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Realist foreign policy analysis with a twist: the Persian Gulf Security Complex and the rise and fall of dual containment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-333
Number of pages18
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Issue number3
Early online date1 Nov 2014
Accepted/In press1 Nov 2014
E-pub ahead of print1 Nov 2014
Published1 Jul 2016

King's Authors


Analyses of US post-Cold War foreign policy in the Persian Gulf symbolize realism's new found concern with foreign policy analysis. Prominent realists attribute specific policies to domestic concerns and how they have dominated policymaking in the era of US primacy. Although convincing, this perspective is not comprehensive. By drawing on regional security complex theory, it is possible to map the regional developments that have equally constrained and incentivized the rise and fall of dual containment. This more extensive account produces two important findings regarding realism's neglect of the regional level of analysis. First, realists overstate the domestic determinants of US policy in the Persian Gulf. Second, and more broadly, realist foreign policy analysts underspecify systemic pressures that shape and shove a country's foreign policy.

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