Enemies of the American Way : Identity and Presidential Foreign Policymaking
This dissertation asks and answers the question, "Why do threat identifications vary among presidents?" It considers four plausible explanations for differences in threat identification and concludes that a new approach, a rule-based (RBI) theory of threat identification, provides the most useful answer. The RBI approach posits that American identity is subjectively defined and varies among individuals. By analyzing the constitutive rules that a president uses to describe American identity, RBI
... theory explains the variation in the types of behavior that each president identifies as threatening. This dissertation concludes that how a president conceptualizes American identity will influence the types of threats he identifies. Its findings are based on a comparative case study of the presidents of the late nineteenth century. After examining the foreign policies of Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and William McKinley, this study concludes that their different constructions of American identity account for disagreements over the British, German, and Spanish threats during the period studied. This dissertation and the RBI approach offer a novel and effective means for understanding late nineteenth century American foreign policy and put forward a template that can be applied to other eras, including the post-Cold War world. iii PREFACE While attending graduate school at Johns Hopkins, I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Jack Kangas. Under his tutelage, he introduced me to the topic of missile defense in contemporary American defense policy. I was amazed to learn that the idea of an American missile shield preceded Ronald Reagan's Star Wars and even the Korean War and was surprised to learn that the rationale and methods for missile defense changed over the decades. What interested me the most, at the time, was the growing support for missile defense among America's allies in Europe and Asia. I wanted to understand why our allies would support (some of them were helping construct) a national missile defense (NMD) architecture that would primarily protect the American homeland and restore America's military advantage to 1945 levels. Despite my naïveté or, perhaps due to it, I gained entry to key policymakers in the American defense apparatus and the embassies of allied states. My experiences while conducting my research opened my eyes to the making of defense and foreign policy and inspired me to write this dissertation. My work brought me into contact with many Americans working on the NMD project. They included civilians, officers, and even a retired general. With each interview, I dutifully executed my list of questions about America's relationship with its allies and how NMD fit into the broader picture of national security. As a bonus, I threw in an additional question at the end of the interviews. I asked these men and women who were dedicating their professional careers to NMD if they felt that missile defense was absolutely necessary. The responses they gave were a dissertation itself. iv The majority opinion was that NMD was absolutely crucial for national defense. The reason what that they believed that it was only a matter of time before rogue states would launch an unprovoked attack on the United States. These answers were so similar to each other that I initially suspected that they were rehearsed; rogue states hated America because of "what it stands for" and were jealous of our way of life. Additionally, they argued that these rogue states, such as Iraq and North Korea, could not be reasoned with and could not be deterred. They were anti-social; they were inherent enemies of the United States. Popular terms like "nuclear blackmail" accented their opinions. These people were convinced that a group of regionally influential states were going to develop weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems, and then use them against the United States. The American government needed to be ready for this inevitability. The minority disagreed, although quietly. These people, who were also working on NMD, believed that rogue states were not a threat. The arguments against the rogue state threat varied; some claimed that rogues could be deterred with America's overwhelming strategic advantage, some asserted that rogues would not threaten the United States if left alone, and others maintained that rogues could not possess the capacity to strike the American mainland. I even heard arguments that the real threat was China and that NMD would be useful in a future conflict over Taiwan. 1 These people, working diligently on missile defense, made their point. Not everyone agreed that the rogue state threat was the same. vi An investigation into threat identification can inform our understanding of foreign policymaking. When I think of the inspiration for this project, I am convinced that a better knowledge of threat identification can help us make better choices in foreign and defense policy. It is my conviction, formed years ago during discussions over missile defense and rogue states, that is the rationale for my research. vii ACKNOWLDGEMENTS Inside every fat book is a thin book trying to get out. Whoever uttered these words first must have been thinking about a dissertation. Without the advice, support, and guidance of my committee, this seemingly fat dissertation would have been morbidly obese. I could not have started this project without my conversations on American foreign policy with Edward Rhodes in 2005. More importantly, Ed's passion for history encouraged me to look at an oft-neglected period in American diplomacy. During my draft revisions, I came to deeply appreciate his attention to detail. Michael Shafer provided valuable advice and encouragement in the latter stages of my work. His insistence on elegance made a lasting impression on me. Additionally, Michael was a true mentor to me and influenced by renewed commitment to research, education, and service. The dedication, professionalism, and advice of Jack Levy were indispensible in the early stages of my work. I am also indebted to Colin Dueck, who took time from his busy schedule to serve as my external reviewer on short notice. I could not have completed this draft without suggestions and moral support of the faculty and graduate students at Rutgers.