Wednesday, August 11, 2010

domestic politics and foreign policy

I want to share some comments by other bloggers trying to explain or understand how domestic political considerations affect a nation's foreign policy. Dan Drezner notes how poorly many foreign policy analysts do in integrating domestic political factors. The particular U.S. example he cites, however, raises a different point for me.

Yes, some pro-Israeli members of Congress want to withhold some previously appropriated military aid funds for Lebanon. The article suggests that the lawmakers have no legal basis for their action but that the State Department usually honors such requests. I don't know the particulars in this instance, but most foreign aid funds require notification of congressional committees in advance of disbursal, and in some cases existing rules require formal consent.

Whether or not aid to Lebanon right now is a good idea, Congress really needs to make a thorough revision of the basic foreign aid law. And in doing that, it really ought to codify and make clear the process for notification and approval of expenditures. Domestic political factors can never be excluded from U.S. foreign policy deliberations, but they can be channeled into regular and transparent venues and processes.

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