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The Foreign Policies of Small States: Challenging Neorealism in Its Own Backyard

  • Miriam Fendius Elman


The received wisdom in international relations suggests that we can best account for the foreign policies of small states by examining structural/systemic rather than domestic level factors. This article challenges this scholarly consensus. The distribution of power and the balance of threat do influence domestic institutional formation and change in emerging states. However, the subsequent military strategies of these weak states are likely to reflect such domestic institutional choices in a number of important and predictable ways. The article tests this argument against pre-1900 US domestic regime change and foreign security policy. The historical evidence suggests that while international preconditions were critically linked to constitutional reform, the institutional structures and rules of democratic presidentialism affected both the timing and substance of US military strategies in later periods. The US case study provides a springboard for speculating on the international context of democratization in Eastern Europe and the long-term foreign-policy consequences of this domestic regime choice.



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1 In this article, the terms ‘weak’, ‘small’, and ‘insecure’ are used interchangeably. When ‘small state’ appears in the text, it should be understood to mean ‘small’ in terms of power rather than size. For a similar conceptualization, see Handel, Michael, Weak States in the International System (London: Frank Cass, 1981), pp. 1011; and Baehr, Peter R., ‘Small States: A Tool for Analysis?’, World Politics, 3 (1975), 456–66, at p. 461. For an alternative definition based on population size, see Clarke, Colin and Payne, Tony, eds, Politics, Security and Development in Small States (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987). The most convincing definitions are those which view smallness in terms of capabilities as well as how those capabilities are applied against whom, when, and for what sets of goals. Resource capabilities necessarily constrain the scope and domain of foreign policy. Thus a small state can be defined by its limited capacity to: (1) influence the security interests of, or directly threaten, a great power; and (2) defend itself against an attack by an equally motivated great power. See Keohane, Robert O., ‘Lilliputians' Dilemmas: Small States in International Politics’, International Organization, 23 (1969), 291310, at pp. 295–6; Levy, Jack S., War in the Modern Great Power System, 1495–1975 (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1983), pp. 910, 13; Rothstein, Robert L., Alliances and Small Powers (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), p. 29; Handel, , Weak States in the International System, pp. 36, 68–9, 171; Fox, Annette Baker, ‘The Small States in the International System, 1919–1969’, International Journal, 24 (1969), 751–64, at p. 752; Labs, Eric J., ‘Do Weak States Bandwagon?Security Studies, 1 (1992), 383–116, at p. 409.

2 Neorealism assumes that international constraints influence state behaviour. In general, international pressures will override domestic interests, internal political struggles, and the characteristics of particular states in foreign-policy decision making. Given that the international system is anarchic and that states must consequently ensure their own security, the exigencies of the international environment will be paramount in decision makers' calculations. Accordingly, a state's behaviour is viewed as a response to the constraints and incentives of its aggregate power relative to others (i.e., the distribution of capabilities) or the degree of aggressive intent on the part of external actors (i.e., the balance of threat). Neorealists assume that statesmen will respond rationally to these preconditions and will choose that foreign-policy course which is most likely to maximize security benefits and minimize security risks. While neorealists recognize that systemic/structural factors may prevent statesmen from pursuing optimal strategies, it is presumed that elites are domestically unconstrained. In contrast to this structural/systemic argument, unit or domestic level theories expect that state attributes and societal conflicts will affect foreign-policy choices. It is assumed that foreign policy will not always reflect national security interests or systemic/structural imperatives. Rather, the characteristics of particular states and the ideologies and local interests of societal and state actors will often render statesmen incapable of responding to the exigencies of the international environment. For seminal works that distinguish between external and internal levels of analysis as determinants of state behaviour, see Waltz, Kenneth N., Man, the Slate and War: A Theoretical Analysis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959) and Singer, J. David, ‘The Level of Analysis Problem in International Relations’, World Politics, 14 (1961), 7792. For recent overviews of the debate, see Rosecrance, Richard and Stein, Arthur A., ‘Beyond Realism: The Study of Grand Strategy’, in Rosecrance, Richard and Stein, Arthur A., eds, The Domestic Bases of Grand Strategy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993); Snyder, Jack, Myths of Empire: Domestic Politics and International Ambitions (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991), pp. 21–3; and Mesquita, Bruce Bueno de and Lalman, David, War and Reason: Domestic and International Imperatives (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992), pp. 1217, 247.

