Under what conditions should we expect states to do things radically differently all of a sudden? In this book, David Welch seeks to answer this question, constructing a theory of foreign policy change inspired by organization theory, cognitive and motivational psychology, and prospect theory. He then "test drives" the theory in a series of comparative case studies in the security and trade domains: Argentina's decision to go to war over the Falklands/Malvinas vs. Japan's endless patience with diplomacy in its conflict with Russia over the Northern Territories; America's decision to commit large-scale military force to Vietnam vs. its ultimate decision to withdraw; and Canada's two abortive flirtations with free trade with the United States in 1911 and 1948 vs. its embrace of free trade in the late 1980s.
Painful Choices has three main objectives: to determine whether the general theory project in the field of international relations can be redeemed, given disappointment with previous attempts; to reflect on what this reveals about the possibilities and limits of general theory; and to inform policy. Welch argues that earlier efforts at general theory erred by aiming to explain state behavior, which is an intractable problem. Instead, since inertia is the default expectation in international politics, all we need do is to explain changes in behavior. Painful Choices shows that this is a tractable problem with clear implications for intelligence analysts and negotiators.
Table of Contents:
List of Figures and Tables ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction 1 CHAPTER 1: Surprise, Anticipation, and Theory 10 The Case for a Decision-Based Theory of Behavior 18 The Case for a Theory of Foreign Policy Change 23 CHAPTER 2: A Theory of Foreign Policy Change 30 Building Blocks 31 A Loss-Aversion Theory of Foreign Policy Change 45 Devils in the Details 51 CHAPTER 3: Useless Islands Disputes 72 Las Islas Malvinas 73 The Northern Territories 95 Crucial Differences 113 CHAPTER 4: American Boys in an Asian War 117 Background 118 Turning Points 129 The Johnson Escalation 134 Nixinger and the Endgame 147 How Do the Hypotheses Fare? 160 CHAPTER 5: Free Trade with the United States: Two Funerals and a Wedding 168 Overview and Background 169 Laurier and the Reciprocity Agreement of 1911 177 King and the Reciprocity Nonagreement of 1948 185 Mulroney and the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, 1988 193 Analysis 206 CHAPTER 6: Conclusion 216 Works Cited 233 Index 265
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