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The Mood/Interest Theory of American Foreign Policy

The Mood/Interest Theory of American Foreign Policy

With a Foreword by Frank L. Klingberg
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Mood/Interest Theory of American Foreign Policy
    Book Description:

    In 1952, Frank L. Klingberg's article on introvert and extrovert American foreign policy moods projected an American turn toward introversion in the late 1960s. After this came to pass, Jack Holmes began to develop a theory of how these moods might work in a more specific sense. His mood/interest theory points to a basic conflict between politico-military interests and the foreign policy moods of the American electorate.

    Holmes presents a pioneering account of the over-whelming impact of public moods on foreign policy. Policy-making structures, executive-legislative relations, presidential personality, pragmatism, moralism, elitism, conservatism, international economics, and humanitarianism are related to the mood/interest pattern. Major points are illustrated with examples from 1776 to the present.

    Holmes's analysis indicates that American moods are continuing unabated according to past patterns, so that American foreign policy may undergo some surprising changes in the next decade. One of the author's hopes is that emphasis on the importance of national moods will help avoid future extremes.

    This book is bold in its assertions and points to major problems in the analysis of American foreign policy. Whether or not the reader agrees with the entire analysis, he or she will be challenged to think about American foreign policy in new and perhaps revealing ways.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6351-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Frank L. Klingberg

    In this book, Jack E. Holmes has made a major contribution to the understanding of American foreign policy, by developing his mood/interest theory and relating it to other major approaches. His analysis helps Americans to understand themselves and other nations to understand America.

    American foreign policy has often seemed to be unpredictable and undependable, especially to observers overseas. The American system has sometimes been regarded as fickle, with sudden changes of policy. Often given is the example of President Woodrow Wilson’s role as the chief architect of the League of Nations, followed quickly by the league’s repudiation in the Senate...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The mood/interest theory argues that alternating introvert and extrovert public moods, first identified by Frank L. Klingberg and manifested in American liberalism, regularly pass in and out of an interest zone established by the realities of international politics. Public mood, which can conflict with foreign policy interests, limits the feasible foreign policy actions of the United States government. The above concepts can be utilized to construct a two-hundred-year framework which aids in the analysis of American foreign policy.

    The mood/interest analysis emphasizes the need for greater attention to long-range macroanalysis by making a strong case for one such framework. Often...

  7. 1. Liberalism, Moods, and American Foreign Policy
    (pp. 11-37)

    The writings of John Locke articulate well the basic liberal ideological stance of almost all Americans. Locke, one of the early theorizers of liberalism, describes some characteristics of political and social human beings particularly relevant to American beliefs. Peace, not war, is the natural state. People are basically good, born free with natural rights to property and human equality. People enter society on their own accord to better secure their natural rights. Government must be limited to prevent it from reducing individualism more than is necessary to maintain the benefits offered the individual by society. Governmental authority should be divided....

  8. 2. Alternate Methodologies and Foreign Policy Concepts
    (pp. 38-69)

    If the mood/interest theory is a valid interpretation of American foreign policy, it is reasonable to expect that other analyses relating to public moods and foreign policy activity could be related to it. The first part of this chapter, then, will deal with several long-range studies and how they relate to the mood/interest theory. Later in the chapter, other prominent descriptions of American foreign policy and their relation to liberal moods will be discussed.

    In order to reinforce the linkage between foreign policy moods and actual foreign policy behavior, this section will examine several long-range studies and their relation to...

  9. 3. American Foreign Policy Interests: Their Moody Relation to Policy
    (pp. 70-108)

    The forces behind United States foreign policy moods and United States foreign policy interests are in basic conflict, periodically causing American foreign policy to deviate from interests. This basic conflict cannot be analyzed until both sides have been identified. Liberal foreign policy moods, including their relationship to some other foreign policy concepts, have been delineated. On the other side of the conflict are the politico-military interests the United States needs to pursue in the international system.

    Karl W. Deutsch said that, generally speaking, “the foreign policy of every country deals first with the preservation of its independence and security, and...

  10. 4. Mood/Interest Pluralism
    (pp. 109-134)

    The Public Rule Proposition of the mood/interest theory maintains that the public mood is a dominant force in American foreign policy, limiting government action. United States government institutions have evolved in a liberal environment; the liberal’s distrust of power is evidenced by a penchant for democratic and limited government with power divided among its various components. The founding fathers, taking such views into account in the Constitution, divided the conduct of foreign policy primarily between the executive and legislative branches by a complex set of checks and balances. This joint conduct of foreign policy became confused in practice and strongly...

  11. 5. American Introversion
    (pp. 135-160)

    The year 1968 can be documented as the end of the last extrovert phase. Is America in a period of introversion that will end in an extreme which fails to protect American politico-military interests, as happened in the late 1930s? Probably so, if the United States remains as curiously predictable as it has in the past. In a nuclear age this is particularly dangerous. Not much time is left in this introvert phase for an extreme, but an extreme is possible and may happen suddenly and with little warning. It may be recognized as an extreme only in retrospect.


  12. 6. Conclusion
    (pp. 161-168)

    This book presents and defends the mood/interest concept as a valid interpretation of American foreign policy. The Introduction identified the six propositions of the mood/interest theory and argued that such long-range analyses are vital to a balanced foreign policy perspective. Chapter 1 defined American liberalism and demonstrated how it has been reflected in alternating American foreign policy moods for more than two hundred years. The second chapter showed how independent methodologies also support the mood/interest theory. Other influences on foreign policy were also described, but liberalism was discovered to be the crucial influence.

    Chapter 3 defined the politico-military interests of...

  13. Tables
    (pp. 169-192)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 193-221)
  15. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 222-226)
  16. Index
    (pp. 227-238)