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Lessons and Ideas: Domestic Politics, International Relations, and Political History

For more than 20 years, my research, writing, teaching, and work as a public servant have been guided by several intellectual premises.

Philosophy of Science

In terms of the philosophy of science, I agree with many social scientists who contend that historical research and qualitative analysis can be scientific rather than impressionistic if the following building blocks for good science are clearly stated: assumptions, hypotheses, and the relationship between them; dependent variables, independent variables, and the relationship between or among those variables.  Clarifying a systematic story when investigating a constant may also contribute to science.

Systematic description and explanation are essential to understanding phenomena under investigation.  They complement, rather than compete with, predictive analysis.  Put simply, the intellectual space where political history and political science meet has untapped potential for creating new science and scientifically grounded public policy.

These premises are reflected in Strategy of Campaigning: Lessons from Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin, which I coauthored with Serhiy Kudelia, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and Condoleezza Rice, and will inform my work on forthcoming books.

Substantive Areas of Research

I am interested in the inherent tension among political conservatism, political liberalism, and libertarianism.  I view this tension as fundamental to the existence of the United States as a constitutional republic with a set of democratic practices and institutions unique among Western democracies and without parallel in world history.  Many of my opinion essays and other writings reflect my interest in understanding this phenomenon and its effects.

The theoretical literature in political science which seeks to uncover the domestic power plays that affect politics among nations frames my writing on international relations theory, US defense, economic, energy, and foreign policy.  Seeking to reveal the domestic politics of public policy does not necessarily mean that one must completely dispense with the concept of the national interest.  Some of my writings investigate the long-standing belief that the United States, as well as other nation states, has objective national interests.

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Through this site I seek to contribute to the national conversation on US politics, international relations, and the US role in the world.  I recognize that there are differing interpretations of history, theory, and contemporary politics, but I hope you will join me in respectfully participating in this discussion.

Dr. Kiron Skinner is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution

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