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Title: The fractured consensus : how competing visions of grand strategy challenge the geopolitical identity of American leadership under the Obama presidency
Author: Löfflmann, Georg
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 8738
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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For the last seventy years the United States of America has been the dominant political, economic, military, and cultural influence in the world. Under President Obama, this position is being challenged. In politics, academia, and popular media, the established continuity of American leadership is contrasted against the dynamics of an emerging ‘post-American world.’ Elements of Obama’s foreign and security policy, such as ‘leading from behind,’ have raised questions if America still believes in its national exceptionalism, and if it follows a grand strategy designed to secure its global hegemony. Against this backdrop, this thesis aims to make an original contribution to knowledge by moving beyond traditional understandings of grand strategy as an exclusive calculation of material resources, and coherent vision to align means and ends. The main argument is that American grand strategy cannot be reduced to an abstract product of scientific rationality, but must be understood as an identity performing discourse, where a geopolitical vision of a country’s role and position in the world is linked to its national security policy. Drawing from literature in critical security studies and critical geopolitics, the thesis examines how representations of geopolitical identity are intertextually connected across different discursive domains, from popular culture, to academic expertise, and policymaking, and how the cross-discursive interplay of identity and practice confirms and contests dominant concepts of political knowledge. The thesis concludes that, beyond an established identity paradigm of American exceptionalism, indispensability and hegemony, American grand strategy under President Obama is a multidimensional and inherently conflicted discourse, fluctuating between a reconfirmation and reformulation of American leadership. This complex and nuanced geopolitical vision of leadership however, both emphasizing cooperative engagement (‘burden sharing’) and military restraint (‘nation-building at home’) has failed to provide a new consensus on America’s role in the world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JK Political institutions (United States)