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Contemporary Cases in U.S. Foreign Policy

Contemporary Cases in U.S. Foreign Policy
From Terrorism to Trade

Fifth Edition
Edited by:

August 2013 | 520 pages | CQ Press
Many actors—from the president and members of Congress to interest groups, NGOs, and the media—compete to shape U.S. foreign policy. The new fifth edition captures this strategic interplay using 15 real-world cases, of which four are brand new: the death of Osama bin Laden and the use of targeted assassinations, nonproliferation policy and the U.S.–India nuclear agreement, the U.S. reaction to Egypt’s collision with the Arab Spring, and the surprise asylum request of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. Fully updated to cover the Obama administration, all cases have been revised to reflect recent developments. Whether grappling with use-of-force questions, the international financial crisis, legal and human rights, trade issues, multilateral approaches to the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran, or climate change, Carter’s engaging case study approach encourages students to question motives, consider alternatives, and analyze outcomes.

Frédérick Gagnon and Ryan C. Hendrickson
1. The United States versus Terrorism: From the Embassy Bombings in Tanzania and Kenya to the Surge in Afghanistan
Priya Dixit
2. Assassinating bin Laden: Right or Wrong?
Jeffrey S. Lantis and Eric Moskowitz
3. Executive Decisions and Preventive War: Strategies of Intervention and Withdrawal in Iraq (2003-2011)
Thomas Preston
4. The Nuclear Standoff between the United States and Iran: Muscular Diplomacy and the Ticking Clock
Patrick James and Özgür Özdamar
5. The United States and North Korea: Avoiding a Worst-Case Scenario
Gerald Felix Warburg
6. Nonproliferation Policy Crossroads: The U.S.-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
Ralph G. Carter and James M. Scott
7. Hitting the Reset Button: Why Is Cooperation So Hard?
Stephen Zunes
8. Friendly Tyrants? The Arab Spring and the Egyptian Revolution
Joyce P. Kaufman
9. Chen Guangcheng: The Case of the Blind Dissident and U.S.-China Relations
Thomas Lairson
10. The Global Financial Crisis: Governments, Banks and Markets
Steven W. Hook and Franklin Barr Lebo
11. Sino-American Trade Relations: Privatizing Foreign Policy
Rodger A. Payne and Sean Payne
12. The Politics of Climate Change: Will the U.S. Act to Prevent Calamity?
Louis Fisher
13. National Security Surveillance: Unchecked or Limited Presidential Power?
Linda Cornett and Mark Gibney
14. The Rights of Detainees: Determining the Limits of Law
Donald W. Jackson and Ralph G. Carter
15. The International Criminal Court: National Interests versus International Norms
Key features


  • Four brand new cases that explore:
    • the use of targeted assassination involving both Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki;
    • the reversal of U.S. nonproliferation policy in the US–India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement;
    • whether the United States should support long-standing ally Hosni Mubarak or embrace the Egyptian people's desire for a non-authoritarian regime; and
    • blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng showing up at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and requesting asylum just before an important trade mission arrived, led by Hillary Clinton.
  • All prior cases have been substantially revised and updated with new events and scholarship.


  • Each case is consistently structured with: a list of “before you begin” questions that foreground key issues; introductory and background sections that provide context; a timeline of important events; and a descriptive list of key actors.
  • The cases connect recent major world events to critical enduring issues, highlighting the foundational elements that every student needs in order to understand foreign policy.
  • Instructor Resources include—for each case—a case summary, a case analysis, themes for classroom discussion, sample test questions, and lists of sources for more information. Visit to register and download resources.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

For instructors

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