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Three Approaches to Presidential Foreign Policy-Making in the Twenty-First Century

The Executive, the Magistrate, and the Maverick

Luis da Vinha and Anthony Dutton

Political scientists have long determined that a president’s relationships with his advisors is crucial in determining an administration’s policies. Over the last several decades, scholars of the presidency have paid particular attention to the advisory structures and processes involved in foreign policy decision-making. Their work has contributed to the development and refinement of three presidential management models to help frame the analysis of foreign policy-making: (1) formalistic model, (2) collegial model, and (3) competitive model. This book analyzes the management models employed by presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump throughout their presidencies by employing a structured-focus comparison method that is framed on a set of general and standardized questions used to analyze a series of case studies involving their Middle East policies. The book offers the first systematic comparative analysis of presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump’s management of foreign policy crises.
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1. Introduction: From “Fire and Fury” to Letters of Love

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1 Introduction: From “Fire and Fury” to Letters of Love

On March 8, 2018, the South Korean national security advisor, Chung Eui-yong, stood on the front lawn of the White House and announced that after briefing President Trump on his recent visit to North Korea, the American president had agreed to meet with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, in an effort to achieve an agreement on the denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Shortly afterwards, the White House press secretary issued a statement confirming that the president had agreed to a face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong Un “at a place and time to be determined” (Horsely and Hu, 2018). Trump himself followed up with a tweet the next day claiming that great progress was being made and that meeting planning was underway (Idem).

The announcement took the world by storm. Never before had a sitting American president and a North Korean leader held a face-to-face meeting – they had not even shared so much as a phone call (Fifield, Nakamura, and Kim, 2018). The revelation was even more remarkable considering the mounting tension between both countries over the previous two years. In fact, in an interview with CBS during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump vowed that he “would get China to make that guy [Kim Jong Un] disappear in one form or another very quickly” (cited in Johnson, 2016).1 Upon arriving in the White House, Trump promptly requested that the Pentagon develop plans...

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