In his new core text, James L. Ray raises the bar for the study of American foreign policy, bringing original insight, crisper writing, and at last the most current theories to bear on the subject. Though he draws upon the realist, liberal, and radical perspectives, instead of relying on traditional axioms such as states seek power, or states seek security, Ray starts from the premise that the highest priority of leaders is to stay in power. Ray keenly observes that how leaders respond to their most important domestic constituents is the key to understanding why and how foreign policy decisions are made.
In chapters detailing the history of American foreign policy, Ray shows how domestic pressures have shaped in stunning ways foreign policymaking from the birth of the nation, through expansion and annexation, and right up through the Bush administration's Iraq War. Then, covering the policymaking process, Ray analyzes how various parties inside and outside government influence decisionmaking, with detailed discussions of the role of the media, public opinion, interest groups, the various federal agencies, Congress, and the executive. Ray shows how the ongoing debates around domestic economic and social policies like social security and Medicare have always played a part in the process.