To what extent does the executive really control

To what extent does the executive truly control foreign policy?

Much of the authorship on the topic of foreign policymaking indicates that it is a extremely complex and multilevel procedure, and is capable to act upon from many different quarters. [ 1 ] Over the class of this essay, we will endeavor to analyze those changing influences, the histrions involved, and the forces to which decision-making is subjected, in an effort to determine the extent to which the executive can truly be said to command foreign policy.

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Before get downing, it is necessary foremost to turn to the issue of whether or non single provinces can really be said to retainanycontrol over their foreign policy, or whether determinations taken by authoritiess are merely the consequence of international force per unit areas deducing from the on-going procedure of globalization. The development of the impression of ‘intermestic’ political relations indicates a blurring of the conventional separation of the domestic from the international ; in other words, province policy has become capable to planetary forces. [ 2 ] It has been argued that the speed uping tendency towards the liberalization of trade and the increasing interconnection between provinces on all degrees, referred to jointly as the phenomenon of ‘globalisation’ , has led to the eroding of province sovereignty and, accordingly, to a diminution in any single state’s capacity to to the full find both its foreign and its domestic policy ; therefore, the planetary markets work to restrain policy-making at the degree of the nation-state. [ 3 ]

However, to propose that governmental forces have no influence whatsoever seems utmost and it is more likely that foreign policy is alternatively determined by a combination of factors, runing from political circumstance to the nature of the decision-making unit involved. Statistical support for this can be found in a survey by Beasley, Kaarbo, Hermann & A ; Hermann, in which they examined foreign policymaking in 65 instance surveies. They determined that for 51 % of those determinations, “the constellation of people doing the important determination had a greater consequence on the pick than the restraints of the environment” , whereas what was go oning in the political landscape was highlighted merely 46 % of the clip. [ 4 ] Although it is clear that the survey could in no manner claim to be thorough, it is however a good index of the multilayered nature of foreign policymaking, and is evocative of Putman’s description of the procedure as a ‘nested’ or ‘two-level’ game, a theory which emphasises the importance of both international and domestic factors in the finding of foreign policy. [ 5 ]

Having ascertained that the forces of globalization, although influential, are non thesoledeterminer of foreign policy, we can now get down to look at the function of the executive. First, it is of import to specify precisely what is meant by the term ‘executive’ ; Hague & A ; Harrop suggest the undermentioned definition:

The executive is the political grade at the vertex of authorities. It is charged with directing the nation’s personal businesss, oversing how policy is carried out, mobilising support for its ends and supplying crisis leading. In democracies, the executive takes a presidential, parliamentary or semi-presidential signifier. [ 6 ]

The executive can besides take the signifier of a male monarch or queen, in the instance of monarchies, or of a dictator, in the instance of autocratic governments.

Pulling from this definition, it seems clear that the cardinal nature of a state’s authorities is therefore a really of import factor in finding the extent of executive control over foreign policy. If the executive is charged with directing the nation’s personal businesss, so it seems logical that the more power he enjoys within that state, the more power he will exercise over foreign policy [ 7 ] . For illustration, if the leader has entire control over both the authorities and the forces of coercion, as is the instance in autocratic provinces, so he has entire control over all policy, including foreign personal businesss. Democratic leaders, on the other manus, are capable to many cheques and balances ensuing from the separation of powers which are apparent in all democratic authoritiess, to a greater or lesser grade. The consequence of these cheques is to control executive power and guarantee that all policy is the consequence of a drawn-out bargaining procedure between differing involvement groups ( both within authorities and without ) . Foreign policy is no exclusion and we can therefore reason that, whilst autocratic leaders may be said to exercise full control over their provinces international behavior ( at the domestic degree, at least ) , democratic leaders are capable to far more internal restraints.

