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US Foreign Policy and Democracy Promotion: From Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama

ISBN: 9780415679800 | 041567980X
Edition: 1st
Format: Nonspecific Binding
Publisher: Routledge
Pub. Date: 5/22/2013

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The promotion of democracy by the United States became highly controversial during the presidency of George W. Bush. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were widely perceived as failed attempts at enforced democratization, sufficient that Barack Obama has felt compelled to downplay the rhetoric of democracy and freedom in his foreign-policy. This, in turn, has led to accusations that he is substituting an American tradition of long-standing with a calculating pragmatism. Obama's America 'engages' with China, Russia and Iran for reasons of national interest rather than confront them for their poor human rights records and democratic shortcomings. The essays in this book test whether a democracy promotion tradition exists, or ever existed, in US foreign policy, and how far Obama and his predecessors conformed to or repudiated it. For more than a century at least, American presidents have been driven by deep historical and ideological forces to conceive US foreign policy in part through the lens of democracy promotion. Successive administrations have perceived the US national interest through this 'democracy impulse,' which explains their different efforts to export the American political model. This book offers a collection of concise case studies, written by leading academic experts, that debate how far democratic aspirations have been realized in actual foreign policies. They evaluate whether or not these efforts were successful in promoting democratization abroad. They clash over whether democracy promotion is an appropriate goal of US foreign policy and whether America has gained anything from it. Each chapter will be themed around the following questions: How and to what extent was president X influenced by the democracy tradition? What were the main ways and instances in which this influence was translated in grand strategy and actual foreign policy? What were the outcomes and consequences, positive and/or negative? And what was the legacy in terms of democracy promotion?

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