Evaluating U.S. Foreign Policy

Evaluating U.S. Foreign Policy

Evaluating U.S. Foreign Policy

Evaluating U.S. Foreign Policy

Excerpt

I first conceived of preparing this book soon after Ronald Reagan assumed office and it became clear that he was resurrecting the Cold War. Not only was I opposed to this politically, in that I felt it unnecessary and damaging both domestically and internationally, but I felt that the assumptions underlying this shift to a hard-line stance were at variance with much of what we were beginning to learn as a community of scholars trying to create a scientific study of foreign policy and world politics. Most of the theoretical ferment within the international relations discipline and some of the quantitative research seriously question the validity of the realist or power politics assumptions that formed the bulwark of so much of the hard-liners' stance. Yet little of this academic work was able to permeate the main arena of political debate. Indeed, political debate seemed impervious to considerations of evidence, scientific inquiry, or the ambiguity of research findings. Thus, the fact that Carter pursued detente, got the Panama Canal treaty passed, could not prevent the invasion of Afghanistan, and could not obtain the release of the the U.S. hostages in Iran was taken by some as sufficient evidence that accommodation by soft-liners would not work, and that a return to a hard-line was essential. Now these people were in power. Although as a scientist my first temptation was to try to explain this shift and its implications for U.S. foreign policy, I could not help noting how small a role current international relations theory and research or the spirit of scientific thinking about evidence was playing in these momentous decisions. I was also concerned that as a community of scholars we had not established more findings and that the findings we did have were not being communicated sufficiently well to policy makers, policy influencers, and the public as a whole. This seeming lack of progress in the cumulation of knowledge and establishing its relevancy to policy was widely perceived. This was leading some not only to abandon ship, but to join those who wanted to sink the scientific ship once and for all and get back to the art of diplomacy.

It was in this climate that I decided to ask a group of scholars, not all of them behavioralists, to try to review the theory and . . .

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