The president, the state and the Cold War: comparing the foreign policies of Presidents Truman and Reagan

Bilsland, James Robert (2013) The president, the state and the Cold War: comparing the foreign policies of Presidents Truman and Reagan. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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US foreign policy during the Cold War has been analysed from a number of perspectives, generating large bodies of literature attempting to explain its origins, its development and its conclusion. Within the discipline of International Relations these debates have tended to be led by scholars focusing on events at the system level. However, there are still many questions left only partially explained. In large part this is because these accounts restrict themselves to a single level of analysis, either the international system, or the structure of the state and society. The first level of analysis, focusing on the role of individuals, has largely been excluded from International Relations. It is often left to historians to incorporate the role of individual decision makers into their studies. The problem for international relations students, however, is that their arguments run the risk of determinism. They come close to advocating that the course of history is shaped by these external forces and there is little if no room for alternate courses to be steered. They have, intentionally or otherwise, removed human agency and choice from the equation.
This thesis argues that structural theories, and any approach that limits itself to one level of analysis, are inadequate to explain the development of US foreign policy. Instead, it is necessary to incorporate the first level of analysis in order to bring human agency back into International Relations and provide a more detailed explanation of US foreign policy. The present study proposes an analytical framework which incorporates presidential agency into a multi-level analysis of US foreign policy during the Cold War. Drawing on Foreign Policy Analysis, International Relations theory, presidential studies and the historiography of US foreign policy, this thesis constructs a multi-level case study comparison of the foreign policies of Presidents Truman and Reagan. It argues that the worldview of the president is central to agenda setting in US foreign policy making and that the management style of the president influences both decision-making and the implementation of US foreign policy. Evidence to support this is drawn from detailed empirical analysis of Truman’s foreign policy of containment in Korea and Reagan’s foreign policy of rollback in Nicaragua.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: United States Foreign Policy, Cold War, Foreign Policy Analysis, International Relations Theory, President, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, Korea, Nicaragua
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Girvin, Professor Brian and Young, Professor Alasdair and O'Driscoll, Dr Cian
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Dr James Bilsland
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4765
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2014 16:32
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2017 08:59
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