American Foreign Policy in Regions of Conflict: A Global Perspective

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AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IN REGIONS OF CONFLICT: A Global Perspective

Howard J. Wiarda, Palgrave MacMillan New York, 2012, 194 pages, $16.50

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS PROFESSOR Howard J. Wiarda argues that academia has become so scientific in its approach to the study of international relations that mathematical models with presumed universal applicability are usurping the 'humanistic and environmental models of U.S. engagement. Wiarda views this development as the proximate cause of a broken link between the study of international relations and the practice of U.S. foreign policy. He illustrates and addresses this problem through a succinct historical examination of U.S. foreign policy across all regions of the world. He argues that a re-infusion of comparative politics and international relations into the thought processes of foreign policymakers will make all the difference in their effectiveness. However, the strength of his argument waxes and wanes in the context of some of his regional analyses.

Starting in western Europe, Wiarda reaches some contradictory and naive conclusions. He claims that our "cultural, language, family origins, and political institutions that were derived from and tie us to our European allies are weakening in the face of our increasingly multicultural American demographics." Yet, on the same page, he asserts that our economic and cultural ties to western Europe will remain strong. He also claims that the demise of the Soviet Union made the NATO alliance obsolete. Yet, if one considers all that NATO has done in the Balkans, Afghanistan (establishment of the International Security Assistance Force), and most recently in Libya, Wiarda's argument falters. Wiarda also underestimates the influence of a resurgent Russia, whose national interests are largely at odds with those of NATO. …