POL326 – US FOREIGN POLICY – MIDTERM NOTES
US foreign policy impacts: American standard of living, economy (domestic and
international), security and health of the nations’ citizens (war and military spending),
individual freedom, immigration and population dynamics, tourism, disease, drugs
Foreign policy: the scope of involvement abroad and the collection of goals, strategies
and instruments that are selected by governmental policymakers ▯ foreign policy
process (formulation and implementation)
Controlled by president, but also executive branch, media, interest groups, society,
Politics: competition between different individuals and groups for control of the
government, and for support of the public and influence throughout society, in order
to promote certain ends ▯national interest.
Since Vietnam, American foreign policy more political and more ideological, also
looser and less centralized.
3 approaches: policy (usually among those who practice it), historical (scholarly),
social science (academia).
3 levels of analysis for the policy process:
o Historical and globalpower – presidential governance, management.
Truman to Johnson, president and executive dominated. But post
Vietnam, pres power decline. Now pres have greater opportunities but
also greater risks in attempting to govern FP.
o Government and policymaking process – institutions, military, economic,
Continuity and change: American dominance post WW2, decline after
Vietnam again, and still American global presence persists.
o Society and domestic politics – public opinion, ideology, electoral politics,
National security vs democracy: Under Cold War, natl sec gets
preference, after Vietnam democracy, dilemma persists today, natl sec
after 9/11 again.
Chapter 10 – Congress and Interbranch politics
The Constitution (checks and balances ▯invitation to struggle):
o Article I: powers of the legislative branch. Congress, common defense and
general welfare, commerce, punishment, declaration of war, key diplomatic
powers of president subject to Senate, making of laws.
o Article II: powers of the president (executive), army, navy, militia, treaties,
Senate, appointing ambassadors etc. Veto power for legislation.
US vs. CurtissWright Export Corp, 1936: legitimized extraordinary rise of
presidential power during the cold war. o Congressional grant of authority to the president to prevent sale of arms to
o Favoured national governmental and presidential supremacy in foreign policy.
Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. vs. Sawyer, 1952: invalidated Truman’s attempt to
invoke national security emergency powers during the Korean war to seize domestic
steel mills that were under nationwide strike.
o Violation of Congress’ lawmaking authority
o Jackson’s threetiered hierarchy established: when President acts based upon
Congress recommendation, it is maximum authority. If without Congress grant
or denial of authority, there is a zone of twilight where they may have
concurrent authority/it is uncertain. If incompatible to express or implied will
of Congress, lowest ebb of power (only constitutional).
Court favours executive through characterizing things as ‘political questions’ e.g.
Reagan, implied consent e.g. Clinton, legislative veto unconstitutional, executive
privilege (right to withhold information)
Congress response to exec behaviour is either compliant, resistant, rejection or
independent. Increasing assertiveness from Cold War to postVietnam to postCold
War. Also went from compliance till Vietnam to rise in other three after, and
increasing independent action after end of Cold War (reassertiveness).
o Congressional accomodation (194450): compliance against Soviet threat ▯
bipartisan approach ▯US doing UN, Bretton Woods, aid to Greece and Turkey,
o Congressional antagonism (195155): Republicans accusing Democrats and
administration of treason, McCarthyism, failure of Bricker Amendment (1953,
Congress authority to approve all international agreements [in addition to
treaties] entered into by the president)
o Congressional acquiesence (195565): bipartisanship, pres role expanded and
barely challenged, national security, Cold war consensus, blank check. o Awakening (196669): foreign aid revolt, Vietnam uneasiness (Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, Fulbright)
o PostVietnam Congressional Resurgence: war not going well, public opinion
doubtful, Nixon election made Congress more partisan, Vietnamization
contrasted with ‘peace with honor’ – higher military conflict. Struggle between
leg/exec, 1973 Congress cuts funding for direct military involvement in
Vietnam, War Powers Act (collective judgment of pres + Congress) passed
despite veto. Military aid, foreign aid, arms sales, intelligence.
o Reasons: decline of cold war consensus after Vietnam, Watergate etc; decline
in ‘direct threat’ perceived after Vietnam; Congressional reform.