3 By exploring small state foreign policy and showing that domestic politics counts, this article aims to question the assumed causal primacy of neorealism. However, I remain firmly rooted in the classical realist tradition, which never disregarded the important role of domestic level factors. As Snyder notes. ‘Realism must be recaptured from those who look only at politics between societies, ignoring what goes on within societies’ (Snyder, , Myths of Empire, p. 20).

4 Military strategy is how states decide ‘which wars shall be fought, or if war should be fought’ (see Posen, Barry R., The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany Between the World Wars (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984), p. 285). These cases comprise the three foreign wars that the United States fought as a weak state as well as the security issues which dominated domestic debate during the initial years of the American republic.

5 It is often argued that while neorealism can account for general recurring patterns of state behaviour, it does not attempt to explain the foreign policies of specific states. For example, Waltz says that a theory of foreign policy is required in order to explain how an individual state will respond to the constraints posed by the international system (see Waltz, Kenneth N., Theory of International Politics (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1979), pp. 71–2). Nevertheless, Waltz does derive different foreign polices, such as alignment strategies, from different distributions of power. Balancing, chain-ganging, and buckpassing behaviour, which Waltz depicts as the product of the system and its given polarity, are not general systemic or international outcomes but are rather alternative foreign-policy strategies. In short, neorealism is a theory of foreign policy. But it differs from other theories of foreign policy by assuming that state behaviour will be responsive to international constraints and incentives rather than domestic level pressures. For additional studies which employ the structural/systemic level of analysis in explaining particular foreign policies, see Posen, , The Sources of Military Doctrine; Miller, Benjamin, ‘Explaining Great Power Cooperation in Conflict Management’, World Politics, 45 (1992), 146; and Grieco, Joseph M., Cooperation Among Nations: Europe, America and Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987).

6 See Waltz, , Theory of International Politics, pp. 194–5. With regard to the determinants of small state foreign policy, Waltz is ambiguous. On the one hand, he argues that small state security and foreign policy will be dependent on structural constraints, such as the degree of great power competition. Small states will need to be more attentive to these external constraints due to their ‘narrower margin for error’ (Waltz, , Theory of International Politics, pp. 184–5, 195). On the other hand, Waltz claims that the smaller the state, the more it is likely to take international constraints for granted, since nothing it does can significantly effect the international system. Moreover, because great powers focus their attention on those states most likely to present a security threat, they will be less interested in weak states. As a result, small states will face fewer external constraints and their behaviour will be more likely to reflect domestic political influences (Waltz, , Theory of International Politics, pp. 72–3).

7 Wolfers, Arnold, Discord and Collaboration: Essays on International Politics (Baltimore, Md: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1962), pp. 1316.

8 Rosenau, James, ‘Pre-theories and Theories of International Politics’, in Farrell, R. Barry, ed., Approaches to Comparative and International Politics (Evanston, III.: Northwestern University Press, 1966), pp. 47–8.

9 Jervis, Robert, ‘Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma’, World Politics, 30 (1978), 167214, at pp. 172–3.

10 Snyder, , Myths of Empire, p. 20. See also Nincic, Miroslav, Democracy and Foreign Policy: The Fallacy of Political Realism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992), p. 16.

11 Snyder, , Myths of Empire, pp. 62, 317–18.

12 Schweller, Randall L., ‘Domestic Structure and Preventive War: Are Democracies More Pacific?’, World Politics, 14 (1992), 235–69, at p. 267.

13 Schweller, , ‘Domestic Structure and Preventive War’, pp. 253, 264–8.

14 Walt, Stephen M., The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987), pp. 2131. Walt's point is not that small states prefer to bandwagon, but rather that they will often be forced to select this course of action due to their vulnerable international position. Yet, Walt's insistence that weak states choose bandwagoning strategies ‘reluctantly’ makes it difficult to falsify his argument. If a small state bandwagons, Walt can point to its geographic proximity to a threatening great power or to the unavailability of allies–‘balance of threat’ theory scores a success. If a small state balances, Walt can always argue that this strategy should be its first choice even if it is a good candidate for bandwagoning–once again, ‘balance of threat’ theory scores a success. That Walt's theory is non-falsifiable highlights the ambiguity of neorealist policy prescriptions where virtually any foreign-policy action would appear to confirm the theory.

