While each of the dominant theories of International Relations offers segmented contributions to contemporary foreign policy analysis – and consequently contradictory prescriptions for US-China policy – none of them simultaneously encapsulate the overarching historical trends in US foreign policy-making and the contemporary dynamics of foreign policy construction. This thesis, therefore, offers a historical account of the trends and traditions of US foreign policy through the lens of grand strategy; and follows this with an in-depth analysis of the post-Cold War era and the forces that seek to exert influence over the decision- and policy-making process. This aspect of the thesis concentrates on the three main sectors that battle for and claim policy-making dominance: the media; special interests and lobbies; and the executive branch itself. A proper understanding of how these three sectors interact is essential for understanding any underlying construction of US foreign policy, and in particular the struggle to marshal a contemporary grand strategy for China.\ud \ud From the Federalist Papers, to “Hearst’s War” in 1898, to the CNN Effect and controversies over press coverage of the Iraq War, the media has been an ever-present actor in US foreign relations; and yet its actual level of influence is difficult to ascertain. Like the media, the role of special interests has been a constant in US foreign policy and politics as a whole. Far from being the ‘conspiracy’ of popular imagination, lobbies and special interests have, at times, helped guide foreign policy – because they advocate popular policy positions, or because they are able to exploit disengaged policy elites. A final chapter analyses the importance of the president and other executive offices in the making of policy, building on the previous two chapters to present the case for an engaged president. Each of these chapters uses the problem of developing a grand strategy for China to examine and define a pluralist approach to contemporary US foreign policy-making. This study will conclude by locating the Obama administration’s early foreign policies and international experiences – again focusing on China – within this framework, and offer suggestions for how future policy issues could be surmounted through proper process
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