Stacie Goddard, Ph.D.

Wellesley College

Country: United States (Massachusetts)

About Me:

Stacie E. Goddardis professor of political science and director of the Madeleine K. Albright Institute at Wellesley College. Her most recent book, When Right Makes Might: Rising Powers and World Orderwas published by Cornell Studies in Security Affairs in 2018. Her articles have appeared in International Organization, International Security, International Studies Quarterly, International Theory, and Security Studiesand her first book  Indivisible Territory and the Politics of Legitimacy: Jerusalem and Northern Ireland, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. Other writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. Professor Goddard’s work engages with issues of legitimacy, power politics, and international.  She has been a fellow with the American Council of Learned Societies, the John M. Olin Institute of Strategic Studies at Harvard University, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, the Center for International Studies at Princeton University, and the Center for Advanced Studies at Ludwig Maximilian University. She has served in numerous governance positions, including Vice Chair of the International History and Politics section of the American Political Science Association, and from 2014 to 2017 was an associate editor at Security Studies.

Research Interests

Conflict Processes & War

Foreign Policy

Nuclear Weapons

Specific Areas of Interest

Rising Powers


Territorial Conflict

Countries of Interest

United States

My Research:

My second book When Right Makes Might: Legitimacy, Rising Powers, and World Order(Cornell University Press, Cornell Studies in Security Affairs, 2018) examineshow a rising power’s legitimation strategy affects whether a great power confronts or accommodates a rising challenger. The decision to accommodate, contain, or confront a rising power turns on how great powers gauge the ambition of a challenger’s aims. Yet how do great powers know the intentions of rising challengers? How do great powers decide that they are certain enoughabout their potential adversary’s ambitions to commit to a strategy of containment, confrontation, or accommodation? I argue that great powers divine the intentions of their adversaries through rising powers’ legitimation strategies—in other words, how rising powers justify their expansionist behavior The bulk of this book is devoted to four qualitative studies of rising powers, their legitimation strategies, and great power strategy: Britain’s decision to accommodate the rise of the United States in early nineteenth century; the decision of the European powers to allow growing Prussian power in the 1860s; Britain’s appeasement of Hitler’s rise in the 1930s, and its turn towards confrontation after the Munich crisis in 1938; and U.S. decisions to contain and confront the rise of Japan in the 20thcentury.  In the conclusion, I apply the insights from these cases to the United States’ reactions to China’s rise.I have two ongoing projects. The first (with Paul MacDonald and Daniel Nexon) focuses on contentious power politics in the liberal institutional order. For some scholars, the growth of international institutions means that international relations are more peaceful and less marked by power politics than ever before. States increasingly rely on international institutions and international law to adjudicate their conflicts and pursue their interests. For this reason, traditional power politics now lies at the margins of the contemporary world order, and “realist” theoretical approaches, which emphasize the struggle for power in global affairs, have become irrelevant. In contrast, my research, which includes both solo-authored and collaborative projects, argues that while institutional orders may affect howstates practice power politics, they do not eliminate power politics. Instead, they shift the terms of the question we must now ask: how do actors, working within international institutions, mobilize their military, economic, and social power, and undercut the mobilization of others, in order to expand their influence in world politics?Second, I am working on a project entitled “The Social Construction of Precision” (with Colleen Larkin). The need to use technology capable of hitting targets with extraordinary accuracy is extolled as both a military and humanitarian necessity of contemporary war.  My project tackles two questions. First, how is it that certain weapons have come to be defined as “precise”?  This question may seem obvious on the face of it, but even weapons that cause massive collateral damage, including strategic bombers and nuclear weapons, have been touted as precise. Second, why has “precise” warfare become equated with “legitimate warfare”?   


Journal Articles:

(2019) Repertories of Statecraft: Instruments and Logics of Power Politics, International Relations

Issues involving ‘statecraft’ lie at the heart of most major debates about world politics, yet scholars do not go far enough in analyzing how the processes of statecraft themselves can reshape the international system. We draw on the growing relational-processual literature in international relations theory to explore how different modes of statecraft can help create and refashion the structure of world politics. In particular, we argue that scholars should reconceive statecraft in terms of repertoires. An emphasis on repertoires sheds light on a number of issues, including how statecraft influences patterns of technological innovation, the construction of institutional and normative orders, and the pathways through which states mobilize power in world politics.

(2018) Embedded Revisionism: Networks, Institutes, and Challenges to World Order, International Organization

Tags: Conflict Processes & War, Networks And Politics

How do institutions shape revisionist behavior in world politics? Applying a network-relational approach to revisionist states and challenges to institutional order, I conceive of institutions as networks—as patterns of ongoing social transactions in which revisionists are embedded. Revisionist behavior is shaped by how a state is positioned within this existing network of institutions. A state's position significantly influences the material and cultural resources the state can deploy in pursuit of its aims, and thus the revisionist's strategy. Focusing on two measures of network position—access and brokerage—I propose four ideal types of revisionists and their strategies in the international system: integrated revisionists, who are likely to pursue institutional engagement; bridging revisionists, who will seek rule-based revolution; isolated revisionists, who prefer to exit the institutional system; and rogue revisionists, who have few resources at hand, and thus ultimately must resort to hegemonic violence. I test these ideal types in four cases of revisionists and institutional orders: Russia in the 1820s; Prussia in the 1860s; the Soviet Union in the early Cold War; and Japan in the 1920s and 1930s.

