Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Professor Grant Reeher

Honors Reader

Professor Mark Rupert

Capstone Major

International Relations

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

International and Area Studies | Other International and Area Studies


Every U.S. President has maintained and crafted a prescriptive set of policies with which they conduct international affairs. All Presidents have left their historical mark- what they believe to be America’s position in the world, and its commensurate role. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world transformed as America achieved international hegemony as the sole superpower and subsequent victor of the Cold War. However, many today question U.S. primacy shifting the debate toward questioning if and how America should act in the world.

Barack Obama’s foreign policy eludes the confines of a single political ideology and philosophy. After being elected President, Barack Obama was bequeathed several entrenched problems (e.g. the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Great Recession), and encountered new ones along the way (e.g. the Libyan intervention, Arab uprisings).

A rhetorical analysis of his major speeches, beginning with several of his campaign speeches and ending at the present time, elucidates that his foreign policy is largely shaped by three major International Relations philosophical frameworks. This Capstone thesis contends that Obama’s rhetoric- i.e. speeches, foreign policy writings, books, addresses, and educational background- about America’s position and subsequent role in the world today indicates that his foreign policy is a combination of Liberal Internationalism, Constructivism, and Institutionalism (LICI). They have overlapping features that reaffirm each other's validity, and all are substantiated further by several subcategories.

The subcategories this paper draws upon to illustrate how Obama’s rhetoric reflects and, in many ways, constructs his foreign policy are: Pragmatism, Progressivism, Cosmopolitanism, Soft-power and global engagement, and multilateralism. Obama’s rhetoric is indicative of what he believes America’s role in the world could be, and should be.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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