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Book Chapter

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To understand U.S. foreign policy, we need to understand the concepts and categories that Americans bring to bear. After all, we see the world through our concepts and categories. They identify what's possible, what's desirable, indeed what's visible in the first place. There is simply no possibility of junking all our concepts, stepping outside them, and gaining an unmediated grasp of the world. Here, I offer a sketch of American understandings of conflict. Understandings, not understanding: even in the realm of foreign policy, Americans have long brought intriguingly different categories to bear, categories whose richness isn't captured by some standard academic models.