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Politics and Strategy: Partisan Ambition and American Statecraft

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Why do some national leaders pursue ambitious grand strategies and adventuresome foreign policies while others do not? When do leaders boldly confront foreign threats and when are they less assertive? Politics and Strategy shows that grand strategies are Janus-faced: their formulation has as much to do with a leader's ability to govern at home as it does with maintaining the nation's security abroad. Drawing on the American political experience, Peter Trubowitz reveals how variations in domestic party politics ...

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Politics and Strategy: Partisan Ambition and American Statecraft

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Overview

Why do some national leaders pursue ambitious grand strategies and adventuresome foreign policies while others do not? When do leaders boldly confront foreign threats and when are they less assertive? Politics and Strategy shows that grand strategies are Janus-faced: their formulation has as much to do with a leader's ability to govern at home as it does with maintaining the nation's security abroad. Drawing on the American political experience, Peter Trubowitz reveals how variations in domestic party politics and international power have led presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama to pursue strategies that differ widely in international ambition and cost. He considers why some presidents overreach in foreign affairs while others fail to do enough.

Trubowitz pushes the understanding of grand strategy beyond traditional approaches that stress only international forces or domestic interests. He provides insights into how past leaders responded to cross-pressures between geopolitics and party politics, and how similar issues continue to bedevil American statecraft today. He suggests that the trade-offs shaping American leaders' foreign policy choices are not unique--analogous trade-offs confront Chinese and Russian leaders as well.

Combining innovative theory and historical analysis, Politics and Strategy answers classic questions of statecraft and offers new ideas for thinking about grand strategies and the leaders who make them.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Trubowitz has written an impressive book with a modest thesis. He makes the case that both the distribution of power around the world and domestic politics influence strategic decisions in U.S. foreign policy. . . . Trubowitz captures the complexity of these decisions with theoretical sophistication, an unusual breadth of historical examples, and an impressive clarity of argument. This is an important book.
Political Science Quarterly
Scholars of American politics and international relations alike will find a strong theoretical foundation along with extensive empirical material in this work for exploring such topics.
— Meena Bose
Political Science Quarterly - Meena Bose
Scholars of American politics and international relations alike will find a strong theoretical foundation along with extensive empirical material in this work for exploring such topics.
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2011: Top 25 Books

"Trubowitz has written an impressive book with a modest thesis. He makes the case that both the distribution of power around the world and domestic politics influence strategic decisions in U.S. foreign policy. . . . Trubowitz captures the complexity of these decisions with theoretical sophistication, an unusual breadth of historical examples, and an impressive clarity of argument. This is an important book."Choice

"Scholars of American politics and international relations alike will find a strong theoretical foundation along with extensive empirical material in this work for exploring such topics."—Meena Bose, Political Science Quarterly

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Peter Trubowitz is associate professor of government at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of "Defining the National Interest".

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures xi Preface and Acknowledgments xiii

Chapter One: Introduction 1
Statesmen, Partisans, and Geopolitics The Two Faces of Grand Strategy 2
Statesmen as Strategic Politicians 4
Grand Strategy Past and Present 7

Chapter Two: Grand Strategy's Microfoundations 9
Variations in Grand Strategy 9
A Model of Executive Choice 16
Determinants of Grand Strategy 31
Research Design and Outline 37

Chapter Three: Why States Appease Their Foes 44
The Appeasement Puzzle 44
George Washington and the Appeasement of Britain 46
Abraham Lincoln, Britain, and the Confederacy 55
Franklin Roosevelt, Hitler, and Appeasement, 1936-1939 64
Appeasement Reconsidered 74

Chapter Four: When States Expand 77
Theories of Expansionism 77
James Monroe, Republican Factionalism, and the Monroe Doctrine 79
William McKinley, Cuba, and the Threat of Domestic Populism 90
George W. Bush, September 11, and the Promise of Party Realignment 97
Expansionism: Necessity or Choice? 104

Chapter Five: Why States Underreach 106
Strategies of Restraint 107
Jacksonian Fissures and Martin Van Buren's Strategic Adjustment 108
Herbert Hoover, Republican Sectarianism, and Strategic Retrenchment 114
Bill Clinton, the Democrats, and Selective Engagement 120
The Paradox of Strategic "Underextension" 127

Chapter Six: Conclusion 129
Statecraft's Twin Engines American Balancing in Historical Perspective 130
Geopolitics and Partisan Politics: Managing Cross-Pressure 132
Secondary Powers and Nondemocracies 139
Barack Obama and Grand Strategy 145

References 151
Index 177

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