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US Politics and the United Nations: A Tale of Dysfunctional Dynamics

Alynna J. Lyon
US Politics and the United Nations: A Tale of Dysfunctional Dynamics
ISBN: 978-1-62637-456-0
ISBN: 978-1-62637-571-0
2016/251 pages/LC: 2016016852
"Lyon fills a critical void in our understanding of the US-UN relationship."—Courtney B. Smith, Seton Hall University


It is no secret that the US variously pulls away from the United Nations and embraces it as a significant venue for policy initiatives. But what explains this dramatic inconsistency? What is the logic of US multilateralism? Alynna Lyon explores the puzzling waxing and waning of US support for the UN, tracing events, actions, and decisions from the end of World War I to the present.

Lyon weaves together a consideration of international context, UN institutional dynamics, and US domestic politics to conceptualize and explain the trials and tribulations of the US-UN relationship. In the process, she tells the story of the progression of the US from a country committed to internationalism to one full of dysfunctional partisanship, ideological underpinnings, and domestic power struggles that undermine its capacities to cooperate on a global scale.


Alynna J. Lyon is professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire. She is coauthor (with Karen Mingst and Margaret Karns) of The United Nations in the 21st Century, 5th edition.


  • The Puzzles and Paradoxes of US-UN Relations.
  • Mapping Multilateralism.
  • US Politics and the Founding of the United Nations.
  • Drifting Apart and the Politics of Estrangement, 1945–1988.
  • The 1990s: "The United Nations Has Become Fashionable Again."
  • The George W. Bush Administration and "Stealth Multilateralism."
  • Obama and the Rhetorical Return to the UN.
  • Exceptional Americanism and the Essentials of Multilateralism.