|Table of Contents|
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Foreign policy and societal change
Chapter 2. Theory of foreign policy and democracy promotion
Chapter 3. Norms and the growth of tolerance
Chapter 4. Human rights in U.S. foreign policy
Chapter 5. Congress and the transmission of norms to foreign policy
Chapter 6. Congress and foreign policy: Contra aid and South African sanctions
Chapter 7. Summary of findings and conclusion
DEMOCRACY PROMOTION AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY:
THE ROLE OF DOMESTIC NORMS
THOMAS JAY NISLEY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Thomas Jay Nisley
This study is a product of many years of classroom work, beginning at the
undergraduate level, and three years of intense research and writing. I thank all my
professors who helped shape my understanding of politics and world affairs. Thanks go to
my dissertation committee who helped guide me in the dissertation process. I extend a
particular heartfelt thanks to my committee chair, Dr. M. Leann Brown, and to Dr. Ido
Oren for their thoughtful attention, comments, and suggestions for each of the draft
I thank the Department of Political Science, which gave me the opportunity to
work as a teaching assistant while at the University of Florida. Acknowledgment and
appreciation go to the College of Liberal Arts, Gibson Dissertation Fellowship, for funding
a phase of the dissertation project. Acknowledgment goes to the U.S. Federal
government's student loan program. Without such a program, I never would have
financed my first year of study at the University of Florida.
Lifelong thanks go to my father, Kermit, and my mother, Joanne, whose
encouragement and support over the many years have helped me to achieve what I have.
Finally, the deepest thanks go to my wife, Clara, for her love and understanding
throughout the entire process.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............................................. iii
AB STRA CT ........................................................ vi
1 FOREIGN POLICY AND SOCIETAL CHANGE ...................... 1
2 THEORY OF FOREIGN POLICY AND DEMOCRACY PROMOTION .... 12
Introduction ................................................... 12
Theoretical Approach ........................................... 12
Domestic Norms in Foreign Policy .................................. 18
Explanations for U.S. Efforts to Promote Democracy and Human Rights ..... 25
Domestic Theories of Foreign Policy ................................ 33
Public Opinion and Foreign Policy .................................. 36
Causal Hypothesis .............................................. 41
3 NORMS AND THE GROWTH OF TOLERANCE .................... 45
Introduction ................................................... 45
Social Sciences, Norms and Explanation ............................. 46
Norms and a State's Identity ...................................... 51
American Identity ............................................... 54
Changing American Identity ....................................... 56
Social Movements and Identity Change ........................... 63
Multicultural and Tolerant America ................................. 71
Conclusion .................................................... 89
4 HUMAN RIGHTS IN U.S. FOREIGN POLICY ...................... 91
Introduction ................................................... 91
Presidential Rhetoric ............................................ 92
Human Rights in U.S. Foreign Policy ................................ 97
Uncertain Support 1945-1953 ............................... 98
Overt Neglect 1953-1976 .................................. 101
Support and Promotion 1977-2000 ........................... 107
Quantitative Analyses of U.S. Support for Human Rights ............... 111
Conclusion ................................................... 115
5 CONGRESS AND THE TRANSMISSION OF NORMS TO FOREIGN POLICY
Constitutional Power and Foreign Policy ............
The Two Presidencies ..........................
Two Presidencies: Fact or Artifact ...........
A Resurgent Congress ....................
Constituent Influence on Congress ................
Congressional Influence .........................
Congress, Human Rights and Democracy Promotion ...
6 CONGRESS AND FOREIGN POLICY: CONTRA AID
AFRICAN SANCTIONS ........................
Contra Aid ...................................
South African Sanctions .........................
. . . . . . .
7 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION ................
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ...........
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
DEMOCRACY PROMOTION AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY:
THE ROLE OF DOMESTIC NORMS
Thomas Jay Nisley
Chairperson: Dr. M. Leann Brown
Major Department: Political Science
Although the United States (U.S.) has generally emphasized democracy in its
international relations, the evidence suggests that in the post World War II era U.S. policy
increasingly displayed a tendency to promote actively the spread of democracy globally. I
contend that the primary source of policy change originates from changing domestic
norms regarding political and civil rights. As the commitment to political and civil rights
increased in the domestic arena, the commitment to political and civil rights internationally
increased. Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and other accomplishments of the Civil
Rights Movement, U.S. foreign policy decision makers cared little for regime type in their
policy orientations. After the social upheavals of 1960s, I have found a greater sensitivity
in U.S. policy toward democracy promotion. The early 1970s is a transition period in the
prevailing norms regarding civil and political rights in the United States and U.S. foreign
policy toward the promotion of human rights and democracy. The changes in norms led
to a change in identity. In the early 1970s, we find the basic U.S. identity shifting from a
Euro-American identity to a multicultural identity.
Theoretically my analysis originates from a constructivist approach to the study of
world politics. The constructivist approach emphasizes the impact of ideas, rather than
material considerations. This research specifically analyzes the changing normative
structure in the United States and the concurrent change in identity. This study links these
transformations to changes in foreign policy. The actions of the U.S. Congress regarding
human rights and democracy promotion are specifically analyzed. Congress represents the
link between domestic norms and foreign policy orientations.
The findings suggest that we must consider domestic level factors in our
explanations of international behavior and foreign policy. Particularly for the United
States, a human rights agenda and a policy of democracy promotion are associated with
domestic societal changes regarding political and civil rights and a general growth in
FOREIGN POLICY AND SOCIETAL CHANGE
This study seeks to explain the sources of democracy promotion in U.S. foreign
policy. Although the United States has generally emphasized democracy in its
international relations, the evidence suggests that in the post World War II era U.S. policy
increasingly displayed a greater involvement in advancing the spread of democracy
globally. I contend that the primary source of policy change originates from changing
domestic norms regarding political and civil rights. As the commitment to political and
civil rights increased in the domestic arena, the commitment to political and civil rights
internationally increased. Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and other
accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement, U.S. foreign policy decision makers cared
little for regime type in their policy orientations. After the social upheavals of 1960s, I
have found a greater sensitivity in U.S. policy toward democracy promotion. The early
1970s is a transition period in the prevailing norms regarding civil and political rights in
the United States. It is during this period that U.S. foreign policy toward the promotion
of human rights and democracy changes. The change in norms leads to changes in
identity.1 In the early 1970s we find the basic U.S. ethnic/racial identity shifting from a
'Identity is a multifaceted concept covering notions of the relation of the individual
to society, politics, and general world views such as fatalism or optimism. In this study
the change in identity is limited to that of racial/ethnic classification.
Euro-American identity to a multicultural identity. The multicultural identity includes not
only the acceptance of multiple racial and ethnic groups, but is also generally tolerant of all
forms of diversity. How the United States sees itself impacts on how it relates to the rest
of the world.
This study is important in how it analyzes domestic level factors on foreign policy.
Other works have examined the relationship between racism in the United States and U.S.
foreign policy (Hunt 1987, DeConde 1992). These works, for the most part, have shown
the deleterious effects of American racism in U.S. foreign relations. Recent research has
shown how advances in civil rights are related to the level of threat the United States
faced in the world system (Klinker and Smith 1999, Dudziak 2000). For the most part,
these works have neglected to examine the impact of declining domestic levels of racism
and U.S. foreign policy.
Some detractors will decry that the view of declining prejudices and increasing
tolerance presented in this study is pollyannaish. They will say that racism is alive and
well in the U.S. Others will claim that U.S. foreign policy does not consider human rights
and consistently violates human concerns for the larger "national interest." I am not at all
suggesting that racism or discrimination no longer plagues the United States. Neither am I
intimating that American foreign policy consistently supports democracy and human
rights. What I do suggest is that there have been changes in the U.S. domestic norms.
These changes have brought about an increase in respect for political and civil rights and a
tolerance for diversity at the domestic level. Moreover, U.S. foreign policy reflects these
To what extent has the United States changed? As a brief illustration we need only
to look at the United States and the actions of U.S. presidents during two different periods
of wartime. The actions of President Woodrow Wilson during World War I and George
W. Bush in the present "War against Terrorism" provide a study in contrast. As the
United States mobilized for war against Germany and the Central Powers, extensive
attacks occurred against German culture and German-Americans. German foods were
stripped of their names. Hamburgers became liberty sandwiches. Attacks on German-
Americans were prevalent.
Unique forms of violence were often devised by mobs to punish those charged
with disloyalty or pro-Germanism. For instance, in San Rafael, California, a man
had his hair clipped in the form of a cross, after which he was tied to a tree on the
courthouse lawn. A person of German birth in Salt Lake City was thrown into a
bin of dough where he almost suffocated. In Pennsylvania a man was taken from a
hotel room, "severely beaten, made to walk up and down the street with a dog
chain around his neck, forced to kiss the flag and doused into a large watering
trough" (Peterson and Fite 1957, 197).
In one case, near St. Louis in 1918, a mob bound a man in an American flag before they
lynched him (Kennedy 1980, 68). President Wilson remained mute to the attack on
German-Americans by Americans. David Kennedy (1980, 88) relates that Wilson
"persistently ignored pleas to speak out against attacks on German-Americans."
The actions of President George W. Bush after the attack of September 11, 2001
by Islamic extremists on the United States are in sharp contrast to the actions of Wilson.
The first hint of retaliatory attacks on Arab-Americans or Americans of the Islamic faith
brought a sharp and quick condemnation from the President. Standing barefoot in a tiled
prayer alcove in the Washington Islamic Center, President Bush declared that those "who
feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don't represent the
best of America. They represent the worst of humankind" (Lewis 2001, A5). Instead of
fanning the flames of bigotry and hatred, Bush declared that Islam is a religion of peace
and that the war was against terrorism, not Islam.
Cases of violence against Muslims did occur in the weeks after the attacks of 11
September. The American Islamic Council reports more than 625 complaints of violence
and harassment against Muslims and Islamic places of worship, and gunmen murdered two
individuals because they were Muslim or perceived as Muslim.2 Agents of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation were directed to investigate more than 40 potential hate crimes
including the two homicides. Nevertheless, the cases of violence were isolated and
usually solitary acts. The absence of any case of mob killing of Muslim Americans
represents a positive contrast to the actions of Americans in 1917. Professor Amitai
Etzioni of George Washington University, writing in the Christian Science Monitor.
declared that among the "many reasons these days to be proud to be American... is the
concerted effort to suppress expressions of anger against the terrorists from spilling over
to the religious group from which they hail" (Etzioni 2001, 9)
No American leader or journalist sought to excuse the attacks on Muslim
Americans as products of a thirst for revenge. In contrast, comments made by the
Washington Post in response to the killings of German-Americans at the onset of the U.S.
involvement in World War I were clearly exculpatory. Regarding the violent nationalism
2In Mesa, Arizona, a gunman murdered a Sikh owner of a gas station and in
Dallas, Texas, a Pakistani Muslim was gunned down in his grocery store.
of the time, the Washington Post declared: "In spite of the excess such as lynching, it is
healthful and wholesome awakening in the interior of the country" (quoted in Kennedy
Woodrow Wilson was a bigot and a racist; George W. Bush cannot be so
considered.3 With that understood we can explain the differing responses of these two
men. Most apologists for historical figures with racist dispositions argue that we must
understand these individuals in the context of their times. The societal norms of the time
in which Wilson lived supported his world view. George W. Bush's outlook reflects the
American society today.
How are the domestic norms of a country reflected in its foreign policy? As I will
argue in the next chapter, we cannot separate state-level factors from the external policy
of a state. Individuals are shaped by the society in which they live. Norms that govern
and shape domestic behavior influence decision makers as they direct foreign policy.
Again we must turn to President Wilson. Wilson disliked the idea of hyphenated
Americanisms. He viciously attacked the foreign-born as "creatures of passion,
disloyalty, and anarchy" (quoted in Kennedy 1980, 67). In his third annual message to
Congress, Wilson proclaimed that those "born under other flags but welcomed under
generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America... have
poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life... [T]he hand of
3Wilson did not object to the Postmaster General widening the practice of
segregation among federal employees in 1913. "He had screened the film The Birth of a
Nation in the White House, and had endorsed its pro-Ku Klux Klan interpretation of post-
Civil War Reconstruction as 'history written with lightning'" (Kennedy 1980, 281).
our power should close over them at once" (quoted in Kennedy 1980, 24). Wilson viewed
the United States as one nation with one racial/ethnic identity, that is, white, Anglo-Saxon,
and Protestant.4 Holding to the view that all nations should have their own state, it is
understandable that Wilson promoted a policy of national self-determination and a break
up of the multiethnic state of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From the early twentieth
century to the late twentieth century the American identity changes from a monocultural
identity to a multicultural identity. American policy toward the break up of Yugoslavia
did not reflect a Wilsonian view of national self-determination. Instead, policy makers
pursued a multiethnic solution. From the Vance-Owen plan to the Dayton Accords, U.S.
policy makers consistently aspired to develop a state composed of multiple ethnic groups
in war ravaged Bosnia. In the summer of 2001, ethnic conflict between Albanians and
Macedonians suggested a break up of Macedonia. The United States under the aegis of
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refused to support the ethnic Albanian
claims to sovereignty and committed troops in the peaceful settlement of the ethnic
In this study, the foreign policy area investigated is that of the promotion of
democracy. Most of the literature on democracy promotion suggests it to be a long-
standing U.S. policy. Gregory Fossedal (1989) in The Democratic Imperative argues that
the U.S. promotes democracy abroad as an embodiment of its democratic nature.
'Similar sentiment of this can still be found today in the works of writers like
Patrick Buchanan. These sentiments also exist in academia. Samuel Huntington (1997)
calls for immigrants to accept English as the national language and commit "to the
Principles of the American creed and the Protestant work ethic."
According to Joshua Muravchik (1992) in Exporting Democracy, a foreign policy that
links an American identity with the cause of democracy finds deep roots in American
history. In America's Mission, Tony Smith (1994) ties the promotion of democracy with
U.S. security interests and traces its origins to the U.S. Civil War. Most scholars attribute
the absence of democracy promotion to the absence of strong domestic political leadership
or to international security factors. Domestic and societal normative changes in the
United States are for the most part ignored in the literature on democracy promotion.
One attempt to develop a nuanced explanation for U.S. democracy promotion and
account for an evolution and change in policy can be found in William Robinson's (1996)
Promoting Polyarchy. Robinson suggests that with a globalized world economy the core
countries led by the United States can no longer use coercive measures to control the poor
states in the periphery. To limit calls for greater economic participation in the developing
world, the United States promotes "low intensity democracy" or polyarchy as a way to
relieve pressure from subordinate groups for more fundamental political, social, and
economic change. "Low intensity democracy" or polyarchy is political democracy under
capitalism which maintains "elite minority rule and socioeconomic inequalities alongside
formal political freedom and elections involving universal suffrage" (Robinson 1996, 356).