15 Labs, , ‘Do Weak States Bandwagon?’, pp. 385–6.

16 Labs, , ‘Do Weak States Bandwagon?’, p. 406.

17 Goldgeier, James M. and McFaul, Michael, ‘A Tale of Two Worlds: Core and Periphery in the Post-Cold War Era’, International Organization, 46 (1992), 467–91, at p. 470, see also pp. 475–6, 479. Contrary to Goldgeier and McFaul's assertions, much of the literature on developing countries does not insist that structural explanations are clearly dominant. For example, Rothstein frequently refers to domestic considerations in explaining the foreign-policy choices of underdeveloped countries. He argues that a variety of domestic level variables are salient for this category of weak state, primarily because ‘questions of legitimacy, authority, and national identification remain unsettled’ (see Rothstein, Robert L., The Weak in the World of the Strong: The Developing Countries in the International System (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), p. 35). Recent analyses of Third World security and foreign policy which also focus on domestic political influences include David, Steven R., ‘Explaining Third World Alignment’, World Politics, 43 (1991), 233–56; and Ayoob, Mohammed, ‘The Security Problematic of the Third World’, World Politics, 43 (1991), 257–83.

18 Vogel, Hans, ‘Small States' Efforts in International Relations: Enlarging the Scope’, in Holl, Otmar, ed., Small States in Europe and Dependence (Vienna: Braumuller, 1983), p. 57.

19 Handel, , Weak States in the International System, p. 36.

20 Handel, , Weak States in the International System, pp. 3, 261–2; see also Barston, R. P., ‘Introduction’, in Barston, R. P., ed., The Other Powers: Studies in the Foreign Policies of Small States (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1973), p. 19; Rothstein, , Alliances and Small Powers, p. 182.

21 Fox, Annette Baker, The Power of Small States: Diplomacy in World WarII (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959).

22 Paul, T. V., Asymmetric Conflicts: War Initiation By Weaker Powers (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 176.

23 Bjol, Erling, ‘The Small State in International Politics’, in Schou, August and Brundland, Arne Olau, eds, Small States in International Relations (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiskell, 1971), pp. 32–4.

24 Stinchcombe, Arthur L., Constructing Social Theories (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1968), p. 25.

25 Posen, , The Sources of Military Doctrine, p. 38.

26 Grieco, Joseph M., ‘Understanding the Problem of International Cooperation: The Limits of Neoliberal Institutionalism and the Future of Realist Theory’, in Baldwin, David A., ed., Neorealism and Neoliberalism: The Contemporary Debate (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 306.

27 In this article, I define democracy in its minimalist sense. A state can be categorized as democratic if government leaders are determined by elections contested by independent political groups; the transfer of power between these political groups is peaceful and is based on election results; government officials are not systematically controlled by non-elected individuals or institutions; and citizens have the right to express political views, organize for political action and seek alternative sources of information without fear of punishment.

28 A seminal example of the societal approach is Milner, Helen, Resisting Protectionism: Global Industries and the Politics of International Trade (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988).

29 Exemplars of this type of statist argument include Gilpin, Robert, US Power and the Multinational Corporation (New York: Basic Books, 1975); and Krasner, Stephen D., Defending the National Interest: Raw Materials Investments and US Foreign Policy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978).

30 See, for example, Katzenstein, Peter, ed., Between Power and Plenty: Foreign Economic Policies of the Advanced Industrial States (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978).

31 Thelen, Kathleen and Steinmo, Sven, ‘Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics’, in Steinmo, Sven, Thelen, Kathleen and Longstreth, Frank, eds, Structuring Politics: Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 14.

32 See Thelen, and Steinmo, , ‘Historical Institutionalism’. See also March, James G. and Olsen, Johan P., ‘The New Institutionalism: Organizational Factors in Political Life’, American Political Science Review, 78 (1984), 734–9.

33 Thelen, and Steinmo, , ‘Historical Institutionalism’, p. 10. I define institutions here as sets of rules that prescribe permissible behaviour. Institutions define acceptable patterns of conduct which channel social behaviour in a certain direction rather than in the many directions that would otherwise be possible.

34 March, James G. and Olsen, Johan P., Rediscovering Institutions: The Organizational Basis of Politics (New York: The Free Press, 1989); Thelen, and Steinmo, , ‘Historical Institutionalism’, p. 2.

35 Haggard, Stephen, Pathways from the Periphery: The Politics of Growth in the Newly Industrializing Countries (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991), p. 46.

36 Krasner, Stephen D., ‘Sovereignty: An Institutional Perspective’ in Caporaso, James A., ed., The Elusive State: International and Comparative Perspectives (Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1989), p. 74.

37 DePalma, Guiseppe, To Craft Democracies: An Essay in Democratic Transitions (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), p. 214.

