Monday, April 11, 2011
Decisionmaking Theory and U.S. Foreign Policy
•Obamas state of the union address... ultimately he needs to deregulate to stimulate the economy
given that he cannot spend any money as they are in deficit. he wants CEOs to give list of
regulations they wanna get rid of- are regulations really the problem?is competition really the
problem? it was actually the deregulation of the banking system that brought us to this poor
economy. regulations are absolutely required, idea of autonomous market that can function
without state intervention is fiction. crisis’ have been solved historically by regulating industry,
deregulating will just exaggerate the problems
•US foreign policy has rested on pillar of maintaing good relations and stability in middle east.
rippling affect in arab world after collapse of Ali tunisian gvmt and obara egyptian gvmt.
authoritarian gvmts seemed to be stable because all other opposition is hidden (things thus boil
up under the surface)
•Interest Groups and the Media:
•interest group politics in US gvmt, extreme importance in understanding of making of policy in
general, primarily in relation to domestic issues. many americans not aware of FP, most focused
•interest groups are important in US because they have greater access to decision makers in US
political system than in canada or western europe which are based on parliamentary models.
upshot of parl model, is much more unified, thus few people worthy to
persuaded/lobby/influence. their role is to toe the party line and go with what cabinet decides
•US very different. congressmen do not represent parties, represent CONSTITUENTS. their
vote is their own choice, can vote for or against their own party. all members of congress have
influence on policy-making. committee structure of house and senate important, find out who is
on relevant committee and who has most influence and thus who best to approach to make
change. obviously much more important to domestic politics than foreign, but not irrelevant in
•FP: prior to ww2 was outgrowth of foreign policy establishment, which consisted of
internationally orientated officials, lawyers, academics and business men who were unified, so
much so that it was a ruling class? have been some divisions in this establishment, some favored
isolationism(protectionism/nationalism) and those that favored internationalism of US. but after
WW2 this was unified around policies of anti-communism and declared their intention for US to
be moral and political leaders of the world. that consensus broke down during vietnam war, the
dominant groups became fragmented and a slew of new groups entered into the policy making
process. during cold war the most active groups were groups associated with
military/industrial/scientific process aka military establishment, defense contractors, congress,
scientists and their views represented in council of foreign relations. they today publish Foreign
Affairs. subsequent to vietnam war other groups challenged dominance of anti-commie
consensus and tried to influence FP by number of different approaches which are referred to as
•LOBBYING comes from meeting members of congress in the lobby to discuss their concerns
and referred primarily to attempting to lobby congress. in regards to FP means attempting to try
and influence members of congress and exec branch by means other than elections. Four
different approaches to doing so:
•1/ access to power approach. kind of inside strategy, try to influence decision makers that
they have access to. demonstrated by rise of castry, strip of lobbying firms in washington
who sell their access to policy makers. most prominent of these associations are kissinger
and associates. he sells his access to policy makers to those interested. created a king of
revolving door system in government.
•2/ technocratic approach. differs from 1 as it does not target high level officials, but rather
mid level gvmt officials, media and groups themselves. mostly involves providing info to
these groups that may influence government decisions in one ay or another. neither of these
approaches have much to do with elections.
•3/coalition building approach.(terms of elections) groups or individuals try and influence
electoral outcomes by building coalitions around interests and trying to propel their favored
candidates into office.
•4/grass roots mobilization approach. anti-vietnam groups successful as it was easy to
mobilize groups to oppose war. civil rights movement.
•domestic groups that are involved in making/shaping US FP. most important are religious
groups who have tried to influence fp. 1980s christian fundamentalists were opposed to populist
policies to introduce birth control into 3rd world countries. were successful in convincing reagan
administration to insist they would not give monetary assistance to those trying to control
population in developing countries. also been involved recently in shaping AIDS policy, wearing
of condoms etc. recent activity in shaping FP to uganda (gay violence)
•this type of lobbying is within constitutional rights. but component of lobying and interest
groups politics that is more problematic if foreign lobbying...foreign governments trying to
influence US FP, particular IPAC (israel lobby-not israeli gvmt but rather an enormous
constituency within US itself that has strong interest in pro israeli policies)
•China Lobby- 1940s- controversial lobby. consisted of business interests that had stakes in S
and E asia markets and wanted open markets to there. significant in aftermath of chinese rev in
1949. wanted confrontational approach to china
•Cuba Lobby, americans with cuban background lobby for stringent relations with cuba..their
numbers are declining. mostly located in florida which is a key swing vote, crucial influence. but
now not as
•Foreign Lobby’s: much more problematic than groups in US trying to impact foreign issues,
because it is groups of foreigners trying to influence US by lobbying congress and executive
branch. difficult to get complete handle on how important this lobby is...no exception to number
of countries who lobby in one way or another. most lobbying by colombia, egypt and saudi arabia
who are also largest receivers of us foreign aid.
•honduras coup...result of lobbying...2008...
•foreign elements can shape us fp, thus why significantly important.
•problematic because defending national interests*(US companies and markets) by overthrowing
alli and implementing cous gvmt. alternative view is that outcome of this in long term is that the
US is now associated with gvmt that is seen as illegitimate by its own people.
•Relationship with groups and complex triangles (military/industry/scientific). describes
relations between groups, industries, universities, military in executive branch. numerous
complexes that involve revolving door in policy making. banking-revolving door between
executives and government.
•military/industry complex** - locke martin corporation, primarily supplier of government.
makes military equipment, and administering census in US, administering election.problematic
that it depends on government contracts for its income that in tern spends research and dvlpmt
money in universities and they contributed 12million to campaigns in last elections.thus tax
payers are going into corporation that spends money on elections to shape them to their benefit.
not the only company that is involved in this military industrial complex. in current context, in
trying to fix markets which requires cutting defense budget but corporations obviously make it
impossible to cut defense budget, as it is matter of employment not just defense.
•rather important in understanding US FP in 6 ways:
•1. most americans depend on news for information on national and international affairs, and
thus shapes foreign policy.
•2. provide information on fp issues
•3. coverage tends to be rather disjointed and lacks context (historical).
•4. tendency to homogenize international coverage and create centrist picture consistent with US
foreign policy and consistent with us political culture.
•5. media influenced by politics; but cyclical relationship as it influences politics itself. it is
influenced by politics because it is a business-driven enterprise that has changed over time
significantly. used to have heterogeneous media as it was more fragmented then and tied to
specific interests. changed in early 20thC in large part by William Randolf Hearst who was first
media business man who came up with idea of undermining other papers by sticker price, could
charge far less for his papers because he could attract advertisers. thus much independent media
eliminated. that is a problem because often they cater to groups with higher income and their
preferences of intl affairs and so on...ie. new york times strong upper class bias and more
conservative approach to FP. advertising shapes editorial policies of newspapers, cant be highly
critical of corporations if trying to get ads from them.
•6. concentration of news business as a whole. few diversity in coverage because everything is
owned by the same groups. no longer investigative force
•** build up to iraq war, few questions asked about justified information, even though there were
numerous reasons to doubt information . wmd significant doubt, UN heavily doubted it.. hard
pressed to find that in any of US media. NY times heavily involved , judith miller spread falsities
about wmd. and they thus apologized
•in context of 9/11 thought not in there interest to be too critical of bush administration and his
views on war of terror. concentration of ownership have other important interests that shape their