Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

Explaining Foreign Policy: International Diplomacy and the Russo-Georgian War

Hans Mouritzen and Anders Wivel
Explaining Foreign Policy: International Diplomacy and the Russo-Georgian War
ISBN: 978-1-58826-835-8
ISBN: 978-1-58826-969-0
2012/223 pages/LC: 2011033815
"Of superior quality.... Highly recommended."—Choice

"A remarkably balanced, intelligent, and well-informed analysis.... The work is a model of clarity and scholarly exegesis.... At the root of [the authors'] approach is the belief that there is a truth out there, and they have provided a robust model that allows us to get to that place.... This book is a worthy successor to Allison's Essence of Decision."—Richard Sakwa, The Russian Review

"An excellent study.... The authors develop an innovative, detailed framework to explain the why of foreign policy decisions."—Roger Kanet, University of Miami


Why would Georgia attack South Ossetia in August 2008, with Russian forces conducting exercises nearby? This remains a puzzle to analysts—on a not inconsiderable list of foreign policy puzzles. Hans Mouritzen and Anders Wivel use the example of the Russo-Georgian war to illustrate and evaluate their original model for explaining foreign policy behavior.

The authors apply the model to the actions of forty countries in relation to the 2008 war. Uniquely linking system, interstate, and intrastate levels of explanation, and benefiting from the WikiLeaks revelations, they offer an important new tool for foreign policy analysis.


Hans Mouritzen is senior research fellow and head of foreign policy research at the Danish Institute for International Studies. Anders Wivel is associate professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen.


  • Explaining Foreign Policy.
  • A New Explanatory Framework.
  • Georgia's Puzzling Attack on Tskhinvali.
  • A Well-Prepared Russia Strikes Back.
  • The United States Lets Down a Loyal Friend?
  • Europe Divided.
  • A Surprising Success: The European Union as Mediator.
  • Russia's Near Abroad and China: United in Caution.
  • The Global Victory of Geopolitics.