Politics

Study Notes

Unit 4 Essay Advice: "In foreign policy, Congress is now a by-stander. Assess the validity of this claim"

Level:
A Level
Board:
AQA, Edexcel, OCR

This Study Note takes a look at the key terms and examples you could use if you answered a question about the role of Congress in US foreign policy.

Start by making sure you can explain the following terms:

  • Article I of the Constitution
  • War Clause
  • War Powers Act
  • Defunding
  • Ratification of Treaties
  • Executive Orders
  • Foreign Police Agenda
  • Executive Agreements
  • Article II of the Constitution
  • Commander in Chief
  • Ebb and Flows
  • Congressional Authority
  • Executive Authority
  • US Constitution
  • Imperial Presidency
  • Police Action

Contemporary Examples

Congress is a bystander in foreign policy:

  1. In the 1990s, President Bush amassed the military force of ½ a million in Saudi Arabia before seeking Congressional authorisation for the First Gulf War, thus forcing the hand of Congress
  2. In 1999, President Clinton authorised the bombing of Kosovo despite the opposition of Congress under the War Powers Act.
  3. In 2002, George W Bush timed the vote to authorise the invasion of Iraq, during an election campaign in which the main argument was that Democrats were weak on National Security, thus forcing their hand into voting for it.

Congress is not a bystander in foreign policy:

  1. Congressional leaders seek to operate foreign policy as Nancy Pelosi did with her visit to Syria in 2007. This could be at odds with the President’s agenda.
  2. In 1999 the US Senate refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in a defeat for President Clinton
  3. Congress passed an appropriations bill in 1973, which defunded the Vietnam War, thus forcing to Nixon to call of the War in Southeast Asia

Historical Examples

Congress is a bystander in foreign policy:

  1. In 1950, President Truman committed US military force to the Korean War without seeking Congressional Approval under the pretext of a police action
  2. In 1963, President Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in order to increase the US military involvement in the Vietnam War.

Congress is not a bystander in foreign policy:

  1. In 1919 the US Senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles or Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points. Thus the US never joined the League of Nations.
  2. In response to the Vietnam War, Congress passed the War Powers Act 1973 which limits the power of the President to commit US military forces to a warzone without the approval of Congress

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