(2016) Dynamics of Global Power Politics: A framework for Analysis, Journal of Global Security Studies

We call for a research program focused on the dynamics of global power politics. Rather than link realpolitik to structural-realist theoretical frameworks or the putatively anarchical character of world politics, the program treats power politics as an object of analysis in its own right. It embraces debate over the nature of global power politics among scholars working with distinctive approaches. It sees the structural contexts of power politics as highly variable and often hierarchical in character. It attenuates ex ante commitments to the centrality of states in global politics. And it takes for granted that actors deploy multiple resources and modalities of power in their pursuit of influence. What binds this diverse research program together is its focus on realpolitik as the politics of collective mobilization in the context of the struggle for influence among political communities, broadly understood. Thus, the study of the dynamics of collective mobilization—the causal and constitutive pathways linking efforts at mobilization with enhanced power—brings together approaches to security studies in a shared study of power politics.

(2015) Rhetoric and Grand Strategy, Security Studies

This introductory framing paper theorizes the role of legitimation—the public justification of policy—in the making of grand strategy. We contend that the process of legitimation has significant and independent effects on grand strategy's constituent elements and on how grand strategy is formulated and executed. Legitimation is integral to how states define the national interest and identify threats, to how the menu of policy options is constituted, and to how audiences are mobilized. Second, we acknowledge that legitimation matters more at some times than others, and we develop a model specifying the conditions under which it affects political processes and outcomes. We argue that the impact of legitimation depends on the government's need for mobilization and a policy's visibility, and from the intersection of these two factors we derive five concrete hypotheses regarding when legitimation is most likely to have an impact on strategy. Finally, we explore who wins: why legitimation efforts sometimes succeed in securing public assent, yet at other times fall short. Our framework emphasizes what is said (the content of legitimation), how it is said (technique), and the context in which it is said. We conclude by introducing the papers in this special issue, revisiting the larger theoretical stakes involved in studying rhetoric and foreign policy, and speculating about how changes in the technologies and sites of communication have, or have not, transformed legitimation and leadership in world politics.

(2009) When Right Makes Might: How Prussia Overturned the European Balance of Power, International Security

From 1864 to 1871, Prussia mounted a series of wars that fundamentally altered the balance of power in Europe. Yet no coalition emerged to check Prussia's rise. Rather than balance against Prussian expansion, the great powers sat on the sidelines and allowed the transformation of European politics. Traditionally, scholars have emphasized structural variables, such as mulitpolarity, or domestic politics as the cause of this “underbalancing.” It was Prussia's legitimation strategies, however—the way Prussia justified its expansion—that undermined a potential balancing coalition. As Prussia expanded, it appealed to shared rules and norms, strategically choosing rhetoric that would resonate with each of the great powers. These legitimation strategies undermined balancing coalitions through three mechanisms: by signaling constraint, laying rhetorical traps (i.e., framing territorial expansion in a way that deprived others states grounds on which to resist), and increasing ontological security (i.e., demonstrating its need to secure its identity in international politics), Prussia effectively expanded without opposition. An analysis of Prussia's expansion in 1864 demonstrates how legitimation strategies prevented the creation of a balancing coalition.

(2006) Uncommon Ground: Indivisible Territory and the Politics of Legitimacy, International Organization

Tags: Conflict Processes & War

In Jerusalem, Ireland, Kosovo, and Kashmir, indivisible territory underlies much of international conflict. I argue whether or not territory appears indivisible depends on how actors legitimate their claims to territory during negotiations. Although actors choose their legitimations strategically, in order to gain a political advantage at the bargaining Table, legitimation strategies have unintended structural consequences: by resonating with some actors and not others, legitimations either build ties between coalitions and allow each side to recognize the legitimacy of each other's claims, or else lock actors into bargaining positions where they are unable to recognize the legitimacy of their opponent's demands. When the latter happens, actors come to negotiations with incompatible claims, constructing the territory as indivisible. I apply this legitimation theory to Ulster, arguing this territory's indivisibility was not inevitable, but a product of actors' legitimation strategies as they battled for support over the issue of Ireland's right to self-rule.

Books Written:

(2018) When Right Makes Might: Rising Powers and World Order, Cornell University Press

Why do great powers accommodate the rise of some challengers but contain and confront others, even at the risk of war? When Right Makes Might proposes that the ways in which a rising power legitimizes its expansionist aims significantly shapes great power responses. Stacie E. Goddard theorizes that when faced with a new challenger, great powers will attempt to divine the challenger’s intentions: does it pose a revolutionary threat to the system or can it be incorporated into the existing international order? Goddard departs from conventional theories of international relations by arguing that great powers come to understand a contender’s intentions not only through objective capabilities or costly signals but by observing how a rising power justifies its behavior to its audience. To understand the dynamics of rising powers, then, we must take seriously the role of legitimacy in international relations. A rising power’s ability to expand depends as much on its claims to right as it does on its growing might. As a result, When Right Makes Might poses significant questions for academics and policymakers alike. Underpinning her argument on the oft-ignored significance of public self-presentation, Goddard suggests that academics (and others) should recognize talk’s critical role in the formation of grand strategy. Unlike rationalist and realist theories that suggest rhetoric is mere window-dressing for power, When Right Makes Might argues that rhetoric fundamentally shapes the contours of grand strategy. Legitimacy is not marginal to international relations; it is essential to the practice of power politics, and rhetoric is central to that practice.