Whereas most scholars view democracy promotion as a long-standing tradition in U.S.
policy, Robinson correctly understands that it is a recent phenomenon. This study agrees
with Robinson's contention that the U.S. promotes polyarchy. The U.S. political system
is best characterized as a polyarchy. Therefore, it makes sense that U.S. policy makers
would seek to promote the form of democracy that characterizes their own political
structure. Where he claims that policy change is a product ofglobalization and
transnational forces, my research suggests that we must turn to domestic sources in the
I argue that change in U.S. norms regarding domestic political and civil rights
translates into changes in foreign policy regarding the promotion of political and civil
rights externally (i.e., democracy promotion). The independent variable is the domestic
normative structure. Norms are culturally defined rules of conduct that specify what is
appropriate and what is proper or necessary behavior within groups, organizations and
institutions. Changes in this variable are considered permanent or at least not readily
reversible. The intervening variables are the avenues of transmission of domestic norms to
the policymaking apparatus. Domestic norms on foreign policy (here democracy
promotion) affect the policy making apparatus from many sources including the polls, the
media and interest groups. An examination of these sources is incorporated in the
following analysis. However, this study concentrates on policy changes originating from
the U.S. Congress as the primary indicator of change in domestic norms. The assumption
is that the legislative branch is closest to the electorate and thus will be the first to reflect
changes in the broader society. By examining the activities of Congress we can link
change at the domestic level to changes in foreign policy. The dependent or outcome
variable is democracy promotion. The conception of democracy embraced in this study is
compatible with the conception of polyarchy. Promoting democracy encompasses the
promotion of regular, free, and fair elections and universal suffrage, informational
pluralism, civil liberties and human rights, functional autonomy for legislative, executive
and judicial branches, and effective power and accountability for elected officials (Dahl
The temporal domain of the study covers the post World War II era, 1945-2000.
This study is composed of seven chapters. After this brief introduction, chapter 2
provides the theoretical background for the dissertation. Theoretically my analysis
originates from a constructivist approach to the study of world politics. The constructivist
approach emphasizes the impact of ideas, rather than material considerations. A
constructivist theory suggests that norms are a constitutive component of a state's
interests. My approach differs from standard constructivism regarding where norms come
from and how they emerge to influence world politics. The tendency among
constructivist scholars is to suggest that states are socialized to accept new norms and
perceptions of interests through international interactions. This study takes a state level
view to the constructivist approach. Instead of norms being the sole product of
international interaction, change in the domestic normative structure is offered as the
origin of international behavior.
In chapter 3,1 discuss the importance of norms for the social sciences and examine
how norms constitute identity. This leads to a discussion of changes in the normative
structure in the United States and the changes in the American identity. Although norms
often change gradually, the data suggest that the early 1970s mark the point at which
domestic norms change. The context in which change occurs is through the presence of
protest movements organized with respect to issues of political and civil rights. I use data
from the National Elections Studies and national survey groups such as Gallup to show a
change over time in the American public's attitudes toward political and civil rights.
Also, I analyze cultural and political changes during the period.
Beginning with a focus on the presidency, Chapter 4 examines changes in U.S.
foreign policy toward the promotion of human rights and democracy. Through contextual
evidence and the use of the last twenty-five years of quantitative research, I assess the
relationship between U.S. foreign assistance and the violation of human rights by recipient
countries. The evidence suggests that U.S. foreign policy has changed with that change
taking place in the 1970s. This change occurs concurrently with the change in domestic
norms that has produced a multicultural American identity identified in the previous
In chapter 5,1 flesh out the indicator variable of Congress and show how the
change in domestic norms influences changes in foreign policy. This leads to a discussion
of the role of constituent influence on members of Congress. More than any other branch
of government, the Congress most accurately reflects the norms of the United States.
With members facing reelection every two years, the House of Representatives most
immediately reveals changes at the domestic level in the governing structure.
Congress exerts significant power over foreign policy through legislative and
nonlegislative tools such as public hearings. Taking a cue from the "new institutionalist"
literature on American government, I address the mechanisms beyond the legislative
process by which Congress can influence foreign policy. I show how the civil rights
movement influenced members of Congress in their thinking toward foreign policy.
Finally, I confront the legislative and procedural changes that Congress has undertaken to
incorporate the promotion of democracy and human rights into U.S. foreign policy. I
integrate my findings on the change in domestic norms into the analysis of Congressional
In Chapter 6 I discuss two cases, South African sanctions and the Contra aid
debates, where the President and Congress differed over promoting human rights and
democracy and the Congress actually constrained presidential action. Chapter 7 of the
dissertation summarizes my findings and draws conclusions from the study. I find a
significant change in the domestic normative structure regarding political and civil rights
over the duration of the period studied. U.S. foreign policy has reflected this change in
public norms in the direction of greater concern for political and civil rights. In the next
chapter I discuss the importance of locating an understanding of foreign policy at the
domestic level and address the relevance of norms to foreign policy.
THEORY OF FOREIGN POLICY AND DEMOCRACY PROMOTION
Although the United States has generally emphasized democracy in its
international relations, the evidence suggests that in the post World War II era U.S. policy
increasingly emphasized good relations with democratic states and a greater involvement
in advancing the spread of democracy globally. The primary source of policy change
emanates from changing domestic norms regarding political and civil rights. As the
commitment to political and civil rights increases in the domestic arena, the commitment
to political and civil rights internationally increases. The basic puzzle of my research is to
what extent do changes in domestic norms result in changes in foreign policy?
In this chapter, I present my theoretical approach in understanding this question.
The study is grounded in a constructivist perspective. I also address the relevance of
norms in the study of foreign policy. Second, I review the literature addressing democracy
promotion and U.S. foreign policy. Third, I discuss the importance of locating this
analysis at the domestic level and in doing so consider the relationship of domestic norms
to the formation of foreign policy.
Theoretically my analysis originates from a constructivist approach to the study of
world politics. The constructivist approach emphasizes the impact of ideas, rather than
material considerations. Primarily, constructivism is a way of studying social relations.
Human beings are social beings and would not be human but for social relations. Social
relations and individual identities are mutually constitutive. Norms of behavior link
individuals to society and society to individuals (Onuf 1998). This study defines a norm as
a standard of behavior taken to be proper and acceptable. A norm is a principle of right
action binding on the members of a group. In societal relations, norms guide the behavior
of actors and set regularities of action. Society is a system made up of the interaction of
human individuals in which "each member is both actor (having goals, ideas, attitudes,
etc.) and object of orientation for both other actors and himself." With this assumption,
we may understand how the system behaves based on broadly shared goals, ideas, and
attitudes of the individuals. These goals, ideas and attitudes constitute norms of behavior.
"The core of a society, as a system, is the patterned normative order through which life of
a population is collectively organized" (Parsons 1966, 8-10).
The state is the political expression of the society. From a social contract theory
of the origins of the state, we can understand the state as a product of the society.
Thomas Hobbes, one of the first social contract theorists, argued that individuals gave up
some of their freedoms and agreed to be bound by the rule of the King. In return, the
King provided order, thus removing the individual from the state of nature in which
Hobbes described life as "nasty, brutish and short" (quoted in Coulter 1984, 35). Jean
Jacques Rousseau's version of the social contract further connects society to the state.
With his notion of the 'general will' Rousseau makes this connection explicit: "So long as
several men together consider themselves to be a single body, they have but a single will,
which is concerned with their common preservation and the general well-being"
(Rousseau 1992, 966). The norms that bind the individuals together in a single body
shape their collective perceptions regarding the necessities for preservation and what
constitutes the general well-being. We can understand many behaviors of the state by
reflecting on the basic construction of a particular state's society.
A constructivist approach to foreign policy is better understood when juxtaposed
to its theoretical antithesis, rational-materialism. A rational-materialist theory of foreign
policy such as Classical Realism suggests that a state be understood as a rational unitary
actor seeking to maximize its own interests or national objectives in world politics. For
Realism, a state's foreign policy is a response to changes in relative capabilities of other
states. Realism contends that states do and must respond to the outside world without
moral consideration. Realism proposes an amoral foreign policy with material power
being the immediate concern (Morgenthau 1985). A rationalist-materialist approach can
explain many state behaviors. However, we cannot account some aspects of state
behavior for based on material interests. Conversely, I do not claim that we can explain all
state behaviors through an examination of norms and state identities. Nevertheless, a
focus on norms best accounts some behaviors such as the promotion of democracy for
through a constructivist approach. A theory of foreign policy from a constructivist
approach posits that a state's national interests derive from a collective understanding
within a state and an intersubjective understanding among states, rather than an
understanding derived from the distribution of material capabilities. A state's interest is
closely tied with its identity and the societal norms shape that identity. Whereas Realism
assumes that all actors in global politics have one meaningful identity, that of a self-
interested actor, "constructivism treats identity as an empirical question to be theorized
within a historical context... "(Hopf 1998, 175).
The constructivist approach to the study of world politics emphasizes the process
of interaction that leads to state identity and interest formation. The model of behavior is
one of rule-governed action. Instead of a calculus of rational action based on ends and
means, actors' (i.e., states) behavior is based on the situation and the designated
appropriate behavior for the given situation. Norms produce guidelines that shape the
actors' understanding of their interests. A constructivist theory suggests that norms are a
constitutive component of a state's interests.
Norms are relevant, to some extent, in all schools of international relations theory;
however, only the constructivist approach views norms as fundamental. Jeffrey Checkel
(1998, 327-328) informs that:
While realists see norms as lacking causal force, neoliberal regime theory argues
that they play an influential rule in certain issue areas. However, even for
neoliberals, norms are still a superstructure built upon a material base: they serve a
regulative function, helping actors with given interests maximizing utility. Agents
(states) create structures (norms and institutions). For constmructivists, by contrast,
norms are collective understandings that make behavior claims on actors. Their
efforts reach deeper: they constitute actor identities and interest and do not simply
From the constructivist perspective the building blocks of reality are not only material but
ideational. State interaction creates the normative base that forms the social milieu. For
most constructivists, the level of analysis is the system. State and nonstate interaction
creates intersubjective understandings and frames identity.
The approach taken in this study differs from standard constructivism in regards to
where norms come from and how they emerge to influence world politics. Most
constructivist scholars assume that states are socialized to accept new norms and
perceptions of interests through international interactions. Alexander Wendt (1996,48)
offers constructivism as a structural theory of world politics. The core claims of a
structural constructivism are the following: (1) states are the principal actors in the
system; (2) the key structures in the system are intersubjective not material; and (3) those
structures construct interests and identities, rather than determined by exogenous factors
to the system such as human nature or domestic politics. This follows in an identification
of world politics as a larger society in which values are mutually given (Bull 1977). A
society of states exists when a group of states is conscious of and maintains certain
common interests and common values. A common set of norms binds these states in their
relations with each other. States maintain certain norms and construct norms through
interaction with other states creating larger societal norms that reconstitute state level
Some scholars argue that international norms appear when they are welcomed and
championed by a hegemon (Ikenberry and Kupchan 1990). Other scholars argue that
agents for global normative change are not states, but nonstate actors. These scholars
have focused on the role of international institutions (Finnemore 1996) or transnational
groups (Sikkink 1993, Klotz 1995) in the diffusion of norms. Along with a focus on
transnational actors the origin of new norms of behavior is often linked to principled ideas
held by individuals (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998). Ethan Nadleman (1990) has
emphasized the influence of individuals, with firmly held beliefs of right and wrong and a
desire to convert others to those ideas, who act as transnational moral entrepreneurs. I
contend that these scholars do not place enough emphasis on state level factors in the
development of norms. Individuals are important, but how can we explain why some gain
legitimacy in their views while others do not? Of course transnational organizations help
diffuse norms throughout an international society; however, a hegemon enhances this
diffusion when it embraces the same norms. This study takes a state level view to the
constructivist approach. Instead of norms being the sole product of international
interaction, changes in the domestic normative structure will be offered as the origin of
Scholars in the constructivist vein suggest that the international normative
environment alters the character of states and state behavior (Jepperson et al. 1996).
Nevertheless, these scholars have failed to indicate the origin of the normative structure
other than being produced by the intersubjective understandings of the states. Thomas
Rise-Kappen reminds us that norms do not "float freely" and are at a minimum mediated
through the individual state's domestic structure (Risse-Kappen 1994). Stephen Krasner
further argues that the domestic structures of states determine the international
environment, particularly the domestic structures of the most powerful states "In the
contemporary world transnational fascist and racist organizations are weak; this would
hardly be the case if Germany had won the Second World War" (Krasner 1995, 266). The
same line of reasoning would lead to the assumption that the supremacy of market
solutions to economic problems and the dominance of multinational corporations in the
global economy would not exist if the United States had collapsed in 1991 rather than the
Soviet Union. Therefore, we must examine the domestic normative structure of a state to
understand its external behavior. Moreover, if the state is a powerful one, it has the
capacity to shape the general international normative environment. U.S. foreign policy
behavior is more influenced by domestic norms than by the norms propagated by less
powerful states or institutionalized in systemic bodies.
Domestic Norms in Foreign Policy
A state's foreign policy decisions emerge from three levels of influence: (1)
external or international influences; (2) internal or state influences; and (3) individual
influences (Kegley and Wittkopf 1996). At the first level we find the external sources of
foreign policy, or international influences. This includes systemic factors, such as the
prevalence of conflict, the extent of trade interdependence, or the intersubjective
understandings states develop through the process of interaction. The second level of
internal influences brings in the domestic sources of foreign policy. The broadest category
includes the state's societal environment, which contains the values, beliefs, norms, and
self-images widely shared by the broader culture. These factors in the state's societal
environment compose its identity. A second category at the internal level is the
institutional setting. This includes the governmental structures, the division of authority,
and the decision-making process. The third level represents the characteristics of
individual decision makers. This level focuses on how individual personality
characteristics explain how decision makers choose to conduct foreign policy.
All three levels can account for variations in a state's foreign policy. At the
systemic level, a state's foreign policy options are directly related to the global distribution
of power (Waltz 1979). Some states, based on their relative power capabilities, have
greater leeway in their choices. Nevertheless, as the extant literature on the democratic
peace suggests, the type of political regime is an important predictor of a state's foreign
policy (see Chan 1997 for an excellent review). The type of political regime circumscribes
a state's options irrespective of power capabilities. The institutional structure of the
foreign policy making process and organizational procedures shape foreign policy
outcomes (Allison and Zelikow 1999, Nisley 1999). At the individual level psychological
and personality differences account for variance in decision making behavior (Jervis 1976,
McDermott 1998). This study argues that the prevailing domestic norms at the societal
level will provide a robust account of a state's foreign policy behavior regarding the
promotion of democracy. Norms set boundaries on behavior, restricting some and
Societal norms structure all three levels of influence in some way. Societal norms
dictate how a state will respond to systemic constraints. Although the structure of the
system limits choices, choices do remain. State institutions and organizational structure
are derived from and influenced by larger societal norms. Democratic institutions are
legitimate through democratic norms. Individual decision makers are products of the
societies to which they are born. For example, AdolfHilter's anti-Semitism and
xenophobia were not far removed from the rural Austro-German culture in which he was
reared and were widely embraced by the broader German culture.
