Political realism and American foreign policy

Briscoe, Mark (2004) Political realism and American foreign policy. Honours thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


America's war in Afghanistan and on Iraq classified as part of the war on terror have come in the aftermath of the atrocities of September 11, 2001 when America was attacked by Islamist terrorists. America's response to these attacks, especially the war on Iraq, has been criticized heavily throughout the world. The U.S. has been criticized on the basis of morality, in terms of increasing the danger of further attacks on American soil and by its lack of understanding of the Islamic world. Criticism of U.S. foreign policy will continue long into the fixture, especially if the U.S. maintains its status as the only superpower in the world, which is unlikely in the long term, however we need to understand why America is criticized. The purpose of this thesis is to better understand American foreign policy and why the U.S. embarks on the policies that it does. This understanding will come by way of analysing America's stance towards both Afghanistan and Iraq in the last quarter of a century to see how it has changed in correlation with American needs at the time. Since the events of 9/11 America has become more aggressive in its foreign policy stance toward both Afghanistan and Iraq. It has ousted both the Taliban and the Saddam Hussein regime, with the help of allies, from these respective nations. This thesis will argue that this is natural given the tenets of political realism. Political realism is a theory based upon self-interest, power and opportunity. America's policy towards Afghanistan and Iraq will be intimately tied with these notions, as these notions have been called upon throughout history. The thesis should be viewed as a microcosm of the realities of international relations. The essay will discuss different aspects of International Relations political theory and draw the conclusion that political realism provides the more relevant and stronger theories. I use the word theories because there exists differing approaches within the nexus of realism, although core assumptions are maintained. The thesis will explore America's role in Afghanistan and Iraq in the 1980s as well as in its post 9/11 context. Placed in its proper context American foreign policy should be seen as something that is natural, rather than something unique to America.

Additional Information

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Item type Thesis (Honours thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/32984
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1605 Policy and Administration
Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 2199 Other History and Archaeology
Historical > FOR Classification > 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords United States, foreign relations, Afghanistan, Iraq, wars, history, 20th century, 21st century, foreign relations, political philosophy
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