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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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Section 1 President George W. Bush

Extract

Section I President George W. Bush

President George W. Bush

Expectations were high for George W. Bush when he announced his presidential bid in June 1999. His experience as a corporate CEO and as the Governor of Texas had cemented the view among many that he was a highly competent and accomplished leader. This reputation led some to call him the CEO president (Suskind, 2004). In a similar vein, early in his tenure, the professor of public management Donald Kettl (2003: 2) argued that Bush was “the very model of a modern MBA president.” On the heels of the 2002 midterm elections, authors Carolyn Thompson and Jim Ware (2003: 1) claimed he was a “brilliant leader.” The alleged key to Bush’s success was his leadership style, which Kettl summarized:

Bush has carefully honed a style, based on building an effective team, to make strong decisions. He doesn’t try to master the complexities of decisions. Rather, he builds a team, he makes them master the complexities, he has them frame the issues – and then he decides, firmly and without second thoughts. (Kettl, 2003: 1)

This assessment was consistent with Bush’s own philosophy about leadership. As he acknowledged in the run up to his 2000 presidential campaign, “my job is to set the agenda and framework, to lay out the principles by which we operate and make decisions, and then delegate much of the process to [my staff]” (Bush, 1999: 104). However, despite the...

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