3. Foreign Policy Decision Making (FPDM)
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3. Foreign Policy Decision Making (FPDM). I. Rational Actor Model - Realism. associated with realist/neorealism state as unitary actor - a homogenous or monolithic unit with no important internal differences

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3. Foreign Policy Decision Making (FPDM)

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3 foreign policy decision making fpdm

3. Foreign Policy Decision Making (FPDM)


I rational actor model realism

I. Rational Actor Model - Realism

  • associated with realist/neorealism

  • state as unitary actor

    - a homogenous or monolithic unit with no important internal differences

    - leaders, the types of governments, the characteristics of societies etc. are not important

  • state as rational actor

    - the decision-making processes of unitary actors are described as rational


3 foreign policy decision making fpdm

  • rationality:

  • human beings pursues goals

  • our behavior results from self-interest and conscious choice

  • human beings choose the alternative with the highest expected utility

  • human beings possess extensive information


3 foreign policy decision making fpdm

  • instrumental rationality or rational choice

    : goal-directed behavior

    : attempt to maximize his or her goal and interest

  • decision makers (DM) describe their own behavior as resulting from a rational choice designed to reach the “best” decision


3 foreign policy decision making fpdm

  • policy making as rational choice:

    1. problem recognition and definition

    - DM (Decision Maker) perceive an external problem and define objectively its characteristics

    - objectivity requires full information about the actions and motivations of other actors

    2. goal selection

    - DM must determine what they want to accomplish

    - it requires the identification and ranking of all values (such as security, democracy, economic well-being)


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3. identification of alternatives

- an exhaustive list of all available policy options

- an estimate of the benefits and costs associated with each alternative (cost-benefit analysis)

4. choice

- selecting the single alternative with the best chance of achieving the desired goals


2002 attack to iraqi dictator saddam hussein

2002 Attack to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein

  • the Bush administration claimed that

    : they followed the rules for rational choice in waging a war against Iraq

    - recognized the imminent threat caused by the possibility of Iraqi illegal obtainment of weapons of mass destruction

    - “Saddam is going to get stronger” – Jan. 2003. the president


3 foreign policy decision making fpdm

- took its argument to the UN and exhausted all opportunities to achieve regime change peacefully

- “it looked as if the UN inspection effort was not sufficiently aggressive and was likely doomed to fail” – Jan. 2003, the president


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- military plan

: had been underway for about 16 months (since Oct. 2001) by the CIA, the State Department, the Army and the Marine Corps, the United States Agency for International Development, and other groups

- extensive pre-war discussion and analysis about postwar plans

- the costs and benefits of all options were carefully weighed

“You understand the consequences?” Powell asked. “Yeah, I do,” the president answered – Jan. 2003


3 foreign policy decision making fpdm

  • however, others disagree about the facts and foreign policy goals

    : “Is Saddam uniquely dangerous?”

    : “Have we calculated the consequences and the unintended consequences?”

    : “What does a war mean for the unfinished work with terrorism and Afghanistan?”

    : “Sending young men and women to war should never be taken lightly”


3 foreign policy decision making fpdm

  • Difficulty to follow the rules of rational choice:

    - the facts in doubt

    - several policy conflictual, different value judgment

    - imprecise goals

    - determining what goals best serve national interests is not easy

  • RCM: ideal type


Impediments to rational choice

Impediments to Rational Choice

  • bounded rationality (Herbert Simon, 1982, Models of Bounded Rationality)

    : decision maker’s capacity to choose the best option

    - often constrained by human and organizational obstacles


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(1) human obstacles

- deficiencies in the intelligence, capability

- psychological shock

: the profound shock caused by the destruction of the World Trade Center

- psychological tensions: “I felt stressed… My jaw muscle got so tight” – Jan. 2003, the president

- Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel

: “people had been doing stuff under pressure for too long and hadn't had enough sleep” - two months before the War, Fallows


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- past experience

: “remember the problem with your dad’s campaign… A lot of people said he got started too late.” - Jan. 2003. Karl Rove, chief political strategist

: the President knows

- bright scenarios, the reality of Iraq eighteen months after the war would affect his re-election


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- Belief system: Neocon

: the US has a responsibility to act as a "benevolent global hegemon”

: the United States should use its unrivaled power – forcefully if necessary – to promote its values around the world.