Congressional reform after Vietnam:
o Membership: major turnover in early 1970s, more liberal Democrats especially
after 1974 elections, but late 1970s and early 1980s brought in more
o Committees: decentralization through subcommittees, more centers of
o Congressional norms and procedures: reduced importance of seniority,
reciprocity, legality etc.
o Staffing: more staff during and postVietnam, increased size of support
agencies (GAO), more active role.
After Cold War:
o Decline in public interest on international matters ▯ less risk when challenging
o Lack of consensus on FP, more diffuse international security risks,
interdependent world econ ▯less deferential Congress.
o Partisanship, lack of consensus (continued into Obama administration)
o Rallied behind White house, cooperation and acquiesence
o ▯Iraq war
4 types of Congress:
o Competitive (active + assertive, resurgent, postVietnam);
o Disengaged (inactive + compliant, acquiescent and domestic policyfocused,
o Supportive (active + not assertive, achieves goals where there is legexec
consensus, Cold War);
o Strategic (less active + assertive, careful planner and willing to challenge when
it wants to, postCold War).
4 types affected by 4 factors:
o Type of issue: affects legisexec relations e.g. war is mostly exec.
o Congress tendency to be reactive.
o Congress’s nature as the ultimate pol institution: electoral concerns, desire to
solicit funds etc prevails. o Divided govt as increasingly the norm: since 1968, Congress and pres from
different parties more frequently. Opposition dominates Congress.
Schlesinger: pendulum (cyclical) effect of legexec relations. Peace ▯ power to
Congressional actions in different policy areas:
o War powers: pres usually declares war.
Congress overriding Nixon’s veto on War Powers Act restricted this,
but no fundamental change. First test in Beirut 1982.
Afghanistan and Iraq pres received Congressional authorization.
9/11 military force resolution authorised president to use any means
Iraqi resolution authorises pres to use armed forces for the goal of natl
Congressional reluctance to challenge presidential freedom because a)
rally around the flag b) lack of Congressional will c) War Powers only
applies to armed forces abroad when equipped for combat d)
Congressional veto questioned (1983)
o Advice on and consent to appointments and treaties: Senate advises (not
Senate simply rubberstamps ambassadorships and presidential
appointments (esp low level) but pres are taking longer to do it, and
Senate longer to approve it.
Partisanship has impaired this process
Appointmentblocking used to extract presidential favours
International agreements favour president (executive agreements)
Congress tries to restore its power through a) 1969 National
Commitments Act and 1972 Case Act (pres has to report agreements
within 60 days for review) b) tried to force pres to submit exec
agreements as treaties c) withholding funds d) tried to subject exec
agreements to disapproval or approval.
International agreements as treaties keep Senate’s role important. E.g.
Panama Canal treaties 1978. More likely method used since Vietnam.
Senate active in foreign economics and trade policy areas (Bretton
Woods, NAFTA ▯fasttrack authority granted.
o Power of the Purse and Power to make laws: greatest strength.
Congressional attempts to control policy through these powers
increased since Vietnam.
Legislative process (authorization process + appropriation [money]
process). Complex, political, bargaining and compromise.
Annual budget cycle. Congress affects foreign assistance policy by a)
‘earmarking’ funds for specific countries/purposes b) attaching
conditions c) reporting or certification requirements ▯ e.g. post
Watergate human rights agenda The more an issue is divorced from natl security affairs or the use of
force, the greater the congressional involvement/influence
o Power of Oversight and Investigation: ultimate means to exercise role
• Regular oversight (legis process): watchdog, information
• Eventdriven oversight: specific policy/agenda issues. Domestic
• Crisisdriven oversight: retrospective e.g. internal security
investigations of late 1940s and early 1950s. UAAC.
