Divided States: How Bargaining At Home Affects U.S. Foreign Policy
Musgrave, Robert Paul
A longstanding puzzle in international relations theory concerns why states choose different foreign policies in similar situations. Existing explanations for this result range from assuming the problem away to focusing on factors like ideas, leader psychology and competence, elite preferences, and regime type. In this dissertation, I demonstrate that the capability of domestic institutions to sustain credible commitments between the executive and other actors explains variations in the foreign policy of the United States. I investigate three sets of cases: the debate over the annexation of Texas in the 1830s and 1840s, the mixed record of U.S. territorial expansionism between the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, and variations in issue linkage during trade negotiations between the United States and Cold War security partners. Using material drawn from primary sources (including original research conducted at four presidential libraries), I show that the degree to which Congress could be reassured of the credibility of presidential pledges not to use executive prerogatives against legislators' interests explains why the United States is often slow to change its foreign policy, why many U.S. negotiations are structured to minimize presidential discretion, and why changes in U.S. foreign policy are often both sudden and sweeping. Cooperation between the legislature and executive is most likely when institutions reassure legislators that the president will not exploit his or her position for his or her own gain or when the structure of a foreign policy proposal renders future defection impossible or highly unlikely. However, when trust is low because of partisan institutions' weakness, even a unified government will be more likely to experience foreign policy stalemate.
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Pinkerton, JoAnn V.; Finnerty, James J.; Lombardo, Paul A; Rorty, Mary V.; Chapple, Helen; Boyle, Robert J; Musgrave, Donna L.; Christmas, James T.; Devoe, Lawrence D.; Thorp, James H. M., Jr.; Maher, James E., III (1997-08)