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Title: Conquest of spirits : ideological history as an explanatory factor in the Bush administration's resistance to balance-of-power thinking
Author: Quinn, Adam
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis argues that America's national ideological history is crucially relevant to understanding the Bush administration's resistance to thinking about international order in the balance-of-power terms prescribed by realists. Bush pursued a world order based on the assumption of an underlying harmony of interests and the universal validity of an idealised conception of American liberal political values. He also sought an indefinitely sustainable American primacy in terms of hard power. The thesis argues that this strategy, despite some suggestions that it was 'revolutionary', was in fact the latest evolution of long-established trends in American internationalism. The thesis seeks to make the case that a nation's foreign policy strategy is the product of interaction between national/international circumstances and an evolved national culture or 'character' reflecting embedded ideological principles developed over the course of that nation's history. Thus, it suggests, American internationalism has particularities that can only be fully understood through awareness of the United States' ideological journey over the course of its history to a posture of global engagement. The thesis uses analysis of five key periods to make its argument for the relevance of ideological history, starting with the Founders' Era and proceeding through presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman before concluding with the Bush administration. It argues that the ideological cast given to America's pursuit of its interests in the early decades of independence impacted upon the nation's 20th Century leaders' construction of their arguments justifying the transition to international engagement. As a result, rather than contentedly entering into the existing Europe-dominated world order based on 'the balance of power', US leaders made America's internationalism conditional on the pursuit of a new world order reflecting the ideas of liberal universalism and military might in the service of 'civilisation'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available