Crisisdriven increased since Vietnam. E.g. Watergate, IranContra
Oversight helped by a) reporting requirements and b) special
Active but sporadic role in FP predicted for the future, because:
o Institutional changes within Congress – many safe seats, small switches in
seats can cause different majority, hence uncertain
o Changes in domestic env: cold war consensus ▯competing policy perspectives,
9/11 etc has not produced a new FP consensus.
o Changes in international env: ‘low’ policy issues like intl econ moving up
since end of the Cold war.
Chapter 11 – The public and its beliefs
AlmondLippmann consensus: public opinion volatile (dubious foundations for FP),
unstructured (nonattitudes) and not significant to FP.
o Now, found that pub opinion on general FP very structured, stable, but not so
much on specific issues. Policy pretty responsive to PO.
Gelb: public opinion as the ‘essential domino’ for FP in Vietnam, and important there
Elite public (opinion leaders – influential, PO makers + attentive public – less
influential but still well informed)
Attentive public serves as mediators between leaders and mass public (2/3 to 3/4d th
Americans, poorly informed).
o Mass public interest in foreign affaris depends on level of education and
socioeconomic class. Mutual reinforcement, high levels = high interest.
American public opinion: inattentive (news, distanced from pol), uninformed (as a
result) and volatile (soft, open to change) on specific issues.
o Direct impact:
Gives policymakers leeway in acting on issues. Poor guide, political
leaders able to lead PO, rally around the flag.
Still, elected officials sensitive to PO, intense public feeling constrains
policy choices, volatility means that public support for pres policies
dwindles over time. Support for war to contain/restrain greater than to initiate/impose
High salience/politicization and perceived success of a policy will lead
to a more effective impact. Contradictory when high salience +
o Indirect and longterm:
Public elects officials + lack of Cold war consensus ▯ higher impact of
PO on FP.
Pol leaders influencing the policymaking process are affected by their
PO sets the bounds of legitimate pol discourse, erratic but helps define
the ideological and cultural beliefs (norms) of American society.
Political ideology: preferred ends and means of a society.
o Elite public: stronger, less moderate and more influential ideological and
foreign policy beliefs than mass. (they are the moral minority, mass is the
o Ideological and FP orientations of Americans stable compared to expression of
PO. Elite resist change, mass tend to be centrist but open and responsive.
o Cold War: anticommunism, liberalconservative consensus
Cold war internationalism: bipolar world. Ambitious, aggressive USSR
vs ‘civilized’ America, leader of the free world ▯ survival of the
national security ethos.
Bipartisan FP stemming from internationalist and interventionist view
of the world and US role in world affairs – attentive group following
this leadership and poorly informed masses tolerating it
Fostered rise of presidential power, expansion of FP bureaucracy and
acquiescent Congress as well as natl security and free market ethos
Anticommunist FP (1950s and 60s) reflected ideological patterns,
liberalcons consensus: belief in a democraticcapitalist pol economy
and fear of communism. Based on democracy ▯ abundance, potential
for social justice. Key to this potential is econ growth ▯ needs of all
people met. Meeting needs ▯ equal society, class conflict obsolete.
Economy + welfare state to eradicate poverty. Main threat to this
system is communism, so it must be fought against.
Libcons consensus became possible through legitimacy of the New
Deal (Roosevelt, 1950s). Diff between liberals (welfare, govt
intervention) vs conservatives, but common enemy overshadowed all
Development of libcons consensus visible through 1930s onwards.
o Rise of LiberalConservative consensus (LCC)
1920s40s, rise of liberalism: Great Depression, New Deal promoted
liberalism (activist govt). Divisive politics after 1930s. American
involvement in WW2 brought all the various ‘liberal’ alternatives
(socialism, communism…) under one banner against fascism. Liberal
internationalism replacing isolationism. Intl cooperation, law, UN etc. Late 1940s, rise of anticommunism: US now too powerful to remain
isolationist (elites). Suggestions of intl cooperation (Wallace),
realpolitik, spheres of influence (Lippman) and containment of Soviet
threat (Kennan). Failure of appeasement cemented need for action.
European vs global containment became the big question.
Early 1950s, McCarthyism: conservative criticism of New Deal,
‘fortress America’ strategy (isolationism + military withdrawal). Fear of
communism, McCarthy. Pushed society further to the right ▯consensus.
Anticomm + limited welfare state = compromise. Two lasting effects
of McCarthyism: perception of monolithic global communism
controlled by Soviet Union, and isolationist policies lose credibility.
o PostVietnam lack of consensus:
‘Failure’ of Vietnam made the pragmatic perspective of the masses kick
Polarization of those wanting mil escalation vs those wanting
withdrawal ▯ pol fragmentation by the 1970s ▯ ideologically diverse
America ▯ competing foreign policy views (conservative
internationalism, liberal internationalism, noninternationalism).
Collapse of Soviet Union, war on terrorism after 9/11 and global
recession ▯national security policy debated strongly, more conflict.
Growth of Left and Liberal Internationalism: Late 1950s, civil rights ▯
new left, freedom & equality. Complex and interdependent world ▯
liberal internationalism (Schneider). EastWest and WestWest
(economic) conflict rather than anticommunism. Carter, Clinton.
Growth of Right and Conservative Internationalism: 1970s resurgence
under Reagan, anticommunist scare ▯ strong global American military
presence. Offshoot, neoconservatives: broke off from Democratic Party,
propagated benevolent hegemony to promote democracy and
capitalism. George Bush 2000, 9/11 response.
Rise of noninternationalism (semiisolationism): involvement only
where it has vital interests (Western Europe, Japan) OR strategic
disengagement (improve economic position, forget the rest). Mass
o Postend of Cold War:
End of history (Fukuyama), triumph of liberal democracy. Until 9/11,
then war on terrorism, Iraq. Fragmented FP ideology, shifts since Cold
War till now ▯widened domestic political agenda in US FPmaking.
Followership model (Cold War) ▯ fragmentation/swing model, so PO
open to more fluctuation. Mass tends to be centrist and hence more
open to populist appeals (but also to noninternationalism).
When FP problems framed in terms of military strength/security,
conservative outlook triumphs and when in terms of peace, liberal
outlook triumphs. Unstable, comepting coalitions. Foreign econ policy: conservatives favour unregulated IPE, liberals too
but with multilateral cooperation.
Greater opportunities but also risks for president. Search for policy
Political culture: selfidentity
o Innocence, benevolence, exceptionalism: three tenets of American ‘mission’ in
the world. Innocence suggests being benign and defensive, inwardseeking
until forced not to be. Benevolence suggests selflessness in intl involvement,
promoting democracy, or ridding the world of terrorists. Exceptionalism –
o Strong sense of nationalism based upon freedom and liberty as the key value.
o Six FP implications:
Americans oversimplify American role in world affairs – benign, US
US nationalist and idealistic yearning ▯ US as a moral crusader
(Wilsonianism, Carter, George Bush)
Contradictions between principle and pragmatism. Natl security
interests dominate moralistic notion. American dualism (power vs
peace) coupled with unwillingness to recognize this contradiction.
American leaders feel the need to oversell their policies to the public to
make them more legitimate, often by adding a moral element
American nationalism and intolerance abroad and at home. Nationalism
▯ superpatriotism. Impacts the natl security vs democracy problem, and
makes it difficult for Americans to accept criticism.
Major swings in public moods and sentiment with regard to US FP
(Cold War swings e.g.). Despite the swings, there’s an underlying sense
o PostWW2 as the American century, nationalism. Fulbright ‘arrogance of
power’. Vietnam as the first assault on American optimism ▯ Vietnam
syndrome. Persian Gulf War restores faith, seen as a ‘just cause’. But then Iraq
syndrome ▯loss of faith in the Bush doctrine.
Chapter 2 – Historical context and future of US global power
Isolationism as a myth – long history of US use of armed force in the world since
1798. One armed intervention per year for 140 years.
European and English Colonial Roots:
o Original 13 colonies result of European expansion in the world
o England and France expanding into the ‘new world’ of North America
o American revolution: Englishmen fighting Englishmen for the future of the
Eastern seaboard. 1776 Declaration of Independence: ‘truths’ and natural
rights, freedom and independence of the colonies. US officially recognized by
the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Involvement of European powers because it
affected the European balance of power system.