: Since the 1991 Gulf War, neocons relentlessly advocated Mr. Hussein's ouster


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: after 9.11, the US must do to whatever it takes to end state-supported terrorism

: the neocons are not afraid of force regime change in Iraq

- a push for democracy in the Middle East

: this best for the U.S. and the world

: the world peace could be achieved by strong US leadership


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Senator Henry M. Jackson, influential neoconservative forerunner.


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Paul Wolfowitz


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(2) organizational obstacles:

- the decisions

: require organizational agreement about the national interest

- people among organizations

: have different values, goals, preferences, perceptions, belief system

“Rice (NSC) talked mainly about Iraq needed to be destroyed… Cheney talked mainly about Saddam Hussein’s defiance of international law.” …

“But Powell (State Dept.) stressed the value of an international approach and the role of UN.” – Fallows


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(3) Other obstacles:

A. insufficient, incomplete, inaccurate information

: the bureaucratic organization that political leaders depends on screen, sort, and rearrange it

: Analysts call it "cherry picking“

- high confidence in some, moderate to low in others

- the distortion of evidence (the honest "mistake“)

: always takes place at the upper end of the estimating process, where raw facts are turned into the language of a key judgment


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  • Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction:

    - beginning in the summer of 2002 President Bush and other officials

    : began to speak of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction as not merely a theoretical danger, but an established fact

    - the CIA believes

    : Iraq "started reconstituting" its program to build nuclear weapons in 1998


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- October 2, 2003, David Kay, a weapons expert appointed by George Tenet

: "We have not yet found stocks of weapons," testifying before congressional intelligence committees.

- David Kay declares

“ Iraq has had no chemical weapons program since 1991. There has been no program—for twelve years.”


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b) Saddam's relationship with al-Qaeda

- Wolfowitz

“the CIA had collected solid facts about a decade of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda.”

- Powell at the UN

“a foreign security service” as the source of information that Osama bin Laden met with “a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Khartoum” in 1996


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- December, 2003—the six-hundred-plus-page report prepared by the House and Senate intelligence committees (the "Joint Inquiry")

“In some of these countries (… Germany, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, … the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Spain, … Switzerland, and the United States) al-Qaeda was deeply planted. …”

“But conspicuously missing from the Joint Inquiry's list of nations that supported al-Qaeda is Iraq.”


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B. cognitive dissonance

: tendency to deny discrepancies between one’s preexisting beliefs and new information

: DM is prone to look for information that justifies his choice

: DM pay little attention to warnings and information about dangers


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: the State Dept.’s “Future of Iraq project”

: the CIA a series of war-game exercise

: the Council on Foreign Relations, working with the Baker Institute for Public Policy, at Rice University,

: War College team’s report, “Reconstructing Iraq”


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- They had all warned

: disbanding the Iraqi army, and water and electricity scarce.

- "To tear apart the Army in the war's aftermath could lead to the destruction of one of the only forces for unity within the society."

- the urgency of restoring electricity and water supplies as soon as possible after regime change


Iraqis looked at the belongings of victims after a car bomb exploded in baghdad today

Iraqis looked at the belongings of victims after a car bomb exploded in Baghdad today.


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- DM viewed the postwar planning as an impediment to war, even antiwar

“Administration officials must have believed not only that the war was necessary but also that a successful occupation would not require any more forethought” - Fellows


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C. prospect theory

: DM let their needs, expectations and past experiences affect rather than rationality

- 9/11

: the US was vulnerable

: it had to fight terrorists

: Saddam regime was the leading potential source of future state-sponsored terrorism

: people’s tendency

- to select the option that look preferable judging by some past reference point rather than one with better prospects for future gains


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D. constructivism

: socially constructed shared understandings and ideas so-called culture

- reduce DM’s capacity to make rational choice

: ideas of American Dream or “chosen people”

: the American Dream

- from the religious heritage and deep spiritual faith


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: the Pilgrims

- saw themselves as God’s emissaries (a chosen people) who would tame a wilderness and create a new Eden

: the notion of a chosen people

- the driving engine behind the American sense of confidence

“America is destined for greatness. The American way is God’s way”

: American foreign policy decision makers

- struggle of good against evil (“evil empire” and “axis of evil”) to justify war


Ii bureaucratic model

II. Bureaucratic Model

  • modern states consist of large-scale bureaucratic organization

    : the State Department, Defense Department, CIA, NSC etc.