Of class, democratic systems vary greatly amongst themselves, and the nature of the peculiar system in topographic point can besides be seen to impact the extent to which the executive controls foreign policy, as different systems will harmonize it more or less power. There are basically two signifiers of representative democracy: parliamentary and presidential, although some combine the features of both ( the Gallic semi-presidential system for case. [ 8 ] The distinguishable separation of the legislative from the executive that occurs in presidential systems means that the two subdivisions are required to collaborate in order to make a consistent determination on policy. Given that the system allows for the executive and the legislative assembly to be governed by different parties, and presuming that the two are approximately equal in power ( depending on the fortunes of the clip ) , it is clear that the capacity of the president to to the full command foreign policymaking is apt to be greatly constrained. In a parliamentary system, nevertheless, the executive really emerges from the legislative assembly ; the regulating party must bask a bulk in parliament or it will be eligible for dismissal by parliament. Therefore, the likeliness of regular struggle between the two subdivisions is diminished, and the executive will hold greater freedom in the preparation of foreign policymaking. [ 9 ]

Whilst the nature of the system itself is doubtless a cardinal determiner of executive control over policymaking, some argue that fluctuations in executive control are mostly dependent on a leader’s single personality: “there is properly no history, merely biography” [ 10 ] . This thought is developed by Hermann, Presty, Korany and Shaw, in their distinction between two basic sorts of leaders: the reformers and the self-seekers. [ 11 ] Their differentiation is based chiefly on whether or non a leader is sensitive to the political context: an self-seeker will seek to organize alliances and will react to force per unit areas from all quarters before doing a determination ; in contrast, a reformer will seek to act upon others, and will construction policy around his or her personal beliefs and ends. The self-seeker is seen as being unfastened to new information, and will accommodate their responses consequently, whilst the reformer will accept merely information that supports or furthers his or her ain cause. The cardinal point here is that, with respects to the preparation of policy, the more ‘crusading’ of leaders will actively seek greater control over policymaking, and will endeavor to maneuver those policies in waies towards which they themselves are favorably disposed.

Examples of the importance of personality with respect to leading can be found in the history of the American presidential term. Acting within the same governmental construction, some presidents have emerged as far more of import figures than others and have frequently made their grade chiefly in the field of foreign policy. Compare, for illustration, the likes of Johnson or Bush Jr. to the likes of Jimmy Carter. Here is a clear illustration of the resistance between reformers and self-seekers: Johnson persuaded a divided Congress to intensify the war in Vietnam dramatically despite overpowering popular dissent, whilst Bush Jr. disregarded international sentiment to pay an motiveless onslaught on another province ; by contrast, Carter was cautious in about all of his determinations as president and took merely incremental stairss in policymaking. [ 12 ] The difference in attack, although doubtless influenced by other factors, such as public blessing or the international clime, is clearly evident and serves as an illustration of the extent to which personality can be seen to determine policy.

This last point is further reinforced by the equation of single presidents with full governmental policies: for illustration, the Reagan philosophy, the Bush philosophy, etc… In these illustrations, it is as though the leaders are synonymous with the province itself, and this non merely increases their power during their term of office, but reinforces within the public scruples the impression that the executive is the cardinal participant in foreign policymaking. [ 13 ] This is non merely a domestic perceptual experience, but an international 1: across the Earth, the current Bush philosophy, which wages war on planetary terrorist webs, is associated entirely with the disposal of George W. Bush

So far, we have established that the executive, in the sense of both a subdivision of authorities and an single leader, can exercise a great trade of influence over foreign policymaking. The extent of their control within the province will depend upon the nature of the authorities of which they are portion, and upon the leading manner of the main executive. However, it is of import to observe at this occasion that, in add-on to the forces of globalization discussed earlier, there are many external restraints that serve to control executive power. For illustration, the importance of geopolitics, a state’s location and physical terrain, can non be overestimated. [ 14 ] Examples abound which illustrate the effects of geopolitical state of affairs on foreign policy: the insular place of Great Britain has ensured that it has maintained a changeless liberty from Continental political relations, a stance evident in a batch of the current anti-European sentiment ; the mountains which border Switzerland have made its policy of neutrality far more feasible, for they act as a buffer against foreign invasion ; and Germany’s state of affairs at the bosom of Europe has ruled out any sort of isolationist policy with respect to its neighbors, which partially explains why it is at the really Centre of European Union political relations today.

