The US foreign policy is the result of a complex development process, settled by arbitration through debates. On the other hand, the American constitutional system provides precise distribution of powers (separation of powers), which gives different actors (President, Congress, civil society, etc.) power capable of influencing in a very differentiated manner the development of the foreign policy of the United States. This contrasts with the common belief of collusion between power held in the hands of a few and public policy gained its decisions leading to a monolithic policy without debate.
To prepare a decent US foreign policy research paper you must know that some basic foreign policy of the United States, however, is present since their inception. It is essential to know to understand the whole process of decision. On the other hand, decision-making is shared between the executive (the President and the U.S. government) and legislative (Congress of the United States) power. Both are influenced by society (pressure groups (lobbies), constituencies, think tank, etc.).
The principle of separation of powers intended by the founding fathers led them to attempt to create “two strong, active, and militant branches by giving them in the field of foreign policy, significant roles overlapping one another.”
The constitution fixed in principle predominant role in foreign policy for the Congress (Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States).
However, the powers of the President were re-affirmed on many occasions by the Supreme Court, which since the 1930s, for example, admitted the validity of the sole executive agreements, that is to say agreements signed by the President alone with a foreign power, contrary to treaties that require the approval of the Senate.
In addition to the general powers of the Congress are also applicable to the foreign policy, among them: from the diplomatic point of view: to regulate foreign commerce, to define and punish crimes committed on the high seas; from the military point of view: to provide a common defense, to raise and maintain armies, and to declare war. Under the mechanism of weight against gravity (checks and balances) governing the separation of powers in the United States, the Senate must ratify treaties by a majority of 2/3 and confirm appointments by simple majority.
If the fact that the President is the symbol of national unity tends to strengthen its ancestry in the field of foreign policy, the fact remains that the Congress was also able to regain control in many circumstances (facing Nixon during the war Vietnam, facing Reagan for his policy Nicaragua, etc.) as for long periods (Between the two wars, post-Vietnam, etc.). Its budgetary power and economic affairs remains predominant. And more, it sometimes refused to ratify treaties yet signed by the President, and that proved it to be a decisive factor in the international arena (Treatise on SDN, for example, despite the efforts of President Wilson).
Free example US foreign policy research paper is a great source of knowledge on the topic.
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