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date: 28 April 2017

Use of Force in Foreign Policy

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Please check back later for the full article.

The Foreign Policy Analysis approach to explaining the use of force generally highlights the importance of domestic politics in international relations. We review the leading approaches and paradigms in foreign policy analysis that help explain the use of force as a tool of foreign policy. We look at the importance of opening up the black box of state, which highlights the importance of decision-making for explaining international politics. There are two primary approaches to explaining foreign policy analysis: rational choice theory and psychological and cognitive theories. Foreign policy analysis opens the door to a variety of novel and interesting topics, including those that relate to international conflict, such as democratic peace theory, selectorate theory, public opinion, domestic institutions, and leaders. Each of these topics is important for explaining the use of force in foreign policy. The goal is to enable a better understanding of the foreign policy analysis frameworks used to explain the behavior of states, specifically the use of force as an instrument of foreign policy. Future research on the use of force and international conflict should account for the importance of domestic politics. Particularly promising avenues for future research are highlighted such as; the study of leaders, selectorate theory, and the bargaining model of war.