US foreign policy and the crises in Libya and Syria: a neoclassical realist explanation of American intervention

Boke, Cem (2017). US foreign policy and the crises in Libya and Syria: a neoclassical realist explanation of American intervention. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Third-party intervention in civil wars is a phenomenon that presents a complex research puzzle in the fields of both International Relations (IR ) and Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA ). While intervention decisions impact the duration and result of a given conflict, they also have broader regional implications and political consequences for those that intervene.
The central questions this thesis aims to address are ‘what are the dynamics behind US foreign policy choices vis-a-vis L ibya and Syria's internationalised intrastate conflicts?' and, more specifically, 'What were the components that underpinned the selection of different set of elements from the intervention spectrum at different times and scales during the Libya and Syria conflicts'.
The existing literature points towards the relevance of both systemic and domestic level factors. Neo-classical realism (NCR ) is employed as the theoretical framework, and incorporates independent (threats to US interests vis-a-vis the L ibya and Syria conflicts) and intervening variables (elite Ideology/Obama Doctrine, US economic constraints, US elite perception of the opposition in Libya and Syria, congressional dynamics and public opinion) at the system and unit levels respectively. The dependent variable - US foreign policy choices – varies across three main forms: non-intervention, non-military intervention, and military intervention.
NCR has proven to be a comprehensive theoretical framework to understand the rationale behind the US's suboptimal foreign policy choices. The results of the research conducted here reinforce the notion that it is problematic to explain foreign policy decisions exclusively from the perspective of a balancing against power or threats without considering the impact of intervening variables at the domestic level. The research also underpins the importance of political leaders and elites' perceptions (regarding opposition groups as well as of domestic political restraints) through which systemic incentives and constraints are filtered and the contours of interests and threats are identified.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations


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