My research project
Reversing Course: Explaining Obama's Rapprochements
My thesis theorises overbalancing behaviour using neoclassical realism to explain the conditions under which, and the reasons why, states overreact to marginal threats to their own detriment. Waltzian balance of power logic is unable to elucidate on such behaviour, which this research suggests is suboptimal as a strategic focus on areas of peripheral interest results in the deflection of important diplomatic capital and material resource from more salient foreign policy issues.
It uses US foreign policy towards Iran and Cuba as its case study, and employs semi-structured elite interviews and document analysis to demonstrate that existing policies have been driven by prevailing ideational forces at the unit level, rather than an objective assessment of strategic interest defined as power would suggest. American foreign policy elites have become irreflective and non-contemplative about the framework of ideas within which their Iran and Cuba policies are construed. The persistence of an outdated, Cold War paradigm causes continuous overreactions, leading to policy failures and resulting in an inability to strategically adjust to the realities of systemic stimuli.
As such, the thesis is interested in how the Obama administration in particular approached such an institutionalised policy in order to properly restore the balance of these relationships. Broadly, the thesis highlights the conditions under which overbalancing occurs, the consequences of the punishment that results, and seeks to understand what must happen in order for states to correct their course and pursue an optimal path in foreign policy.
University roles and responsibilities
- Postgraduate Research Representative for the Department of Politics 2020/21
- PGR Seminars & Events Lead 2020/21
Affiliations and memberships
- Contemporary US foreign policy
- Grand strategy
- International relations theory
- Neoclassical realism
- Foreign policy analysis
Indicators of esteem
Santander PhD Mobility Award (£2000 travel grant), University of Surrey
Doctoral College Studentship Award, University of Surrey
Mahindra Naraine Memorial Prize for best overall performance in MA Politics and International Relations, Lancaster University
Graduate Teaching Assistant
- POL1019 Contemporary International History (FHEQ L4)
- POL1017 Debates in British Politics (FHEQ L4)