Entangling Relations: American Foreign Policy in Its Century

Overview

Throughout what publisher Henry Luce dubbed the "American century," the United States has wrestled with two central questions. Should it pursue its security unilaterally or in cooperation with others? If the latter, how can its interests be best protected against opportunism by untrustworthy partners? In a major attempt to explain security relations from an institutionalist approach, David A. Lake shows how the answers to these questions have differed after World War I, during the Cold War, and today. In the ...
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Overview

Throughout what publisher Henry Luce dubbed the "American century," the United States has wrestled with two central questions. Should it pursue its security unilaterally or in cooperation with others? If the latter, how can its interests be best protected against opportunism by untrustworthy partners? In a major attempt to explain security relations from an institutionalist approach, David A. Lake shows how the answers to these questions have differed after World War I, during the Cold War, and today. In the debate over whether to join the League of Nations, the United States reaffirmed its historic policy of unilateralism. After World War II, however, it broke decisively with tradition and embraced a new policy of cooperation with partners in Europe and Asia. Today, the United States is pursuing a new strategy of cooperation, forming ad hoc coalitions and evincing an unprecedented willingness to shape but then work within the prevailing international consensus on the appropriate goals and means of foreign policy.

In interpreting these three defining moments of American foreign policy, Lake draws on theories of relational contracting and poses a general theory of security relationships. He arrays the variety of possible security relationships on a continuum from anarchy to hierarchy, and explains actual relations as a function of three key variables: the benefits from pooling security resources and efforts with others, the expected costs of opportunistic behavior by partners, and governance costs. Lake systematically applies this theory to each of the "defining moments" of twentieth-century American foreign policy and develops its broader implications for the study of international relations.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Identifies three defining moments for US foreign policy during the 20th century: the 1919-20 decision on joining the League of Nations, forging permanent alliances to fight World War II, and the ad hoc alliances of such actions as the Gulf War and intervention in Somalia. Finds that the debates were not over who or what threatened the country, but over the fundamental questions of whether the US should pursue its security unilaterally or in cooperation with others, and if the latter, how to protect against opportunism by untrustworthy partners. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
From the Publisher
"An innovative approach to understanding how and why polities choose to structure their relations with one another. . . . Lake has some interesting ideas, which he presents clearly and intelligently."Choice
Choice
An innovative approach to understanding how and why polities choose to structure their relations with one another. . . . Lake has some interesting ideas, which he presents clearly and intelligently.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Preface
Ch. 1 Introduction 3
Ch. 2 Security Relationships 17
Ch. 3 A Theory of Relational Contracting 35
Ch. 4 The Lone Hand 78
Ch. 5 Cold War Cooperation 128
Ch. 6 Gulliver's Triumph 198
Ch. 7 Relational Contracting and International Relations 263
Ch. 8 Conclusion 285
References 299
Index 325
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