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The Foreign Policy Puzzle

Interests, Threats, and Tools

Keith Shimko

Publication Date - 04 December 2015

ISBN: 9780199988778

192 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

The only text that teaches students to understand foreign policy issues by understanding interests, threats and tools of influence.


Keith Shimko's The Foreign Policy Puzzle: Interests, Threats, and Tools provides a unique framework for students to think critically about issues in American foreign policy, concentrating on the dilemmas that face policy makers today.


  • A three-part organization designed to address the central challenges of foreign policy: identifying and prioritizing interests; assessing the nature and magnitude of threats; and choosing the most effective policy tools
  • A series of end-of-chapter case studies featuring historical and contemporary examples
  • A thorough examination of the debates surrounding the 2003 Iraq War

About the Author(s)

Keith Shimko is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Purdue University. He is the author of The Iraq Wars and America's Military Revolution (2010) and Images and Arms Control (1992).


"Keith Shimko's timely and important The Foreign Policy Puzzle is the ideal book for anyone interested in understanding the nuances and stakes involved in alternative foreign policy options." --Christopher Layne, University Distinguished Professor of International Affairs and Robert M. Gates Chair in National Security, Texas A & M University

"I really like this volume. It's smart, it's written for students, it's engaging, it's timely, and it's short enough that someone can pair this with another text. While most books focus on the constitutional invitation to struggle inherent in making foreign policy, Shimko refreshingly and insightfully focuses attention on the intellectual struggle behind US foreign policy." -Patrick J. Haney, Miami University

Table of Contents


    What's the subject?
    What's the objective?
    Who's the audience?
    Invitations to struggle
    Plan of the book

    Chapter 1: Understanding the Iraq War Debate
    The threat

    Chapter 2: Interests
    The "national interest"
    Thinking about national interests
    Types of interests
    Prioritizing interests
    The problem of interest inflation
    Values and interests
    A harmony of interests and values?
    Interests over values
    Duties beyond borders

    Debating Interests, Past and Present
    Past: Vietnam
    Present: Syria

    Chapter 3: Threats
    Inferring intentions: knowing the unobservable
    What others say
    What others have
    What other do

    Assessing Threats, Past and Present
    Past: The Soviet Union and Détente
    Present: China's Peaceful Rise?

    Chapter 4: Tools
    Hard power I: military force
    Hard power II: economic coercion
    Soft power

    Evaluating Tools, Past and Present
    Past: Iraq and economic sanctions, 1990-1991
    Present: economic sanctions and Iran, 2006-?

    Chapter 5: Putting the Puzzle Together: Competing Visions for U.S. Foreign Policy
    Restraint: interests
    Restraint: nuclear proliferation
    Restraint: terrorism
    Restraint: values and interests
    Primacy: interests
    Primacy: threats
    Primacy: tools
    Liberal internationalism: interests
    Liberal internationalism: tools