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.

America and the Palestinian-Israeli Imbroglio

America and the Palestinian-Israeli Imbroglio

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: worst of friends

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

America has been a staunch friend of Israel since its birth. Americans view Israel as a rare Middle Eastern democracy and an outpost of U.S. values. In addition to sharing democracy, both are economically developed countries with dense economic and social ties. Both stand for human rights (though Israel has violated Palestinian rights) and stress individualism and free-market capitalism. Although sentiment and shared values explain much of the relationship, Israel is a stable, powerful, and valuable geopolitical ally in an unstable and violent region.

Sources of U.S. Policy Toward Israel

External factors were less central in shaping U.S. policy toward Israel in the 1940s ...

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