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Browsing by Author "Isola, Jenni Susanna"

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  • Isola, Jenni Susanna (2012)
    This graduate thesis studies the foreign- and security politics of the United States through the formation of national identity. It specifically investigates the country's foreign policy towards the United Nations, and changes in it, during two presidential terms. The thesis observes the second term of President George. W. Bush (from 2005 to 2008) and the first term of President Barack Obama (from 2009 to 2012). The subject matter is relevant in the field of world political studies for multiple reasons: The hegemonic status of the United States in an increasingly interconnected world, the unilateral tendency of the country tied to the attitude towards and the meaning of the UN, and the concepts of security and danger tied to the current discussion on the relevance of a nation-state as the main actor in responding to the common threats the world faces today. The method of critical identity and discourse analysis is used when approaching the subject. The basis for the US foreign policy formation is understood as coming from domestic structures and challenges instead of from outside threats, and for that reason the main empirical material for analysis is the State of the Union- speeches by the presidents. After analyzing the rhetoric of these speeches, the thesis indicates changes in concrete policy decisions by both presidents. The beginning hypothesis is that as the presidency shifts from the republican party to the democratic party, some changes in the foreign policy paradigm should occur. This is closely tied to the nature of the US political structure of Constitutional and Presidential democracy. The main discourses emerging from the analysis are danger and unilateralism for President Bush, and responsible leadership and multilateralism for President Obama. The strongest discourse, however, is determined as the discourse of American exceptionalism, and that serves both presidents. The presidential rhetoric shows a wide array of changes in the foreign and security- policy paradigms of the presidents, but the concrete decision-making indicates more continuity than change. The thesis concludes that even though President Bush was seen unfavorably by the international community at the end of his presidency, and much hope and expectations were placed on the shoulders of President Obama, have many at the end of Obama's first term expressed feelings of disappointment towards his achievements and indicated a lack of delivery. The results of the research show that the dominant backbone behind the US foreign policy, the identity of American exceptionalism, has not changed with the presidential shift. The foreign and security political paradigm still reflects domestic struggles with the national identity and aim towards the continuity of the country's hegemonic status in the world order. The research concludes that only through changes in the national political identity can the US reform its attitude towards the international community and act as a visionary in world politics.