This enriching book explores a theoretical gap in international relations and the role of leader ambition. It presents the idea that some leaders transcend political constraints and as a result, they fundamentally reshape their domestic polity while introducing change to the international system.
Mark Menaldo revisits what is a fundamental question in the study of international politics: the role of statesmanship in foreign affairs. He critiques prevailing realist, rational choice, and personality theories of international relations for conceiving of leadership too narrowly. This book introduces the novel theory of transformative ambition, the idea that some leaders transcend domestic and international political constraints and, as a result, fundamentally reshape their domestic polity while introducing change to the international system. Drawing on Aristotle’s idea of magnanimity and Niccolò Machiavelli’s lessons to princes through his examples of great founders, the author shows how leaders throughout time accomplish great goals through the force of their vision, character, and practice of statesmanship. Case studies include Otto Von Bismarck, Latin America’s autocrats, Woodrow Wilson, Charles de Gaulle, and Pericles.
Providing a critique of international relations theory and a critical examination of how leaders with transformative ambition change domestic and international politics, this book will appeal to leadership, politics and international relations academics and students.