As the chief diplomat of the United States, the president is the dominant force in foreign policy making. The explicit powers of the president that are granted by the Constitution – “chief executive, head of state, Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy” – are all associated with foreign affairs and policy making in different degree (330). The president has the highest power in this nation compared to any other individual citizen.
While Congress does play a rather significant role and does use its powers to assert its role in this area, the president still remains as the stronger force. I believe it is important for Congress to play an important on foreign policy making in order to prevent the abuse of presidential power which may cause serious problems for the nation. The powers of the president should be discussed in the first place. As I mentioned earlier, the president of the United States plays a multitude of roles and holds the executive power of the three branches of the government.
According to the Constitution, the president is the “chief executive, head of state as well as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy” (330). With the powers of the role as the chief executive, the president can appoint people to policy-making positions who are likely to agree with his or her political decisions. Even though the appointments by presidents all need to receive confirmation from Senate, only 1% of them is being precisely reviewed (330). In this case, the president will certainly have more support when it comes to a policy-making decision in general.
What I will focus on the most among the roles the president plays is that he or she is the head of state which means that the president represents the entire nation and its citizens (334). Such role of the president almost guarantees that from a foreign point of view, the nation’s representative is this one person who handles a variety of diplomatic functions. As the Constitution granted the president the powers of negotiating treaties with other countries, selecting ambassadors and accepting foreign ambassadors, such powers also make the president the chief diplomat of the country (335).
Even though the treaties require a two-thirds approval from the Senate before it can take effect, the president’s role in foreign policy-making is still dominant because he or she can end a treaty without getting any approvals from the Senate. For example, President George W. Bush ended the ABM treaty in 2001 without getting any interference from the Senate (335). Furthermore, the president handles diplomatic matters at summit conferences with leaders of foreign governments and have discussions about international trades, military issues, etc.
And they could possibly come to an agreement on the issue without making it a treaty which the president’s role even more influential in foreign policy-making (335). The acknowledgment on foreign ambassadors is another crucial responsibility of the president in terms of foreign policy-making, the president makes statement that if the United States recognize the foreign government’s power by accepting or refusing to “receive” its ambassadors. For example, the United States recognized the legitimacy of Soviet Union government until 1933 (336).
Without doubt, role of being the chief diplomat has made the president the dominant force in foreign policy-making. Another role that strengthens the president’s power in dealing with foreign affairs is that the president is also “commander in chief of the Army and Navy” as stated in the Constitution (337). Even though the president does not have the power to declare war and the commanding power is limited to “Army and Navy”, the powers that he or she usually expand during wartimes. For example, President Lincoln and President Roosevelt have both expanded the power as commander in chief during wars (337).
After the 9/11 attack, President George W. Bush declared that because he was the commander in chief, he had the power to make war and take any action that seemed fit to him in order to protect the citizens of the United States (338). The extreme claims of powers by Bush posed a potential threat to the system of balanced powers, however, it also shows how largely the position of commander in chief empowers the president in the area of foreign affairs. On the other hand, the Constitution granted different powers to the Congress that are associated with foreign policy-making to ensure the separation of powers is in place.
Many powers that Congress has effect foreign policy-making, such as declaring war, raising funds for the military and regulating commerce with other governments (301). The mandatory approval on the ratification of treaties from the Senate also makes Congress more influential in the area of foreign policy-making as well (335). With all these powers provided to Congress by the Constitution, the Founders of the United States were intended to ensure that Congress would be able to perform as a supervisor over the executive branch so the equality of the three branches can be protected.