The limits of American foreign commitments

Bruce D. Berkowitz, Bruce Bueno De Mesquita

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A key instrument of American foreign policy intended to contain Soviet expansion since World War II has been the extension of security commitments from the United States to smaller nations in the third world. Currently, American political leaders have proposed similar commitments to such nations as Egypt, Oman, Kenya, and Somalia in response to the crises in Iran and Afghanistan. However, these policies frequently have been counterproductive because of a general principle affecting relations between a great power and a small power. These relationships are likely to deteriorate because of the limited mutual interests of the two nations. When this happens, the great power must usually choose between intervening in its ally's affairs or suffering a foreign policy setback. Instead, the United States should make strong commitments only to nations sharing with the U.S. broad mutual interests while actively supporting the neutrality of other countries.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)245-260
    Number of pages16
    JournalComparative Strategy
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 1982

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Political Science and International Relations


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