Selling the Arc of Crisis: Promoting Foreign Policy Change during the Carter Presidency

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The Carter Administration came to Office seeking to continue a policy of détente. However, the Administration’s policy vis-à-vis the Soviets became more assertive throughout the Presidency, culminating in the Carter Doctrine. The current paper applies a conceptual framework for “issue selling” to argue that a more assertive foreign policy was being promoted by the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and his NSC staff since the early days of the Carter Presidency. By applying an assortment of issue selling strategies, Zbigniew Brzezinski and the NSC staff were able to exploit the communicative interactions amongst the political leadership to continuously promote a more forceful US policy towards the Soviets. By being able to interpret and define the problem representation facing the Administration, the APNSA was able initiate and continuously promote a wholesale policy transformation leading to the development of the Carter Doctrine.


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