How the Most Famous Whistleblower Cases in the History of the United States Challenge Traditional Views of the Construction of National Interests Academic

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This thesis researches the notion of national interests and the manner in which they come about. Traditional views in the field of international relations often consider national interests to be static, uniform for different nations and developed in a context independently from the motives and actions from state leaders. However, constructivist approaches to national interests generally share the view that national interests are constructed by state leaders, meaning that they depend on the historical, cultural and linguistic context in which they are shaped. Here it is argued that this constructivist perspective should be adopted more often in the analysis of political phenomena, although the perspective itself could use some theoretical improvements. The construction of the national interests of the United States of America is analyzed through the use of documents from times where state leaders perceived an international enemy which endangered the liberal-democratic core of the U.S. national identity, namely the Cold War and the War on Terror. In the midst of both these political crises, two men stepped up to reveal sensitive and secret information to the public, which not only shocked the American people and their leaders but also had consequences for the national interests of the U.S. and the way in which they were formulated. An analysis of political documents both before and after these leaks provides more insight in the processes which the construction of national interests consists of and in the effects Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden had on the view and consistency of the U.S. national identity, with consequences for the theoretical field of international relations as well as for American politics and (foreign) policy.
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