Political culture refers to the basic values, ideas, beliefs and political orientations by which countries, societies, and whole regions are guided. The underlying belief systems that shape cultures and societies and cause them to behave in certain, often distinct ways. The puzzle or query that chiefly concerns this author is why the United States (US) and its foreign policy have such a hard time understanding cultures and societies other than their own. This provocative book argues that the US needs to end its attitudes of superiority and condescension toward other nations and cultures and redirect its foreign policy accordingly. After an introduction that sets forth the main theoretical and conceptual arguments, the next chapters explore all the main areas of the world. The Conclusion pulls all these themes together, analyzes the common patterns that emerge, and suggests new directions for U.S foreign policy.
’Professor WiardaÂ´s book illuminates how American foreign policy has become culture blind, failing to understand the major civilisational differences in the world today. Understanding international relations today implies going beyond a state centrered focus, economic development theory and a naÃ¯ve belief in the possibility in global democracy.’ Jan-Erik Lane, University of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany ’Wiarda has delivered again! Another insightful, clearly-written contribution. Scholars, policy-makers, and, particularly, students will find in this book a fascinating narrative showing that political culture must be added, indeed, emphasized, in the nexus among international relations theory, policy, and action. A must read.’ Phil Kelly, Emporia State University, USA ’At a time when the Arab Spring has brought into question again the viability of rapid or peaceful transitions to democracy, one of the leading comparativists of our time provides a must-read culturally motivated assessment of the American democracy promotion agenda. His engaging writing style and global perspective will appeal to academics and non-academics alike.’ Esther Skelley Jordan, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA