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POLS 4033 American Foreign Policy. Rosati, Chapter 4/Presentation 1 “Presidential Power and Leadership”. Key Issues. The Post-Cold War Presidency Thesis The Elements of Presidential Power The Paradox of Presidential Power The Problem of Presidential Governance

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POLS 4033American Foreign Policy

Rosati, Chapter 4/Presentation 1

“Presidential Power and Leadership”


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Key Issues

  • The Post-Cold War Presidency Thesis

  • The Elements of Presidential Power

  • The Paradox of Presidential Power

  • The Problem of Presidential Governance

  • Presidential Power in Foreign Policy: An Overview


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1) The Post-Cold War Presidency Thesis

  • The central problem for post-Cold War presidents

  • Expanded opportunities for US foreign policy

  • BUT, presidents also face higher obstacles to exercising power


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1i) Crisis = Opportunity

  • Crises expand presidents’ prerogative powers

  • However, such expansions tend to be temporally limited

  • Is this the case in our current situation?

Ancient Chinese motto: “Crisis is opportunity”


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2) The Elements of Presidential Power

  • The most powerful actor

  • The function of constitutional roles?

  • The reality of presidential power

JFK silhouetted in the windows of the Oval Office


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2a) Commander-in-Chief

  • Article II, Sec. 2 designates the president as civilian head of the military

  • Power (theoretically) balanced by congressional role in declaring war

Harry Truman (1884-1972), broadly interpreted presidential powers to send troops into Korea


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2b) Chief Diplomat

  • Power emanates from the Article II appointment authority

  • The importance of diplomatic recognition

  • The role of “summitry” in the practice of foreign policy

Truman’s controversial decision to meet with Chaim Weizman led to US recognition of the state of Israel in 1948.


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2bi) Camp David AccordsSummitry in Action

  • Historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, March 26, 1979

  • Carter staked enormous amounts of personal prestige in forging the agreement

Pres. Carter, Menachem Begin, and Anwar Sadat enjoy a mutual handshake


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2bii) Primping for Peace

  • 1993 Oslo Accords

  • Attempts to peacefully resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the aftermath of the Cold War

  • Is separatism the key to solving this conflict?

Pres. Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, King Hussein straighten their ties before a press conference to announce the Oslo Accords


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2c) Chief Administrator

  • The power of the president to shape the executive branch through the appointment power is often overlooked

  • Presidential reliance on advice from foreign policy experts

Former NSC Advisor and current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice


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2d) Chief of State

  • What is the distinction in roles between the head of government and head of state?

  • How many nations collapse those roles like the US?

  • Is that too much power?

Pres. Bush, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the MLB season in Cincinnati, OH


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2e) Chief Legislator

  • The president’s role as “chief legislator” has its origins in FDR’s aggressive promotion of legislative solutions to the Great Depression

  • What constitutional role does the president play in the legislative process?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1944)


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2f) Voice of the People

  • Access to the “bully pulpit”

  • The president can (potentially) speak on behalf of all 300 million Americans

  • The presumption of a “mandate” (Clinton, Bush II)


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2g) Chief Judicial Officer

  • What are the president’s constitutional powers over judicial politics?

  • The power of appointments

  • Bush’s handling of the Justice Department: a model of executive decision-making?

Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon on September 8, 1974


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3) Limits and Constraints

  • Presidents are very powerful, but not all-powerful

  • Presidents must operate in a democratic environment that imposes numerous constraints on their discretionary power


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3a) Time

  • A full-time job

  • See Essay 4.1 on President Carter’s work schedule for 11/16/79 on pp. 72-73

  • The 22nd Amendment as a further limitation on a amount of time any president has in which to get anything accomplished


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3b) Information

  • Presidents as generalists

  • A job with a “steep learning curve”

  • Two information problems: scarcity and overabundance

  • Was the Iraq invasion plagued by both kinds of information problems?

CIA Director George Tenet briefs the president and vice president in August of 2002


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3c) The Bureaucracy

  • Bureaucratic autonomy and the power of administrative discretion

  • What are some of the advantages bureaucrats enjoy over their political superiors?

Many bureaucratic organizations are formally independent from presidential authority. Can you think of any examples?


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3d) Congress

  • “Separation of powers” is a misnomer

  • Its really about separate institutions sharing power

  • Presidents must rely on persuasion to win support from Congress

Richard Neustadt (1919-2003)


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3e) State and Local Governments

  • The realities of federalism

  • Chapter 12 details the ways in which state and local governments can affect presidential power in foreign policy

Lots of interest groups have set up “astroturf operations” to simulate grass roots support for certain policies

Politicians have become particularly sensitive to people’s attitudes toward illegal immigration


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3f) Political Parties

  • The president as the “public face” of their political party

  • However, parties are “weak tools” of presidential power. Why is that?

Is this the public face of the GOP?


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3g) Interest Groups and Social Movements

  • The power and influence of “sensitive electoral blocs”

  • Partisans can be sources of support – or can impose constraints on presidential policy

U.S. Christian conservatives have become some of the staunchest supporters of Israel, a factor the current and future presidents must take into account

(Picture from the BBC)


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