Political Science

Change and Stability in Foreign Policy: The Problems and Possibilities of Detente


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Assume that a nation is pursuing a given foreign policy and that we are concerned with the way in which it will act in the future. We may want to make a forecast — but then to what extent is the present policy of a nation a valid guide to its future behavior? Or we may want to influence the nation to change its course — can we succeed? In other words, will the policy change or persist in the face of new conditions or negative feedback? Kjell Goldmann identifies the factors that may have an impact on whether a specific foreign policy is likely to endure or to change and develops them into a theory of foreign policy stability. He then uses this theory to explore the reasons why West German-Soviet detente during the 1970s proved to be more enduring than the improvement in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Finally, he outlines a hypothetical scenario for a fully successful process of detente stabilization and examines the extent to which this scenario is realistic. The book ends with some thought about how to conduct a policy aimed at stable detente with an adversary.

Originally published in 1988.

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