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.

Competing Currents in U.S. Foreign Policy

Competing Currents in U.S. Foreign Policy

Policy continuity under Obama

Paresh Nath, The Khaleej Times, UAE

This chapter continues our discussion of influences on American foreign policy, focusing on how these influences have produced competing orientations in foreign policy. The conventional narrative describes America as isolationist until World War II, after which it accepted the mantle of global leadership and became permanently engaged in global life. The narrative becomes more complicated in the 21st century after 9/11, depicting U.S. foreign policy as unilateralist and interventionist under President George W. Bush and increasingly multilateralist under President Barack Obama. The reality is more complicated. Multilateralism was never completely abandoned under Bush, and unilateralism did not disappear during the Obama years. Thus, Obama ...

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