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Painful Choices:
A Theory of Foreign Policy Change
David A. Welch

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"David Welch has written an outstanding account of foreign policy change. His main claim is that leaders will change foreign policy most when they perceive existing policy as likely to lead to painful losses; they are not motivated to change policy simply because they might be able to make minor gains. He develops three main hypotheses to operationalise this claim, and 'test drives' these against a set of structured, focused case studies. He finds that his theory is substantially confirmed by the case studies, and he sees this as vindication of general theory. This is a fascinating book, with an excellent integration between theory and practice; it will become required reading for anyone interested in explaining foreign policy change or in international theory. Illuminating and theoretically convincing, this is that rare thing-a theoretically sophisticated book that says something new, and does so by the use of detailed case studies."--Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Professor of International Relations, University of Exeter

"Exceptionally well written, and mercifully free of jargon, this book is a major contribution to the field. By placing policy change at the core of the theory of foreign policy he seeks to develop, Welch deviates sharply from recent scholarship--and this is precisely the strength of his book. Not only will political scientists welcome the book but so too will historians, both because of the excellent case studies and because Welch is adept at using historical materials without distorting them to 'prove' some abstract theory."--Ole R. Holsti, George V. Allen Professor of Political Science, Duke University

"This very well written book addresses an area of international relations and foreign policy research that has received little attention in the field. The scholarship, both in the theoretical and empirical sections, is excellent; the research behind its case studies is first rate. Welch's writing is lively, and he effectively articulates complex ideas in easily digestible ways. No other work brings together institutional, psychological, and loss/gains-frame analysis like this book."--Scott Silverstone, Associate Professor of Political Science, United States Military Academy, West Point

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File created: 4/21/2017

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