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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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9. The Syrian “Red Line” Redux


9 The Syrian “Red Line” Redux

Just a few months after the Obama administration secured the Russian and Syrian governments’ agreement for the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, reports surfaced that the Assad regime might have avoided full compliance with its terms. Despite the OPCW’s confirmation that the Assad regime’s chemical weapons had been removed, in August 2014 John Kerry indicated that there were still discrepancies concerning Syria’s official declarations on its chemical weapons program (Rappeport, 2014). The following month, the head of the UN’s mission overseeing the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, Sigrid Kaag, also raised concerns regarding these inconsistencies. In her briefing to the UN Security Council, Kaag confirmed that 96 percent of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile had effectively been destroyed. However, she did note that questions remained as to whether Syria had indeed accounted for all of its arsenals (Gladstone, 2014). American officials seized on Kaag’s remarks to compel Syria to comply with its international commitments. The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, urged the international community to continue pressuring Syria to resolve existing discrepancies and omissions in its declarations of its chemical weapons program. Besides highlighting Syria’s history of misrepresentation of its use of these chemical weapons, Power also emphasized the potential dangers resulting from a possible ISIS seizure of Syria’s undeclared arsenal (Idem).

In the ensuing months accounts surfaced of multiple attacks employing chemical agents throughout Syria (Barnard and Gordon, 2017). In late 2016, over 90 people were...

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