The Impact of Public Opinion on U.S. Foreign Policy Since Vietnam

Paperback | February 15, 2001

byRichard Sobel

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How strongly does public opinion affect the making of U.S. foreign policy? In The Impact of Public Opinion on U.S. Foreign Policy Since Vietnam, Richard Sobel provides a compelling answer to this provocative question that has long stirred spirited debate among scholars, activists, andpolicymakers. The book explains how public attitudes have affected the making of U.S. foreign policy. It also explores the tension between theoretical views of what the role of public opinion should be in a democracy and the actual historical records. Focusing on four of the most prominent foreigninterventions of the last generation--the Vietnam War, the Nicaraguan contra funding controversy, the Persian Gulf War, and the Bosnia crisis--the book demonstrates that public opinion constrained but did not set American foreign policy. The cases provide detailed information on the events, publicattitudes, and policies for each of these four major U.S. conflicts. Sobel supports his argument with insights drawn from the words of decision-makers in public statements, records, and memoirs, as well as from interviews with three former secretaries of state and four former secretaries of defense.The book also explores how public sentiment about a specific crisis emerges over time and how it is often tied to the climate of interventionist and noninterventionist opinion. Clearly written, The Impact of Public Opinion on U.S. Foreign Policy Since Vietnam is an essential text for courses inAmerican government, public opinion, political behavior, and American foreign policy. It will also have strong appeal to scholars, policy makers, and general readers who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the politics behind the most significant conflicts of recent times.

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How strongly does public opinion affect the making of U.S. foreign policy? In The Impact of Public Opinion on U.S. Foreign Policy Since Vietnam, Richard Sobel provides a compelling answer to this provocative question that has long stirred spirited debate among scholars, activists, andpolicymakers. The book explains how public attitudes...

Richard Sobel is a Political Scientist at Harvard University and Senior Research Associate of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

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Format:PaperbackPublished:February 15, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195105281

ISBN - 13:9780195105285

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Table of Contents

TablesForeword by Ole HolstiPrefaceIntroduction1. Public Opinion in American U.S. Foreign Policy2. The Theory of Public Opinion and Foreign Policy3. Cycles in American Foreign Policy OpinionThe Vietnam Case: An End to Interventionism?4. The Vietnam War: History, Policies, Opinion and Protest5. Vietnam I: Public Opinion and Protest on Lyndon Johnson's War6. Vietnam II: Public Opinion and Protest on Nixon's WarThe Nicaragua Case: The Contra Funding Controversy7. Nicaragua: History, Reagan Policies and Public Opinion8. Public Opinion's Influence on Contra Aid PolicyThe Gulf War Case: A Return to Invertentionism?9. The Gulf War: History, Bush Policies and Public Opinion10. Public Opinion's Influence on Gulf War PolicyThe Bosnia Case: From Nonintervention to Intervention11. Bosnia: History, Policies and Opinion12. Bosnia I: Public Opinion's Influence on Bush Nonintervention Policy13. Bosnia II: Public Opinion's Influence on Clinton Intervention PolicyConclusion14. Extending the Theory of Public Opinion in American Foreign Policy: Public Opinion as Intervention Constraint

Editorial Reviews

"Based in scrupulous, objective scholarship, Richard Sobel's past work has been of high quality and has shown a keen desire to learn and benefit from the perspectives of policymakers. His well-received book on the contra aid controversy is characterized by an acute sense of the way politicalforces impinge on the policymaking process. This new book, explaining how public attitudes constrained foreign policy from Vietnam to Bosnia, continues his fine contributions to our understanding of the ways in which U.S. policymakers have perceived and been influenced by the public'spreferences."--Richard H. Ullman, Princeton University