"Volatile Times: Power and Interests in Foreign Policy"


In 2015, two momentous rapprochements took place on the international stage. The first one between United States and Cuba, in July, started a process, still ongoing, geared toward re-establishing a diplomatic relationship. The second rapprochement took place in December, when the Pakistani and Indian Prime Ministers met for the first time in more than a decade, though it was short-lived. Both events came at the heels of decades of highly hostile relations. Yet interactions between India and Pakistan displayed much greater volatility than the ones between Cuba and the United States: India's policies toward Pakistan and Pakistan's policies toward India fluctuated, often inconsistently, between cooperative events (bilateral talks, enhanced cultural and military exchanges, and so on) and conflictual ones (such as accusations, military exercises at the border, etc.). 

As the case of India and Pakistan suggests, volatile relations are often unpredictable, and thus have momentous consequences in the international system.  Yet, we still understand little about where volatility in foreign policy comes from.

This book presents the first exploration of foreign policy volatility. It theorizes the conditions under which states decide to pursue their grand strategies combining, often counterproductively, conflict and cooperation. Using a multi-method approach, it also collects new evidence of such behavior between states. In so doing, the book bridges an important gap between scholars and practitioners' experience of foreign policy behavior: while most of present theoretical and empirical accounts of foreign policy focus on either conflict or cooperation, this books conceptualizes and explores the way in which decision-makers conduct/juggle their every-day activity combining both, why the outcome of this might be volatile foreign policy behavior, and the implications that this has in the international arena.