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The Christian Right and US Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century

SALLEH, MOHD,AFANDI (2011) The Christian Right and US Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The thesis discusses the role of the Christian Right in the US foreign policy decision making process. The research revealed that the Christian Right has long been fascinated with some international issues in general and US foreign policy in particular. The Christian Right’s interest in international issues increased markedly during years of the George W. Bush presidency. It successfully widened its activities from domestic social conservative issues to foreign policy issues by participating in, articulating and lobbying for its religious version of American foreign policy. In assessing the role of the Christian Right in US foreign policy making, this dissertation examines three aspects of US foreign policy, namely Israel, international religious freedom and global humanitarianism. Based on these aspects, the Christian Right is seen as skilled in framing and defining issues. The Christian Right seems effective in selecting and prioritizing international issues that have a reasonable chance of being selected by foreign policy decision makers, especially in Congress. Moreover, the Christian Right has shown its maturity in seeking engagement and cooperation with other organizations, secular and religious, in order to advance its international goals. Finally, in pursuing and conveying its international agenda, the Christian Right has adopted a more moderate and less overtly religious approach. Instead of using its traditional religious rhetoric, the Christian Right has successfully projected its foreign policy preferences into the conventional realist discourse of American foreign policy that is largely based on the objective of national interest and national security. Nevertheless, this study does not, in any way, conclude that the Christian Right was able to influence or determine the direction of US foreign policy and its outcomes; however, it does suggest that the Christian Right did contribute and have an impact on the formulation of some US foreign policy. As such, the research contends that the role of the Christian Right is similar to other interest group lobbies and that its perceived influence on US foreign policy should not be exaggerated. Finally, the research suggests that the emergence of the Christian Right as an actor in asserting its global agenda through US foreign policy can possibly provide an example of how religious beliefs and values can become a potential source of “soft power”. Together with the “climate of opinion” of the American public during the Bush administration, the “soft power” at domestic level could serve as a valuable new explanatory variable in understanding how the US foreign policy was formulated in the early 21st century.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:31 Mar 2011 09:05

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