US Foreign Policy Habits in Ethnic Conflict

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Date: Dec. 2015
From: International Studies Quarterly(Vol. 59, Issue 4)
Publisher: Wiley Subscription Services, Inc.
Document Type: Report
Length: 359 words

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Abstract :

Byline: Lise Morje Howard Individual political rights and civic national identity lie at the core of American democracy, and spreading democracy is a crucial component of American grand strategy. However, American policymakers have often supported the construction of rigid, group-rights-based institutions in ethno-religious conflicts even when the parties were not demanding such institutions. The pursuit of "ethnocratic" solutions not only runs contrary to American ideals, but it is also not pragmatic, in that it enables the creation of regimes that are fragile, divided, and often dependent on outside assistance to maintain peace. This article weighs hypotheses about the sources of foreign policy decision making stemming from three contending Weberian logics of social action: instrumental rationality, normative appropriateness, and habit. Drawing on causal-process observations during crucial decision moments in Bosnia and Iraq, I argue in favor of the plausibility of habit as a driver of U.S. foreign policy. This work furthers the theoretical development of the concept of habit, offers a means of studying social habits empirically, and suggests improvements for American foreign policy in ethnic conflict. Article Note: Many thanks for helpful suggestions from audiences at: the Program on Intrastate Conflict, Belfer Center, Harvard University; Institute of Irish Studies, Queens University Belfast; the Munch Center, University of Toronto; the Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame; the GUITARS workshop, Georgetown University; the Five-College Workshop on Statebuilding, Mt. Holyoke College; the Department of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the annual conferences of the American Political Science Association, the International Studies Association, and the Academic Council on the UN System. For helpful comments and conversations, thank you also Consuelo Amat, Damir Arnaut, Andrew Bennett, Dom Bryan, Victor Cha, Anne Clunan, Chet Crocker, Keith Darden, Anjali Dayal, Larry Diamond, Richard English, Adrian Guelke, Laura Hatcher, Donald Horowitz, Dick Howard, Marc Howard, Ken Jowitt, Jeff Kopstein, Mark Lagon, Robert Lieber, Takaaki Masaki, Laurel Miller, Josh Mitchell, Ali Moghaddam, Denise Natali, Abe Newman, Dan Nexon, Elliot Posner- Jim Savage, Stephen Saideman, Leslie Vinjamuri, Erik Voeten, Jim Vreeland, Lucan Way, and Robin Wilson, three anonymous reviewers, and the ISQ editorial team. Thanks to the U.S. Institute of Peace for financial support.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A439973077