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Reluctant Crusaders:
Power, Culture, and Change in American Grand Strategy
Colin Dueck

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2007

Paperback | 2008 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691136257
240 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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In Reluctant Crusaders, Colin Dueck examines patterns of change and continuity in American foreign policy strategy by looking at four major turning points: the periods following World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He shows how American cultural assumptions regarding liberal foreign policy goals, together with international pressures, have acted to push and pull U.S. policy in competing directions over time. The result is a book that combines an appreciation for the role of both power and culture in international affairs.

The centerpiece of Dueck's book is his discussion of America's "grand strategy"--the identification and promotion of national goals overseas in the face of limited resources and potential resistance. One of the common criticisms of the Bush administration's grand strategy is that it has turned its back on a long-standing tradition of liberal internationalism in foreign affairs. But Dueck argues that these criticisms misinterpret America's liberal internationalist tradition. In reality, Bush's grand strategy since 9/11 has been heavily influenced by traditional American foreign policy assumptions.

While liberal internationalists argue that the United States should promote an international system characterized by democratic governments and open markets, Dueck contends, these same internationalists tend to define American interests in broad, expansive, and idealistic terms, without always admitting the necessary costs and risks of such a grand vision. The outcome is often sweeping goals, pursued by disproportionately limited means.


"A particularly valuable book. Utilizing a large body of sources, Dueck lucidly examines a core issue of American foreign policy, namely, the essential factors that determine its 'grand strategy.'. . . His arguments are persuasive and often unique. . . . Essential."--Choice

"Realists have long lamented the periodic tendency of the United States to embark upon ideological crusades abroad. Dueck's Reluctant Crusaders goes some way in providing a causal explanation for such anomalous, and at times, self-defeating, strategic behavior."--Jeffrey W. Taliaferro, Perspectives on Politics

"Colin Dueck's Reluctant Crusaders is a well-researched, cogently argued explanation of how America's internal political characteristics have shaped its strategy toward the world...[It] is a welcome starting point for understanding how America's history and beliefs have enforced a surprising continuity in U.S. foreign policy, even as international threats and conditions have changed dramatically."--Todd R. Lowery, Claremont Review of Books


"A nicely crafted, succinct, and informative book. The author brings structural realism back to its roots in classical realism, giving theoretical substance to domestic values that classical realism acknowledged but failed to formalize."--Henry Nau, George Washington University

"This book poses an interesting and enduringly relevant question, and sets out to answer it in an engaging way. It is lean, extremely well written, and well-researched."--David Welch, University of Toronto

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
INTRODUCTION: Change and Continuity in American Grand Strategy 1
CHAPTER ONE: Power, Culture, and Grand Strategy 9
CHAPTER TWO: Strategic Culture and Strategic Adjustment in the United States 21
CHAPTER THREE: The Lost Alliance: Ideas and Alternatives in American Grand Strategy, 1918-1921 44
CHAPTER FOUR: Conceiving Containment: Ideas and Alternatives in American Grand Strategy, 1945-1951 82
CHAPTER FIVE: Hegemony on the Cheap: Ideas and Alternatives in American Grand Strategy, 1992-2000 114
CONCLUSION: The American Strategic Dilemma 147
Notes 173
Index 215

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