As a factor in a state's foreign policy, norms are fundamental. Societal norms and
ideas held by individuals help shape a state's foreign policy. Judith Goldstein and Robert
Keohane (1993) provide a framework that explains how ideas (beliefs held by individuals)
explain policy outcomes. Although Goldstein and Keohane emphasize ideas, their
framework is relevant for this study since norms are in essence the collective ideas of
proper and improper behavior held by the larger society. Goldstein and Keohane offer
three types of ideas: world views, principled beliefs, and causal beliefs. World views
address the concept of what is possible and "are embedded in the symbolism of a culture
and deeply affect modes of thought and discourse" (Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 8).
Principled beliefs specify the criteria of right and wrong and are often justified in terms of
world views (Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 9). The third category of ideas, causal beliefs
"are beliefs about cause-effect relationships which derive authority from the shared
consensus of recognized elites..." (Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 10).
Goldstein and Keohane identify three causal pathways through which ideas
influence policy. Ideas may serve as road maps assisting individuals in the determination
of their own preferences or to understand relationships (Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 13).
Ideas serve as focal points and help individuals choose from among multiple outcomes
(Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 17). Finally, ideas influence policy as they become
"institutionalized" (Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 20). Ideas influence organization design
and the development of political institutions, administrative agencies, legal structures and
operating procedures, that mediate between ideas and outcomes.
John Ruggie suggests that the Goldstein and Keohane typology does not advance
us far from the neo-utilitarian precepts of neoliberal regime theory (Ruggie 1998, 17).
Goldstein and Keohane seek to use ideas to account for unexplained variance in their
rationalist models. Beliefs are not independent variables, they are intervening variables
that explain anomalies in a rational-materialistic account. Goldstein and Keohane (1993,
7) declare that "we do not seek to explain the sources of these ideas; we focus on their
effects." The Goldstein and Keohane typology provides a starting point, but we must
move further and account for norms as independent causal variables. Individual ideas are
translated through intersubjective beliefs into social facts. This is what the philosopher
Searle calls collective intentionality. Intentionality remains an individual event, "[bl]ut
within those individual heads it exists in the form 'we intend' and 'I intend only as part of
our intending'" (quoted in Ruggie 1998, 20). Broad societal norms are important
explanatory variables in the study of world politics.
Domestic norms are the most important part of the explanation of the democratic
peace. In matters of war and peace, the empirical evidence strongly suggests that
democracies are more peaceful in their relations with other democracies (Maoz and
Abdolali 1989, Russett 1993, Ray 1995). Some scholars have found evidence to suggest
that democracies are more peaceful in international relations overall. Stuart Bremer finds
that democratic states are less likely than nondemocratic states to engage in militarized
interstate disputes (Bremer 1992). David Rousseau and his colleagues (1996, 527)
present evidence suggesting that "democracies are less likely to initiate crisis with all other
types of states." R. J. Rummel (1983) has gone far as to assert that democracies are less
warlike than other types of regimes. Moreover, he concludes that the more democratic a
regime the less severe will be its foreign violence (Rummel 1996, 71). Rummel further
extends the pacific benefits of democracy to a state's internal relations. Democracies are
the most internally peaceful regimes, or as Rummel declares "democracies don't murder
their citizens" (Rummel 1996, 91).
The question we must ask is why do democracies appear to be more pacific in all
of their relations? Zeev Maoz and Bruce Russett (1993) offer two alternative explanations
for the democratic peace: a structural/linstitutional account that suggests that bellicose
executives in democracies are constrained by elected representative institutions and a
normative account that emphasizes certain aspects of liberal democracy market
economies, nonviolent resolution of differences, the rule of law as guiding relations
between democratic states. Scholars differ about which factors are more important.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and David Lalman (1992, 156) dismiss the normative account
since democracies will still fight nondemocratic countries; beingig a liberal democracy
does not guarantee that a nation behaves like a dove, just as failing to be a liberal
democracy does not guarantee that a nation is hawk like." Christopher Layne (1994) also
makes this argument. Maoz and Russett (1993) demonstrate that both the
structural/institutional and normative accounts offer explanations of the democratic peace,
however, democratic norms are even more positively correlated with low conflict than
The division of the explanation into a structural and a normative account is a false
dichotomy. Even Bruce Russett (1993,40) recognizes that the two models are not neatly
separable and that institutionsos depend on norms and procedures." John Owen (1994)
argues that liberal ideas (norms) produce both democratic ideology and institutions, which
work together to constraint government and produce the democratic peace. Liberal states
"trust those states they consider fellow liberal democracies and see no reason to fight
them" (Owen 1996, 153). The problem with the broader normative argument is that most
scholars researching the democratic peace assume that domestic norms are static rather
than dynamic. Any state that meets the scholar's definition of democracy is considered
imbued with democratic norms. However, our conceptions of democracy have changed
over time so why should we not consider that democratic norms have changed also?'
In quantitative studies on the democratic peace, the indicators for norms have a
limited capacity to capture the dynamic concept of domestic norms. For example, in his
test of the democratic peace in the post World War U era, Russett (1993) uses two proxy
variables to capture domestic norms: the persistence of a political regime and the level of
domestic political violence measured by the number of violent political deaths and the
number of political executions. Russett proposes that a society with strong democratic
norms would be characterized by a political regime of some duration and with little or no
'For a tightly reasoned argument to the changing nature of democracy see C.H.
Macpherson (1977), The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy. Macpherson argues that
Western liberal democracy did not emerge until the nineteenth century when liberal
theorists came to believe that one man one vote would not be dangerous to private
property. Democracy has moved through four identifiable phases: (1) Protective
Democracy that only protected the governed from abuses of the government; (2)
Developmental Democracy that brought a moral dimension to democracy seeing
democracy as a means to individual self-development; (3) Equilibrium Democracy that
rejects individual self-development and instead provides a justification for a competition
between elites, and finally (4) Participatory Democracy that is an emerging phase of
democratic life with more extensive individual inputs into the governing process.
Both are behavioral indicators that cannot capture the concept of democratic
norms. One can easily imagine a society in which a thoroughgoing anti-democratic
attitude dominates the culture, such a religious community. This may be a long-standing
regime in which political violence need not exist. The Puritan colony of early America
comes to mind as an example, as well the Kingdom of Bhutan today. Although the
absolute monarchy in Bhutan was changed to a form of democratic monarchy in 1969,
democratic norms do not characterize the society. Rather, a subservience to traditional
culture and Buddhism characterize Bhutan. No political violence is necessary to maintain
A further problem with democratic norms is the potential for a subjective bias. Ido
Oren (1995) contends that the democratic peace is subjective and the United States over
the years has redefined its definition of democracy "to keep our self-image consistent with
our friends' attributes and inconsistent with those of our adversaries" (Oren 1996, 263).
Although Oren does recognized internal changes to the U.S.'s definition of democracy, he
puts more emphasis on external influences of foreign policy. According to Oren, President
Woodrow Wilson's image of Imperial Germany changed as a function of the foreign
policy process. Wilson once considered Germany an ideal democracy with an advanced
and effective political system. It is only when relations turned bellicose in 1917 that
Wilson developed a negative perception of Germany. Oren's argument is compatible with
Owen's. For a democratic peace to be maintained liberal states must perceive other states
as liberal. External threats do appear to play role, nevertheless, the prevailing domestic
normative structure energizes the linkages of perception. Domestic norms change, often
profoundly over time. To illustrate such deep changes one only has to think of President
Wilson. IfWoodrow Wilson were a politician today, given his Anglo-Saxonist views and
racist disposition, he would not be considered a mainstream, viable candidate for national
Norms are important explanatory variables. Clearly, a state's foreign policy
emerges from multiple levels of influence and multiple variables. All social phenomena
derive from plural causes (Mill 1846). However, if we embrace the idea that the state is a
product, a reflection, and the expression of society, we can understand state behavior by
understanding the norms held by that society. Broad societal norms stimulate actions at
all levels of influence. Norms change over time and with a change in norms we find
changes in state policies and actions. The next section considers the literature about a
particular U.S. policy, the promotion of democracy and human rights abroad.
Explanations for U.S. Efforts to Promote Democracy and Human Rights
The preponderance of the literature on democracy promotion by the United States
has tended toward a normative policy approach. Exemplars of this type are Transitions
from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy a four-volume collection edited by
Guillermo O'Donnell, Philip C. Schimitter and Laurence Whitehead, and Democracy in
Developing Countries, another four volume series, edited by Larry Diamond, Juan J. Linz
and Seymor Martin Lipset. Both volumes were commissioned by organizations funded by
the U.S. Congress.2 This type of literature is less an academic explanation and more a
policy handbook. Larry Diamond's (1995) report to the Carnegie Commission on
Preventing Deadly Conflict, Promoting Democracy in the 1990s: Actors and Instruments.
Issues and Imperative is the ultimate guide for the policymaker seeking to promote
democracy. The report provides a justification for promoting democracy (as a means to
global order and U.S. national security) and presents all of the actors and instruments
needed to promote democracy.3 In seeking to understand U.S. foreign policy this type of
literature provides no explanation except as objects of inquiry themselves.
A body of literature on U.S. democracy promotion that seeks to explain the
phenomenon does exist. Some of this literature perceives the policy as a natural
manifestation of a democracy. For example, Gregory Fossedal (1989) argues that the
U.S. promotes democracy abroad as an embodiment of its democratic nature. Contrary to
the perception of isolationism within the American public, Fossedal contends that public
opinion since the end of World War II has consistently remained interventionist. The
promotion of democracy aboard is a necessary product of a democratic state. Fossedal
(1989, 220) declares that "to argue against a foreign policy to promote the rights of man,
then, is to argue against the rights themselves, and thus against our own institutions."
2 The Diamond et al. volumes were commissioned by the National Endowment for
Democracy and the O'Donnell et al. series were funded by the Woodrow Wilson Center.
'For the latest policy and strategic assessment on democracy promotion published
by the Carnegie Endowment see Thomas Carothers (1999) Aiding Democracy Abroad:
The Learning Curve.
Joshua Muravchik (1992), much like Francis Fukuyama (1992), sees the triumph
of the U.S. in the Cold War as a victory of democratic ideology over other ideologies.
According to Muravchik, democratic ideas have been indefatigably connected with the
United States since its inception and a foreign policy that emphasizes an American identity
with the cause of democracy finds deep roots in American history. Muravchik explains
the absence of a policy toward democracy promotion to the absence of strong domestic
leadership. The spirit of democracy has always existed in the American soul, all it needed
was a leader to revive it. Muravchik links the rekindled spirit of democracy to President
Ronald Reagan. Therefore, democracy promotion is a product of America's spirit and the
general elan of democracy. The absence of democracy promotion is attributed to currents
of isolationism in U.S. foreign policy that have obviated the natural tendency of the
democracy spirit. It is isolationism that Muravchik decries and instead exhorts a policy of
"democratic internationalism" in which the U.S. pursues peace by making more countries
democratic and actively shapes the international climate to one that is congenial to the
Tony Smith (1994) also ties the promotion of democracy with U.S. security
interests. Smith chronicles the U.S. efforts to promote democracy beginning with the
reconstruction of the South after the Civil War. For Smith, the progenitor of a global
policy of democracy promotion is President Wilson. It is Wilson who lays the ground
work for U.S. security policy for the twentieth century with the tenets developed in his
Fourteen Points: that nationalism should be respected; that democracy is the only
legitimate form of government; that the United States has an interest and an obligation to
further democracy abroad; that democracy and capitalism are mutually reenforcing
systems; and that in a world of many states there is a need for international law
encouraged by multilateral institutional arrangements.4
Smith characterizes U.S. policy to promote democracy as one that waxes and
wanes depending on the individual presidential administration. F.D. Roosevelt is said to
have backed away from Wilson's ambition to promote democracy in the Western
Hemisphere. After the Second World War, the democratization of the conquered Axis
states and the general support for democracy in Europe through the Marshall plan is hailed
as a Wilsonian triumph. However, Eisenhower is regarded as stepping back from
democracy and even overthrowing democratically elected governments. Although
characterized as an abysmal failure, Kennedy's Alliance for Progress is lauded as an
exemplary program in the Wilsonian vein. Surprisingly, Smith leaves a gapping hole in his
analysis and fails to address an entire decade with the Johnson and Nixon administrations.
The only discussion of these two administrations is to conclude that they were a
reassertion of realism from the Eisenhower years. Smith portrays Carter as naively
promoting human rights but failing to understand the deeper significance of Wilsonianism
as a means to establish U.S. security through the promotion of democracy. It is Ronald
4 In contrast to Smith's claim that Wilson established the paradigm for U.S. foreign
policy that is still applicable today, Frank Ninkovich (1999) in The Wilsonian Century
suggests that Wilsonian internationalism was only a response to crisis in world politics.
Wilsonian internationalism was based on the assumption that the world had stumbled into
a new and dangerous phase which obliged U.S. policy makers to abandon traditional
diplomacy. With the end of the Cold War, Ninmkovich predicts that U.S. policy will revert
to a normal internationalism based less on ideological orientations and more traditional
notions of national interests.
Wilson Reagan whom Smith crowns as the heir to the true liberal internationalism of
Wilson. "Reagan emerges as the direct descendent of Wilson, for to an extent unmatched
since Wilson's days, the promotion of democracy was both a means and an end in
Reagan's foreign policy" (Smith 1994, 269).
A significant weakness of Smith's analysis is his privileging the individual level of
analysis. The foundation of Smith's analysis rests on the differences between particular
presidents and their abilities to perceive correctly Wilson's notions of U.S. security and
the promotion of democracy. Smith fails to address adequately why the exigencies of the
Cold War compelled Eisenhower to work with and support authoritarian allies and come
to an understanding with the Soviet Union, while for Reagan the same conflict obligated
him to promote a democratic revolution and confront the "evil empire" ruled from
Domestic level changes in the United States are for the most part ignored in the
literature on democracy promotion. This failure on Smith's part is puzzling since he
advocates injecting a comparative politics approach to the study of the spread of
democracy globally. Smith wants us to understand the international origins of democracy
by systematically analyzing the impact of U.S. foreign policy on other state's domestic
structure. Nevertheless, changes in U.S. domestic structure are not accounted for in U.S.
G. John Ikenberry (2000) sees the promotion of democracy by the United States,
particularly in the post World War H era, as a learned strategy to maintain a congenial
security environment. This is a recognition by U.S. policy makers of the democratic
peace. To his credit, Ikenberry does not suggest democracy promotion to be long-
standing U.S. policy. The recent U.S. preoccupation with democracy and human rights "is
part of a larger liberal view about the sources of a stable, legitimate, secure, and
remunerative international order" (Ikenberry 2000, 104). Like Smith, Ikenberry links U.S.
policy to issues of security and grand strategy. Both of their arguments are compatible
with the neoclassic realist position that posits that intentions as well as capabilities shape a
state's foreign policy (Walt 1987). As Randall Schweller informs us, "according to this
realist school, threat does not inhere in power alone, the relative distribution of capabilities
among states is less important than assessments of others' intentions in determining how
states interact with each other" (Schweller 2000,42). Associated with the grand strategy
of democracy is the promotion of economic openness and market economies. As
Ikenberry states in the U.S. system of democracy enlargement internationalol business is a
coalition partner" (Ikenberry 2000, 126). The association with economic issues raises
questions of economic motivations for democracy promotion by the United States.
