The Center Still Holds: The Potential for Liberal Internationalism Survives
International Security, Forthcoming
24 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2010
Date Written: February 12, 2010
Recent research including a prominent article in this journal has argued that America’s longstanding foreign policy orientation of liberal internationalism has been in serious decline because of rising domestic partisan divisions. We question the theoretical logic and empirical evidence driving this argument. We reanalyze extant evidence on congressional roll call voting and public opinion surveys, which is often used to support the claim that liberal internationalism has declined. We also analyze new evidence about partisan divisions in Congress using policy gridlock and co-sponsorship data from other studies of American politics. We do not observe the decline in bipartisanship in foreign policy that conventional wisdom suggests. We also find no evidence of a Vietnam War or a post Cold War effect on domestic partisan divisions on foreign policy. Unlike much of the recent literature, we argue that growing domestic political divisions over foreign policy have not made liberal internationalism impossible. It persists as a possible grand strategy for the US in part because of globalization pressures.
Keywords: liberal internationalism, bipartisanship, Congress, roll call voting
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