38 Studies linking the international environment to national political developments have a long tradition in the Comparativist literature. See, for example, Tilly, Charles, ed., The Formation of Nation States in Western Europe (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975); and Skocpol, Theda, States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1979). For concise overviews of this ‘second image reversed’ research agenda, see Almond, Gabriel A., ‘The International-National Connection’, British Journal of Political Science, 19 (1989), 237–59; and Gourevitch, Peter, ‘The Second Image Reversed: The International Sources of Domestic Politics’, International Organization, 32 (1978), 881911.

39 Munck, Gerardo L. and Leff, Carol Skalnik, ‘Structure, Process, and Choice in Regime Change: The Institutional Forms of Emerging Democracies in South America and Eastern Europe’ (paper presented at the annual convention of the International Studies Association, Acapulco, Mexico, 1993), p. 4.

40 DePalma, , To Craft Democracies, p. 29.

41 Casper, Gretchen and Taylor, Michelle, ‘When Competitors Cooperate’ (paper presented at the annual convention of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, III., 1993), pp. 1314.

42 Huntington, Samuel P., ‘Will Countries Become More Democratic?Political Science Quarterly, 99 (1984), 193218, at pp. 205–7.

43 Whitehead, Lawrence, ‘International Aspects of Democratization’, in O'Donnell, Guillermo, Schmitter, Philippe C. and Whitehead, Lawrence, eds. Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Comparative Perspectives (Baltimore, Md: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 3; see also Schmitter, Philippe C., ‘The International Context of Contemporary Democratization’, Stanford Journal of International Affairs, 2 (1993), 134.

44 See, for example, DePalma, , To Craft Democracies; Huntington, Samuel P., The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), p. 39; and Linz, Juan J., ‘Transitions to Democracy’, Washington Quarterly, 13 (1990), 143–64.

45 Huntington, , The Third Wave, p. 107.

46 See, for example, Huntington, , The Third Wave; and Casper, and Taylor, , ‘When Competitors Cooperate’.

47 Students of regime transition rarely differentiate between alternative democratic arrangements, focusing instead on transitions to democracy in general. For example, Huntington claims that an analysis of the differences between democracies may facilitate explanations of the effects of democratic systems once created, but will provide little information on how democratic governments are initially forged. See Huntington, , The Third Wave, p. 109.

48 On the role of distributional conflicts in the emergence of institutions see Knight, Jack, Institutions and Social Conflict (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), especially pp. 26–8, 40–1, 126–8.

49 Dodd, Lawrence C., ‘Political Learning and Political Change: Understanding Development Across Time’ (paper presented at the annual convention of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, III., 1993), p. 48.

50 Katzenstein, , Small States in World Markets: Industrial Policy in Europe (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985), p. 37.

51 Kiser, Larry L. and Ostrom, Elinor, ‘The Three Worlds of Action: A Metatheoretical Synthesis of Institutional Approaches’, in Ostrom, Elinor, ed., Strategies of Political Inquiry (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1982), p. 181. According to rational choice theories, institutions will tend to be ‘sticky’ because: (1) relying on pre-existing institutions is less costly than creating and enforcing new ones; and (2) institutions create interest groups with a stake in maintaining existing rules and structures.

52 Thelen, and Steinmo, , ‘Historical Institutionalism’, pp. 23; Gourevitch, Peter, Politics in Hard Times: Comparative Responses to International Economic Crises (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986), pp. 28, 61–2, 229.

53 Wendt, Alexander, ‘Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics’, International Organization, 46 (1992), 391425, at p. 417.

54 Grafstein, Robert, Institutional Realism: Social and Political Constraints on Rational Actors (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992), p. 100.

55 Krasner, , ‘Sovereignty’, p. 75.

56 See Almond, Gabriel, Flanagan, Scolt C. and Mundt, Robert, Crisis, Choice, and Change: Historical Studies of Political Development (Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown, 1973).

57 The argument that fundamental institutional change occurs in an episodic and discontinuous manner bears a close resemblance to punctuated equilibrium theory. This evolutionary theory assumes that genetic change occurs rarely and rapidly. Once a sharp break in the ancestral lineage takes place, species do not change substantially over long periods of time. Recently, political scientists have noted the implications of punctuated equilibrium theory for institutional analysis. See Fendius, Miriam, ‘Punctuated Equilibrium and International Relations Theory: An Example of Cross Fertilization Between the Natural and Social Sciences’ (paper presented at the annual convention of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, III., 1993).

58 For useful overviews of the ‘agent-structure’ problem in IR, see Wendt, Alexander, ‘The Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations Theory’, International Organization, 41 (1987), 335–68; and Dessler, David, ‘What's at Stake in the Agent-Structure Debate’, International Organization, 43 (1989), 441–73.