William Robinson's (1996) provides a nuanced explanation for U.S. democracy
promotion and accounts for an evolution and change in policy. Arguing from a Gramscian
perspective of politics and a Wisconsin School of diplomatic history, Robinson suggests
that the core countries led by the United States have realized that in a globalized world
economy successful control of the periphery is not possible through coercive measures. In
an attempt to limit calls for greater participation and high intensity democracy by countries
in the developing world, the United States has promoted low intensity democracy or
polyarchy. Polyarchy is "a way to relieve pressure from subordinate groups for more
fundamental political, social and economic change" (Robinson 1996, 6). The democracy
agenda by the United States is a cover for more basic economic objectives.
Whereas most of the other scholars discussed above view democracy promotion as
a long-standing tradition in U.S. policy, Robinson correctly understands that it is a recent
phenomenon. However, one has to remain skeptical of his thesis that a transnational
managerial class has appeared at the pinnacle of a global class structure. According to
Robinson, the power of globalization has reduced the power of states to control and
regulate economic activity within national borders, nevertheless, a transnational elite has
set out to create a global civil society to further its own interests. Globalization
deconcentrates power and limits the ability of any single actor state or nonstate from
dominating political and economic activities. Nevertheless, Robinson would have us
believe that the transnational managerial class, which has penetrated civil society and
gained command over popular mobilization and mass movements, is now controlling the
global order (Robinson 1996, 69).
As with most Marxists' analyses, which focus on material forces, control over
those forces is linked to a nameless and faceless elite. Robinson's real problem is with the
failure of socialism as an economic system and the developing acceptance that markets are
natural occurring products of human interaction. Robinson concludes that capitalism is
dangerous for democracy and a "democratic socialism founded on a popular democracy
may be humanity's 'last best,' and perhaps only hope" (Robinson 1996, 384). Robinson's
conclusions are suspect, however, he does accurately point to a significant change in U.S.
policy toward the promotion of democracy abroad beginning in the 1970s. Where he
claims that policy change is a product of globalization and transnational forces, this study
suggests that we must turn to domestic sources within the United States.
Before we turn to domestic sources, we must deal with a basic Realist explanation
for the change in U.S. foreign policy toward the promotion of democracy and human
rights.5 From a Realist perspective with a focus on relative power capabilities one may
explain the variance U.S. foreign policy toward the promotion of human rights and
democracy by examining the distribution of power between the U.S. and Soviet Union.
Immediately after the Second World War, the United States had a preponderance of
power in the global system. Allied aircraft had bombed Europe and Japan to ruins.
Although the Soviet Union had significant military capabilities, its ability to project power
was limited. Clearly Soviet military capabilities did not threaten the U.S. homeland. The
United States had the luxury to promote human rights and democracy. The United States
helped establish democratic regimes in Japan and Western Germany.
By 1949 the Soviet Union ended the U.S. atomic monopoly. Furthermore, the
development of long range missiles by the Soviets in the late 1950s clearly put the U.S.
homeland in striking distance. With this high level of threat and a balance of power tilting
away from the United States, the luxury to promote human rights and democracy ended.
Detente and the stability of mutual assured destruction in the early 1970s allowed the
United Stated to reinstate a luxury policy such as human rights.
As we will see in a later chapter, the U.S. policy toward human rights and the
promotion of democracy does not match the ebbs and flows of the Cold War hostilities
'I want to thank Christopher Gelpi for suggesting this argument.
with the Soviet Union. In the early phase of the Cold War when the U.S. maintained a
preponderance of power over the Soviet Union, U.S. support for democracy and human
rights was uncertain. This uncertain support rapidly evolved into overt neglect and
outright support for authoritarian regimes long before the Soviet developed the capability
to strike the United States. The period of detente was transitory and quickly emerged into
renewed Cold War tensions with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the election of
President Reagan. Nevertheless, increased support for human rights and a formal program
of democracy promotion developed in U.S. foreign policy during the Reagan
administration. Clearly, we must examine other sources for policy change in the United
States. In the next section we turn to domestic theories of foreign policy.
Domestic Theories of Foreign Policy
The idea that domestic activities are a source of foreign policy is one that has a
long tradition in the study of world politics. Thucydides (1903) reports how the internal
activities of the Greek city states shaped their external behavior. In addition to the growth
of Athenian power and the fear that it caused Sparta, the domestic political machinations
of Pericles also cause war. Niccolo Machiavelli (1910) located state behavior with the
behavior of political leaders and Immanuel Kant (1795) distinguished a difference in the
behavior of monarchies from republics. In the twentieth century, prior to Kenneth Waltz's
(1979) revision of realism, many realist explanations for international outcomes relied on
national or subnational attributes. Henry Kissinger's (1964) theory of international
relations linked the domestic political structure of the state to the nature of international
politics, either stable or revolutionary. George Kennan attributed Soviet behavior to
factors rooted deep within Russian society (Gaddis 1982,48). The work on decision
making in foreign policy, such as Irving Janis (1972) and Robert Jervis (1976) clearly
locate their causal analysis at the domestic level. Janis examines the links of social
pressure to the enforcement of conformity and consensus in decision making. Jervis
investigates the impact of historical learning on individual decision makers. The events
that political leaders experience shape their particular image of the world and the
particular lessons learned from history. The diversionary theory of war suggests the
importance of domestic factors. This hypothesis posits that leaders with domestic
problems undertake risky foreign policies they otherwise would not attempt (Levy 1989;
Smith 1996). Robert Putnam (1988) suggests that political leaders have two audiences,
one domestic and one foreign, and find themselves compelled to play "two-level games."6
The concept of two-level games assumes that leaders are trying to do two things at once,
that is, manipulate domestic and international politics. Despite the dominance of systemic
approaches, encompassed in the neorealist/neoliberal debate, a tradition exists that
emphasizes state-level factors in the study of world politics.
We can divide domestic theories of foreign policy into three broad categories: (1)
society-centered domestic theories, which stress the influence of domestic interest groups,
elections and public opinion; (2) state-centered domestic theories where the source of
foreign policy behavior is within the administrative and decision making apparatus of the
executive branch; and (3) state-society domestic theories where foreign policy behavior
6 For an extensive application of Putnam's two-level games see Evans et al. (1993)
Double-Edged Diplomacy: International Bargaining and Domestic Politics.
originates from an interaction of institutions of representation, education, and
administration linking society and the state (Moravcsik 1993). Which type of theory is
most appropriate depends on the state's domestic structure.
States vary in their type of domestic structure. Thomas Risse-Kappen (1994,240)
informs us that the "notion of domestic structure refers to the institutional characteristics
of the state, to societal structures, and to the policy networks linking state and society."
Society-dominated domestic structures exist in countries with strong societal
organizations, a high degree of mobilization of interest groups, and decentralized and
fragmented political institutions. State dominated domestic structures embrace centralized
political institutions with strong national executives able to manipulate the political
The United States is an example of a society-dominated domestic structure. The
U.S. Constitution provides the environment for a society-dominated structure. Its
provisions of free speech, association, and the right to petition the government are basic to
the strong society structure. Compared to many states, the United States has a
decentralized foreign policy decision making process. The U.S. Congress has more
authority over foreign policy than other legislative bodies. Congress influences policy
through its general legislative, budgetary and oversight powers. Although Congress relies
on blunt foreign policy tools that are essentially negative, they are still formidable tools
nonetheless (Hastedt 2000, 198). The decentralized nature of the U.S. Congress provides
multiple access points for mobilized groups and as conduits of societal influences.7 Given
the openness of the U.S. political system we can expect that societal demands, including
public attitudes, should reach decision makers in the Congress and the executive.
Moreover, we should assume that the political leaders monitored public sentiments and
patterns of attitude formation.
Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
The influence of public opinion in matters of foreign policy has relevance for
democratic polities. The masses can revolt under any governmental structure, but it is
only in a democratic polity, where political leaders need the consent of the governed that
public opinion has relevance, or even be worth studying. One causal factor identified for
the pacific nature of democracies (at least with other democracies) is the need to mobilize
public opinion to move a state to war. In his essay "Perpetual Peace," Kant (1795)
reasoned that states founded on a republican constitution must gain the consent of the
citizenry to decide if there will be war.
In the twentieth century, we can view President Wilson as propagating the view
that infuses the necessary aspect of public opinion into a state's conduct of foreign policy.
The first of Wilson's Fourteen Points argues for open negotiations among states with no
private international understandings. Wilson forcefully asserts that "diplomacy shall
proceed always franidy and in the public view." The implication of this statement is that
7Traditionally, Congressional work was done in committees, however, in the 1970s
the focus of decision making changed from the full committee to the subcommittee. This
has resulted in a greater decentralization of the Congress. Furthermore, the 1970s
witnessed a weakening of party discipline, an erosion of the seniority system, and the
growth in congressional staff. See Davidson and Oleszek (1977) Congress Against Itself
the public is a part of a government's policy formation. In a democracy, not only should
policy proceed with the consent of the governed, but the governed themselves will form an
opinion on policy to the extent that matters affect their personal lives.
Whereas Wilson assigned an imperative to the common man, the journalist Walter
Lippmann saw only the opprobrium of public opinion in policy making. Lippmann (1922)
maintained that people are too fully engaged in the day to day requirements of earning a
living to pay much attention to what is going on around them. According to Ole Holsti
(1992,441), Lippmann doubted the ability of the media to inform the public and to serve
as a valid source of information about the world. People are too busy to be engaged in
foreign policy issues, and if they wanted to be engaged the avenues for information are
inadequate. The outbreak of World War II appeared to offer evidence for Lippmann's
position, an inattentive American public refused to engage in world politics, allowing the
rise of predator states in the system.
Following World War H, a consensus emerged on public opinion and foreign
policy. Gabriel Almond's (1950) The American People and Foreign Policy help to solidify
the perception of the American public that Lippmann had developed. Almond depicted
public opinion as an erratic and mood driven constraint on foreign policy. For the most
part, the public's "characteristic response to questions of foreign policy was one of
indifference" (Almond 1960, 53). Moreover, the public's attitude toward foreign policy
was often volatile to the point that it provided no foundation for policy formation.
Almond went as far as suggesting that public opinion, besides being erratic, provided the
wrong advice for policy makers. "Often the public is apathetic when it should be
concerned, and panicky when it should be calm" (quoted in Holsti 1992,442). The
scholarly consensus on the Wilsonian idealization of the American public was far from
The behavioralist scholarship emerging out of the University of Michigan further
buttressed the Lippmann-Almond consensus on public opinion. Philip Converse's (1964)
"The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics" suggested that the public lacked any real
structure or coherence to their political beliefs. From panel studies in which surveyors
asked the same people the same questions about public policy repeatedly in 1956, 1958,
and 1960, Converse found that the answers varied from survey to survey without a
predictable pattern. He concluded that "large portions of the electorate do not have
meaningful beliefs, even on issues that have formed the basis of intense political
controversy among elites for substantial period of time" (Converse 1993, 60). According
to Converse, the mass public's attitudes toward foreign policy issues are in essence
Converse's study and others that support his conclusion (Erskine 1963, Converse
and Markus 1979) have lead to a tripartite view of the American public when it comes to
foreign policy. The idea of multiple publics was first expounded by James Rosenau
(1961), in which he conceived of the foreign policy publics as occupying a concentric
circle with a pinpoint representing the core decision makers. Outside the core decision
makers are the elite public that directly influences the core and compose about 5 percent
of the overall population. Next on the rings of the circle are the informed public, which
includes ten to 20 percent of the population. The informed public as the name implies
seeks out information on international affairs. Their contact with the foreign policy
process is indirect and they have limited or no contact with the policy process. Outside
the informed public are the "great unwashed" of the uninformed public. This is the 80
percent of the public that knows little or nothing about foreign affairs and never reads
stories about international affairs. It is within this domain that Converse's nonattitudes of
the mass public develop.
The hegemony of the Converse model of the mass public fades with the Vietnam
war. Increasing opposition to the war was seen as a response to the rising number of
causalities and the polarization of elites (Mueller 1973). In a reassessment of the influence
of public opinion, Benjamin Page and Robert Shapiro (1992,284) find that public opinion
is not only rational but an autonomous force that can have a substantial impact on policy.'
John Aldrich, John Sullivan and Eugene Borgida (1989) found that citizens were equally
as able to identify their policy positions on foreign and domestic policy issues, suggesting
that Converse's characterization of public attitudes as unstructured was misinformed.
These works challenge the assumption that foreign policy attitudes of the general public
are random and disorganized without any consideration of ideological orientation (such as
a liberal/conservative frame) in their formation and structure.
Jon Hurwitz and Mark Peffley (1987) challenge Converse by drawing from the
theoretical literature on schemata, which suggests a structure to foreign policy political
attitudes. The structure must be uncovered by focusing on domain specific information
"Page and Shapiro's findings include not only the post-Vietnam era, but extend
back to 1935.
and how the domain shapes the relationship between general and specific attitudes toward
policy. The foreign policy domain cannot be studied in the same fashion as a domestic
policy domain. Other studies suggest that foreign policy attitudes may be more stable than
previously believed (see Maggiotto and Wittkopf 1981, Wittkopf 1981). The evidence
suggests that foreign policy attitudes are structured not unidimensionally along the
liberal/conservative continuum on which attitudes in other domains fall, but on domain
specific dimensions of foreign policy.
According to Hurwitz and Peffley, people employ cognitive heuristics (shortcuts)
to process foreign policy information and to decide foreign policy issues. People cope
with uncertainty in foreign policy decisions by relying on their own store of general
knowledge to help process information. We can imagine foreign policy attitudes as
shaped by a hierarchical structure where abstract ideas inform and shape more specific and
concrete ones. At the bottom level of the structure we find preferences referring to
specific policy attitudes such as defense spending, international trade, etc. The middle
level contains attitudes of a more abstract nature such as the appropriate role of the
government in handling foreign affairs. Normative belief postures denote the general
position the individual would like the government to take in foreign relations, such as
aggressive versus accommodating postures in policy or internationalist versus isolationist
positions. People rely on these general postures to render specific decisions about policy.
At the uppermost part of the hierarchy are the individual's core values such as
ethnocentrism or the morality of warfare, which then guide the direction of all the other
relations within the structure. It is the change in the uppermost part of the hierarchy, the
core values or norms of behavior, that guide the interests of this study.
In contrast to the image of an uninformed public, Catherine Kelleher (quoted in
Hastedt 2000, 127) finds "almost every general foreign policy survey ... [now] shows
that the American public is increasingly well-informed about global issues. ." Page and
Shapiro (1992,45) find "a remarkable degree of stability in Americans' collective policy
preferences"during the last fifty years. If public opinion on issues of foreign policy is
structured and coherent as recent studies suggest, we must account for the influence of
public attitudes on foreign policy. Furthermore, stability in public opinion allows for the
possibility of a coherent change in attitudes and orientation toward policy issues. If as
Hurwitz and Peffley suggest, that people employ cognitive shortcuts of general normative
beliefs to process information and to make decisions, we can link changes in the normative
beliefs to changes in policy.
The theoretical causal relationship posited in this study is that a state's domestic
normative structure 'causes' its foreign policy behavior. The independent variable in this
theory is the collectively held domestic norms in a state and the dependent variable is the
foreign policy behavior. I argue that change in U.S. domestic norms regarding domestic
political and civil rights translates into changes in foreign policy regarding the promotion
of political and civil rights externally (i.e., democracy promotion).9
9 This type of argument follows Lumsdaine's (1993) Moral Vision in International
Politics. Lumsdaine argues that political or economic interests cannot explain economic
foreign aid. Instead, humanitarian concerns and a systematic transfer of domestic
conceptions ofjustice provide a better explanation. The change of attitudes toward
poverty in the developed world and the creation of the social welfare state paved the way
Change in the domestic normative structure does not arise spontaneously and
without cause. Change emerges from domestic disturbances and social protests agitating
for a transformation in the normative status quo. These social protests may not be
directed at foreign policy, although they can be, nevertheless, their impact and the changes
wrought are felt at all policy levels. For example, the civil rights movement in the United
States sought political and civil rights for African-American in the domestic realm. We
see success of the movement in the passage of legislation guaranteeing access to political
participation and the legal prevention of discrimination. Changes in the normative
structure condition the successful operation of the legislation at multiple levels of society
from political elites to the general public. Changes in the general normative structure of
society have spillover effects for other areas of policy. For example, as the domestic
normative structure changes from considering it correct behavior to disenfranchise a
segment of the population (African-Americans) to one that accepts only universal
enfranchisement, we will find in the foreign policy realm a shift in policy from maintaining
it proper policy to support authoritarian dictatorships to one that embraces political
regimes that reflect and respect the political wishes of a state's population. The change in
the normative structure induces a change in general public opinion, and it influences elite
opinion and the behavior of policymakers. 0
for economic assistance to developing countries. For an explanation accounting for
difference in aid levels based on domestic factors see Noel and Therien (1995). They
suggest that the values (nonmarket income distribution) embedded in a state's social
democratic institutions have a clear impact on the foreign aid regime.
'"For a reversal in this causal argument see Klinker and Smith (1999) The
Unsteady March. Klinker and Smith argue that the exigencies of foreign affairs prompted
The specific model for this theory is as follows: social movements -- domestic
norms -- transmission of societal norms (Congress) --* Foreign Policy (democracy
promotion). In this model, the antecedent phenomenon that activates the independent
variable is the presence of protest and social movements. The independent variable
represents the domestic normative structure. The normative structure is measured by
attitudes toward civil and political rights and issues of tolerance and respect for diversity.
This variable is considered progressive with changes in the normative structure being
permanent or at least not readily changeable. For example, if a social movement creates
through social protest, a new norm that a certain group should have an equal role in
society, society will maintain the norm even without a continued organized movement. A
counter social movement must develop for the norm to return to an earlier position. The
intervening variable represents the avenues of transmission of public attitudes to foreign
policy. This study concentrates on the Congress as the indicator of domestic norms. The
dependent or outcome variable is democracy promotion. Promoting democracy
encompasses the promotion of regular, free, and fair elections and universal suffrage,
informational pluralism, civil liberties and human rights, functional autonomy for
domestic elites to allow progress toward racial equality. As the United States needed to
mobilize African-Americans for war and justify such wars and the sacrifices incurred in the
name of freedom, progress in racial equality occurred. They further argue that as the
dangers of the Cold War have receded, the commitment to "racial progress" has also
declined. This, according to Klinker and Smith is exemplified by the erosion of the
commitment to affirmative action. This dissertation will demonstrate that this conclusion
is wrong. There have been long term and significant change in Americans' attitudes
toward civil rights and racial equality. We should not necessarily see the opposition to
affirmative action as opposition to equal rights. Rather, we can view it as a greater
commitment to individual rights over group rights.
legislative, executive and judicial branches, and effective power and accountability for
In this chapter, I have discussed the importance of locating an understanding of
U.S. foreign policy at the domestic level. I have shown, regarding the policy of
democracy promotion, the existing literature is lacking a sound causal explanation. In the
next chapter, I present the changing normative structure in the United States and discuss
how norms are tied with the American identity.
NORMS AND THE GROWTH OF TOLERANCE
Norms are important in the explanation of social phenomena. Norms are culturally
defined rules of conduct. They specify how people should behave and what they should
do. They indicate what is proper or necessary behavior within groups, organizations and
institutions. Norms are the fundamental building blocs of social order (Newman 2000,
34). They govern much of our political and social lives. In politics, norms contribute to
the protection of civil rights and liberties as much as the formal legal system (Axelrod
I begin this chapter with an explanation of the importance of norms for the social
sciences. Next, I present the changing normative structure in the United States and
discuss how norms constitute the American identity. Specifically, I am concerned with
norms regarding political and civil rights and tolerance for diversity. As the American
identity expands, the range of groups incorporated into the political process concurrently
expands. As we will see in later chapters, these changes lead to changes in U.S. foreign
policy. The expanding U.S. democracy leads to the promotion of democratic forms of
government in countries that contained groups and cultures once considered incapable of
democratic practices. Finally, I present empirical data showing how the American identity
has changed with the elevated acceptance for diversity and increased tolerance within the
United States. What we find with the increased respect for diversity is a changed
American identity. The exclusive male-dominated, white, Christian/Protestant identity of
America has changed to what is often call a multicultural American identity. A
multicultural identity does not necessarily lead to fragmentation and "cultural wars" as
some have claimed (Royal 1995, Huntington 1997). Instead, a multicultural identity
allows for diversity under the liberal framework that protects individual rights.
Social Sciences, Norms and Explanation
Mark Risjord (1998) informs us that norms play a pivotal role in the philosophy of
social science. The role of norms makes humans a distinct subject of study and any
attempt to understand and explain human behavior must take into account the normative
aspects of human life. Models of explanation drawn from the natural sciences do not
assign a role to norms and thus are not appropriate for the social scientist.
Not all agree. Carl Hempel (1963) and David Henderson (1993), for example,
deny that norms have an explanatory role. For these scholars explanations must be causal.
Henderson asserts that explanations are answers to why-questions. "[I]n asking a why-
question (regarding a particular event or state) we seek responses that allow us to
appreciate what it was in or about the antecedent course of events that brought about (or
helped to bring about) some particular aspect of certain subsequent events" (Henderson
1993, 168-169). The antecedent event needs to be present in terms of its causally fitting
features. For Henderson, appeals to norms are only useful if we understood them to be
causally relevant to the action and thus translated into a causal disposition. This is a
psychologically oriented explanation. In this orientation, we collapse norms into the
dispositions of the agent and therefore norms qua norms will not be found among the
agent's reasons. Risjord (1998, 235) suggests that we must understand norms along a
second dimension, a sociological one. The psychological-orientation attributes intentional
actions to the goals of the agent. This is what motivates the agent. Therefore, the agent
heeds such motives to be sufficient reasons for action. Nevertheless, we must recognize
that the agent acts in accordance with some norm by which some reasons are good in and
What I have described above is the old cleavage in social science between Adam
Smith's conception of humans as economic creatures and Emile Durkheim's idea of social
humans. Instrumental rationality guides the former with the promise of reward. The
forces of proscribed behavior pushes the latter. Neither view is totally wrong nor
completely right. Some behaviors maybe explained on the basis of human rationality.
Nevertheless, social forces construct the milieus in which the rational actor must operate.
Moreover, norms are subject to change creating evolving environments in which rational
action has different meanings.
Cultural norms shape the behavior of the overwhelming majority of a given
population. Philip Pettit (1993, 336) gives us the formal definition of norms.
A regularity, R, in the behaviour [sic] of members of a population, P, is a cultural
norm if and only if, in any instance of a certain situation S among members P:
1. Nearly everyone conforms to R.
2. Nearly everyone approves of nearly anyone else's conforming and disapproves
of the deviating.
3. The fact that nearly everyone approves and disapproves on this pattern helps
ensure that nearly everyone conforms.
In this definition of a norm we find that most of the population has accepted the behavior
and practices it widely. Therefore, norms are social in that other people help to enforce
them by expressing their approval or disapproval. Norms are real and autonomous. They
possess independent motivating power. "Norms are not merely ex post rationalizations of
self-interest, although they can certainly be that sometimes. They are capable of being ex
ante sources of action" (Elster 1989, 125).
Norms are more than shared beliefs of appropriate behavior. This definition is
overly broad and includes beliefs that no one takes seriously and does not affect action.
Not all norms are treated with equal seriousness. One should get six to eight hours of
sleep a night and mothers need to care for their babies are both norms of behavior. The
former is often violated, the latter rarely. Norms are connected to beliefs related to some
sort of sanction (Cancian 1975, 7). A mother who neglects her child will receive the
reproach of society, not to mention possible criminal sanctions. The person who does not
get enough sleep will only suffer the individual consequence of sleep deprivation.
Society supports norms through multiple mechanisms.1 The first mechanism for
supporting norms is dominance. Dominance simply means that one group has power over
another and the violation of a norm invites some sort of punishment. Power can be
exerted through economic and political means. The majority often imposes its norms
upon the society as a whole. Within society, norms often become individually internalized.
'The following is largely derived from Axelrod (1986).
Internalization means that the violation of an established norm creates psychological
uneasiness within individuals. Therefore, even if the individual has accrued material
benefits, the violation of the norm elicits pain. Another psychological principle supporting
norms is known as social validation. As Robert Cialdini (1984, 117) explains, "we view a
behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing
it." Therefore, the more people practice the act the more is it considered correct. Social
validation applies simply to what people decide is correct behavior. Finally, norms are
supported through legal structures. Norms usually precede laws, but laws can maintain
and extend them. We can understand laws as the institutionalization of cultural norms.
Norms are subject to change. When a critical mass of people change their values
and behavior, what was once normal becomes deviant. The history of human civilization
is replete with examples of social institutions that have passed from normality to deviance.
Even single events can lead to the reversal of normal practices. In the early days of the
United States dueling was an accepted, if not often practiced, institution. Alexander
Hamilton felt compelled to take up Aaron Burr's challenge to duel. Early in the morning
of July 11, 1804, Hamilton and Burr faced on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River.
Burr's first shot mortally wounded Hamilton, and he died the next day (see Flemming
1999). The event itself and the negative public reaction it generated toward Burr helped
change the norms that supported the institution of dueling in the United States.
Slavery is an example of another human practice that has passed from normality to
deviance.2 Human slavery existed as an institution dating back to times of antiquity. With
the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the feudal system, slavery fell into disuse in
Europe. However, slavery was revitalized in the 15th century when Europeans first came
into close and continued contact with the peoples of Africa. Slavery continued as a
practice in the Western world well into the 19th century. Strong evidence suggests that
slavery's demise originated from changing societal norms. James Lee Ray (1989) finds
that the abolition of slavery did not come from an economic imperative.3 We can trace
the abolition of slavery to "moral progress" and changes in ideas about ethics and morality.
In a large part to domestic abolitionist movements led by the Quakers on both sides of the
Atlantic, England (1807) and the United States (1808) abolished the slave trade. At the
Congress of Vienna (1814) through the influence of England, the assembled powers
agreed that the slave trade should be abolished when possible (Thomas 1997, 584-586).
The Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, obligated Great Britain and the United States to
keep a naval squadron on the African coast to prevent shipment of slaves (Thomas 1997,
671). By 1862, international treaties allowing the right to search ocean vessels had been
2Slavery continues to exist in various parts of the world despite the change in
3For example, Ray (1989, 411) cites the case that sugar production in the British
West Indies, which dropped by a third overall after the abolition of slavery. As for slavery
in the United States, Temperley (1977, 101-2) reminds us that northernen cotton
manufactures were dependent on Southern plantation agriculture for their raw materials.
New York finance houses gave Southerners much of their capital and reaped their reward
in interest." In contrast to the claims the slavery as an economic system was declining in
the South prior to the Civil War, Fogel and Engerman (1974) claim that the Southern
economy was robust and growing.
signed by most Western nations, including the United States. Within a few years the slave
trade was destroyed. None of this could have been possible without a change in domestic
societal norms. In fact, we cannot understand societal changes without taking to account
the changes in the underlying norms that govern society.
Norms and a State's Identity
A state's identity may be fluid and multidimensional. It is a product of the social
environment and the nature of power relations. We must understand a states identity in
these terms of environment and power. On one level, the environment determines the
broader cultural identity, that is, the characteristics of the state's population. However, the
norms of behavior held by the population also constitute the broader identity of a state.
Elites also determine the identity within the state. For example, Jordan as a state identifies
itself as Jordanian, although two-thirds of the population is Palestinian.4 After the 1948
Arab-Israeli War, many Palestinian refugees "found employment -- and middle-class status
-- as civil servants in the Jordanian government" (Cleveland 1994, 327). Nevertheless,
Jordan is not the homeland for Palestinians and the state's identity is not Palestinian. This
reflects the power status of the Hashemite rulers and the lack of popular control. If
Jordan were to democratize and shift power to the people and away from the Hashemite
king, it may suffer an identity crisis. This leads to discussion of identity in a social and
4Over halfa million refugees arrived on Jordanian soil after the 1948 Arab-Israeli
war. The annexation of the West Bank in 1948 by King Abbdallah added another half a
million Palestinians to the population of Jordan.
Social identity theory, which has recently been popular in the study of international
relations (Hermann and Kegley 1995, Mercer 1995, Geva and Hanson 1999, and Schafer
1999), can help us understand how and why individuals develop larger identities. Social
identity theory developed out of the psychological study of group behavior and had its
origins in the early work by Henri Tajfel on social factors in perception (Tajfel 1959).
Tajfel further explicated the theory with his colleagues at Bristol University in the late
1970s (Tajfel 1978, 1982; Tajfel and Turner 1979; Turner 1982). The core idea of the
theory is that a self-inclusive social category provides a category dependent self-definition
that comprises an element of the self-concept (Hogg 1996,66). This means that
individuals try to achieve a positive sense of social identity in a way that makes their group
favorably distinct from other groups on valued dimensions. For Tajfel, the "social identity
of individuals is linked to their awareness of membership of certain social groups, and to
the emotional and evaluative significance of that membership" (quoted in Deschamps
The social group exists in a system of mutual dependence and acquires a reality
defined through group interdependence. "The social group is both a psychological
process and a social product" (Turner and Giles 1981, 26). Individuals within groups may
attempt a redefinition of the existing social situation to achieve a more positive social
identity. The group identification may be based on a common set of traditions or may
stimulate the creation of a unique set of traditions. John Turner's (1985) self-
categorization component of social identity theory suggests that categorization
"accentuates both similarities among stimuli (physical, social, or aspects of the self)
belonging to the same category and differences belonging to different categories..."
(Hogg 1996, 68). This creates a perceptual bias that leads to an evaluative preference for
individuals and groups that are similar to themselves. If individuals share common
objective elements (such as physical characteristics, common language, and historical
experiences) they can transform these elements into a common subjective identification
facilitating in-group creation. Language is an important aspect of group identification,
more salient than inherited physical characteristic (see Giles and Johnson 1981). Social
identity theory allows us to understand that an individual's identity is not static, locked into
a primordial pattern. The individual's group identity often forms based on relatively
enduring factors (physical characteristics and language), but it does not have to be. A
process of interaction can produce new common elements that lead to the formation of a
new common social identity.
