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Ralph Carter - Texas Christian University. Fort Worth, TX, US

Ralph Carter

Piper Professor, Political Science | Texas Christian University


Professor Carter focuses on U.S. foreign, trade, and defense policy, with a particular emphasis on the roles played by members of Congress.




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Professor Carter teaches introductory courses in political science and international politics as well as advanced courses in U.S. foreign policy, Russian foreign policy, and Mideast conflicts. Making US Foreign Policy: The Essentials (2nd ed., 2020); Contemporary Cases in U.S. Foreign Policy: From National Security to Human Security (6th ed., 2021); IR: Seeking Security, Prosperity, and Quality of Life in a Changing World, with James M. Scott and A. Cooper Drury (4th ed. 2022); the 44 essay Foreign Policy Analysis component of the International Studies Encyclopedia, with Steven B. Redd, Valerie M. Hudson, Patrick James, and Jeffrey Pickering (2010); Choosing to Lead: Understanding Congressional Foreign Policy Entrepreneurs, with James M. Scott (2009), and Making American Foreign Policy, with John T. Rourke and Mark A. Boyer (2nd ed. 1996). He is the author or co-author of over 50 journal articles, book chapters, and other professional publications. From 2004-2009, he served as one of the inaugural editors of the journal Foreign Policy Analysis and previously served on the editorial boards of both Foreign Policy Analysis and International Studies Perspectives. His research agenda focuses on the making of U.S. foreign, trade, and defense policy, with a particular emphasis on the roles played by members of Congress.

In 2014, Professor Carter received the TCU Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher and Scholar and was selected as one of 10 Piper Professors of Texas. In its 2012 inaugural edition, Princeton Review named Professor Carter one of The Best 300 Professors in the United States. In 2006, he became the first person from a non-doctoral program to receive the International Studies Association’s Quincy Wright Distinguished Scholar Award. He received TCU’s Deans’ Teaching Award in 2007 and was named one of five ‘Best Professors’ at TCU by the Texas Monthly 2004 Guide to Texas Colleges and Universities. His TCU service includes participation in its strategic planning processes, two terms as department chair, and stints as director of TCU’s Washington Internship Program, Pre-Law Advisor, and Truman Scholarship Faculty Representative.

Areas of Expertise (9)

International Relations

U. S. Foreign Policy in Film

Middle East


North Korea

War & Conflict

Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy Analysis

Promotion of U. S. Democracy

Accomplishments (4)

Piper Professor of 2014 (professional)


Named one of 10 best professors from all Texas community colleges, colleges, and universities, across all fields and academic disciplines, in 2014

TCU Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher and Scholar (professional)


Named top professor for both teaching and research at TCU

The Best 300 Professors (professional)


Named one of the best 300 professors in the United States, across all fields and academic disciplines, by Princeton Review

Quincy Wright Distinguished Scholar Award (professional)


Award for distinguished scholarship and service to the International Studies Association, awarded by its Midwest Region. First recipient of this award to come from an undergraduate-only political science department

Education (3)

The Ohio State University: Ph.D., Political Science 1980

The Ohio State University: M.A., Political Science 1977

Midwestern State University: B.A., Political Science 1974

Affiliations (2)

  • International Studies Association
  • American Political Science Association

Media Appearances (4)

FLASHPOINT UKRAINE: As War Continues, Moscow Faces Challenges

Voice of America  online


Russian missiles struck the Black Sea city of Odesa, killing at least 18. What are the diplomatic challenges facing Moscow as economic sanctions force it to default on its debt for the first time in more than a century. And how a Ukrainian poet passes the time while on the front line in the Donbas.

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FLASHPOINT UKRAINE: Zelenskyy Continues to Call for No Fly zone

Voice of America  online


Ukraine continues to call for a no-fly zone to be implemented over its skies after Russia’s invasion. Plus, several European Union countries look to begin setting up war crime units to ensure there is judgment for Moscow’s attacks on civilians.

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‘You want a hug.’ Ukrainians in North Texas worry about family during Russia invasion



Ralph Carter, a political science professor at Texas Christian University who specializes in Russian history, said he wasn’t surprised that Russia invaded Ukraine after troops moved into the eastern part of the country controlled by separatists. When Russian soldiers came through an area of neighboring Belarus close to Kyiv, Carter said he grew more concerned. “I thought they’re not going for the little nibble, they’re going for the big bite,” Carter said.

