The idea of people’s influence on foreign policy decisions creates several heated discussions. Primarily, due to the constant polar opposite shifts in views, depending on the current situation and whether it required unity with the public or a stronger focus on the President, bureaucracies, and Congress. In the following text, I plan to express my opinion on whether the public, social movements, and interest groups should follow or lead foreign policy decisions.
When it comes to the public, they should have a neutral influence on the decisions. Undeniably, their opinions will be rather helpful for intelligence agencies to assess a certain situation from a civil point of view. However, the public may sometimes lack the necessary context or information that may be required to better understand a specific foreign conflict between the US and another country.
Interest groups and social movements, on the other hand, may be more suitable in this situation, as their input will most likely consider the crucial advantages, disadvantages, and underlying factors. Conflict and competition between bureaucracies may be damaging to proper foreign policy decisions, which is why groups and movements with suitable knowledge may be important for offering better choices, otherwise, the President may be given the wrong advice.
It is important to note, however, that depending on the nature of the situation, the interaction between Congress and the President varies. For example, the Vietnam War weakened the cooperation between the two by making the former more assertive. Meanwhile, 9/11 has caused the exact opposite of the aforementioned situation. What makes the complexity of the public’s influence on foreign policy more severe is that Congress not only has a great influence on foreign policy laws, they have the right to declare war.
The aforementioned factor emphasizes that foreign policy requires unbiased and knowledgeable opinions to lead them. By allowing interest groups and social movements related to a specific issue to influence foreign policy, it is more likely to either prevent poor decisions on the matter or offer a more nuanced viewpoint. As mentioned earlier, conflict and competition between bureaucracies may lead to incorrect or harmful decisions, which further proves the need to consider the viewpoint of social movements and interest groups.