Barack Obama : a new precedent in foreign policy?

Coetzee, Andre Francois (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2011-03)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis aims to measure President Barack Obama’s level of presidential agency in foreign policy, in order to determine whether he will be able to achieve his ambitious goal of renewing US leadership in foreign affairs. To do so, this thesis will make use of a two-level analysis: The primary level of analysis will focus on the office of the president, and the constitutionally determined formal powers it confers on the president. It will also study the constraints placed on the president by the powers conferred on other branches of government, as well as the institutional and societal context in which the president must function. The second level of analysis will focus on the president as an individual, and the role that a number of personality traits and informal powers play in presidential agency. The central hypothesis of this thesis is that while all presidents are exposed to roughly the same set of institutional constraints, an individual president’s level of agency depends on their utilisation of a number of informal powers. In order to measure this hypothesis, a five-point framework will be developed by abstracting from the existing literature on informal powers. This framework will consist of five criteria believed to be a prerequisite for a high degree of presidential agency: (1) a favourable disposition to foreign affairs; (2) the ability to provide strong leadership in policy formulation; (3) a command over Pennsylvania Avenue politics; (4) the utilisation of the role of public opinion maker; (5) and the utilisation of the role of global statesmen. While Obama will be shown to do well against the framework, his lack of tangible accomplishments will be shown to stem from the magnitude of the challenges he faces; the larger foreign policy context in which he came to office; and the deep-seated distrust of the motives underlying US foreign policy in certain regions. Furthermore, the time constraints he faces, and the impact of the election cycle, will be identified as a limit to the pace of implementation and the extent of the changes he is able to make.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie tesis is om President Barack Obama se vlak van presidensiële agentskap in buitelandse beleid te meet om te bepaal of hy sy ambisieuse doelwit om die VSA se leierskap in buitelandse sake te hernu, sal bereik. ’n Tweevlakkige analise sal vir hierdie doel aangewend word. Die analise sal op ’n primêre vlak fokus op die president as ampsdraer, en die formele magte wat deur die grondwet aan hom toegeken word. Dit sal ook die beperkinge wat op die president geplaas word as gevolg van die magte wat aan die ander takke van die regering toegeken word, bestudeer. Verder sal die institusionele en maatskaplike konteks waarin die president moet fuksioneer in ag geneem word. Die tweede vlak van analise sal op die president as individu fokus, en die rol wat sekere informele magte en persoonlikheidseienskappe in presidensiële agentskap speel. Die sentrale hipotese van hierdie tesis, is dat alhoewel alle presidente deur dieselfde institusionele beperkinge geaffekteer word, ’n spesifieke president se vlak van agentskap afhang van sy gebruik van informele magte. Hierdie hipotese sal gemeet woord deur ’n vyfpuntraamwerk te ontwikkel wat gebruik maak van die bestaande literatuur op presidensiële agentskap. Dié raamwerk bestaan uit vyf kriteria wat benodig word om ’n hoë vlak van agentskap te handhaaf: (1) ’n positiewe gesindheid teenoor buitelandse sake; (2) die vermoë om sterk leierskap in die beleidsformuleringsproses uit te oefen; (3) meesterskap oor Pennsyvanie Avenue politiek; (4) die gebruik van die rol van openbare ’n opinie maker; (5) en die gebruik van die rol van ’n globale staatsman. Die tesis sal wys dat alhoewel Obama suksesvol is wanneer hy teen die raamwerk gemeet word, sy tekort aan prestasies toegeskryf kan word aan die omvang van die probleme wat hy moet oplos; die groter buitelandse konteks waarin hy verkies is; en die wantroue in die VSA se onderliggende motiewe in sekere streke. Verder sal die tydsbeperkinge op sy presidentskap en die impak van die verkiesingsiklus geïdentifiseer word as ’n bepreking op die spoed waarteen hy veranderinge kan implementeer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6819
This item appears in the following collections: