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Outlier States

, 256 pages
June 2012



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Outlier States

American Strategies to Change, Contain, or Engage Regimes

In the Bush era Iran and North Korea were branded "rogue" states for their flouting of international norms, and changing their regimes was the administration’s goal. The Obama administration has chosen instead to call the countries nuclear "outliers" and has proposed means other than regime change to bring them back into "the community of nations." Outlier States, the successor to Litwak’s influential Regime Change: U.S. Strategy through the Prism of 9/11 (2007), explores this significant policy adjustment and raises questions about its feasibility and its possible consequences.

Do international norms apply only to states’ external behavior, as it might relate, for example, to nuclear proliferation and terrorism, or do they matter no less for states’ internal behavior, as it might affect a population’s human rights? What is the appropriate role for the United States in the process of reintegration? America’s military power remains unmatched, but can the nation any longer shape singlehandedly an increasingly multi-polar international system? What do the precedents set in Iraq and Libya teach us about how current outliers can be integrated into the international community? And perhaps most important, how should the United States respond if outlier regimes eschew integration as a threat to their survival and continue to augment their nuclear capabilities?

Robert S. Litwak is vice president for scholars and director of International Security Studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He is author of Regime Change: U.S. Strategy through the Prism of 9/11.

"The key question it asks—how to integrate, or reintegrate countries that have separated themselves from the international community—is one that will be at the very top of the foreign policy agenda for the next administration. This is an extremely important work of political science."

"Drawing on historical and theoretical analysis, Robert Litwak makes a timely and illuminating case for nuanced American policies toward Iran and North Korea, two of the most challenging countries in American foreign policy today. This book can serve as a strong foundation for policy debates on American diplomacy and strategy in the years ahead. Outlier States is policy-relevant scholarship at its finest."

"It is a masterly study that contributes significantly to our knowledge of ‘outlier’ states and how best to deal with them. I believe that it will become an essential work in the field of strategic studies."

"A fine and much recommended read for international studies collections."

"A very insightful book... Litwak is to be congratulated for his impressive contribution."

"Nothing has bedeviled U.S. foreign policy more since the end of the Cold War than how to deal with a collection of despotic, hostile, and dangerous middle-tier states, such as Iran and North Korea. In this lucid and thoughtful book, Litwak compares the performances of the George W. Bush and Obama administrations in handling such foes."

"Logically organized, conceptually clear, analytically robust and practically useful... Outlier States is destined to become the reference of choice for U.S. officials seeking a clear exposition of the policy dilemmas and options for bringing outlier states in from the cold."

"This is an authoritative, substantive, and well-written account that will be essential reading for students, scholars, and the attentive public who wish to understand the problems of outlier states and the policy changes they represent."

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