A state's identity, as with an individual's identity, is constructed. It is open to
contestation and negotiation. One can think of nationality as another term for a state's
identity. This conception of nationalism is not the ideological version of nationalism that
"holds that humanity is naturally divided into nations, that nations are know by their
characteristics... and that the only legitimate type of government is a national (emphasis
in the original) self-government" (Kedourie quoted in Macridis 1992, 192). Nations are,
as Benedict Anderson (1991) suggests, "imagined communities" propelled by the state
claiming to be the legitimate guardian of the nation. National identities are constructed
and reconstructed in connection to the transforming social context (Renwich 1999, 5). As
Ernest Gellner (1964, 169) argues, nationalismim is not the awakening of the nation to
self consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist." For example, the French
Revolution (1792) asserted the sovereignty of the people, and for the first time linked the
identity of the people to the state. As French nationalism turned aggressive with the rule
of Napoleon, other peoples in Europe constructed their own national identities in response
to the victories of the French nation and for self-defense.
The norms of society tell us much about the nation and define who is part of the
nation and has claim to the national identity. Norms set the collective expectation for a
given identity and thus constitute the state's identity. "Actors conform to norms in order
to validate social identities, and it is in the process of validating identities that interests are
constituted" (Price and Tannenwald 1996, 125). Furthermore, norms regulate behavior
for a constituted identity (see Cancian 1975, 137-138). These norms may be socially
accepted patterns of behavior or law may sanction them. What is important to understand
is that norms set the confines of the imagined community. As with all social constructs,
norms are subject to change, and with change the confines of the imagined community are
thus subject to rearrangement.
If all states are "imagined communities," then the United States is the perfect
example of an "imagined community" (Campbell 1996, 166). Social forces and time have
reconstructed this imagined community often. The confines of the U.S. identity is not
static. As I discuss below, the borders of his community are often changed to incorporate
different groups of people.
In contrast to this image of a changing identity other scholars contend that the
U.S. has a fixed identity. From a geopolitical perspective, America's relative isolation has
lead to an identity defined through its uniqueness from the rest of the world. This
uniqueness often expresses itself as exceptionalism. "The United States is exceptional in
starting from a revolutionary event, in being 'the first new nation,' the first colony, other
than Iceland to become independent." (Lipset 1992, 18). Seymour Martin Lipset defines
American identity ideologically in terms of liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism,
and laissez-faire. Concurring, John Gerard Ruggie argues that U.S. identity is a fixed
identity following the principles of liberalism. American identity is embodied through "a
set of inclusive core values: intrinsic individual as opposed to group rights, equality of
opportunity for all, antistatism, the rule of law, and a revolutionary legacy which holds
that human betterment can be achieved by means of deliberate human actions... (Ruggie
1997, 110). In one sense these scholars are correct in their definitions of U.S. identity.
What they miss is the identification of who has had access to that identity. Today, Richard
J. Payne correctly argues: despiteie America's ethnic, religious, and racial diversity, and
its plethora of subcultures, there is widespread agreement that an American culture exists,
and there is consensus on its fundamental attributes (Payne 1995, 8).' This
accommodation of diversity to the cultural identity of the U.S. is one that has developed
over the years. We can say that the United States moved through three phases of identity,
and changes in the norms that govern the identity, an Anglo-American, Euro-American,
'Payne defines culture as a set of shared learned values, beliefs, perceptions,
attitudes, modes of living, customs, and symbols (Payne 1995, 7). This definition is
compatible with my definition of norms.
and a Multicultural identity (Lind 1995).
Changing American Identity
The United States for the most part has always contained peoples of multiple
ethnic and racial groups. The English were far from the only people in colonial America.
Other groups included the Dutch, French, Germans, Irish, Spanish, Swedes, blacks from
Africa, and of course the native population. The first Africans arrived as slaves in the
Jamestown colony in 1619. Slavery continued to expand in North America and by the
time of the first census in 1790, one out of six Americans was a slave (Perkins 1993, 14).
Mass immigration of German-speaking people into the Pennsylvania colony so concerned
Benjamin Franklin that he supported measures to keep them out. In 1751, Franklin wrote
that Pennsylvania "will in a few Years [sic] become a German Colony: Instead of their
learning our Language, we must learn their's or live as in a foreign Country [sic]" (Franklin
( 1961, 120 ). He further declared that the Germans "will never adopt our
Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion [sic]" (Franklin
papers quoted in DeConde 1992, 12). After the Germans, the Irish constituted the next
largest group and between 1789 and 1800 they composed 55 percent of all aliens
naturalized (DeConde 1992,21).
This does not mean that the U.S. has always had a multicultural identity.
Following the American revolution the American population was multiethnic and
multiracial, which set it apart from the generally homogeneous countries of Europe. "No
ethnic group in the United States could claim a clear majority, but among whites almost
sixty percent were of English origin" (DeConde 1992, 16). These Anglo-Americans set
the standard for the American identity that governed political behavior and defined the
United States after independence and well into the 19th century (Hunt 1987, 46-91).
Despite the empirical realities of a diverse population in the new American state, John Jay
in the Federalist Papers number 2, shows the perceived American identity by many in
leadership positions. He writes:
I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one
connected country to one united people a people descended from the same
ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to
the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and
who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a
long and bloody war, have nobly established their general liberty and
However, the construct of the Anglo-American identity remained under constant attack
from non-English immigrates, particularly Irish and German immigrants.
Between 1846 and 1855, more than a million Germans entered the United States.
Many fled political upheaval and revolution in Europe, and many who had been
revolutionaries, gravitated to political activity in their new country. "This reaching out for
political power hardened whatever antagonism the old-stock nativists felt toward the
German-Americans" (DeConde 1992, 36). One of the most prominent anti-immigrant
groups during the period was the American Party, or better known as the Know Nothings.
According to Michael Holt (1973, 311), betweenen 1853 and 1856 the fastest growing
political force in many parts of the United States was not the anti-slavery Republican
party, but the secret anti-Catholic and anti-foreign Know Nothing movement." This group
defined itself in nativist terms of being anti-immigrant and particularly anti-Catholic.6 The
American party achieved some electoral success in 1854 when it elected eight governors
and more than one hundred members of Congress (Lind 1995, 50).7
In the mid-nineteenth century America the "cult of Anglo-Saxonism" developed
along with "scientific racism" used to justify American expansionism (Hietala 1999, 171).
According to Michael Hunt (1987, 78), the arrival of many foreign immigrants increased
the sensitivity among the Anglo elites in the United States. Ethnic Anglos sought to
preserve their cultural hegemony against the Irish and German immigrants. The anxiety of
the Anglo elites sharpened as more immigrants came from other parts of Europe at the
close of the century. Hierarchical racial thinking influenced foreign policy:
The elite's preoccupation with differences among whites carried over to into the
fabric of thinking on world affairs. Anglo-Saxons clearly dominated the
international stage. The Germans came next. They had the same qualities as their
racial cousins save one they had lost their love of liberty. This single serious
defect set Germans just beyond the Anglo-Saxon pale and made this still-
formidable people into a threatening global competitor... The Slavs, half
European and half Asiatic, were also formidable racial competitors on the
international stage... Lower down in the hierarchy were the Latin peoples of
Europe, defined to include the French as well as the Italians and Spaniards...
Still farther back among the ranks of the unworthy appeared the Jews...
Predictably, farthest back were the people of Africa. (Hunt 1987, 78-79)
'The Whig party lost support among the American nativists with the nomination of
Winfield Scot in 1852. Many perceived Scott as actively pro-Catholic. Nativists within
and without the Whig party were alienated by Scott's lenient policy toward Catholic
churches during the Mexican War and by his willingness to educate his daughters in
convents (Holt 1973, 315).
7 The American party also gained popular support from its anti-slavery position. Its
electoral strengthen waned with the rise of the Republican party, which captured the anti-
slavery position without the anti-immigrant trappings.
The change from a United States with an Anglo-American identity to a Euro-
American one began with the American Civil War. A third of the Union Army was
composed of foreign-born troops with large German and Irish contingents. Michael Lind
(1995, 54) argues that the Civil War "can be described without much exaggeration as a
conflict between the Anglo-American South and a new Euro-American society emerging
in the north." After the Civil War, immigration from Europe continued apace. Some four
million people immigrated from Italy alone between 1880 and 1920 (Aguiree and Turner
In 1891, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that created a permanent
administrative structure to control immigration. The statute also placed immigration
under the control of the federal government (Higham 1971, 99). During the same period,
the U.S. Congress curtailed immigration from non-European parts of the world (see
McKenzie 1928; Miller 1969). The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 suspended
immigration of Chinese laborers for ten years and prevented persons of Chinese ancestry
residing in the U.S. from acquiring citizenship. Congress extended the act for ten years in
1892, for two years in 1902, and finally extended indefinitely in 1904 ( Aguirre and Turner
1998, 180).8 In the early part of the 20th century the Congress took further action to
prevent immigration from Asia. The 1917 Immigration Act stopped Japanese immigration
and immigration from other parts of Asia (Matthews 1964).
'The act was not repealed by Congress until 1943 when it was replaced by a quota
system for Chinese immigrants.
In the late 1800s, immigrants of Irish and German origin began to assert their
influence at the voting booth. Many members of Congress from Western states owned
their position to the support of German immigrants. The Irish Catholic vote in Eastern
cities also had to be considered by politicians when they formulated immigration policy.
In 1891, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge took up a proposal that would restrict the
immigration of all males who could not read or write in their own language. German-
American lobby groups were able to thwart these restrictive legislative efforts. The
Senate passed the legislation, but the House of Representatives kept postponing
consideration of it (Higham 1971, 106-107).
The eugenic movement and scientific racism at the dawn of the 20th century
sought to recast the distinctions among the immigrants of Europe origin. William J.
Ripley, who taught economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lectured at
Columbia University on the role of geography in human affairs, wrote a weighty tome in
1899 titled The Races of Europe. His analysis linked physiological traits to geographical
and social conditions. John Higham relates in his classic text Strangers in the Land:
For the first time, American readers learned that Europe was not the land of
"Aryans" or Goths subdivided into vaguely national races such as the Anglo-
Saxons, but rather the seat of three races discernable by physical measurements: a
northern race of tall, blond longheads which Ripley called Teutonic; a central race
of stocky roundheads which he called Alpine; and a southern race of slender, dark,
longheads which he called Mediterranean. (Higham 1971, 154)9
'The absurdity of Ripplys classification system is apparent when one understands
that Europe is the polyglot par excellence. The people of Europe have been associating
for thousands of years to an extent that would disallow any type tripartite evolution.
Mediterranean peoples called Romans conquered lands as far north as the British Isles.
Norsemen or Vikings journeyed as far east as modern Russia and as far south as modem
Italy and Spain.
Ripley's tripartite classification allowed for the distinction between new and old immigrant
groups. Irish and German immigrants were reclassified as Teutonic along with the Anglo-
Saxon English. New Italian and Eastern European immigrants were reclassified as
"others" with the labels of Alpine and Mediterranean. Nevertheless, this classification was
not an enduring structure in the United States and instead a new type of identity
developed. Toward the end of the 19th century we find in the United States the
development of the Euro-American identity or White America. This is an identity
constructed in contrast to the hyphenation of Americans of immigrant origin. Early in the
20th century we find the development of the melting pot idea of American identity.
Frederick Jackson Turner, in his famous 1893 essay on the importance of the
frontier in U.S. history, saw the formation of a composite nationality of American people.
Turner declared, "In the crucible of the frontier the immigrants were Americanized,
liberated, and fused into a mixed race, English in neither nationality nor characteristics"
(Turner 1947,23). A new type of identity, an American, was formed in the crucible of the
melting pot. However, this identity extended only to those who could easily be
incorporated under the Euro-American identity."0 The melting pot idea did not apply to
peoples who originated from continents other than Europe. Legal restrictions on
immigrants from non-European parts of the world were enforced and state governments
restricted nonwhites in most parts of the United States from participation in the civil
society, such as the Jimun Crow laws applied to African-Americans in the South.
'OIt should be noted that Israel Zangwill's 1909 play The Melting Pot from which
the term was derived, was about the amalgamation of European ethnic groups in the
Typical of the sentiments of the time, Henry Pratt Fairchild in The Melting Pot
Mistake (1926) argued for the inevitability of a homogenous community given his belief in
the biological origins of racial hatred." Fairchild ( 1977, 239) declared that "Racial
discrimination is inherent in biological fact and in human nature." Fairchild's work
provides a snapshot of the broader normative structure in the U.S. at the time. He argued
that assimilation, or the idea of the melting pot, worked but only for those peoples of the
"White Race." Fairchild writes:
At the present time, the average American, whatever his origin, has become
habituated to representatives of almost every variety of the white race that it is
very doubtful whether there is more than an infinitesimal amount of true race
antipathy felt toward any branches of the white race in this country... If we see a
tall, blue-eyed, blond giant leading up to the altar a sparkling brunette with dusky
hair and darkly glowing cheeks we do not ordinarily bewail the horrible case of
race miscegenation, but exclaim, "What a stunning couple!" (Fairchild 
For Fairchild, the mixing of peoples from different "racial" backgrounds is analogous to
"pouring together various chemically inert liquids water, milk, wine, ink, ect." (Fairchild
 1977, 119). This creates a mixture but not a new substance. The inclusion of a
mixed racial structure in the U.S. (i.e., non European) diluted the "typical American
mixture" (Fairchild  1977, 130). Thus, Fairchild argued not only for a reduction of
immigration, but for a reapportionment of immigration to "leave the racial proportion of
American people intact" (Fairchild  1977, 131). Writing in the early 20th century,
Fairchild argued for a Euro-American identity. "There can be no doubt that if America is
to remain a stable nation it must continue a white man's country for an indefinite period to
"Fairchild graduated from Yale where he studied under William Graham Sumner
and later achieved the presidency of the American Sociological Society.
come" (Fairchild  1977, 240). Fairchild applauded the permanent exclusion of
Asian immigration to the United States.
Fairchild's argument viewed from the position of the early 21st century appears
alien and atavistic. The United States has experienced a massive shift in norms regarding
political and civil rights and a reshaping of its identity. The United States has rid itself of
the notion that the American identity synonymous with White European, or the Euro-
American identity that characterized American society for much of the 20th century. A
steady growth of tolerance has developed in the United States since the end of the Second
World War. This growth of tolerance and acceptance of others extends not only to ethnic
and racial groups, but it also included the expanded acceptance of the equality of women
with men. What has emerged is a multicultural American identity.
Social Movements and Identity Change
Social movements are pivotal in identity change. A social movement refers to a
relational network of actors who are collectively involved in broader purposes and/or
conflicts (Diani 1992; Tarrow 1994). These continuous, large-scale, organized, collective
actions can lead to transformed state structures (Quadagno 1992) or to broader societal
change (d'Anjou 1996). If we describe human history as a concurrence of events, as Max
Weber maintained, we must remain sensitive to social movements as they shape the
direction of events. Human actions shape the direction of history. According to Weber,
"frequently the 'world images' that have been created by ideas have, like switchmen [at
railroad junctions], determined the tracks along which action has been pushed by the
dynamic of interest" (quoted in Hall 1993, 48). Social movements may serve as a decisive
moment in the process of changing norms. We can view social movements as Weber's
switchmen operating the "switch in the 'choice' between reproducing or transforming the
extant cultural and social system" (d'Anjou 1996, 35).