59 Thelen, and Steinmo, , ‘Historical Institutionalism’, pp. 1017; Carlsnaes, Walter, ‘The Agency-Structure Problem in Foreign Policy Analysis’, International Studies Quarterly, 36 (1992), 245–70, at pp. 256, 263.

60 For concise overviews of US foreign relations during this period see Pratt, Julius W., A History of United Stales Foreign Policy, 3rd edn (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1972), pp. 1135, and DeConde, Alexander, A History of American Foreign Policy, Volume I: Growth to World Power (1700–1914), 3rd edn (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978), pp. 37189.

61 See, for example, Perkins, Bradford, ‘Introduction’, in Perkins, Bradford, ed., The Causes of the War of 1812: National Honor or National Interest? (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1962), p. 1; DeConde, , A History of American Foreign Policy, p. 36; Pratt, , A History of United States Foreign Policy, p. 3; Marks, Frederick W., ‘Power, Pride and Purse: Diplomatic Origins of the Constitution’, Diplomatic History, 11 (1987), 303–19, at p. 313.

62 The emergence of American democracy is typically depicted as a slow process of incremental change. See Linz, , ‘Transitions to Democracy’, p. 143. Moreover, it is often assumed that, in contrast to continental Europe, US institutional development was insulated from military threat. See Gilbert, Felix, ed., The Historical Essays of Otto Hintze (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975). This article suggests otherwise. The forging of the US presidential system coincided with severe external threats and was ‘telescoped’ into a few critical years.

63 In arguing that the period 1781–87 constituted a ‘critical period’ in early American history, I concur with American historians who view the US Constitution as a fundamental departure from earlier institutions rather than the ‘crowning success of the movement for a more popular government that had started with the revolution’. See Grob, Gerald N. and Billias, George A., Interpretations of American History, Volume I: To 1877–Patterns and Perspectives, 6th edn (New York: The Free Press, 1992), p. 161. Instead of the Revolutionary and Constitutional periods representing a continuous line of progressive political evolution, the period from 1781 to 1787 is a ‘dramatic story of change’. For a concise discussion of this tradition in US constitutional historiography, see Grob, and Billias, , Interpretations of American History, pp. 159–81.

64 In their coding of the great powers, Singer and Small include the United States only after the Spanish-American War. See Singer, J. David and Small, Melvin, The Wages of War, 1816–1965: A Statistical Handbook (New York: Wiley, 1983), pp. 41–2. Similarly, Levy does not rank the United States as a major power until after the late 1800s (see Levy, , War in the Modern Great Power System, 1495–1975).

65 Grob, and Billias, , Interpretations of American History, p. 168.

66 On this view, see Kramnick, Isaac, ‘The “Great National Discussion”: The Discourse of Politics in 1787’, William and Mary Quarterly, 45 (1988), 322.

67 Onuf, Peter, ‘Reflections on the Founding: Constitutional Historiography in Bicentennial Perspective’, William and Mary Quarterly, 46 (1989), 341–75, at p. 358.

68 Marks, Frederick W., Independence on Trial: Foreign Affairs and the Making of the Constitution, 2nd edn (Delaware: Scholarly Resources Inc., 1986), p. 19.

69 Marks, , Independence on Trial, pp. 5965.

70 Excerpted from Anastaplo, George, The Constitution of 1787: A Commentary (Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), p. 249. That the Articles sought to limit federal powers is understandable given the ‘deep distrust of executive authority produced by the long colonial struggle with appointed English governors’ (see Polakoff, Keith J., Political Parties in American History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981), p. 8). Following the Revolutionary War, it is unlikely that elites would have opted for an institutional arrangement which centralized government power. After all, they had just rebelled violently in order to maximize the liberties of individual states. Limiting, rather than expanding, the powers of the central government was the primary objective.

71 British statesmen refused to take Congressional attempts to negotiate seriously, noting that Congress would not have the authority to enforce any commercial treaty. See Lang, Daniel G., Foreign Policy in the Early Republic: The Law of Nations and the Balance of Power (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985), p. 83. Co-operation at the international level was, therefore, hindered because one contracting party, in this case the British, was aware of the other's domestic-level impediments. On how domestic institutional features can affect an executive's international bargaining abilities, see Putnam, Robert, ‘Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two Level Games’, International Organization, 42 (1988), 427–60, especially pp. 448–9.

72 Gorlin, Jacques J., ‘Foreign Trade and the Constitution’, in Goldwin, Robert A. and Licht, Robert A., eds, Foreign Policy and the Constitution (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1990), p. 57.

