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Political Science Security (national & International)

National Security Entrepreneurs and the Making of American Foreign Policy

by (author) Vincent Boucher, Charles-Philippe David & Karine Prémont

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2020
Security (National & International)
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    Publish Date
    Nov 2020
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    Publish Date
    Nov 2020
    List Price

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Since the advent of the contemporary US national security apparatus in 1947, entrepreneurial public officials have tried to reorient the course of the nation's foreign policy. Acting inside the National Security Council system, some principals and high-ranking officials have worked tirelessly to generate policy change and innovation on the issues they care about. These entrepreneurs attempt to set the foreign policy agenda, frame policy problems and solutions, and orient the decision-making process to convince the president and other decision makers to choose the course they advocate. In National Security Entrepreneurs and the Making of American Foreign Policy Vincent Boucher, Charles-Philippe David, and Karine Prémont develop a new concept to study entrepreneurial behaviour among foreign policy advisers and offer the first comprehensive framework of analysis to answer this crucial question: why do some entrepreneurs succeed in guaranteeing the adoption of novel policies while others fail? They explore case studies of attempts to reorient US foreign policy waged by National Security Council entrepreneurs, examining the key factors enabling success and the main forces preventing the adoption of a preferred option: the entrepreneur's profile, presidential leadership, major players involved in the policy formulation and decision-making processes, the national political context, and the presence or absence of significant opportunities. By carefully analyzing significant diplomatic and military decisions of the Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton administrations, and offering a preliminary account of contemporary national security entrepreneurship under presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, this book makes the case for an agent-based explanation of foreign policy change and continuity.

About the authors

Vincent Boucher is a PhD candidate in Political Science and a research fellow at the Centre for United States Studies at the Raoul-Dandurand Chair of Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, Université du Québec à Montréal.

Vincent Boucher's profile page

Charles-Philippe David is full professor of political science, president of the Centre for United States Studies, and founder of the Raoul Dandurand Chair of Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Charles-Philippe David's profile page

Karine Prémont is professor in the School of Applied Politics at the Université de Sherbrooke and deputy director of the Centre for United States Studies at the l'Université du Québec at Montréal.

Karine Prémont's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"National Security Entrepreneurs and the Making of American Foreign Policy is head and shoulders above most of the political science literature on these issues. This book captures the drama and human element in each case study, even as it sticks within the framework of the analysis – that's difficult to do, but the authors do it well. This will be an important work in the field of foreign policy analysis." William Newmann, Virginia Commonwealth University

"In a welcome new volume, Vincent Boucher, Charles-Philippe David, and Karine Premont enrich and extend the literature on foreign policy change by examining the efforts of National Security Council entrepreneurs to change the direction of US foreign policies. The authors' sweeping analysis from the Johnson through Trump administrations explains why some efforts succeed while others fail. Their analytical model of National Security Council entrepreneurship opens new opportunities for foreign policy research and understanding." Ralph G. Carter, Texas Christian University

"National Security Entrepreneurs and the Making of American Foreign Policy breaks important new ground in providing a comprehensive assessment of factors that affect the ability of senior government officials to generate foreign policy shifts. Through rich case studies and insightful analysis, Boucher, David, and Prémont show that successful entrepreneurs rely on both windows of opportunity and effective strategies of bureaucratic manoeuvring to move foreign policy in new directions." Jordan Tama, American University

"American foreign policy making remains a human enterprise, one that reflects all the strengths and weaknesses of the people who take part in the process. In National Security Entrepreneurs and the Making of American Foreign Policy, Boucher, David, and Prémont introduce us to some of the entrepreneurs who have shaped American statecraft for good and ill. It is a welcome, needed, and readable addition to the literature." John A. Gans, University of Pennsylvania and author of White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War

"Most studies of American foreign policy at the individual level focus on the president. Boucher, David, and Prémont very usefully direct our attention to the bureaucratic entrepreneurs in the National Security Council who try to drive change in the policy-making process, not always successfully and not always with positive results. This is a real contribution to our understanding of how American foreign policy is made." F. Gregory Gause III, Bush School of Government, Texas A&M University