First era of US FP: Continental Era, 17761860s o Nation building and continental expansion were the goals
o 13 colonies still surrounded by territory that European powers occupied – no
chance of being isolationist. Economy also dependent on European powers.
o 2 goals closely linked: reduce dependence ▯security gotten from protecting the
continent against hostile neighbours
o Expansion into territory technically owned by Europeans but occupied by
Native Americans. Coexistence through treaties, but violations became
o Northwest Ordinance of 1787: dividing territory into a gridwork of townships
with an intention to sell it to land companies or individuals for revenue +
orderly settlement. Simultaneous with discussion on plans for a new national
govt (Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia)
o Expansion agents included govt, army but also private and entrepreneurial
Americans looking for pft, freedom, gold, land ▯ massive spread of US by
1860s. Internal colonialism and imperialism on a continental scale (Bailey)
o Van Alstyne calls the US an imperial republic. Jefferson’s empire of liberty.
o Commerce active all over the globe, but sporadic. Tariff policy from 1820s
o Navy helped them be militarily and politically active beyond the continent.
o 1823 Monroe Doctrine: Western hemisphere not open to colonization by
Europeans. 1840s MFN status in China through Treaty of Wangxia.
Second: Regional era (1860s1940s)
o US now independent, transcontinental, political stability after the civil war.
o Manifest destiny (Weeks): uniqueness of American nation, necessity of an
empire. Nationalistic, expansive.
o PostCivil war, US FP promoted pol stability and econ expansion abroad,
especially in Latin America and Asia.
Latin America: SpanishAmerican war (1898), trade, loans and
investment in a region going through decolonization ▯ American
military intervention and occupation. Olney Proclamation (1895) gave
US the right to intervene and dominate in its own backyard. Often
intervened to crush local rebellions, prop up old or new regimes. ▯
regional sphere of influence.
Asia: limited use of force because of distance. Open Door approach in
China, fewer costs but also fewer gains.
Increasing activity in European affairs and on the world scene in
general. TOV (Wilson), intervention in Russian Civil War.
o 1920s and 30s were the height of isolationism in US FP. Rejection of League,
o Naval disarmament 192122, sponsorship of the KelloggBriand pact. Active
and unofficial role in League activities.
o US importance in IPE increased greatly – formal and informal empire.
Global era (1940spresent) o Pearl harbour ended the regional era. Postwar Roosevelt administration
concerned with national security and economic stability.
o Bretton Woods 1944: multilateral efforts, IBRD (World bank), IMF
(stabilizing currencies based on gold) and GATT (open trade)
o Construction of a new intl political order through the UN
o Failure of Roosevelt’s strategy + Truman ▯ 3 new phases of US FP: cold war
era, postVietnam era and postCold war era
o Cold war era, late 1940s1960s:
Truman to Johnson: continuity based upon twin goals of national sec
and econ prosperity. Height of presidential power.
Threat of communism global, but only US equipped to respond ▯
containment strategy announced in the 1947 Truman doctrine
Containment order (surround USSR with American allies, military
forces, econ sanctions in order to deter a Soviet military strike) and
liberal economic order (unilateral sustenance of Bretton Woods to prop
up failing European economies, Marshall Plan).
Econ policy = low policy, natl sec policy = high policy
o PostVietnam era, late 1960s1980s:
First major war that US ever lost. Containment challenged as a result.
US economic FP also changed: 1971, Nixon discards the convertibility
of the US$ to gold, destroying BW system ▯floating currencies.
Relative decline in US econ policy, recovery of Europe and Japan, rise
J William Fulbright (liberal internationalist): two Americas – generous
and egotistical, and aggressive America was prevailing in US FP.
Arrogance of power becoming visible in FP.
Foreign economic policy now also ‘high’ policy. Much more change
required from president to president in US FP because no consensus, no
Two globally oriented FP periods separated by the Vietnam war (Nixon,
Ford, Carter, Reagan all had very active FP)
o PostCold War/globalization era, 1990s onwards:
George H.W. Bush influenced by realpolitik, power politics approach to
world pol, latent effects of containment visible. But no consistent
pattern because of USSR collapse.
