Mechanistic Realism and US Foreign Policy : A New Framework for Analysis book cover
1st Edition

Mechanistic Realism and US Foreign Policy
A New Framework for Analysis

ISBN 9781138377097
Published August 9, 2018 by Routledge
192 Pages

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Book Description

This book aims to reinvigorate realist international relations theory by developing a catalogue of micro-mechanisms able to explain security policy decision-making.

Typically, realism discounts the role of individuals and uses states as the unit of analysis. By examining instead the mental operations of those who act on behalf of the state, a better understanding of security policy formation is attainable. The book demonstrates how realism can be translated from a systemic "grand theory" into a catalogue of psychologically plausible mechanisms applicable to individual decision-makers. This catalogue, here called "Mechanistic Realism", may be employed to investigate the cognitive precursors to security policy.

The explanatory power of Mechanistic Realism is demonstrated through a meticulous analysis of what transpired inside the George W. Bush administration, as its members forged a response to the 2001 terrorist attacks. Through the exploration of individual-level data, Mechanistic Realism provides a more comprehensive analysis of the US response. The book concludes that international relations (IR) scholars would benefit analytically by assembling the most pertinent mechanisms into an explanatory toolbox rather than developing and applying grand theories. Mechanistic Realism is a first step in this direction.

This book should be of great interest to students of IR, foreign policy, American politics, and security studies in general.









Table of Contents

1. Introduction PART I: Assumptions and Theory  2. Foundations for Social Analysis  3. Mechanistic Realism  PART II: Mechanistic Realism  4. The Explanatory Power of Mechanistic Realism  5. Idealism  6. Conclusion 


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Johannes Gullestad is Associate Professor at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies and head of the Centre for Transatlantic Relations. His interests include U.S. foreign policy, origins of war, political theory, and philosophy of science.