The United States has undoubtedly shaped its national security policies on issues presented in the global stage. Global factors are commonly examined to determine how U.S. national security policies are affected. By themselves, these factors are inadequate in explaining the direction that these multifaceted national security policies will take. Determining the direction of United States’ national security policies involves not only global factors, but domestic factors as well. This paper will examine the effects domestic factors have on the shaping of national security policies. First, it will use various arguments from a select number of previous literature to examine how domestic institutional structures, public opinion, budget politics, and leadership traits play a role in these policies. Next, it will use these arguments to in the context of American politics by presenting several examples found domestically. Lastly, this paper will examine these domestic factors to illustrate how it has misaligned U.S. security policy from actual security threats.
The contours of the American government plays a large role in determining national security policy. Bueno de Mesquita and Smith (2012) discusses domestic international structures as the spectrum between inclusivity and exclusivity of governance and the extent to which the government is held accountable and transparent or personalist and opaque. They argue that these two structures determine the extent to which national security policy can be swayed. Governments that are more accountable to its constituency would be more cognizant of the direction its national security policies take.
Powell’s (1993) guns-and-butter model reflects the degree to which public opinion has an effect over the resources that goes into national defense. Thus, by constraining the resources that goes into these policies, the direction it takes will also be limited. In addition to public opinion, budget processes also play a key role in determining policies in that it can also affect the amount of resources that goes into implementing them.
Farnham (2004) argues against the rational actor decision making model which states that policy-makers (namely, national security policy-makers) are both rational and the same in nature. Drawn from the realist school of thought, it presents the leadership of a state as a unitary actor. The leadership must take into account both domestic and global factors in determining their national security policy. Farnham claims that leaders who are in such roles are unlikely to determine effective policy outcomes. Additionally, matters of faith and mass media have also been taken into account to affect the direction of national security policies (Baum and Potter 2008; Taydas, Kentmen and Olson 2012).
Domestic Institutional Structures
The domestic political system of the United States opens it up to inclusivity as it has many different groups involved in making national security policy. ...