73 Graebner, Norman A., Foundations of American Foreign Policy: A Realist Appraisal from Franklin to McKinley (Delaware: Scholarly Resources Inc., 1985), p. 14.

74 Lang, , Foreign Policy in the Early Republic, p. 79.

75 Berns, Walter, ‘The Writing of the Constitution of the United States’, in Goldwin, Robert A. and Kaufman, Art, eds, Constitution Makers on Constitution Making: The Experiences of Eight Nations (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1988), p. 128.

76 Marks, , ‘Power, Pride, and Purse’, p. 310.

77 Marks, , Independence on Trial, p. 18.

78 Marks, , Independence on Trial, p. 45; Graebner, , Foundations of American Foreign Policy, p. 41.

79 Farrand, Max, The Framing of the Constitution of the United States (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1913), p. 45.

80 While the Anti-Federalists acknowledged the need to revitalize Congress, they tended to emphasize the dangers that consolidation posed for republican government. On the Anti-Federalist viewpoint see Storing, Herbert J., What the Anti-Federalists Were For (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981); and Onuf, Peter, ‘State Sovereignty and the Making of the Constitution’ in Ball, Terence and Pocock, J. G. A., eds, Conceptual Change and the Constitution (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988), especially pp. 86–8.

81 Marks, Frederick W., ‘Foreign Affairs: A Winning Issue in the Campaign for Ratification of the United States Constitution’, Political Science Quarterly, 86 (1971), 444–69, at p. 469.

82 See, for example, Federalist No. 37 in Rossiter, Clinton, ed., The Federalist Papers (New York: Penguin, 1961).

83 See Federalist Nos. 9, 10, 48 and 51 in Rossiter, , The Federalist Papers.

84 Quoted in Onuf, , ‘State Sovereignty and the Making of the Constitution’, pp. 80–4.

85 By attaining an equal voting rule in the Senate, small state delegates guaranteed that state sovereignty would be preserved in the new system. Thus, distributional conflict led to the convention's decision to qualify the commitment to centralization and concede a larger role to the states. Ironically, equal representation in the Senate became a useful bargaining chip for the Federalists. Federalists could claim that they were just as concerned with states' rights as were the Anti-Federalists and that representation in the Senate was linked to preserving these rights. See Federalist Nos. 39 and 62 in Rossiter, , The Federalist Papers.

86 On this issue, see Marks, , Independence on Trial, pp. 147–51, 181–3.

87 See Federalist No. 70 in Rossiter, , The Federalist Papers.

88 See Federalist Nos. 48 and 71 in Rossiter, , The Federalist Papers.

89 Farrand, , The Framing of the Constitution of the United States, pp. 78–9, 115.

90 See Federalist Nos. 10 and 64 in Rossiter, , The Federalist Papers.

91 DeConde, Alexander, The Quasi War: The Politics and Diplomacy of the Undeclared Naval War with France, 1797–1801 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1966), pp. 22, 90.

92 Lang, , Foreign Policy in the Early Republic, pp. 121–2.

93 Under the terms of the treaty, the United States recognized the British position on neutral rights in return for the evacuation of Northern military posts still held by the British. See DeConde, , A History of American Foreign Policy, pp. 5267.

94 DeConde, , A History of American Foreign Policy, p. 50; Bowman, Albert, ‘Jefferson, Hamilton, and American Foreign Policy’, Political Science Quarterly, 71 (1956), 1841, at pp. 20–1.

95 Graebner, , Foundations of American Foreign Policy, p. 92.

96 Polakoff, , Political Parties in American History, p. 44.

97 DeConde, , The Quasi War, p. 102.

98 Lang, , Foreign Policy in the Early Republic, p. 152; Graebner, , Foundations of American Foreign Policy, p. 97.

99 DeConde, , The Quasi War, pp. 62, 68–9.

100 DeConde, , The Quasi War, pp. 90, 101.

101 DeConde, , The Quasi War, p. 77.

102 DeConde, , The Quasi War, pp. 85, 328–9. In fact. Federalist war plans included an attempt to attack Louisiana as a way of avoiding French dominance and hence Republican influence in the area. See Lang, , Foreign Policy in the Early Republic, pp. 123–4.

