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Balance of idealism and realism in U.S. foreign

Author: WangWeiDong
Tutor: ZuoChengZhang
School: The Central Party School
Course: International Political Science
Keywords: American Diplomacy Rational Institutionalism Idealism Realism and Equilibrium
CLC: D871.2
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2008
Downloads: 771
Quote: 2
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Abstract


As two major schools of thought in the American diplomacy, idealism and realism have always been there to shape and reshape the foreign policy. These theoretically opposing two schools actually intertwine and complement each other in policy dimensions. This intertexture between idealism and realism defines a strong tradition that the formation of American foreign policy has been in equilibrium between them. The exploration of the relations between idealism and realism would be very instrumental to understand the deeper causal factors underpinning the foreign policy practice and to grasp the essence and the longer-term trend of American foreign policy.Mainly using the theory of rational institutionalism, this dissertation addresses the institutional backdrop of American diplomacy, and in particular the institutional setup that aggregates collective choice or group outcome resulting from strategic interaction defined by a process in which players with different preferences can share decision-making power and have their input. Then I analyze the actors and mechanism of foreign policy making and their preference on the part of responsibility and principle (corresponding with the idealist tradition) and on the part of interests and power (corresponding with the realist tradition). To further illustrate this, the case study of Iraq war is also made. These analyses serve to the central task which is to explain, under international and domestic institutions, why and how different actors can realize the equilibrium between idealism and realism in American diplomacy through strategic interaction of double level gaming.Then it is clear that with the changes of domestic and international environment, the respective weight of idealism and realism in American diplomacy is changeable by multiple factors. The equilibrium between them is always in adjustment. Moreover, to view from the angle of broader national interest, both idealism and realism tend to become tools of realizing national interest and be fused into the same American national interest.

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