Conceiving foreign policy in a compound democracy: can the US foreign policymaking system guarantee a coherent output?

obama

Abstract

American foreign policy, which influences can be seen in the foreign policy’s output and in the role of the political elites of the American system, has followed an erratic path over time. It is undisputed that the role of the Presidency in US foreign policy-making increased over time: the impact of World War II, as an external constraint to the at the time Congressional based policymaking practices, triggered the rise of the Presidency as the main actor in foreign policy-making. The said change, however, was made possible by the existence of the Soviet Union as a unifying factor for the American elites, regardless of the party in power, as it gave them the common enemy to fight against. After the end of the Cold War, presidents have been able to shape foreign policy-making to their liking, even though experts and institutions played a relevant role in checking and balancing their decisions. However, without the constraint of the common enemy, namely the USSR, the system of the separation of power started to show its shortcomings in foreign policy-making. For instance, with President Clinton’s schizophrenic foreign policy taken hostage by the neoconservative Congress, and later on with President Obama’s wavering foreign policy during the Egyptian crisis in 2011-13. Without effective international checks and an opposing superpower, the US policy-making system — due to its compound roots — found itself to be more incoherent when many were the actors involved in its own developing.

 

 

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