Constructing Foreign Policy Crises: Interpretive Leadership in the Cold War and War on Terrorism

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Title Constructing Foreign Policy Crises: Interpretive Leadership in the Cold War and War on Terrorism
Author Widmaier, Wesley
Journal Name International Studies Quarterly
Year Published 2007
Place of publication United States
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc
Abstract Over the past century, crises have often driven shifts in U.S. foreign policy, as a liberal tradition has been permissive of varying tendencies to isolationism, pragmatism, or a crusading internationalism. While materialist analyses emphasize the impacts of crises on the capabilities of state and societal agents, they obscure the role of agents in interpreting crises. In this paper, I therefore offer a constructivist analysis, stressing the role of presidential rhetoric in the construction of crises as events which legitimate shifts between variants of the American liberal tradition and definitions of the national interest. I specifically examine interpretations of the Cold War and War on Terror offered in the March 1947 Truman Doctrine speech and September 2001 Bush Doctrine speech. Truman and Bush each reinterpreted international challenges as pertaining to ''ways of life,'' transforming security and partisan debates in ways that delegitimated isolationism. In sum, this analysis highlights the enduring traditions and mass understandings which can themselves constrain elite debates.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2478.2007.00476.x
Volume 51
Issue Number 4
Page from 779
Page to 794
ISSN 0020-8833
Date Accessioned 2010-09-29
Language en_AU
Research Centre Centre for Governance and Public Policy; Griffith Asia Institute
Faculty Griffith Business School
Subject International Relations
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/35084
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1x

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