  • leaders make decision

    : with the advice and assistance of many individuals and bureaucracies


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  • bureaucracies

    : increase efficiency/rationality

    : divide authority among different organization to avoid duplication

    : define rules and standard operating procedures that specify how tasks are to be performed

    : multiple advocacy

    - more rational choices are made when decisions are reached in a group context


The limits of bureaucratic organization

The Limits of Bureaucratic Organization

  • Granham Allison. 1971. Essence of Decision

    : two elements of bureaucratic model

    - organizational process and governmental politics

    A. Organizational Process

    : organizations and coalitions of organizations in policy networks

    - constrain DM’s choice


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  • policy networks

    : leaders and organized interests

    • form temporary alliances to influence a particular foreign policy decision

      : undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith,

      : Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,

      : Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz,

      : the consultant Richard Perle,

      : the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney

      - Lewis “Scooter” Libby

      : the Vice President Dick Cheney

      : Neocon


3 foreign policy decision making fpdm

(2) standard operating procedures (SOPs)

- established methods to be followed in the performance of designated tasks

- Thomas Warrick, the State Department official, in the antiwar camp

“I’m nervous that what they are going to do it.”

However, he “pushed ahead the Future of Iraq project, setting up the conferences and drafting sessions.”


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B. Governmental politics

(1) the organizational character of foreign policy - “where you stand depends on where you sit”

: State Dept. favor diplomatic approaches to policy problems

: Defense Dept. - military solutions


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(2) the “pulling and hauling” process

Two months before the war

: those arguing for delay

- each passing month would mean more time to plan the peace as thoroughly as the war

- train civil-affairs units and to hire Arabic-speakers

: those arguing against delay

- the mere passage of time would bring various risks.

- the world had already waited twelve years since the Gulf War for Saddam Hussein to disarm.


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(3) power game among factions and insiders

: pre-war struggle

- the fight within the Pentagon

: between the civilian leaders in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the generals running the Army over the size and composition of the force

: Donald Rumsfeld

- General Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff, as a symbol of uncooperative, old-style thinking


Iv foreign policy determinants the state level

IV. Foreign Policy Determinants: The State Level

  • geopolitical position

    : geopolitics

    - study of influence of geography (location, natural resources, and physical environment) on foreign and military policy

    : states’ attributes

    - size, location and physical terrain

    2. type of government

    : democracy and dictator rule

    : democratic peace: “Democracies don’t attack each other.” (Kant, 1975, Perpetual Peace)


Map geographic influences on foreign policy

Map : Geographic Influences on Foreign Policy


V history making individual model

V. History Making Individual Model

  • Individual leaders move history

  • foreign policy decisions

    : affect the course of history as products of strong-willed leaders acting on their personal convictions

  • U.S. foreign policy

    • Nixon Doctrine (1970s) /Reagan Doctrine (1980s) /Clinton Doctrine (1990s) /Bush Doctrine


3 foreign policy decision making fpdm

  • Bush Doctrine

    “the unilateral policies of the George W. Bush administration proclaiming that the U.S. will make decisions only to meet America’s perceived national interests, not to concede to other countries’ complaints or to gain their acceptance”


Factors affecting leadership capacity

Factors Affecting Leadership Capacity

  • degree of control over foreign policy

    : leaders are not in complete control

  • Political, psychological, and circumstantial constraints

  • sense of political efficacy (policy makers’ self-confidence) and public support

  • amount of available information

  • crises increase a leader’s control over FPDM

  • “zeitgeist” (the “spirit of time”)


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