Doctrines and strategies in international politics represent one of the most interesting elements for the discipline of international relations as a point of connection between theory and practice. An analysis of four of the great doctrines of US foreign policy (two of them realist, i.e those of Truman and Nixon, and two idealist, those of Clinton and Bush Jr) and their historical development lead us to the conclusion that these doctrines are capable of changing reality and creating lasting instruments for applying to very different contexts, reaching even the present day (for example, containment, the domino theory and “Vietnamization”). We must bear in mind, however, the need for these doctrines to meet the criteria of pragmatism and flexibility, prudence and self restriction, and for them to accept the institutional and moral limits of the societies on which they are established.
Key words: United States, foreign policy, doctrine, strategic thinking, Vietnamization
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