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Old Paradigms in History Die Hard in Political Science: US Foreign Policy and American Exceptionalism

Hilde Eliassen Restad
American Political Thought
Vol. 1, No. 1 (May 2012), pp. 53-76
Published by: The University of Chicago Press in association with the Notre Dame Program in Constitutional Studies and the The Jack Miller Center
DOI: 10.1086/664586
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/664586
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Old Paradigms in History Die Hard in Political Science: US Foreign
                    Policy and American Exceptionalism
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Abstract

Most writers agree that domestic ideas about what kind of country the United States is affect its foreign policy. In the United States, this predominant idea is American exceptionalism, which in turn is used to explain US foreign policy traditions over time. This article argues that the predominant definition of American exceptionalism, and the way it is used to explain US foreign policy in political science, relies on outdated scholarship within history. It betrays a largely superficial understanding of American exceptionalism as an American identity. This article aims to clarify the definition of American exceptionalism, arguing that it should be retained as a definition of American identity. Furthermore, it couples American exceptionalism and US foreign policy differently than what is found in most political science literature. It concludes that American exceptionalism is a useful tool in understanding US foreign policy, if properly defined.

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