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Political Culture and Foreign Policy Making - Transatlantic Discourse over Democracy Promotion

Golareh Khalilpour, Dissertationsprojekt (10/10 – 09/15)

In 2002 Robert Kagan claimed, “on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus”. In the field of democracy promotion, conventional wisdom holds that there exists a “transatlantic divide”: While the United States apply a mainly unilateral, bottom-up strategy, the European Union pursues a much more flexible approach that has been described as 'multilateral' and 'elite-driven'. So, while there seems to be agreement on the need for democracy promotion and the universal validity of liberal values, the US and its European partners pursue different strategies to promote democracy.

Some scholars argue US military dominance as opposed to Europe’s relative military weakness is responsible for this transatlantic divide. Drawing on constructivist theory, this study suggests that differences between the US and Europe derive not so much from relative power positions but from different political cultures and culturally embedded understandings of democracy, which then impact national perceptions on national identity, threats and national interest. In order to understand the logic at work in European and US approaches to democracy promotion, discourse in US and European media debates on war and military interventions are analysed and scanned for democracy-related claims through content analysis.