Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Morality and American Foreign Policy

Morality and American Foreign Policy: The Role of Ethics in International Affairs

Robert W. McElroy
Copyright Date: 1992
Pages: 206
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvnjj
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Morality and American Foreign Policy
    Book Description:

    Most international relations specialists since World War II have assumed that morality plays only the most peripheral role in the making of substantive foreign policy decisions. To show that moral norms can, and do, significantly affect international affairs, Robert McElroy investigates four cases of American foreign policy-making: U.S. food aid to the Soviet Union during the Russian famine of 1921, Nixon's decision to alter U.S. policies on biochemical weapons production in 1969, the signing of the Panama Canal Treaties in 1978, and the bombing of Dresden during World War II.

    Originally published in 1993.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6275-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. TABLES
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Chapter One THE DEBATE ON MORALITY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
    (pp. 3-29)

    For the first sixty years of this century, the question of what role morality plays in the formulation of foreign policy lay at the very heart of the scientific study of international relations. But during the past quarter century, in contrast, the role of morality in international affairs has been banished to the periphery of the field. Leading scholars may reject the charge that their scientific approaches to international relations lead to amoral conclusions, but they do not dedicate serious attention to investigating the influence of moral values on the conduct of nations.¹

    There are two major reasons for this...

  6. Chapter Two TOWARD A THEORETICAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE ROLE OF INTERNATIONAL MORAL NORMS
    (pp. 30-56)

    The question of whether international moral norms influence foreign-policy decision making in a substantial way is ultimately an empirical question that can be answered most effectively through the use of individual case studies. But there are significant theoretical reasons for believing that international moral norms do exist, and that they are capable of influencing international relations through the three mechanisms pointed to by the liberal internationalists: (1) the conscience of state decision makers; (2) the influence of domestic public opinion; and (3) international reputational pressures. It is important to investigate at some length these theoretical underpinnings for the liberal internationalist...

  7. Chapter Three UNITED STATES FAMINE RELIEF TO SOVIET RUSSIA, 1921
    (pp. 57-87)

    In 1921 United States foreign policy was dedicated to isolating the Soviet government in world affairs, with the hope and expectation that the Bolshevik regime would soon be overthrown. The United States refused to recognize the Soviet government, to allow the establishment of the credits necessary for private trade between American firms and the Soviet Union, or even to accept Soviet gold into the United States so as to allow the Russian government to pay outright for the American goods that it desired to purchase for its postwar economic recovery. The Harding administration viewed the Soviet government as a major...

  8. Chapter Four AMERICA’S RENUNCIATION OF CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE
    (pp. 88-114)

    On november 25, 1969, President Richard Nixon held a news conference to announce a series of decisions that were to shape U.S. policy on chemical and biological warfare for at least twenty years. The president stated that the United States would unilaterally destroy its stockpiles of biological weapons, formally pledge not to initiate the use of lethal chemical weapons in warfare, and begin ratification proceedings on the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which forbade first use of either chemical or biological weapons in combat. Nixon’s announcement was not an unexpected one, since the topic of chemical and biological weapons had been...

  9. Chapter Five COLONIALISM AND THE PANAMA CANAL
    (pp. 115-147)

    When the Panama Canal treaties were signed in 1977, twenty-two Latin American heads of state traveled to Washington and acclaimed the new agreements as a historical turning point in America’s relationship with the other nations of the hemisphere.¹ The twin treaties, which were ratified by the Senate in 1978, provided for a gradual transfer of ownership and control over the canal to Panama by 1999, and they ended the de facto sovereignty that the United States had exercised over the ten-mile-wide Canal Zone since 1903. In looking at the process that led to the negotiation, signing, and ratification of these...

  10. Chapter Six THE LIMITS OF MORAL NORMS: THE BOMBING OF DRESDEN
    (pp. 148-167)

    The previous three case studies have focused upon instances where the existence of an international moral norm led U.S. decision makers to act in a norm-observant manner. In the case of the Russian famine in 1921, the tenets of the famine-relief norm led Herbert Hoover and the Harding administration to send massive relief supplies to the Soviet Union despite the fact that such a relief effort might stabilize the Bolshevik government. In the case of U.S. policies on chemical and biological weapons, a group of prominent American scientists, journalists, and politicians worked together in 1969 to forge a domestic coalition...

  11. Chapter Seven CONCLUSIONS
    (pp. 168-184)

    One of the most significant debates in the field of international relations concerns the degree to which state behavior is influenced by the presence of norms and institutions in the international system. Traditional realists continue to stress the importance of state power and interests in determining the politics of nations, and they argue that efforts to generate more elaborate conceptions of state behavior based on institutions and values will only sacrifice analytic clarity while yielding little additional explanatory power.¹ Advocates of a more institutional approach to the international system point to patterns of behavior in the state system that realism...

  12. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 185-190)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 191-194)