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What's behind the scenes in terms of Vladimir Putin?



TCU Professor Ralph Carter, an expert on Russia, said, "I think he's trying to recreate a Russian sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. If he had his druthers, I think he'd love to have the Russian Empire back."

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Articles (5)

The Not-So-Silent Partner: Patterns of Legislative–Executive Interaction in the War on Terror, 2001–2009

International Studies Perspectives

James M. Scott, Ralph G. Carter

2014 The conventional narrative surrounding the post-9/11 “War on Terror” tends to characterize the US Congress as a mostly inactive and compliant bystander, bowing to an aggressive assertion of unilateral presidential authority and power by the Bush administration. However, clarifying the conceptual framework used to examine legislative–executive interactions and congressional foreign policy behavior to account for varying patterns of interaction and varying avenues of influence yields an alternative explanation. While there is some truth to the conventional wisdom about a Congress rallying to support the president in time of war, applying the refined conceptual framework brings a more complex story into sharper focus...

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From Cold War to Arab Spring: mapping the effects of paradigm shifts on the nature and dynamics of US democracy assistance to the Middle East and North Africa


James M. Scott, Ralph G. Carter

2014 Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has articulated and implemented explicit strategies of democracy promotion by providing assistance to governments, political parties, and other non-governmental groups and organizations all over the world. One particularly challenging region has been the Middle East and North Africa, where democratic development and democracy aid opportunities have been limited and constrained by a variety of factors related to social, economic, and political characteristics of the region and policy priorities of the United States. This article examines the impact of two major paradigm shifts – the end of the Cold War (1989) and the 9/11 episode (2001) – on the nature, purposes, and consequences of US democracy assistance to the Middle East. Examining democracy aid allocations, social, democratic and political factors in the region, and other variables, the analysis traces the shifts in aid strategies, purposes, and recipients generated by these paradigm shifts and assesses the impact of such assistance on the politics of the region. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for US democracy promotion policies and the impact of the Arab Spring events as a potential third break point.

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Understanding congressional foreign policy innovators: Mapping entrepreneurs and their strategies

The Social Science Journal

Ralph G. Carter, James M. Scott

2010 Since World War II, a small group of assertive MCs have chosen to lead on foreign policy issues about which they care, without waiting on the administration to take action. Significant foreign policy innovation has been the result. From the coldest days of the Cold War to the changed circumstances after 9/11, important congressional initiatives attributable to a few key individuals can be found. Drawing on an original quantitative dataset of post-World War II congressional foreign policy activity, interviews with members and their staffs, and primary and secondary research, this paper: (a) discusses the characteristics and impact of these policymakers; (b) develops categories of entrepreneurs, drawn from issues to which entrepreneurs have devoted their attention; and (c) derives strategies of entrepreneurship drawn from the activities and avenues utilized by the entrepreneurs.

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Setting a Course: Congressional Foreign Policy Entrepreneurs In Post‐World War II U.S. Foreign Policy

International Studies Perspectives

Ralph G. Carter, James M. Scott, Charles M. Rowling

2004 “Congressional foreign policy entrepreneurs” are those legislators who initiate their own foreign policy agendas. These individuals seek to frame policy discussions and mobilize public and interest group interest; to direct congressional agendas toward specific foreign policy issues; to structure and influence the formulation of foreign policies by the executive branch; to revise, refocus, or reformulate foreign policies; to generate alternative and replacement foreign policies; and to fill policy vacuums with their own preferred foreign policies. This paper examines the evolution and impact of such entrepreneurs across the periods of the Cold War Consensus (1946–1967), the Cold War Dissensus (1968–1989), and the Post‐Cold War (1990–2000). The paper first provides an overview of the concept of foreign policy entrepreneurs. It then turns to case studies of entrepreneurial initiatives from three prolific entrepreneurs whose careers span the post‐World War II era: Senators Jacob Javits, Edward Kennedy, and Christopher Dodd. Together, the overview and cases shed light on the different avenues and activities that entrepreneurs use to address their preferred issues and the impact entrepreneurs have on policy, as well as highlight changes in both over time.

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Navigating the Academic Job Market Minefield

PS: Political Science & Politics

Ralph G. Carter, James M. Scott


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