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Major Influences That Have Shaped Foreign Policy in the USA

This question has been the subject of many studies, related to American politics, and has given rise to many debates within the realms of international relations. The question in the arena of international relations relates to the general attributes of the so-called ‘domestic roots’ that help to shape US foreign policies. the democratic aspects in the behavior of US towards other countries, globally. and whether its national concerns and interests aid in shaping its foreign policies. By seeking an answer to the basic question as to which of these factors actually influence the US government officials the most, would help the reader to understand the determinants of the country’s foreign policies. In this context, we will first examine the 3 main factors considered to have a strong influence in the shaping of US foreign policies.Theories on the nature of the influence of public opinion: Median voter theory contends that the voter preferences for any government policy have a strong influence on the state officials, as these preferences often turn out to be the deciding factor during the electoral results. Various researches and the subsequent empirical shreds of evidence from these studies have shown signs of a strong public influence on the shaping of foreign policies (Hartley and Russett, 1992. Sobel, 2001). Quantitative analyses by Page and Shapiro in 1983, have shown that as many as 62 % of U.S. foreign policies have changed as per the public preferences (182). while Monroe in 1998 showed in his studies that that public support for increased military funds, from the various districts, was the real reason behind the Congress support for the military spending bills under the Presidency of Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). This growing number of evidences of strong influence of public support in shaping US foreign and defence strategies, and international relations (Putnam, 1988, 432-436), was aptly summed by Nincic when he commented that all US foreign policies and defense strategies were tethered to domestic electoral calculations, especially during the time of the elections (1990, 395).

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