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Chapter 4: Foreign Policy Decision Making

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1 Chapter 4: Foreign Policy Decision Making

2 Rational Choice Perspective
Generally the model presented by leaders as how they decide on policy Assumes policy decisions are made carefully through well defined processes that pursue clearly defined goals. Risks and benefits are measured and balanced Optimal solutions are selected as policy

3 Policy Making as Rational Choice
Problem recognition and definition Goal selection Identification of alternatives Choice Associated with realist/state as unitary actor Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 3

4 Factors Impacting Foreign Policy System Level Factors
Polarity Degree of concentration of military/economic power among major states Polarization How firmly minor states cluster around the major powers in alliances Geopolitics – Impact of geographic characteristics

5 Military Capabilities
Domestic Factors: Military Capabilities States actions are constrained by their military strength No aggression w/out power projection capability Boldness connected with military capability Japan? Iran? Canada? US? Etc…

6 Domestic Factors: Economic Capacity
Capable to supply, resupply a military? Capable to sustain a siege

7 Domestic Factors: Government type Democracy Autocratic rule
Is there a connection between type of government and foreign policy? Democratic Peace? Democratic weakness? Autocratic aggressiveness?

8 Rational political ambition hypothesis:
Domestic Factors: Rational political ambition hypothesis: Leaders like to maintain or expand their role – foreign policy decisions made to keep leaders in power Britain – Argentina in the Faulklands “Wag the Dog” concept…. Clinton in Lybia? Bush in Iraq?

9 Organizational Factors Bureaucratic Politics
Competition / Rivalry of various agencies Inability / Unwillingness to share across bureaucratic boundaries Standard Operating procedures

10 Organizational Factors Bureaucratic Politics
Competition / Rivalry of various agencies Inability / Unwillingness to share across bureaucratic boundaries Standard Operating procedures Tendency to inertia Limited innovation

11 Individual leaders matter
Individual Level Individual leaders matter Individual talents and limitations determine much of policy Hitler, Chamberlain, Churchill, etc. Leaders self-image, confidence: “political efficacy” Individual leaders are more influential in unusual, crisis situations Bush 9/11, Roosevelt in Depression and WW II

12 Constraints on Policy-making
Leaders project (and Realists expect) “Rationality” and states as “Unitary Actors” Leaders face constraints on Rationality: 2-level game Maintain domestic influence and power Promote desirable foreign policy

13 Constraints on Policy-making
Complexity and limited processing ability may lead to: Satisficing: Choosing an option that meets a minimally acceptable level of satisfaction rather than pressing on for the very best or optimal level of achievement

14 Constraints on Policy-making Prospect Theory:
The idea that leaders level of risk tolerance is greater when avoiding a loss than when pursuing a gain. Leaders will risk a huge loss to avoid a minor loss Leaders will risk only minor losses in pursuit of even major gains

15 Constraints on Policy-making Leaders focus on “Sunk Costs”
Rational decisions consider future looking costs/benefits Sunk costs are gone and can’t be changed Rational decisions disregard sunk costs Making decisions based on sunk costs is “throwing good money after bad” Political leaders tend to fall into the sunk costs trap “they must not have died in vain”

16 Constraints on Policy-making
Group Think Newgroup Syndrome: Tendency to bandwagon with prominent, assertive thinkers

17 Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning
Transnational Actors Countries International organizations Multinational corporations Nongovernmental organizations Indigenous nationalities Terrorist networks Individuals Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 17

18 Foreign Policy Analysis
Bureaucracies Decision-making in organizations Psychological characteristics of leaders Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 18

19 Most Foreign Policy Analysis Centers on the Executive Branch
The head of government is responsible for making policy The country needs to have a single voice abroad Heads of government tend to make foreign policy because they control the executive branch of government In presidential government systems, the head of government is the chief executive officer of the executive branch. In the United States, the president is the head of government. In Great Britain, Japan, Spain, Sweden and Canada, the prime minister serves as the head of government. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 19

20 Legislatures and Courts in Foreign Policy
The “power of the purse” Courts’ jurisdiction generally limited to domestic affairs “Pentagon Papers” 1971 Pentagon Papers: the name for a series of top-secret documents prepared by the U.S. Department of Defense regarding U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In 1971, the documents were leaked to the New York Times, and led to a series of protests, political controversies and lawsuits, culminating in Supreme Court rulings regarding First Amendment issues. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 20

21 The Rational Action Model
A logical attempt to achieve an identifiable goal Calculates costs and benefits What goal does this policy serve? Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 21

22 Expected Utility Theory
Payoffs and profitability Does not seek optimum solution, but the policy with best ratio of payoff/probability Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 22

23 Bureaucracies in Foreign Policies
Department of State and Department of Defense CIA and NSA Different bureaucracies have distinct, and often competing, interests. In Great Britain (and most other countries), bureaucratic departments are known as ministries. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 23

24 The Organizational Process Model
Procedures influence decision content Standard operating procedures Efficiency is goal, difficulties when dealing with unique situations Standard operating procedures are the hallmark of bureaucracies, from the military to intelligence-gathering operations. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 24

