Performing national interest through practices: the U.S. Congress and foreign policy

Performing national interest through practices:
the U.S. Congress and foreign policy

Neklyudov N.Y.,

MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 984594 |

Article received: 2022.07.02. Accepted: 2022.09.23

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.01.07

For citation:

Neklyudov N.Y. Performing national interest through practices: the U.S. Congress and foreign policy. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 1. P. 75-95. (In Russ.). EDN: TQTXZM

This paper is prepared within the framework of Grant No. 20-78-10159 of the Russian Science Foundation. I am indebted to I. Istomin, N. Silaev, A. Chekov, and A. Sushentsov for their stimulating criticism and comments to the text. I thank I. Neumann for his time and comments on my research program. For general comments I thank J. Melnikova, V. Vorotnikov, and A. Chechevishnikov as well as anonymous reviewers for their comments.


Russian literature on the U.S. Congress’ role in foreign policy is still fragmented. Although scholars depart from the premise that it performs a number of critical functions to ensure the adoption of foreign policy decisions, the literature omits the theoretical argument on the role of the American Congress. I build on the Practice Turn in International Relations’ (PTIR) “welcome move to redirect our attention to the unconscious habitual practices that constitute most of daily social life,” including the making of parliamentary legislation. This article examines congressional practices that reinterpreted the U.S. approach to engagement with Russia on the implementation of the European Phased Adaptive Approach to Ballistic Missile Defense during Barack Obama’s presidency. I elaborate on how throughout four congressional cycles the initiative once introduced by the Administration was reinvented in the practices of lawmakers: from Democrats, who marshalled the bills with plans to integrate the Russian missile defense system into the American one, to Republicans who advocated for the complete prohibition of cooperation between the military departments of Russia and the United States. I draw the attention to the mundane nature of the tragedy of world politics: an international crisis is born in the routine interaction of people immersed in a “game of practices” rather than a conscious escalation of tensions. The article proceeds as follows. First, the major pillars of PTIR and the ways of conceptualize of the U.S. Congress are reviewed. Second, the paper tracks the practices of U.S. legislators as regards the interpretation of the means and ends of the strategic dialogue with Russia on missile defense.

the U.S., U.S. Congress, foreign policy building, Russia, ballistic missile defense.


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Content No. 1, 2023

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