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Example of Literature Review

Literature Review: U.S. Foreign Policy in the 21st Century

Hearn, E. (2019). Leadership credibility and support for U.S. foreign policy: Experimental evidence from Japan. Research & Politics6(3), 2053168019858047.

The article examines the role of leadership credibility in influencing the support of the U.S foreign policy abroad. Hearn (2019) conducts an experimental study on the Japanese attitudes and reaction toward an aggressive policy by an American president’s response to the North Korean missile launches. The author finds a direct link on the leader’s (leadership) credibility towards the foreign policy. The leaders in charge of different regimes account profoundly on the impact of U.S. foreign policy, its support, and attitude on other nations. Hearn (2019) primarily assesses the impact of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, which is largely unpopular abroad, impacting on the support of the U.S. foreign policy by other nations.

According to Hearn (2019), there is a direct correlation between leadership credibility and the support attracted by other international actors. It is profoundly difficult to separate Trump’s presidency and his unpopularity abroad from the broader attitudes towards the United States. The U.S. as a country and its policy towards advancing the national interests are greatly determined by the individuals in power. The popularity of the President is integral in influencing positive attitudes and support to the country’s foreign policies. This is based on the capacity to align one nation with the U.S. national interests overseas. Unluckily, the Trump leadership credibility abroad erodes the domestic support to policies as it is associated with negative attitudes.

Hearn (2019), argues that President Obama “enjoyed high levels of public support abroad.” Scholars and academicians, as well as, political adversaries, are regarded as instrumental in presenting the addressing adverse consequences of an unpopular executive to the U.S. Foreign policy. Thus, the international image and ability to build support in the preferred policy positions with major allies is extensively influenced by the leadership credibility that influences the government’s position based on the regime in power.

Sasse, B. (2019). The End of the End of History: Reimagining U.S. Foreign Policy for the 21st Century. Texas National Security Review2.

Sasse (2019) assesses the erosion of the American imagination of the country’s and as a people’s foreign policy. The crisis of the imagination of the American foreign policy is a problem that cuts across the academic, political, career professionals in foreign policy, as well as the American people. The looming problem presents a “lack of shared vision and sense of what America is trying to accomplish in the world through its foreign policy” (Sasse, 2019). The agenda of the U.S. foreign policy has been eroded from the domestic sphere (home), leading its inefficiency at the international level. According to Sasse (2019), the recent American foreign policymaking requires extensive re-evaluation and re-imagination to provide an effective solution that induces a strong approach to global leadership.

The fact that the U.S. has adopted an isolationist posture towards international affairs and opted for a non-engagement approach undermines the efficacy of the American foreign policy. Since the 2016 elections – the United States has resolved not wholly to embrace its leadership role and effectively engage in the foreign policy decisions adopted over the last several years (Sasse, 2019). The lack of aggressive measures can be analyzed as an approach whereby the “U.S. has fallen victim of its own success” (Sasse, 2019). This is based on a lack of effective competitors since the fall of the Soviet Union, leaving the Americans as the dominant player of the international affairs.

The withdrawal of the America’s longstanding commitments and impulse in engagements posits a profound failure toward the American foreign policy. The article calls for a re-evaluation and re-imagination of a new course for the American foreign policy. The need to remain a dominant player and global superpower can be sustained through a shared vision and direction of the U.S. foreign policy. Thus, clear articulation of what the U.S. in intending to achieve in the international system and international affairs is fundamental for effective execution.

Sperling, J., & Webber, M. (2019). Trump’s foreign policy and NATO: Exit and voice. Review of International Studies45(3), 511-526.

In contemporary society, the U.S. President approach to foreign policy has come under profound scrutiny. Sperling and Webber (2019) examine the impacts of Trump’s foreign policy on international commitments, which the U.S. has engaged and been committed to over the past years, such as NATO. The cooperation with NATO profoundly impacts on the U.S. foreign policy in which the U.S. maintains the transatlantic relations, as well as, the international order. The questioning of the relevance of NATO, an institution that Trump has viewed as ‘obsolete,’ greatly affects U.S. foreign policy (Sperling & Webber, 2019). The call for overhaul evaluation of the significance of such institutions to the U.S. foreign policy operating in line with the ‘America First’ constitutes a profound change in the U.S. engagement and relations with the international community.

However, Sperling and Webber (2019) reproach to Trump’s foreign policy is based on the argument that “Trump’s foreign policy is not always as illogical as many have assumed. Logic is borne of the institutional context whereby Trump’s sentiments are aimed at articulating voice where institutionalization makes an exit unviable.” The call is fundamental to assert the importance of the international organization and partners in the U.S. foreign policy.

The criticism towards Trump’s approach to foreign policy undermines the American resilience and significance to the international order. Continued expansion of the U.S. foreign policy by questioning the significance of these organizations is focused on enhancing the importance of institutionalization without eroding the significance of the U.S. impact on international affairs. Thus, growth and development to issues considered integral to the Americans are an essential factor of the U.S. pursuit of its national interests.


The three articles in share some common views as they examine the role of leadership of the U.S. president on the America’s foreign policy formulation and execution. Hearn (2019) focuses primarily on leadership credibility attracting international support to advance U.S. foreign policy from other nations. Sasse (2019) examines the lack of imagination of the U.S. foreign policy and lack of clear vision and shared direction that has been advanced by the U.S. President. Sperling and Webber (2019) examine the impacts of the leadership’s approach to specific issues in foreign policy, such as cooperation and engagement with longstanding institutions. This view is examined by Sasse (2019), who evaluates the dis-engagement and impulse approach to relations and foreign policy adopted in the past few years.

The determination of the U.S. foreign policy is crucial since it clearly outline what the U.S. is trying to accomplish in the current era. The utilization of isolationist and disengagement approach undermines the U.S. role in the international community. For intance, the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Protocol left a power vacuum in which emerging nations are bound to fill. This diminishes the U.S. role in the international relations and system.

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