Clinton, 1993: significant actions in Haiti, Mexico, Bosnia, Middle
East. Yugoslavian crisis etc. Passed NAFTA, creation of WTO. Both
these were reactive rather than proactive – inconsistent policy.
George W Bush: hegemonist view of FP, after 9/11 became very
aggressive revolving around the global war on terrorism. Defense
buildup, homeland security, Bush Doctrine (2002). Used to justify new
assertiveness abroad. Obama: entered office when IPE and American economy were in a bad
state. Stimulus package added to Bush’s, but also Keynesian govt
spending solution emphasized, need for multilateral response. Attempts
to restore confidence in US leadership.
Global structures and patterns:
o Set the underlying conditions and parameters of US FP, and international
crises can sometimes catapult issues onto the intl agenda etc.
o Psychological (affecting people’s perceptions of the world) vs objective
(directly affecting performance and outcome of FP behaviour) environment
Global Cold War, American hegemony, its decline and renewal:
o Western globalization since 15 century with rise of European countries ▯
World Wars I and II represent European struggle for global hegemony. Decline
of Europe paved the way for US and USSR to fill the pol vacuum.
o Inevitability of USUSSR conflict: postwar European reconstruction, fate of
Germany, communism in Eastern Europe, the bomb. US as leader of the free
world, emerged from WW2 as superpower but also hegemonic power.
o Failure of Bretton Woods, newly industrialized countries like SK, Taiwan,
Singapore etc, importance of oil (OPEC) and third world industrialization ▯US
relative decline. USSR, China and E Eur more integrated into world economy
▯ pluralism and interdependence ▯ paradox of American power since 1960s
o Econ influence of US also declining during 1960s and 70s: European and
Japanese prodn increasing. Quantitative, but also qualitative decline (tech
advances in Japan).
o Pol influence declined (exemplified first by Vietnam), can’t promote pol
stability as easily, lack of puppet govts (resistance) ▯demise of power politics.
o Collapse of communism ▯ globalization (NAFTA, WTO) ▯ interdependence.
But econ problems prevail despite the triumph of liberal capitalism (collapse
of peso, yen, 2008).
o Political conflict also prevails – terrorism, state boundaries, state power,
migration, resources, environment ▯more interdependence, complexity.
o Declinists (pessimistic view of US power, imperial overstretch ▯ rise and then
fall of great powers) vs revivalists (US bound to lead, has a lot of soft power in
addition to hard power, end of history)
o US actions controversial (Iraq, Afghanistan), rise of BRIC countries ▯
awareness about overreliance on the USD.
Challenge of hegemony and legitimacy:
o Other states may align against US to offset their power. Bandwagoning or
bonding of countries.
o Other countries will try to reign in US power, and resist domination. Balancing
power and balking (ignoring US requests), binding, blackmail,
delegitimization. o Hegemons seeing themselves as most progressive, simplistic images and
myths ▯ inconsistent and hypocritical to the rest of the world. Arrogance of
Chapter 3 – Presidential power and leadership
Paradox of presidential power
Constitutional roles and strengths (Article II):
o Commander in chief: broadly used these powers since 1945. Truman and
Korea, and all the Vietnam decisions, Clinton in Kosovo, Bush global war on
terrorism. Use of force authorised, no declarations of war made.
o Chief diplomat: nominating ambassadors, secretary of state, enter executive
agreements with other govts. Pres role increased since rise of ‘summitry’.
1972 Salt under Nixon… G8, G20.
o Chief administrator: authority over executive branch. Selects personal staff,
cabinet secretaries, structure and process by which policy is implemented.
o Chief of state: symbolic.
o Chief legislator: de facto chief legislator, but he is not a member of Congress.
But today lots of legislation originates in the exec branch. Also has a
constitutional right to veto (can be overriden by congress with 2/3rds majority,
o Voice of the people: him + VP are the only public officials elected by the entire
o Chief judicial officer: presidential pardon, appointing judges.
