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America's Foreign Policy Toolkit

America's Foreign Policy Toolkit
Key Institutions and Processes

October 2012 | 408 pages | CQ Press
How is foreign policy in the United States really crafted? Who does the work? How are the various activites of the many key participants coordinated and controlled? In America's Foreign Policy Toolkit: Key Institutions and Processes, Charles A. Stevenson identifies for students what the key foreign policy tools are, clarifies which tools are best for which tasks, describes the factors that constrain or push how they're used, and provides fresh insight into the myriad challenges facing national security decisionmakers. Written in an engaging style with case examples drawn from "behind the scenes," Stevenson brings depth and dimension to the sophisticated pathways and instruments of American foreign policy, from the State Department to the intelligence agencies to the Commerce Department and beyond.
In this brief text for American foreign policy and national security courses, Stevenson focuses on the institutions and processes of foreign policy, beginning with a look at the historical context and then looking in turn at the tools available to the president, congress, and the shared budgetary tools. The following part, "Using the Tools," looks at the diplomatic, economic, military, intelligence, homeland security, and international institutions instruments. Stevenson concludes with chapters that consider the important constraints and limitation of the U.S. toolkit. Each chapter ends with a case study that allows readers to connect the theory of the toolkit with the realities of decisionmaking.

Highlights of the text's coverage include:
  • A sustained analysis of the U.S. Constitution as a response to security threats in the 1780s, providing a strong historical foundation on and springboard for discussion of this basic document in terms of national security powers;
  • Comprehensive coverage of the congressional role overseeing all other policy instruments, showing Congress as an active player in all aspects of foreign policy;
  • Analysis of the full spectrum of agencies and activities involved in foreign economic policy, covering the numerous organizations involved in foreign economic policy, the weak coordinating mechanisms, and the various processes (sanctions, trade, foreign assistance, direct investment) used as policy tools;
  • A consistent framework for analyzing each instrument (authorities, capabilities, personnel, culture, internal factions, and the role of Congress), which makes comparative analyses of U.S. institutions simple and direct;
  • An illuminating overview of the budget process through both the executive and legislative branches, acknowledging the budget process as a shared policy tool, with conflict and feedback, rather than as a linear process;
  • A discussion of homeland security instruments and international organizations used as policy tools, highlighting the relevance of these new and often overlooked instruments; and
  • A survey of recommendations for reform and the difficulties involved, providing possible explanations of foreign policy failures and alternative organizations and processes.

This must-have text for courses on American foreign policy will be a crucial reference that students will keep on the shelf long after the last class.

Tables, Figures, and Boxes
1. The Framer’s Design
2. Following the Blueprint
3. The President’s Toolkit
4. Congress’s Toolkit
5. Shared Tools of the Budgetary Process
6. The Diplomatic Instrument
7. The Economic Instruments
8. The Military Instrument
9. The Secret Intelligence Instruments
10. The Homeland Security Instruments
11. The International Institutions Instrument
12. Elephants in the Workshop
13. Missing Tools

"At last! A text on the institutions and processes the United States uses to make foreign policy - accessible, clear, and complete. Stevenson focuses on what’s missing in the literature: how the organizations work, what they are like, and how they can be improved, illustrating how the policy sausage gets created and implemented by the world’s most powerful nation. America’s Foreign Policy Toolkit is essential reading for students, faculty, and anyone interested in working in the foreign policy arena."

Gordon Adams
School of International Service, American University

Voters, pundits, and even officials who should know better would waste fewer words in naive recommendations for foreign policy if they really understood how the complex institutional process of decision and implementation creates, blocks, confuses, and channels possibilities. Yet there is remarkably little first-rate literature that explores these mysteries clearly and comprehensively. Charles Stevenson, drawing on an uncommonly appropriate mix of direct professional experience and analytical incisiveness, fills this gap admirably. America’s Foreign Policy Toolkit manages to be thorough, engaging, reliable, and wise all at once. No other work on this subject can boast such a high level combination of educational virtues."

Richard K. Betts
Director, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University

"America’s Foreign Policy Toolkit is innovative, practical, and written with incredible clarity, making it a most useful resource for practitioners and undergraduates alike. Stevenson goes beyond the mere theoretical framework of foreign policy decision-making to elucidate the basis of how decisions are made, taking the narrative to the next step - how those decision-makers actually carry out their policies."

Gary Donato
Bentley University

It is amazing book on America's Foreign Policy. It is beneficial for the students who would like to have detailed analysis on foreign policy.

Dr Bekir Cinar
Politics and International Politics, Epoka University
April 28, 2015

Unlike other textbooks in American foreign policy, Stevenson gives us fascinating and comprehensive view of American foreign policy decision-making and implementation. Not only does he picture how foreign policy is framed, controlled or even shared by two key institutions, the President and the Congress. He also elucidates how foreign policy is implemented and can be achieved by examing the nature and process of various kinds of intruments. This book is one of the most recommended materials for those who are interested in American foriegn policy.

Dr Wuttikorn Chuwattananurak
Political Science , Naresuan University
May 27, 2013

not suitable for course

Dr Stefano Recchia
Department of Politics, Cambridge University
December 17, 2012
Key features
  • A consistent framework for analyzing each foreign policy instrument (authorities, capabilities, personnel, culture, internal factions, and role of Congress) makes comparative analyses of U.S. institutions simple and direct;
  • A Toolkit Brief feature table on the president, Congress, and budget process serves as a quick reference to the primary tools—including people, processes, and actions—available as resources in foreign policymaking, and the advantages and disadvantages of their use;.
  • An Instrument Brief feature table on the diplomatic, economic, military, intelligence, homeland security, and international organizations instruments identifies who is involved and how policy may be carried out using the instrument in question, noting the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as what role Congress might play;
  • Case studies in most chapters allow readers to connect the theory of the toolkit with real-world examples focused primarily on post Cold War events from 1993 to the present, such as the building the Gulf War coalition in 1990, the U.S.-Mexican collaboration on security, and President Obama's review of Afghanistan policy;
  • The Who Makes Foreign Policy feature box spotlights key leaders of foreign policy-making institutions, emphasizing the people involved in the process;
  • The How Foreign Policy is Made feature box highlights key activities that often happen behind the scenes, providing a look behind those closed doors;
  • The Inside View feature box contains quotes from practitioners who know these foreign policy tools intimately; and
  • Tables, figures, and organizational charts highlight the growth and changes in U.S. foreign policy instruments and resources over time.

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