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 Radical Islam

America and Radical Islam

The death of Osama bin Laden

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The hijacking of American aircraft and attacks of September 11, 2001, on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., changed U.S. foreign policy with dramatic suddenness. America’s foe challenged not only American security and its presence in the Middle East but also its basic values—democracy, secularism, capitalism, and modernity. The end of the Cold War had produced uncertainty about American objectives in what President George H. W. Bush termed “the new world order” characterized by the spread of liberal values worldwide. Francis Fukuyama wrote of “the end of history,” featuring “the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy,” “an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism,” and ...

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