security, Economy, Identity' is now in its third edition
• This book will serve as a primer for students coming to the subject for the first time
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"A valuable study that can be highly recommended."
Australian Journal of Political Science

"Viotti's book is very intelligently constructed and can be read with profit by any student of US foreign policy."
International Affairs

"Paul Viotti, who has served as both a career military officer and professor, has written an excellent introduction to American foreign policy that is both theoretically and historically grounded. It will be of great value to students and professors alike."
Dan Caldwell, Pepperdine University

"Professor Viotti has done a masterful job of analyzing the factors that go into the making and implementing of American foreign policy. After reviewing the kinds of foreign policy options available to policy makers, he shows how these options have been applied by various US administrations in the last 200 years. He also identifies particular themes that have helped determine American foreign policy and concludes with reflections on the role of presidential power. Overall, a brilliant summary of what happened and why in American foreign policy since the earliest days of the republic."
Ambassador George M. Lane, U.S. Foreign Service (retired)

"With its focus on the policymaker, Paul Viotti's new book is both engaging and distinctive; this approach gives students a sense of the range of policy options to consider in particular cases and it allows those familiar with IR theory to make connections between those theories and policymaking."
Daniel G Lang, Lynchburg College

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