Democratic Transition and Human Rights

Perspectives on U.S. Foreign Policy

By Sara Steinmetz

Subjects: Human Rights
Paperback : 9780791414347, 294 pages, May 1994
Hardcover : 9780791414330, 294 pages, May 1994

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents



1. Human Rights in the Realpolitik Debate

The National Interest
The Neoconservative Proposal
The Neorealist Proposal
Which Human Rights?
Human Rights as a Policy Choice
U.S. Human Rights Foreign Policy: A Realpolitik Alternative

2. Approaching the Human Rights Problem

Comparing Foreign Policy Decisions
Foreign Policy Instruments

3. Iran: High Stakes for U.S. Interests--Low Priority for Democracy

Iran Under the Shah
Iran Unravels and Revolution Erupts: 1977 to 1979
Iran's Revolution and the Failure of Moderate Politics
The U.S. Presence in Prerevolutionary Iran
The Coming of the Revolution: U.S. Support of the Shah
The United States and Postrevolutionary Iran
The United States in Iran: Problems and Policies
The Lessons of Neoconservatism Examined
The Neorealist Perspective Reviewed

4. Nicaragua: Useful Policies Rendered Impotent

Nicaragua under the Somozas
Revolution in Nicaragua
Nicaragua after Somoza
United States-Nicaraguan Relations before the Revolution
After the Revolution: United States-Nicaraguan Relations
The United States in Nicaragua: Policy and Problems
Nicaragua and the U.S. National Interest
The Lessons of Neoconservatism Examined
The Neorealist Perspective Reviewed

5. The Philippines: U.S. Foreign Policy--An Inadvertent Success

The U.S. presence in the Philippines
Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1986): From Weak Democracy to Dictatorship
United States-Philippine Relations During the Marcos Years
Marcos and U.S. Interests
Washington Ignores a Deteriorating Philippines
Protecting U.S. Interests: The Role of Diplomacy
U.S. Policy and the Postrevolutionary Philippines
Realpolitick in the Philippines
U.S. Policy in the Philippines: An Inadvertent Success
The Lessons of Neoconservatism Examined
The Neorealist Perspective Reviewed

6. Summary and Conclusion

Instruments of Foreign Policy to Support Human Rights
U.S. Human Rights Policy Abroad: The Cases Summarized
Realpolitik Reassessed
Targeting the Moderates: An Alernative Realpolitik Human Rights Foreign Policy
Alternative Approaches to the Study of Democratic Transition and Human Rights
Protecting Human Rights Abroad: Moral Pursuit in the Interest of Realpolitik


Iran 3-1: U.S. Military Assistance and Sales 1967-1980
Iran 3-2: U.S. Economic Assistance 1967-1981
Nicaragua 4-1: U.S. Economic Assistance 1967-1980
Nicaragua 4-2: U.S. Military Assistance and Sales 1967-1980
Philippines 5-1: U.S. Military Assistance and Sales 1967-1986
Philippines 5-2: U.S. Economic Assistance 1967-1985


Selected Bibliography



This book analyzes U.S. foreign policy in relation to human rights and democratic development abroad. Its purpose is to determine if, and how, human rights policies, or their neglect, have led to Realpolitik successes for the United States. In addition, it addresses the issue of how Washington might best respond to challenges in which a choice apparently must be made between support for democracy and preservation of U.S. national interests.

Through a comparative analysis of Iran under the Shah, Nicaragua under the Somozas, and the Philippines under Marcos, Steinmetz evaluates the effectiveness of American priorities in authoritarian states that were perceived to protect U.S. interests. Rejecting the policy prescriptions of the neoconservative and neorealist schools, she concludes that protection of human rights abroad is desirable, not because of its moral implications per se, but because of its positive contributions to the preservation of U.S. national interests.

Sara Steinmetz teaches in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers University.


"The text is clearly written and is a thorough survey of U.S. foreign policy in the three case areas. I particularly like the belief system or perspective comparison that is used as analytical framework for each case." — Steven L. Lamy, University of Southern California