Embracing the Maverick: The Evolution of President Donald Trump’s Management of Foreign Policy-Making

Luis da Vinha, Anthony Dutton

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Abstract

Research on the American presidency reveals that all presidential advisory systems follow a similar pattern of change over time from standard, formal interagency structures to informal structures in which decisions are made outside the traditional interagency processes. We employ a longitudinal comparative case design to analyze the dynamics of the Trump administration’s foreign policy-making to explain how Trump’s management of foreign policy decision-making evolved over his tenure in office. By using a focused-structured comparison to analyze five foreign policy case studies, we argue that Trump confirms the main tenets of the evolution model of presidential policy-making which claims that, over time, presidents increasingly rely on informal and ad hoc decision-making structures and processes. However, rather than adopt structures and processes that assured a broad deliberation of options, Trump increasingly sought information and policy options that confirmed his pre-existing beliefs or preferences, replacing individuals in his administration who challenged his views and consolidating the decades-long trend of the personalization of foreign policy decision-making in the hands of the president.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-35
Number of pages32
JournalCentral European Journal of International and Security Studies
Volume16
Issue number1
Early online date18 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Foreign policy
  • Foreign policy analysis
  • Donald Trump
  • Decision making
  • US Politics
  • advisory systems
  • Presidential management

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