Term paper help: Theories of Foreign Policy Decision

The situation of national crisis is a factor that enhances leader’s control over foreign policy events. Decision making process during crisis is often centralized and accomplish by the top leaders. Leaders can experience poor access to necessary information. Critical situation makes leaders to feel responsible for the outcomes of their decisions. Going back into history reveals that great and effective leaders emerged in the periods of crisis (Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt). Critical circumstances can free leaders from constrains which will affect his/her capacity to make decisions and to design foreign policy change. We can give a number of examples of various leaders who emerged in different periods under various circumstances and played the crucial role in shaping historical events. Kegley and Blanton (2010-2011) suggest Mikhail Gorbachev as a bright example of such leader. He was the initiator of bringing the Cold War to an end; he changed the Communist Party rule in Moscow into a path toward democracy and free enterprise. He may be considered to be a revolutionary leader. We have mentioned that the history-making individuals model is worth our attention. However, we should note that leaders are not the superior determinants of state strategy in foreign policy making. Their individual influence depends on the context, and often it happens that the circumstances or the environment appears to be more influential than leaders themselves. Leaders are often opposed to the so called ‘spirit of time’. The problem remains unsolved and we can not say for sure whether certain historical periods contribute into great leaders’ emergence or whether famous personalities affect the period of time and the place where they live. The history-making individuals model is a simple explanation of how great leaders react to global challenges. Recent political studies tell us that the same alternative tend to be perceived by different leaders in a distinct way.

Here we will consider the example of Richard Nixon. In 1971, Americans occupied the streets outside the White House to show their protest to the immorality of Nixon’s massive bombing of Vietnam. His reaction to this demonstration was protecting himself from the people’s protests. He was not successful, though. Nixon tried to complain that “nobody can know what it means for a president to be sitting in that White House working late at night and to have hundreds of thousands of demonstrators charging through the streets. Not even earplugs could block the noise” (Kegley and Blanton, 2010-2011, p. 213). In 1962, John F. Kennedy experienced the same situation of protest. American citizens came to the walls of the White House for a “Ban the Bomb” demonstration. Kennedy’s reaction was sending out urns of coffee and doughnuts and inviting the leaders of the protest to come inside to claim their demands. He believed that a democracy encourages disputed and debate. Nixon perceived protesters as a threat to his authority and power while Kennedy found an opportunity in their actions.

These examples reveal that the character of leader can make a difference in determining the decisions to be made in response to situations that repeat each other. The most important question related to the situation was whether each president managed to change his policy decisions in the light of the protests. Although Kennedy was open to protesters, he did not change his deciding; in fact he increased state military expenses afterwards. Many people could protest that it was in Kennedy’s power alone to elimi¬nate nuclear weapons but that the ‘spirit of time’ dominated as there was a constant threat from the Soviet Union and intense problem of national security. In 1971 the protesters were more successful, although they were not able to persuade Nixon to change his policies in Vietnam and globalize their protest against and discontentment with the war. Still they persuaded Nixon to end American’s participation in Vietnam War. These examples show us that even great leaders are influence by the environment and the spirit of times, other larger forces that affect international relations at particular periods of time should be taken into consideration as well.

David Winter (2003) as cited in Mintz and DeRouen (2010) defines personality as the “individuality patterned integration of process of perception, memory, judgment, goal-seeking, and emotional expression and regulation” (p. 114). Leader’s personality is the key to understanding why different leaders make individual decisions facing the same circumstances. Winter (2003) as cited in Mintz and DeRouen (2010) states that leader’s personality affect the way the preferences are ranked and how actors react to symbols and cues. He also emphasizes that personal characteristics of leader will shape the way he deals with emotions. Social factors contribute into leader’s decision making style as well. Here we should mention gender, class, ethnicity, generation, cultural background and race. Ronald Reagan can be an example of a leader low in conceptual complexity but he had strong national ideas and was sure in his ability to control the situation. These peculiarities affected his decision making.

To summarize the information about history-making individuals model of decision making we should not that his model examines great leaders styles of decision making.

Stalin, Mussolini, Churchill, FDR, de Gaulle and Hitler can be seen as people who influenced the course of historical events. We should note that leaders who govern the states can be examined in relation to his model of decision making., for example, Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein, tony Blair etc. considering this model of decision making we should note the factors which can influence great leaders’ decision making process as well their personal characteristics.

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