The Importance of Ideological Distance and Polarity to Foreign Policies

Mark L. Haas

in The Clash of Ideologies

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199838424
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933419 | DOI:
The Importance of Ideological Distance and Polarity to Foreign Policies

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This chapter develops a causal logic that shows how ideologies tend to systematically shape states’ foreign policies. The central claim is that two variables—the degree of ideological differences dividing different groups of decision makers (“ideological distance”) and the number of prominent ideologies that are present in a particular system (“ideological polarity”)—are likely to have major effects on leaders’ core international security policies. The argument focuses on three major issues: an examination of how ideologies create various major threats and opportunities for leaders’ most important international and domestic interests; an analysis of how ideologies are likely to shape leaders’ alliance policies, including (somewhat paradoxically) the conditions under which ideological enemies are most likely to align; and a discussion of various strategies of regime promotion and the conditions under which they are most likely to be successful. After developing general hypotheses on these topics, the chapter applies its predictions to contemporary U.S.-Middle Eastern relations.

Keywords: ideologies; foreign policies; alliances; regime promotion; U.S.-Middle Eastern relations; ideological distance; ideological polarity

Chapter.  28156 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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