Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Professor Grant Reeher
Professor Mark Rupert
Citizenship and Public Affairs
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
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.
Milillo, Wesley Michael, "The Obama Doctrine: The LICI Foreign Policy Perspective" (2012). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 180.
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