25 Small Group Decision Making
Groupthink May be caused by need for consensus The tendency for groupthink is one of the reasons organizations (including governments) tend to favor continuity over change. In some cases, disagreeing with the leader has negative consequences for individuals, leading to reduced access and influence. In extreme cases (such as the Stalin regime), it leads to imprisonment, exile or execution. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 25

26 Individual Decision Making
Perception and misperception Motivated and unmotivated bias Bounded rationality Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 26

27 Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning
Attribution Theory Fundamental Attribution Bias Naïve scientists Pre-existing beliefs Security dilemma During the Cold War, the United States interpreted a variety of Soviet actions as proof of aggressive expansion plans, particularly the installation of pro-Soviet governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 27

28 Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning
Historical Lessons Lessons of WW I Lessons of WW II Lessons of Korean War The Lessons of Vietnam Lessons of Iraq (1991) Lessons of Afghanistan Lessons of Iraq (2003) ??????? The lessons of Vietnam still resonate in U.S. elections and policymaking. However, decision-makers are uneven in their use of history, and often disagree about its lessons. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 28

29 Other Theories of Decision-Making
Prospect Theory Status quo Bias Motivated Bias Cognitive Dissonance Two-level games Satisficing Satisficing: the tendency for decision makers to choose the first satisfactory option, rather than searching for a better alternative Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 29

30 A “Funnel Vision” of the Influences on International Decision Making
The determinants or the factors that influence the foreign policy choices of transnational actors are shown here as a “funnel of causality.” This construction classifies three categories of influence in the foreign policy making process, whereby policy “inputs” shape the decisions that produce policy “outputs.” Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 30

31 Policy Making as Rational Choice
Problem recognition and definition Goal selection Identification of alternatives Choice Associated with realist/state as unitary actor 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis 2003 Iraq War Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 31

32 Factors Affecting Leadership Capacity
Personality Degree of control over foreign policy Sense of political efficacy Amount of available information Ability to deal with crises “Great person” versus zeitgeist debate The Bush Doctrine in the early 2000s is an example of the history-making individuals model of policy decision making. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 32

33 Influences on Foreign Policy Choice
International Polarity and polarization Geographic position Domestic Military capabilities Economic conditions Type of government Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 33

34 Democratic Peace Theory
Asserts that democracies are more peaceful than other states. Ironically, could provide a rationale for war, because a war that instills a democracy could reduce the chances of war in the long run. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 34

35 Interest Groups in Foreign Policy
What do they want? Money, protection, policy How do they influence foreign policy? Votes, money, lobbyists To what extent do interest groups drive foreign policy? Very influential in the U.S., varies in other states Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 35

36 Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning
Public Opinion What does public opinion look like? What effect should public opinion have on policy? What effect does public opinion have on foreign policy? What influences public opinion on foreign policy? In 1898, public opinion forced the United States into the Spanish-American War, as Americans blamed Spanish forces for destroying the U.S. Battleship Maine, harbored in Cuba, and demanded retribution. Recently, how has public opinion influenced the course of war in Iraq? Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 36

37 The Media in Foreign Policy
Media in WW II? Korea? Media in Viet Nam? The businesses aspect of journalism Efforts to influence media coverage Media power: “the CNN effect” The mass media are those sources directed at the broadest groups in society, including large-circulation newspapers, news magazines, television shows and radio programs. The influence and range of Internet media sources are more difficult to measure. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 37

38 Three Models of Influence
Rational action model Bureaucratic politics model Organizational process model Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 38

39 Geographic Influence on Foreign Policy
Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning

40 How Free is Your Country?
The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators ranks countries by the level of freedom citizens have to voice opinions and choose their government. Liberal democratic theory predicts that as freedom across countries increases, so will peaceful relations among these democracies. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning

41 Questions for Critical Thinking (1 of 2)
What factors explain why George W. Bush did not take action when given intelligence warnings of impending terrorist attacks in the weeks prior to September 11, 2001? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the history-making individuals model? Who qualifies as a history-making individual? What factors explain why bureaucracies do not always produce the best options? Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 41

42 Questions for Critical Thinking (2 of 2)
What are some contemporary examples of the importance of geopolitics? In what ways does the individual level of analysis affect foreign policy making? How does public opinion in the U.S. affect current foreign policy? What are the three most influential mass media in this country? Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 42

43 Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning
Web Links The Cuban Missile Crisis Freedom, Democracy, Peace, Power, Democide, and War Freedom House The Presidents: PBS’s The American Experience The Cuban Missile Crisis is a classic example of crisis decision making. This site provides an in-depth account and analysis of the crisis and the actors and issues involved. It also contains an audio archive of President John F. Kennedy’s meetings during the crisis. Freedom, Democracy, Peace, Power, Democide, and War: Political scientist Rudolph J. Rummel’s website is devoted to the study of the cases and conditions of war and violence in the world, with a view toward bringing about their elimination. Freedom House: This nonprofit organization focuses on threats to peace and democracy. The Presidents” PBS’s The American Experience: This site features discussions on the most prominent presidents of the twentieth century, and describes the foreign policy achievements of individual presidents. Copyright 2010 Cengage Learning 43

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