The Civil Rights movement has had a significant impact on the normative structure
in the United States. The American Civil War ended the institution of slavery, but did not
end institutional racism. With the close of reconstruction in 1877 and the withdrawal of
federal troops from the South, whites regained power and established racial segregation
and laws that denied African-American's their civil and political rights. In Plessy v.
Ferguson (1896) the U.S. Supreme Court gave its endorsement to the system of American
Meanwhile, African-American leaders began to emerge and organize for civil
rights. At a meeting in Niagara Falls, in 1905, W.E.B. Du Bois and other civil rights
leaders founded the Niagara Movement. Members of the Niagara group connected with
concerned liberal and radical whites to establish the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910. The NAACP journal Crisis. edited
by Du Bois, became an effective organ of communication for African-American rights.
The NAACP pursued a strategy of litigation "as a way of testing and shaping public
opinion which could facilitate policy change. . "(Stewart 1991, 169). The NAACP won
its first major legal case in 1915, when the United States Supreme Court outlawed the
"grandfather clause," a constitutional device used in the South to disfranchise blacks.
The battle for civil rights went forward in the 1940s and 1950s in determined and
deliberate steps. In the courts the NAACP successfully attacked racially restrictive
covenants in housing, segregation in interstate transportation, and discrimination in public
recreational facilities (see Bell 1987).12 In 1954, the Supreme Court issued one of its most
significant rulings. With Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the court overturned
the "separate but equal" ruling of 1896 and outlawed segregation in the country's school
After, Brown v. Board of Education the struggle for civil rights became a political
movement. African-Americans organized nonviolent action and the movement achieved
its first major success in the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott of 1955-56. The
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was established in 1957 under Martin
Luther King Jr's leadership. Other groups organized to fight for civil rights included the
Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC). Together these groups held demonstrations, led boycotts, and
undertook voter registration drives (see Morris 1984). Public opinion turned against
segregation as the national attention focused on Birmingham, Alabama in the Spring of
1963. The Birmingham authorities used dogs and fire hoses on a peaceful march of civil
rights demonstrators. Police officers shown attacking peaceful protesters with dogs and
cattle prods provoked horror and disbelief across the country.
Civil rights activities in 1963 peaked with a march on Washington where King
addressed a gathering of 250,000 demonstrators. The march helped galvanize public
opinion that civil rights were the most important problem facing the country and helped
"2The Supreme Court dealt a blow to perpetrators of racially segregated housing
areas when it held in Shelley v Kramer (334 U.S. 1, 1948) and Hurd V Hodge (334 U.S.
24, 1948) that privately executed restrictive covenants were unenforceable in the courts.
secure the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Survey data indicate that the
percentage of Americans saying that the issue of civil rights was the most important
problem facing the country rose more than forty-five percentage points from 1963 to 1964
(Fiorina and Peterson 1998, 560). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination in
voting, public accommodations, and employment and permitted the attorney general of the
United States to deny federal funds to local agencies that practiced discrimination The
ratification of the 24th Amendment to the Constitution in 1964, which banned the poll tax,
helped efforts to increase African-American voter turnouts. Attacks against civil rights
demonstrators continued by police who used tear gas and clubs, however, the cause
garnered national support. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which
abolished all discriminatory qualifying tests for voter registrants and provided for the
appointment of federal registrars.
The narrative provided above suggests progress toward equality for
African-Anmericans in the United States. Some scholars contend that such a portrayal
suggests an inevitability of progress toward equality in the United States (Klinker and
Smith 1999). Mary Dudziak (2000) argues that the Cold War, and necessity of the United
States to maintain a positive image in the world to claim its leadership in the "free world,"
compelled political leaders to advance civil rights. "The need to address international
criticism gave the federal government an incentive to promote social change at home"
(Dudziak 2000, 12). The implication of this argument is that with the end of the Cold
War no incentive to promote civil rights exists, possibly leading to a retraction of hard-
This argument comports with Philip Klinker and Rogers Smith's (1999) important
work The Unsteady March. The authors contend that racial equality in the United States
has moved at an unstable pace, at times moving forward and other filling back. Like
Dudziak, Klinker and Smith emphasize the importance of external threats to the
advancement of civil rights. Progress in racial equality has come only
1. in the wake of a large scale war requiring extensive economic and military
mobilization of African-Americans for success:
2. when the nature of America's enemies has prompted American leaders tojustify
such wars and their attendant sacrifices by emphasizing the nations inclusive,
egalitarian, and democratic traditions; and
3. when the nation has possessed domestic political protest movements willing
and able to bring pressure upon national leaders to live up to that justificatory
rhetoric by instituting domestic reform (Klinker and Smith 1999,3-4).
Following these criteria, we find only three eras of significant progress. The first era
followed the Revolutionary War that saw slavery in the northern states put on a path of
extinction. The second era was the reconstruction period after the Civil War. The third
era of reform occurred following World War II and during the Cold War. The years 1941
to 1968 marked an extraordinarily prolonged period in which all three factors were
present. Following the first and second eras the authors document extended periods of
retraction of civil rights for African-Americans. "Hence the normal experience of the
typical black person in U.S. history has been to live in a time of stagnation and decline in
progress toward racial equality" (Klinker and Smith 1999, 5).
Like Dudziak, Klinker and Smith pessimistically expect a retrenchment now that
the Cold War has ended. Granted, more can be done for racial equality in the United
States, but it is impossible, given the changes that have occurred, for any regression in
civil and political rights. As I will show below the basic normative structure has changed
and today Americans no longer think and feel the same. The civil rights movement of the
1950s and 1960s helped foster an increased respect for the political and civil rights of not
only African-Americans but of other groups such as Latinos and Asian-Americans.
Legislative, judicial and constitutional advancement made by the civil rights movements
applies to all groups including women
One major problem with Klinker and Smith's analysis is a singular focus on
African-Americans. Opposition to affirmative action programs as they are now
constructed does not necessarily suggest an opposition to civil and political rights or
opposition to racial equality. For example, in California recent referendums ending
affirmative action and bilingual education had wide support among Hispanics. Hispanic
residents of California saw these referendums as attempts to dismantle obstacles to
assimilation into America (Economist April 7, 2001, U.S. Edition). Also, the California
affirmative action programs in higher education adversely affected many Asian-Americans.
According the most recent census, the United States is becoming a majority
minority country. This means that no single group represents the majority of the
population. Those who categorize themselves as "white" will eventually represent less
than half the country's population. Hispanics have already achieved parity with
African-Americans as the largest minority group in the United States (Schmitt 2001, 20).13
The 2000 census for the first time allowed for the category of multiracial. Nearly seven
million people, or 2.4 percent of the total population described themselves as multiracial
marking a trend that suggests that a single group identification may be losing importance.
The 1960s and early 1970s marked a period of intense social change in the United
States that reconstructed American society. James Gilbert (1981) in Another Chance
argues that the postwar period between 1945 and 1968 represents a distinct period in U.S.
social and political history. The period witnessed changes in the family structure and
social mores. The development of television changed the role of the media and the impact
of advertising. These changes led to the development of mass culture, which changed the
nature of social and political relations. In the early 1960s the major television networks
produced the first half hour evening news programs (White 1982, 172-173). The
development of the national news program gave large audiences access to stories across
the country, exposing events and forcing politicians to deal with issues that they would not
have chosen to handle. "More importantly, shifts in attitudes of women, blacks, and other
minorities toward their own rights, and the general acceptance of these claims by the rest
of society, allowed a minority of black Americans to enter the middle strata of
employment and freed the vast majority from restrictions that had bound them since the
"3The Hispanic population grew 58 percent to 35.3 million people since 1990. The
non-Hispanic white population dropped to 69 percent from 76 percent a decade ago. This
trend is expected to continue. Non-Hispanic whites are now a minority in California and
may soon be in Texas.
beginning of the century" (Gilbert 1981, 5).
I have discussed the importance of the Civil Rights Movement. Other groups were
active during this period including Latinos and native Americans and women. In 1969, the
Stonewall riots in New York launched the Gay rights movement. Against the backdrop of
these social movements, the Antiwar movement grew starting in 1965 when President
Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam by sending in the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade
to defend the air bases at Da Nang. U.S. troop levels rose from 23,000 in 1964 to more
than 180,000 in 1965. U.S. military strength peaked in 1968 with more than 500,000
personnel in South Vietnam (Bonds 1979, 12-13).
Both the SNCC and CORE opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War as
early as 1966. In 1967, Martin Luther King publically voiced his opposition to the war in
Vietnam and in some sense linked the civil rights and antiwar movements together. On
February 25, 1967, with speech at a fund-raising dinner, King began to make the
connection between the civil rights and antiwar movement. King declared that "we are
engaged in a war that seeks to turn the clock of history back and perpetuate white
colonialism." He further implored that "we must combine the fervor of the civil rights
movement with the peace movement. We must demonstrate, teach and preach until the
very foundations of our nation shake" (quoted in Levy 1999, 318).
In no sense should we assume that the social movements of the 1960s and early
1970s were integrated and coordinated in a collective desire to change the American
identity. Some groups were hostile to each other, such as some civil rights groups and
women's groups."4 Hardly did these movements achieve all the goals they set for
themselves. Nevertheless, these multiple social movements created a period of societal
change that shifted the normative structure of the United States and ushered in a growth
of tolerance for religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity.
Multicultural and Tolerant America
In this chapter, I argue that social movements have led to changes in the general
normative structure of the United States regarding political and civil rights. In the
following section I provide some evidence to support this assertion. I use polling date
measuring public opinion on issues regarding race, religion and gender."5 I draw the data
from the Gallup Organization and from the American National Election Studies, which
measure mass opinion.16 For the most part, shifts in mass opinion have mirrored shifts in
4"In 1964 SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael joked the "the only position for women
in SNCC is prone" (Evans 1989, 282). The women's movement, made up predominately
of white women, was viewed with suspicion by those in the Civil Rights movement
"For the most part, I have focused on the issue of racial ethnic and gender norms
regarding civil and political rights. I choose to include the questions regarding religion
since religion has been used to define groups as separate and distinct. A long tradition of
anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism existed in the United States (see Higham 1971).
However, it appears that with the development of the Euro-American identity these
distinctions are less important. Jews and Catholics are grouped with the Protestant sects
as followers of a Judeo-Christian tradition.
"6Gallup provides polling result extending back to 1935. The Gallup Organization
published most of these results in The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1935-1971, 3 vols. The
accuracy of the data in these volumes has been confirmed from the original surveys by
William G. Mayer in The Changing American Mind (1992). Gallup data after 1971 is
drawn from the annual updates through 1999. The University of Michigan conducts the
American National Election Studies (NES). These surveys are based on representative
samples of citizens of voting age, living in private homes. Interviewing for this series was
first done after the election of 1948 and has been conducted before and after every
presidential election since 1952. NES data used in this study can be found at
elites' attitudes (Zaller 1992, 11). Since I am trying to gauge changes in societal norms, I
have chosen to rely on measures of mass opinion. The data that I present represents the
same questions asked repeatedly over the years. This allows for an estimation in long-
term changes and general trends.
We are trying to understand societal norms. Recall, that norms are culturally
defined rules of conduct and specify appropriate behavior. The Pettit (1993) definition
stated above suggests that a regular behavior becomes a norm when an overwhelming
majority of the population approves of the behavior. How do we define an overwhelming
majority? In an assessment of the public opinion's impact of public policy, Thomas
Graham (1994) finds that the magnitude of public support determines the degree of public
influence.7 Attitudes held by less than 50 percent of the public rarely influences public
policy. A majority opinion (50-59 percent) can shape public policy, but only with strong
policy leadership. At this level of support fertile ground exists for counter attacks by
Consensus level public opinion (60-69 percent) successfully influences the policy
process even if powerful bureaucratic interests have to be overruled. Preponderant
level public opinion (70 to 79 percent) not only "causes" the political system to act
according to its dictates but also deters political opposition from challenging a
specific decision. Nearly unanimous opinion (80 + percent) sweeps all political
opposition away, dominating the entire political system so that decision appear to
be automatic (Graham 1994, 196).
7 Graham develops his divisions based on a review of data from more than five
hundred national surveys and an examination of primary documents from seven
Using Graham's finding on public opinion and public policy, in analyzing the
following data when a response to a question surpasses 60 percent we can consider it as
an indicator of a societal norm. When opposition to a position drops below 30 percent,
we assume that society generally accept the norm. Some contend that people lie on public
opinion surveys. This does not influence our understanding of the societal norm. The
pressure is on individuals to conform to the societal norms. If an individual knew that
his/her personal opinion did not reflect the broader societal norm they would be inclined to
make their response match the societal norm. For example, one might contend that all
men are misogynists and chauvinists, however, if the broader societal norms say that
women should have an equal role we will find the preponderance of men responding that
women should have an equal role despite their immediate beliefs. The same applies for
issues of race or religion."
The survey data strongly suggest that it has become less acceptable for Americans
overly to take in to account characteristics of race, gender or religious preferences in their
electoral decisions. In 1937, the Gallup Organization began asking Americans their
willingness to vote for a presidential candidate with various demographic and religious
characteristics. Over the years the question has taken the following form: Ifyourparty
'%My discussion of religious tolerance has been limited. The United States is said
to have been founded on religious freedom. However, one must recall that dissenting
religious groups that immigrated to colonial America came only for their own religious
freedom and not to promote tolerance for all religions. For most of U.S. history the
Protestant forms of Christianity have been the accepted form for the American identity.
Some scholars such as Samuel Huntington still consider it to be the prevailing religious
form structuring the American identity (see Huntington 1997). Nevertheless, with the
development of the Euro-American identity Catholicism and the Jewish faith have
constituted the American identity with the so-called, Judeo-Christian tradition.
nominated a generally well-qualified person for President and he happened to be
______ wouldyou vote for him? The willingness to vote for a candidate for
president of a certain demographic background provides a strong indicator of prejudice in
the United States. The Presidency is the top elected post in the United States and with the
role as head of state provides the symbolic representation of the United States. Who
Americans feel comfortable within that office can provide an indicator of how the broader
society views itself. When an individual from a certain background is elected president,
conventional wisdom suggests that the general population feel comfortable with that
individual's background. For example, when Ronald Regan was elected president in 1980,
pundits and commentators said that the American public had fully accepted the idea of
divorces. Although Reagan had been married to his second wife Nancy for many years by
the time of the campaign, some questioned the willingness of the electorate to vote for
someone who had been married more than once. The issue turned out to be irrelevant to
the election. This being the case, we can use the willingness to vote for an individual for
president for a certain background as a barometer for societal norms regarding that
Figure 1 shows support for a Catholic presidential candidate. Alfred E. Smith was
the first Catholic who ran for the office of president. In the election of 1928 Smith
received 41 percent of the popular vote and lost the election to Herbert Hoover, however,
by 1937, 60 percent of those polled said that they would vote for a Catholic presidential
candidate. In 1960, with the election of the first Catholic President, John F. Kennedy,
opposition had fallen below 30 percent making it socially acceptable to vote for a Catholic
for President. These trends have continued to the point where Catholicism is no longer an
issue for the American electorate.