103 DeConde, , The Quasi War, p. 182.

104 Horsman, Reginald, The Causes of the War of 1812 (New York: Octagon Books, 1972), pp. 142, 179.

105 For example, the British army numbered approximately 300,000 in comparison to some 11,000 US troops hastily assembled in 1812. In naval strength, Britain had over 700 ships and approximately 150,000 men; the American navy totalled 16–20 ships and only 4,000 personnel. Moreover, the British, as the leading industrial nation of Europe, could easily produce enough goods to support a military engagement in North America. The United States, however, was primarily an agricultural society and could not support such a wide-scale military machine. See Williams, T. Harry, The History of American Wars from 1745–1918 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981), p. 97. Thus, we would expect the United States to assume a defensive position against Britain rather than pick a fight.

106 Horsman, , The Causes of the War of 1812, pp. 186, 266.

107 Horsman, , The Causes of the War of 1812, pp. 24, 80, 112, 120, 136, 264–5.

108 See, for example, Graebner, , Foundations of American Foreign Policy, p. 121.

109 Perkins, , ‘Introduction’, pp. 34.

110 DeConde, , A History of American Foreign Policy, p. 77. That these rules influenced policy options can be seen as early as 1807 when President Jefferson stated that ‘if the British do not give us the satisfaction we demand, we will take Canada, which wants to enter the Union’. Quoted in Horsman, , The Causes of the War of 1812, p. 169.

111 Snyder, , Myths of Empire. According to Snyder's criteria, the War of 1812 can be considered an instance of over-expansion. The United States was effectively ‘self encircled’ by Britain and, given its military power relative to that of Britain, US expansion into Canada extended ‘beyond the point where material costs [equalled] material benefits’. US foreign policy in this case corroborates Snyder's claim that, while democratic structures may predispose against over-expansion, they by no means rule out such dysfunctional behaviour.

112 Pratt, Julius W., ‘The Bargain Between the South and West’, in Perkins, , ed., The Causes of the War of 1812, pp. 66–7.

113 Of the seventy-nine votes for war in the House, only nine came from Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio while a total of thirty-seven came from the South Atlantic states.

114 Horsman, , The Causes of the War of 1812, p. 183.

115 DeConde, , A History of American Foreign Policy, pp. 94–8.

116 Young, James Sterling, The Washington Community, 1800–1828 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1966), p. 251.

117 See Williams, , The History of American Wars from 1745–1918, p. 161. While the ‘balance of power’ may have provided incentives for war, it did not require such a strategy. Since Mexico posed little threat, US statesmen had several options short of war. Thus, under permissive international conditions, neorealism proves indeterminate. Domestic level arguments are needed to explain the foreign policy ultimately selected.

118 The stabilization of relations with England and the diffusion of the dispute over Oregon occurred shortly after war with Mexico was under way.

119 Pratt, , A History of United States Foreign Policy, p. 106.

120 Schroeder, John H., Mr. Polk's War: American Opposition and Dissent, 1846–1848 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1973), p. 35.

121 Connor, Seymour V. and Faulk, Oddie B., North America Divided: The Mexican-American War, 1846–1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 28.

122 See Schroeder, , Mr. Polk's War, pp. 75, 149; Graebner, Norman A., Empire on the Pacific: A Study in American Continental Expansion, 2nd edn (Claremont, Calif.: Regina Books, 1983), p. 91.

123 Connor, and Faulk, , North America Divided, p. 20.

124 Merk, Frederick, History of the Westward Movement (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978), p. 297. That pro-annexationist forces used the Constitution to justify parochial interests is clear from President Tyler's support of the joint resolution. Previously a strict constructionist of the Constitution in matters of domestic policy, we would have expected Tyler to oppose annexation by any means other than that expressly listed in the Constitution. Yet, Tyler declared that Congress as well as the Senate was authorized to annex territory: ‘the power of Congress is fully competent in some other form of proceeding to accomplish everything that a formal ratification of a treaty could accomplish’. See Merk, , History of the Westward Movement, pp. 288, 293, 297; Polakoff, , Political Parties in American History, p. 153.

125 Schroeder, , Mr. Polk's War, p. 7.

126 Connor, and Faulk, , North America Divided, p. 27; see also Pratt, , A History of United States Foreign Policy, pp. 117–18; DeConde, , A History of American Foreign Policv, pp. 170, 178; Graebner, , Empire on the Pacific, p. 108.

127 Much attention has been devoted to whether Polk was drawn into war against his wishes due to Mexican belligerency or whether he instigated the war in order to acquire territory from Mexico. It is clear that Polk accepted Texas's annexation which commanded majority support of the Democratic party. On the other hand, Polk sought to end hostilities with Mexico and supported an expansion of the campaign only after Mexico proved unwilling to negotiate. My point here is that regardless of Polk's intentions, institutional factors crucially effected the executive's ability to realize its goals.

