Date Published:1 Jul, 2010
Recent research, including an article by Charles Kupchan and Peter Trubowitz in this journal, has argued that the United States' long-standing foreign policy orientation of liberal internationalism has been in serious decline because of rising domestic partisan divisions. A reanalysis of the theoretical logic driving these arguments and the empirical evidence used to support them suggests a different conclusion. Extant evidence on congressional roll call voting and public opinion surveys, which is often used to support the claim that liberal internationalism has declined, as well as new evidence about partisan divisions in Congress using policy gridlock and cosponsorship data from other studies of American politics do not demonstrate the decline in bipartisanship in foreign policy that conventional wisdom suggests. The data also do not show evidence of a Vietnam War or a post–Cold War effect on domestic partisan divisions on foreign policy. Contrary to the claims of recent literature, the data show that growing domestic political divisions over foreign policy have not made liberal internationalism impossible. It persists as a possible grand strategy for the United States in part because of globalization pressures.
For further discussion and debate, see the roundtable on H-Diplo about "Is Liberal Internationalism In Decline", here.