The Theory Of Foreign Policy Changes

1411 Words6 Pages
In Painful Choices, David Welch is entirely focused on developing a theory of when and why foreign policy changes. Welch is also interested in a way to forecast these changes. His assembled theory, which I will evaluate in greater depth, is termed the Loss-Aversion Theory of Foreign Policy Change . This Theory entails three hypotheses on the conditions under which we can expect – and, more importantly, predict – changes in foreign policy. Although Welch remains humble regarding his Theory’s drawbacks and predictive capabilities, there are some potentially problematic assumptions at the foundation of Loss-Aversion Theory. I will discuss why Welch’s Theory is primarily useful solely at the Individual Level. Finally, I intend to discuss why the Theory is not a comprehensive theory of foreign policy and why the assumptions required for the Theory to hold limit the cases that can be explained by it. After finding numerous theoretical and practical difficulties in the attempts thus far to draft of a theory of state behavior, Welch proposes that “[a] possible way out of [these difficulties] is to seek to base predictions not on explanations of why states behave the way they do in general… but on explanations of why they deviate from their prior behavior.” Looking only at the changes in state behavior is a radical approach; it is a perspective from which “what [states] do in general is irrelevant.”2 Temporarily ignoring state goals, Welch turns his attention to how states
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