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Worldviews in Foreign Policy: Realism, Liberalism, and External Conflict

Thomas S. Mowle
Political Psychology
Vol. 24, No. 3 (Sep., 2003), pp. 561-592
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3792326
Page Count: 32
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Worldviews in Foreign Policy: Realism, Liberalism, and External Conflict
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Abstract

International relations studies have been unable to determine whether realist or liberal theories better fit state behavior in various situations, possibly because these studies have attributed motive and action to the states rather than to the decision-makers within them. This article develops a new, more direct approach to resolving this problem. Hypotheses were tested regarding conditions under which decision-makers are likely to articulate a problem representation consistent with liberal or realist elements of a worldview. This was done by content analysis of statements about 36 foreign conflicts by the governments of three "bystander" nations-the United States, Canada, and India-over a 16-year period. The findings indicate that systemic and situational factors are far more important than domestic factors. States tend to represent wars in congruence with liberalism primarily when their security is already assured by another power or when the conflict does not involve allies, rivals, or fellow democracies. Thus, most of the expectations of realism are supported at the psychological level.

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