Conclusion: Instrumental Multilateralism in US Foreign Policy

Rosemary Foot, Neil MacFarlane and Michael Mastanduno

in US Hegemony and International Organizations

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780199261437
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599309 | DOI:
 Conclusion: Instrumental Multilateralism in US Foreign Policy

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The book has sought, first, to determine whether there is any meaningful variation in US behaviour towards multilateral organizations and which factors carry the most explanatory weight in determining US behaviour and policy towards these organizations, and also to explore the extent to which US behaviour differs across issue area, from security to economics to the environment. Second, it has sought to assess in a more detailed way the nature of the US impact on multilateral organizations and what forms of impact are particularly salient, whether this varies across cases, and why. The general finding is that there is no clear pattern or trend that signals a growing US rejection of multilateral organizations as venues for the promotion of US foreign policy interests, although in the different issue areas there is more evidence of unilateralism in the area of security than economic cooperation. The candidate explanatory factors suggested in the introduction are revisited in the light of the empirical evidence offered by the authors, in order to provide an overall assessment of the forces shaping US practice: the internal factors highlighted include American exceptionalism (the most important), partisanship, interest groups, and bureaucratic interests; the external factors include the enhancing and sustaining of US power, and the perceived effectiveness of the organizations concerned. Last, an assessment is made of the impact of US policy towards multilateral organizations across the range of cases.

Keywords: behaviour; bureaucratic interests; economics; environment; exceptionalism; foreign policy; impact; interest groups; multilateral organizations; partisanship; power; security; unilateralism; US; US foreign policy; US power

Chapter.  4076 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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