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Multilateralism and U.S. Foreign Policy: Ambivalent Engagement

Stewart Patrick and Shepard Forman, editors
Multilateralism and U.S. Foreign Policy: Ambivalent Engagement
ISBN: 978-1-58826-042-0
ISBN: 978-1-58826-018-5
2001/500 pages/LC: 2001048120
Center on International Cooperation Studies in Multilateralism

"This book is a stand-out.... As a collection of articles that actually form a coherent whole, and which the editors have carefully calibrated to lie neither in the abstract theoretical stratosphere nor in the weeds of policy narrative, it is a real find."—Mark P. Logan, Perspectives on Political Science

"This book is indispensable for anyone interested in the dangerous and timely complex of problems and attitudes it addresses."—John L. Washburn, Ethics and International Affairs


When should the United States cooperate with others in confronting global problems? Why is the U.S. often ambivalent about multilateral cooperation? What are the costs of acting alone? These are some of the timely questions addressed in this examination of the role of multilateralism in U.S. foreign policy.

The authors isolate a number of factors that help to explain U.S. reluctance to commit to multilateral cooperation. They then analyze recent policy in specific areas—e.g., the use of force, peacekeeping, arms control, human rights, the United Nations, sanctions, international trade, environmental protection—probing the causes and consequences of U.S. decisions to act alone or opt out of multilateral initiatives. A concluding chapter underscores the point that increasingly pressing transnational problems may require the U.S. to reform its policymaking structures and to reconsider longstanding assumptions about national sovereignty and freedom of action.


Stewart Patrick is on the policy planning staff at the U.S. Department of State. He is author of America's Quest for an Open World: Multilateralism and U.S. National Interest and coeditor (with Shepard Forman) of Good Intentions: Pledges of Aid for Postconflict Recovery. Shepard Forman is founder and director of the Center of International Cooperation and New York University. Previously, he was director of the Ford Foundation's Human Rights and Governance and International Affairs programs. His publications include Diagnosing America: Anthropology and Public Engagement.


  • Multilateralism and Its Discontents: The Causes and Consequences of U.S. Ambivalence—S. Patrick.
  • The United States, International Organizations, and the Quest for Legitimacy—E.C. Luck.
  • The Growing Influence of Domestic Factors—P.N. Lyman.
  • Public Attitudes Toward Multilateralism—S. Kull.
  • Multilateralism and U.S. Grand Strategy—G.J. Ikenberry.
  • U.S. Unilateralism: A European Perspective—W. Wallace.
  • Unilateral Action in a Multilateral World—R. Wedgwood.
  • Multilateral Peace Operations—S.B. Sewall.
  • Nuclear Weapons: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and National Missile Defense—T. Graham, Jr. and D.J. LaVera.
  • The Chemical Weapons Convention—A.E. Smithson.
  • The U.S. as "Deadbeat"? The United States and the UN Financial Crisis—M.P. Karns and K.A. Mingst.
  • Extraterritorial Sanctions: Managing "Hyper-Unilateralism" in U.S. Foreign Policy—M. Mastanduno.
  • Unilateralism, Multilateralism, and the International Criminal Court—B.S. Brown.
  • Why Is U.S. Human Rights Policy So Unilateralist?—A. Moravcsik.
  • Ambivalent Multilateralism and the Emerging Backlash: The IMF and WTO—K.A. Elliot and G.C. Hufbauer.
  • Climate Change: Unilateralism, Realism, and Two-Level Games—H.K. Jacobson.
  • Multilateralism as a Matter of Fact: U.S. Leadership and the Management of the International Public Sector—S. Forman.

A related title: Unilateralism and U.S. Foreign Policy: International Perspectives edited by David M. Malone and Yen Foong Khong.