Economic conditions are besides a cardinal factor in finding foreign policy. As a general regulation, economically developed provinces are more prone to activist functions within the planetary domain. [ 15 ] The richer the state, the more likely it is to hold involvements abroad that it will seek to protect ; as a effect, its foreign policy is apt to be of an interventionist nature. However, whilst richer provinces are likely to be more active in the planetary sphere, they are besides systematically unwilling to ship upon radical campaigns ; their affluent position will intend that they are unwilling to sway the boat and will by and large explicate policies that favour the position quo.

To summarize hence, even the most militant of executives can be constrained by factors beyond their control, factors such as the geopolitical place of their state, its economic position, or its military art. However, the contrary is besides true: even the meekest and most accommodating of leaders can bask unprecedented power in the face of a national exigency, for there is significant historical grounds to propose that the legislative subdivision is apt to postpone to the executive in times of crisis. [ 16 ] When the security of a state is at interest, the ability of the executive to do speedy determinations without the demand for drawn-out argument with Congress of the populace is deemed paramount.

Attack, or the possibility of onslaught, by a foreign state is the most obvious illustration of a national crisis ; after 9/11 for illustration, President George W. Bush was able to call up unprecedented support for a countermove against Afghanistan. Later, the sensed menace from Iraq was used as justification for executive bypassing of conventional congressional norms. The trespass of the war-making power by American presidents is precisely this manner is besides a well-documented phenomenon [ 17 ] , but a president’s willingness to transgress the boundaries is frequently determined by his leading manner. During the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy was seen to take control but avoided direct struggle ; George W. Bush, by contrast, actively sought to enforce his ain position of the necessity of struggle upon Iraq onto a state of affairs that did non needfully name for such drastic action.

These illustrations illustrate the interrelated nature of foreign policymaking and the host of influences that affect the concluding result. It is a multi-level and multi-faceted procedure with many different influences: external factors such as geopolitical state of affairs, economic and military position, or the international clime ; planetary forces, such as the liberalization of trade ; internal factors, such as the type of authorities and an individual’s manner of leading can all be seen to play a function in the preparation of policy. The result of any foreign policy determination will therefore rely on a combination of influences from all of the above.

In reply to the initial inquiry, hence, whether an executive truly controls foreign policy or non is wholly dependent on its place with respect to the variables listed in the old paragraph. For illustration, a crusading autocratic leader is likely to hold a far greater control over foreign policy than an timeserving presidential one, although the effects of his or her policies are apt to be far less globally influential than those of the democratic province, given the current planetary tendency towards democratization and its nexus with universe trade and development. It is besides true that different leaders enjoy more or less power under the same governmental limitations, but this could be the consequence either of external circumstance, the political environment, or of the peculiar manner of leading employed.

We can reason hence that there is no clear reply to the original inquiry. There is doubtless greatrangefor executive control of foreign policy, but the big figure of other act uponing factors means that each emergent policy is alone and dependent on a typical concatenation of events, determinations, and fortunes that are specific to single illustrations. No unvarying form of executive behavior can be established, and the powers exercised by different cabals in finding foreign policymaking will differ from instance to instance.



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Hague, Rod & A ; Harrop, Martin,Comparative Government and Politicss: An Introduction( 5ThursdayEdition ) , Palgrave: 2001

Hermann, M.G. ( Ed. ) ,International Studies Review: Leaderships, Groups, and Alliances: Understanding the People and Processes in Foreign Policymaking, Blackwell: 2001

Kegley Jr. , C.W. , Wittkopf, E.R. , “Foreign Policy Decision Making” inWorld Politics: Tendencies and Transformations, Wadsworth: 2004

Lindsay, J. M. , “Deference and Defiance: the Shifting Rhythms of Executive-Legislative Relations” inPresidential Surveies Quarterly, 33: 2001

Michael A. Genovese, “Great Society to Demonization/Imperial to Imperiled” ,The Power of the American Presidency 1789-2000, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001

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