Much media excitement occurred in 2000 with Senator Lieberman's nomination for
vice-president as the first Jewish candidate for that office. However, from figure 2 we see
that by 1960, 70 percent of those surveyed said they would have support a Jewish
presidential candidate. This trend continues through the 1960s reaching a peak of 92
percent in 1999. Figure 1 and 2 suggest that by 1960 a candidate's religious association
was not a major issue.19 U.S. society inculcated a tolerance for religious diversity.
Although religious diversity appears acceptable for Americans, societal norms still strongly
insist that a presidential candidate hold some type of religious belief In 1958, only 18
percent of those polled said they would vote for an atheist for president, while 75 percent
said they would not. By 1978 this disparity had decreased to 40 percent saying yes and 53
percent saying no. In the latest survey in 1999, only 49 percent of those polled said that
"The absence of a question of the Islamic faith suggests a bias against that
religion. An area for further study is to what extent does an anti-Islamic bias shape U.S.
relation with Muslim countries?
Would you support a Catholic for president?
- --------- ,M w
0 IIP I I I go I
37 40 55 56 58 59 60 61 63 65 67 69 78 83 99
Support for a Catholic Presidential Candidate
,IIIII no opinion
Would you support a Jewish candidate for President?
37 58 59 61 63 65 67 69 78 83 87 99
Support for a Jewish Presidential Candidate
they would vote for a well-qualified person from their party if that person happened to be
an atheist, while 48 percent said they would not. This falls short of the 60 percent support
or less than 30 percent voicing resistance to an issue for it to be considered a norm. In
the United States it is no longer considered correct behavior to discriminate against
someone for their religious belief, but doing it is acceptable if an individual does not hold a
When it comes to political choices and the growth of tolerance for African-
Americans, the civil rights movement clearly shows its influence. Figure 3 confirms these
dramatic results. The Gallup organization did not even consider asking whether anyone
would be inclined to vote for a well-qualified black candidate until 1958. In that year only
37 percent said yes, while 53 percent responded no. The dramatic changes in 40 years
show that by 1999,95 percent said that they would vote for an African-American for
president. As the 20th century closes only 4 percent of those polled said that they would
not vote for an African-American for president. Examining figure 3 we see that those
responding that they would support an African-American for president passes the 60
percent point by 1969. Resistance to an African-American candidate also drops below the
30 percent level in the same year. Following 1969 those responding yes only increases,
while negative responses continue to decline. For African-Americans, 1969 clearly marks
the point at which the societal norms change and that prejudice against African-Americans
in one's political choice is no longer acceptable.
The decline in prejudice against women has followed a similar pattern to African-
Americans (see figure 4). In 1937, only 37 percent of those polled said that they would
vote for a well-qualified female candidate for president. It is not until 1955 that support
rises above resistance, yet still below the level needed to make it normatively acceptable.
Figure 4 suggests that 1971 is a key year with support rising above the 60 percent
threshold and opposition falling below the 30 percent level. As with the willingness to
support an African-American presidential candidate, the willingness to support a woman
follows the turbulence of the 1960s with the civil rights and woman's liberation movement.
Over the next 30 years, support for a woman presidential candidate climbs steadily,
reaching more than 90 percent by 1999.
Homosexuals as a group lag far behind others in societal acceptance. In 1978,
when the question was first asked by Gallup, only 26 percent of those polled said that they
would vote for a well-qualified homosexual for president. In 1999, the percentage
responding yes had risen to 59 percent, however, 37 percent said that they would not vote
for a homosexual. This level of resistance strongly suggests that Americans do not accept
homosexuals in the broader society. Interestingly, with 59 percent saying that they would
vote for a homosexual for president, homosexuals stand roughly in the same position that
African-Americans did in the United States in 1965.
Would You Support a Black Presidential Candidate?
585961 6365676971 788384879799
58 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 78 83 84 87 97 99
i i No
Support for a Black Presidential Candidate
Would you support a woman presidential candidate? ___
37 49 58
63 69 75 83
-- No '""3', no opinion
Support for a Woman Presidential Candidate
To display this general growth of tolerance in American society, we need to look
to other indicators. In figure 5, we see a continued growth since 1972 in the percentage
of those who believe that women should have an equal role in society.' In figure 6, when
questioned on school integration we find that by 1968, more than 70 percent believed that
white students and black students should go to the same schools. By 1972, resistance to
school integration had dropped to 14 percent. Figure 7 graphs the responses of those who
approve or disapprove of marriage between whites and non whites. In the period from
1958 to 1991, the percentage of those who said they disapprove drops 52 percentage
points. Finally in figure 8, when surveyors asked whites if they would move if blacks
came to live in their neighborhood, 50 percent said yes in 1958. In 1967, those
2The text of the question asked is as follows: "Some people feel that women
should have an equal role with men in running business, industry and government. Others
feel that a woman's place is in the home. Where would you place yourself on this scale or
haven't you thought much about this?" Respondents were asked to rate their answers on a
7-points scale with I being an equal role and 7 indicating that a woman's place is in the
home. For figure 5, I coded a response of 1,2,or 3 as equal role and 5, 6, or 7 as Women's
place is in the home. I did not graph a response of 4, which consistently ranged between
11 and 21 percent or a response ofdon't know, which averaged 6.3 percent over the
Should women have an equal role in society with men?
2 0 fft .O.M-.
0 1 TT 1
72 74 76 78 80 82 84 88 90 92 94 96 98
--- Equal Role
Woman's Place in the Home
Support for an Equal Role for Women
Do you think white students and black students should go to the same schools?
Ma -f -f N-o-,
....s ft in f
I I I I I I 1 1
42 56 63 64 65 68 70 72 76 77 80 82 84 85
Source: NORC in (Mayer 1992, 369)
separate 11''11 don't know
Support for Integrated Schools
mo -- _
Do you approve or disapprove of marriage between whites and non-whites?
1968 1972 1978 1983
Support for "Mixed" Marriage
Would you move if black people came to live in your neighborhood?
1963 1965 1966 1967 1978 1990
=,,a' might ,11.11 no
Support for Integrated Neighborhoods
responding positively had dropped to 40 percent. By 1990, 68 percent said that they
would not move if blacks came to live in their neighborhood in significant numbers.
From the survey data reviewed above we can suggest that since the early 1970s,
America is reaching a multicultural identity. Multiculturalism is an empirical and social
reality, not some elite conspiracy as some have claimed.21 The survey evidence supports
the thesis that the American identity has changed, becoming more inclusive of groups once
shunned from the mainstream political and social culture. To support this finding further,
I briefly provide evidence from two very different venues, presidential cabinets and
The composition of presidential cabinets also serves as an indicator for changing
norms regarding diversity and the development of a multicultural identity. When
President Clinton first took office in 1993, he wanted a Cabinet that looked like America.
That is, he stated that he wanted a Cabinet made-up of more than white men. Clinton
followed a pattern that had begun with President Johnson. Johnson appointed Robert C.
Weaver, the first African-American to hold a cabinet level post, as Secretary of Housing
and Urban Development in 1966. The administration of George W. Bush has continued
and expanded this practice to such an extent that it goes without question that a
2Michael Lind (1995) argues that it is a mistake to assume that multiracial is
synonymous with multicultural. For Lind, the United States can be multiracial without
being multicultural. Lind maintains that the white overclass perpetuate the multicultural
idea and buy social peace through affirmative action and tokenism. Lind further argues
that the white overclass have pitted the white underclass against minority groups to
maintain their position. Lind argues for something he calls a Liberal Nationalism that is "a
cultural melting pot, and ultimately a racial melting pot" (1995,298). Nevertheless, his
insistence on American English leads one to suspect his idea is some reformation of White
presidential cabinet will be diverse. In fact, the entire Bush administration is more racially
diverse and contains more women than the Clinton administration.
In the post World War II era television has had a strong impact on the American
society. The content of television programs can also help gauge societal norms regarding
political and civil rights and a tolerance for diversity. Henry J. Perkinson in Getting
Better: Television and Moral Progress, argues that the content of television programs has
lead to social progress. It is likely that the causal relationship is reversed and television
programming reflects progress in society. If this is the case, changes in television serve as
an indicator of normative change.22
One of the first television shows to feature African-Americans was Amos and
Ad which first premiered on June 28, 1951 (Blum 1959, 98). The program aired as
radio show for 20 years in which white actors portrayed African-Americans in a
stereotypical fashion. On the TV version African-Americans played the roles, but still in
the stereotypical fashion. Television programs portrayed African-Americans as lazy,
dumb, and dishonest (Lichter et al. 1994, 336).
In the mid-1960s the portrayal of racial minorities underwent major changes and
the "proportion of non-northern European roles doubled over the next decade" (Lichter et
al. 1994, 339). African-Americans moved into starring roles playing strong and
competent characters in such shows as I Sy and Mission Impossible. By the 1970s,
shows featuring African-Americans were numerous and varied from comedies like Sanford
nThere is also the possibility of reciprocal causation in which the values of the
explanatory variable are determined, at least in part, by the dependent variable (see King,
Keohane, and Verba 1994).
and Son and The Jeffersons to the epic drama and history of one family's tribulations
through slavery, Roots. By the 1980s, television portrayed African-Americans on The
Cosby Show as successful with the father as a medical doctor and the mother a lawyer.
The portrayal of African-Americans has changed dramatically over the years. Today,
imagining a show like Amos and Andy on a network's prime time lineup is difficult. Other
minority groups such as Hispanics and Asian Americans show up in television programs in
ever increasing numbers and with non-stereotypical portrayals.
Today, Americans generally tolerate diversity and understand that the United
States is not a homogeneous society racially or ethnically. The overwhelming majority of
the American people accept gender equality. More women attend college than men. Even
conservative Christian groups like the Southern Baptists, who claim male leadership as a
tenant of faith, are finding dissent among their ranks.' Despite some latent prejudice,
racism, and chauvinism, overt discrimination is not widely accepted. In a multicultural
America acceptance of diversity is what all Americans share. Globalization or the
expansion of economic, political, social and cultural relations across borders is an idea that
has gained widespread endorsement among academics and policymakers. This
'In October 2000 the largest single component, the Baptist organization in Texas,
declared financial independence from the Southern Baptist Conference (SBC). Arguing
that the convention had become authoritarian, the Texans decided that the more than $5
million they had been sending to Southern Baptist seminaries would be better spent on
projects in Texas. The primary issue of divergence was the SBCs recent stands calling on
women to be submissive to their husbands and forbidding women pastors (Lampman
intensification of interaction is not only a global phenomenon, but it has been national as
well. Regional cultures exist in the United States, however, the United States has seen an
infusion of various cultures throughout the broader society. American society is more
tolerant and respectful of this diversity. The violation of an individual's civil or political
rights due to their racial or ethnic background is no longer socially acceptable. The norms
have changed. Norms that govern domestic policy are the same norms that direct foreign
policy. The next chapter begins an investigation of the promotion of human rights in U.S.
foreign policy. We will see that the changes in domestic norms translates into changes in
HUMAN RIGHTS IN U.S. FOREIGN POLICY
In the previous chapter, I tried to establish that norms regarding political and civil
rights in the United States have changed. In this chapter it is my task to show that these
changes correspond to changes in U.S. foreign policy. The foreign policy issue I examine
is U.S. policy toward human rights. Recall that this study looks at the promotion of
democracy as U.S. foreign policy. Changing support for human rights represents a
changing perception of the nature of democracy. First, I begin with an analysis of
presidential rhetoric, drawn for the most part from inaugural addresses, and show the
changing status of democracy and human rights in presidential speeches.' An analysis of
presidential rhetoric provides us an understanding of the general U.S. foreign policy
orientation. As we will see, it does not provide the indicator for change in policy
orientation toward the promotion of democracy and human rights. The executive branch
lags behind the legislative branch in reflecting the change in domestic norms. Next, I
examine the changing position of human rights in U.S. foreign policy in the post World
War I period. I use contextual evidence and I utilize the last twenty five years of
quantitative scientific research on the relationship between U.S. foreign assistance and the
'Since the inaugural is the first speech a president makes, it can provide the
touchstone of that president's term in office.
violation of human rights by recipient countries. Researchers have not integrated or
assessed this literature longitudinally through any theoretical lense. The evidence suggests
that U.S. foreign policy has changed with that change taking place in 1970s. This change
occurs concurrently with the change in domestic norms that produced the new
multicultural American identity identified in the previous chapter.
Presidents of the United States have for the most part conformed to the rhetoric of
idealism in their foreign policy principles. Words like democracy and freedom often adorn
their public speeches. American exceptionalism, the idea that the United States represents
a special phenomenon in the history of the world, clearly resounds in presidential inaugural
addresses. This has caused Henry Kissinger to lament the triumph of Wilsonian idealism
in America's singular approach to international affairs. Kissinger relates that duringig the
course of the twentieth century, one president after another proclaimed that America had
no 'selfish' interests [the only goal] was universal peace and progress" (Kissinger 1994,
621). However, a detectable shift in the presidential rhetoric exists. From Truman to
Nixon, when presidents spoke of governance in other parts of the world, they judge it as
each individual country's choice. Like Wilson before them, these presidents appear
dedicated to the principle of self-determination. In this line of reasoning, democratic
governance is often limited to particular groups of states. Beginning with President Carter
and continuing through to the current administration, human rights and democracy is
couched in universal terms and available to all. In the following section, I analyze
presidential inaugural addresses from Truman to George W. Bush and show how the
rhetoric has changed.
In his inaugural address of January 20, 1949 Harry Truman declared that in the
U.S. "we believe that all men have a right to equal justice under law... "(Truman 1949,
112). For Truman, the American people wanted a world "in which all nations and peoples
are free to govern themselves as they see fit..." Despite the argument for
self-determination, Truman argued that the United States and other "like-minded nations"
find themselves opposed to the "false philosophy" of communism. He assured the world
that the U.S. would strengthen "freedom-loving nations" against aggression and provide
technical and economic assistance to "peace-loving peoples" (Truman 1949, 112).
Granted, Truman made his speech in the context of the Cold War with the world divided
into camps of good and evil, however, more can be drawn from the rhetoric. Clearly,
Truman implied that some countries are peace and freedom loving while others are not.
Eisenhower's inaugural address of 1953 follows this structure with freedom viewed as not
universally desired. He declared that the United States holds "all continents and peoples in
equal regard and honor" (Eisenhower 1953, 6). Nevertheless, Eisenhower marked as a
fixed principle that the U.S. will never use its strength to "impress upon another people
our own cherished political and economic institutions" (Eisenhower 1953, 5). The
implication is that some peoples may not want democracy or be capable of it.
John F. Kennedy offered a slight twist on America idealism. In his inaugural
address, Kennedy forthrightly declared that the U.S. was "unwilling to witness or permit
the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been
committed . "(Kennedy 1961, 1). To America's "old allies whose cultural and spiritual