Dr Ashley Cox

Contact details

Dr Ashley Cox
Research Supervisor
Institute of Historical Research
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Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
History, International Relations, Political Institutions, Politics, Regional history
North America
Summary of research interests and expertise:

Dr Ashley Cox is a Lecturer in Diplomacy and Public Policy at SOAS and Programme Director for the University of London MA in Global Diplomacy.

Ashley Cox’s research interests are in the realm of international history and the history of U.S.  democracy promotion and support for a rules-based international system. With a particular focus on American conflicts

He is the author of Wilsonian Approaches to American Conflicts: From the War of 1812 to the First Gulf War. Abingdon; New York: Routledge.

Dr Cox is also a fellow of the Centre for Distance and Online Education. 

He would welcome PhD students in the areas of American foreign relations or the political history of the United States.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
26-Sep-2018 A man for all seasons: Woodrow Wilson, transatlantic relations and the war against militarism

Journal articles

This paper investigates the role of transatlantic Wilsonian values in the entry of the United States in to the First World War. Arguing that the offshore balancing thesis and economic rational are not sufficient to explain US entry and we must engage with Wilsonian explanations to understand this conflict.

01-Aug-2017 Wilsonian Approaches to American Conflicts From the War of 1812 to the First Gulf War


This book explores US foreign policy, specifically the history of America’s entry into the War of 1812, the First World War, the Korean War and the First Gulf War. Using a historical case study approach, it demonstrates how the Wilsonian Framework can give us a unique understanding of why the United States chose to go to war in those four conflicts.

Cox argues that the Wilsonian Framework is an important concern for decision-makers in the US and that democracy promotion and the concept of international law are driving factors in each of these decisions to go to war. The realist and economic explanations of these conflicts are not sufficient and we must draw on Wilsonianism to gain a clear understanding of these conflicts. Drawing on the history of American liberalism and the work of Walter Russel Mead and Tony Smith, the book presents a definition of Wilsonianism that represents a broad span of the history of The Republic, in order to show consistency across time. It also establishes why the realist and economic explanations fail to provide sufficient explanatory power and how the Wilsonian Framework can give important insights into these conflicts.

This book will be of interest to international historians and international relations scholars at both postgraduate and scholar level. It will also be of use to those wishing to conduct future research into the motivations that drive the foreign and security policies of the United States.

25-Jan-2017 Wilsonian Ambitions for American Engagement in the First Gulf War

Journal articles

American engagement with the world is one of the most important factors in international relations. One leading example is the Wilsonian School, which has a long tradition of influencing American foreign policy. With the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, this article will review the Wilsonian influences that led the United States to intervene in the First Gulf War. Since the end of the Cold War, visions have differed dramatically in terms of how the United States should conduct foreign policy and engage with the rest of the world. These debates continue to be dominated by a clash between a Jeffersonian neo-isolationist call to withdraw from international conflicts and a more hawkish interventionist vision of American primacy in foreign affairs. The Wilsonian tradition has arguably received comparatively little discussion by scholars despite the important role it has played in the history of American foreign policy. As we mark the 25th anniversary of operation Desert Storm, this article argues that the Wilsonian framework is helpful in understanding why President Bush entered the First Gulf War of 1991. The article begins with a discussion of what constitutes the Wilsonian ideology in terms of its key principles and assumptions before presenting the utility of the Wilsonian viewpoint in explaining this conflict.

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:

Faith, Flag and Family Conservative Diplomacy in the Transatlantic World.

This project principles of Conservative diplomacy and their application in the United States. Is it possible to identify a distinct set of principles that informs conservative approaches to diplomacy and international relations?

Current PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
Military Sports as Diplomacy within the Changing Logic of Warfare

Governments are increasingly interested in leveraging low-cost methods to advance national agendas and build partnerships in the changing strategic context of warfare. 

Since the early 20th century and leading into today’s competition continuum, the role of military sports has evolved into a critical yet underutilised soft power tool in international diplomacy. This research introduces the role of military sports as a form of soft power between foreign militaries. Beginning in the early 20th century, sports in Western militaries became an important part of the military culture. Sports were used to build esprit de corps, infuse discipline and fitness, and encourage teamwork. Yet, in addition to the intrinsic value of sports, they were increasingly used to build bridges between partner nations. Although important within and between foreign militaries, there has not been a historical analysis of military sports as diplomacy. To correct the gap in the literature, this thesis explores the rise in military sports between nations following World War I (WWI). I will use Liddell Hart’s definitions of the direct and indirect approaches as a theoretical framework.

Professional Affiliations

Professional affiliations:

Name Activity
Centre for Online and Distance Education
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