Limits and constraints:
o Time: insufficient time, only 4 or maximum 8 years (TwentySecond
Amendment to the Constitution) and so has to decide which issues matter to
o Information: despite whatever experience they have, lots of knowledge only
acquired through on the job training. Scarcity of info in some areas, especially
foreign policy and during a crisis. But also overabundance sometimes.
o Bureaucracy: large and entrenched and hence sometimes unresponsive to
president. But also has a lot of advantages: each bureaucratic org has its own
goals, subculture, tasks over time ▯more efficient; president heavily dependent
on bureaucracy for information; members of bureaucracy have advantage of
time, no limit on their terms; bureaucrats often having close relationships with
members of Congress, helps pass legislation etc.
o Congress: shares power with president. Since WW2, Congress more active in
domestic and less active in FP. But since Vietnam more active in FP and also
govt usually divided (pres and congress different parties). Constant power
o State and local govts: little authority over state actions, they have their own
constitutions. o Political parties: parties themselves are decentralized and weak, president can’t
force members of their party to vote for their legislation or even pick a
presidential heir as the next nomination.
o Interest groups and social movements: many groups, many ways to influence.
More visible in domestic issues, but now becoming in FP.
o Courts: judges’ rulings are independent, judicial rulings on presidential power
o Public opinion: strengthens but also constrains
o Media: cyclical pattern, useful for election but towards the end it becomes a
o Global and historical context: little control over US global power, longterm
trends in the intl system.
Power: ability to influence the surrounding environment in ways one prefers. Positive
(initiate, implement things) and negative (prevent others from doing something
against one’s wishes)
o Commander in chief, chief diplomat and chief of state basically only involve
foreign policy issues – more positive and negative power
o Technological revolutions of late 20 century makes foreign/domestic policy
divide less clear. Economics, trade, immigration, the environment =
intermestic issues. E.g. 2008.
Presidential life cycle (power declines over time):
o Enters when all const roles are available, constraints are weakest.
o Electoral mandate – authority given to govern ▯ honeymoon period with
Congress, media and public. Hopefulness.
o Honeymoon with Congress and media ends soon – sooner since Vietnam.
Interest groups and social movements get in on it. No more clean slate.
o Significant decline over the next few years. Public support also begins to
decline, except in cases of national emergency and crisis.
o Cyclical pattern result of presidential promises and expectations. Early
optimism ▯pessimism, frustration.
Crisis of leadership/governance (no president lasts very long).
o Rise of divided government and partisanship since the 1960s
o President receive credit for good, blame for bad things
o Rewarded in terms of public prestige, greater power and reelection if
successful. Weakened pres who public wants replaced if unsuccessful.
Importance of presidential leadership: strong vs weak presidents.
o Key to pres power is power to persuade (Neustadt). Legal and formal authority
(commands etc) should only be used as a last resort because it shows weakness
o Professional reputation: how pol actors see judge the president’s ability; public
prestige: how other pol actors see public support for the president. These two
are based upon pres personality, style of operating. Presidential choices:
defines the other two, based upon management of the executive branch, building coalitions and symbolically communicating priorities and preferences
to the rest of the world.
o Passive presidents are basically just clerks – must be active and exercise
prerogative government (active, arrive at decisions that push the Constitution
to its limits). Expansive view of pres power are most successful in governing.
o When prerogative government is exercised, there are three outcomes: frontlash
(war time, pres can exercise extraordinary power – Congress reasserts
authority after the crisis has subsided), backlash (usually when they exercise
PG in domestic policy, e.g. Truman seizure of steel mills before Korean war
1951) and overshoot and collapse (when it results in a fall from power, e.g.
Stage 1 of presidential power in FP – Great Depression, WW2, Roosevelt:
o Roosevelt came in in 1933, replacing Hoover – hope and change. New Deal,
restored faith of the American people = model presidential leader.
