Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Political and Legal: Fighting for Credibility: U.S. Reputation and International Politics

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Political and Legal: Fighting for Credibility: U.S. Reputation and International Politics

Article excerpt

Fighting for Credibility: U.S. Reputation and International Politics BY FRANK P. HARVEY AND JOHN MITTON. University of Toronto Press, 2017, 312 pp.

Does reputation matter in world politics? If an American president draws a "redline" but fails to enforce it with military power when an adversary crosses it, will this embolden other adversaries? The prevailing wisdom among policymakers and pundits is that credibility counts. No such consensus exists, however, among political scientists, many of whom argue that Washington's credibility in the eyes of an adversary will be overwhelmingly shaped by the adversary's reading of current U.S. interests and capabilities, and not by past actions. Harvey and Mitton join this debate with a detailed study of the Obama administration's response to Syria's use of chemical weapons in 2013. …

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