Democracy promotion and U.S. foreign policy


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Democracy promotion and U.S. foreign policy the role of domestic norms
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vii, 207 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Nisley, Thomas Jay
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Political Science thesis, Ph.D   ( lcsh )
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2002.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 182-206).
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Statement of Responsibility:
by Thomas Jay Nisley.

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Table of Contents
    Title Page
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    Table of Contents
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    Chapter 1. Foreign policy and societal change
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    Chapter 2. Theory of foreign policy and democracy promotion
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    Chapter 3. Norms and the growth of tolerance
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    Chapter 4. Human rights in U.S. foreign policy
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    Chapter 5. Congress and the transmission of norms to foreign policy
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    Chapter 6. Congress and foreign policy: Contra aid and South African sanctions
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    Chapter 7. Summary of findings and conclusion
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    Biographical sketch
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Full Text







Copyright 2002


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.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............................................. iii

AB STRA CT ........................................................ vi


1 FOREIGN POLICY AND SOCIETAL CHANGE ...................... 1


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

S.......................................................... 118

Introduction ..................................
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 ...
Conclusion ...................................

AFRICAN SANCTIONS ........................
Introduction ..................................
Contra Aid ...................................
South African Sanctions .........................
Conclusion ...................................


. . . . . . .


.... 154
.... 154
.... 155
.... 161
.... 168

.... 170

REFERENCES ....................




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



Thomas Jay Nisley

August 2002

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



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

1980, 68).

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

United States.

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.



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.

Theoretical Approach

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
regulate behavior.

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

international behavior.

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

mandating others.

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

democratic institutions.

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.

political violence.

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

United States.

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.

policy changes.

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.

Causal Hypothesis

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

elected officials.

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 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

1986, 1095).

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

of themselves

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
global norms.

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

cultural context.

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

1982, 86).

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.

American Identity

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

([1751] 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
United States.

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 ([1926] 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 [1926]
1977, 72-73)

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

[1926] 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 [1926] 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 [1926] 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 [1926] 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-

fought gains.


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

political opposition.

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).

http://www.umich. edu/-nes/nesguide.

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
presidential administrations.

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

- Yes

Source: Gallup
- No

Support for a Catholic Presidential Candidate

Figure 1


,IIIII no opinion

Would you support a Jewish candidate for President?

37 58 59 61 63 65 67 69 78 83 87 99

- Yes

Source: Gallup
- No

IIIiIii noopinion

Support for a Jewish Presidential Candidate

Figure 2


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

religious belief

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?

1f ,

585961 6365676971 788384879799
Il-----------ll --l---------1111-titll-l----l-ch

58 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 78 83 84 87 97 99

Source: Gallup

i Yes

i i No

1.11111 noopinion

Support for a Black Presidential Candidate

Figure 3


Would you support a woman presidential candidate? ___

37 49 58

- Yes

63 69 75 83
Source: Gallup
-- No '""3', no opinion

Support for a Woman Presidential Candidate

Figure 4

[ 40



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

Source: NES
--- Equal Role
Woman's Place in the Home

Support for an Equal Role for Women

Figure 5

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

- same

Source: NORC in (Mayer 1992, 369)
separate 11''11 don't know

Support for Integrated Schools

Figure 6




mo -- _

Do you approve or disapprove of marriage between whites and non-whites?

1968 1972 1978 1983

- Approve

Source: Gallup
S- Disapprove

1ii11'1 Noopinion

Support for "Mixed" Marriage

Figure 7




Would you move if black people came to live in your neighborhood?


1963 1965 1966 1967 1978 1990

- yes

Source: Gallup
=,,a' might ,11.11 no

Support for Integrated Neighborhoods

Figure 8

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

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.

Presidential Rhetoric

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