Stage 2 – Presidential supremacy during the Cold War
o Two presidencies thesis (Wildavsky): powerful in FP, weak in domestic during
o Before WW2, few governmental institutions geared towards FP. Policymaking
elite centered in state dept. But WW2 = global war, expansion of military and
then Cold War ▯sense of national emergency ▯2 pres thesis.
o Expansion of FP bureaucracy, liberalconservative cold war consensus,
anticommunist consensus in public as well.
o Permanent time of crisis and national emergency. Cold war was a battle US
could not lose, containment stressed threat and use of force and hence required
a strong pres whose opinion was mostly undisputed.
Stage 3 – decline of pres power since Vietnam:
o Vietnam initially height of pres power, then downfall. Cold war consensus
shatters ▯more partisan policymaking.
o Reassertive Congress, new interest groups and social movements, critical
media and cynical public.
o Ability to exercise positive power in FP especially has been impacted.
Intermestic issues become part of the FP agenda. No more two pres thesis.
o Johnson = the height and decline of the imperial presidency. Aggressive style,
no charisma and bad handling of Vietnam. Tet offensive made his Vietnam
optimism look stupid, credibility destroyed.
o Nixon: ruthless exercise of power in Washington. Strong staff, downfall was
because he didn’t understand how much the domestic pol env was changing.
Abuse of pres power (Watergate) because unsure about why pres authority was
being challenged all of a sudden. Secret plan to end Vietnam turned out to be a
lie – Vietnamization, but more bombings in Cambodia, Laos and simultaneous
o Ford: passive president, just pursued Nixon’s policies.
o Carter: new spirit of honesty and idealism, focus on HR and peace. Outsider to
national politics, relatively activist when he entered. Big issue = Iran hostage crisis: shah of Iran falls from power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini comes to
power, Carter couldn’t free American hostages taken there.
o Reagan: overcame paradox and life cycle. Active agenda, good at
communicating with public, wanted to strengthen American defense forces and
resolve overseas while unleashing the market to restore econ prosperity at
home and abroad. Evil empire. Latin America: El Salvador and Nicaragua –
threat and force to overcome it. CIA created, armed and supported
counterrevolutionary Contras to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nic. Much aid
from Congress, but later no. So he sold arms to Iran in exchange for American
hostages, leaked. Unable to see changing pol climate, not such a bad abuse of
Stage 4: postCold War
o Lack of consensus on issues, but also new opportunities for FP
o Pres power now only in crises, temporary and for limited FP scope e.g. George
HW Bush and Persian Gulf War.
o Now wider range of FP options but strong, judicious leadership needed. But
unable to fulfill expectations for long anyway ▯ increasingly reactive, not
o George HW Bush: took adv of postCW environment, kindler and gentler
style. Informal, lowkey, more hands on. Maybe too reactive, but well liked.
o Clinton: reelected, very popular. Concern for policy, energy, optimism but also
lack of selfdiscipline and focus on a set of specific goals. Failed in trying to
legitimize ‘gays in the military’, doing too much too quickly, divided govt
after 1994. Somalia, Yugoslavia = FP failures. But bailed out peso, and helped
in Asian financial crisis – no backlash, no O&C. Emphasized econ: NAFTA,
Uruguay round of the GATT (WTO), expansion of NATO, trade relations with
China. Lewinsky affair, investigations but he survived politically, ended office
with high approval.
o George W Bush: inauspicious beginning, focused on domestic pol until 9/11.
Rally around the flag response, he became the war president. US new era of
national emergency, new idea of ‘unitary executive’ (pres foremost in FP
again). Bush State of the Union address = Axis of evil speech (Iran, Iraq, N
Korea) – global war on terrorism. Iraq war 2003 with a ‘coalition of the
willing’, despite resistance from France, Russia, China. Decline in popularity.
Weak pres possible even when pres can exercise considerable prerogative
o Obama: inherited bad economy, symbolism of first black president, many natl
security issues. Activist presidency, health care reform and energy policy.
Transformational leadership (strategic, longterm oriented) as opposed to
transactional (shortterm, politically motivatedoriented). Took adv of
honeymoon, public prestige high, prerogative govt exercised. Attempt to take