Foreign policy is messy--and also incredibly interesting. Every day, decisionmakers must formulate and modify the US’s stance towards states like Russia, China, Germany, Iran, Syria, and Israel and tackle cross-cutting issues that touch on human rights, climate change, poverty, human insecurity, nuclear arms proliferation, and economic collapse. In Contemporary American Foreign Policy: Influences, Challenges, and Opportunities, authors Richard Mansbach (Iowa State University) and Kirsten Taylor (Berry College) examine modern foreign policy problems from a variety of angles, not just through the lens of a so-called “national interest.” In each chapter, they focus on today’s most pressing contemporary challenges, exploring their origins and backgrounds. They systematically shed light on the competing forces that influence them, outline the various policy options available to decisionmakers for addressing them, and explore the potential consequences of those policies. Throughout, they also look at foreign policy at all levels: international, society, government, “role”-specific, and individual.

Sources of American Foreign Policy

Sources of American Foreign Policy

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before Congress about America’s great recession.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Our first chapter examines key influences on U.S. foreign-policy formulation and implementation. It begins by discussing how the foreign and domestic arenas have become intermingled in a globalized world and then identifies the several sources of foreign policy.

The Linkage of Domestic and Foreign Policies

With America’s economy sputtering, interest rates near zero, and the threat of a second recession looming, America’s Federal Reserve announced a third round of “quantitative easing” (QE3) in September 2012. The Fed would purchase up to $40 billion a month of U.S. mortgage-backed bonds to increase America’s money supply and provide financial institutions with additional capital that could be loaned ...

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