128 Schroeder, , Mr. Polk's War, pp. xiixiii, 24.

129 Schroeder, , Mr. Polk's War, pp. 87–8.

130 Schroeder, , Mr. Polk's War, pp. 124–6; Graebner, , Empire on the Pacific, pp. 186–9.

131 Schroeder, , Mr. Polk's War, pp. 130, 152, 155.

132 Perkins, Bradford, The Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations, Volume I: The Creation of a Republican Empire, 1776–1865 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 196–7.

133 Rosecrance, and Stein, , ‘Beyond Realism’, pp. 1718.

134 Posen, , The Sources of Military Doctrine, especially pp. 80, 239–40.

135 I adapt this phrase from Ikenberry, G. John, ‘Conclusion: An Institutional Approach to American Foreign Economic Policy’, International Organization, 42 (1988), 219–43, at pp. 221–2.

136 Moravcsik, Andrew, ‘Liberalism and International Relations Theory’ (Harvard University, Center for International Affairs, Working Paper No. 92–6, 04 1993), p. 41.

137 Goldmann, Kjell, ‘Democracy Is Incompatible with International Politics: A Reconsideration of a Hypothesis’, in Goldmann, Kjell, Berglund, Sten and Sjostedt, Gunnar, eds, Democracy and Foreign Policy: The Case of Sweden (Aldershot, Hants: Gower, 1986), pp. 13.

138 Nincic, , Democracy and Foreign Policy.

139 See, for example, Lijphart, Arend, Democracies: Patterns of Majoritarian and Consensus Government in Twenty-One Countries (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1984); Lijphart, Arend, ed., Parliamentary versus Presidential Government (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992); Rose, Richard and Suleiman, Ezra N., eds, Presidents and Prime Ministers, 2nd edn (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1981); Shugart, Matthew Soberg and Carey, John M., Presidents and Assemblies: Constitutional Design and Electoral Dynamics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

140 Shugart, and Carey, , Presidents and Assemblies, p. 29.

141 While executive–legislative division can generate inefficient foreign-policy outcomes, unified government does not automatically ensure that foreign policies will be tailored to international circumstances. Moderate foreign policy may coincide with divided party control of the executive and legislative branches while unified government may not. For instance, prior to the Quasi War, the fact that the Federalists held executive and senatorial majorities increased the likelihood of a costly war with Britain. The fact that Republicans dominated the House ensured against the conflict's escalation. Because the House and the presidency were controlled by different parties, foreign policies were less aggressive than they might otherwise have been.

142 Linz, Juan J., ‘The Perils of Presidentialism’, in Lijphart, , ed., Parliamentary versus Presidential Government, p. 123.

143 Linz, Juan J., ‘Presidential or Parliamentary Democracy: Does It Make a Difference?’, in Linz, Juan J. and Valenzuela, Arturo, eds, The Failure of Presidential Democracy: Comparative Perspectives, Vol. I (Baltimore, Md: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), pp. 910.

144 Gunther, Richard and Mughan, Anthony, ‘Political Institutions and Cleavage Management’, in Weaver, R. Kent and Rockman, Bert A., eds, Do Institutions Matter? Government Capabilities in the United States and Abroad (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1993), p. 276.

145 Shugart, and Carey, , Presidents and Assemblies, pp. 170–3, 227; Weaver, R. Kent and Rockman, Bert A., ‘Assessing the Effects of Institutions’, in Weaver, and Rockman, , eds, Do Institutions Matter?, pp. 17, 33.

146 See, for example, Linz, and Valenzuela, , eds, The Failure of Presidential Democracy.

147 Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have chosen parliamentary systems.

148 Whereas severe external threat tends to be associated with presidentialism, the absence of exogenous pressures fails to produce any determinate domestic outcome. Under permissive international conditions, statesmen have an increased range of choice. Parliamentarism, presidentialism and regimes that present a mixture between the two are each viable alternatives. That the new Europe displays such a wide array of democratic institutional types lends support to this argument.

* Department of Political Science, Columbia University. Previous versions of this article were presented at the 1993 Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association, the New York State Political Science Association, and the International Studies Association. Funding for this research was generously provided by the William T. R. Fox Fellowship in Political Science and the Morris Abrams Award in International Relations. The author thanks Emmanuel Adler, Vincent Augur. Lawrence Dodd, Colin Elman, Annette Baker Fox, Beau Grosscup, Virginia Hauffler, Jerel Rosati, Jack Snyder, Hendrik Spruyt, Yaacov Vertzberger, the Journal's editors and anonymous referees for their helpful comments on earlier drafts.

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