Faculty of Social Studies
Department of International Relations and European Studies
Brno 2013 Aaron T. Walter
Faculty of Social Studies
Department of International Relations and European Studies
Aaron T. Walter
American Foreign Policy: Special And Strategic Relations with Israel
Supervisor: prof. PhDr. Břetislav Dančák, Ph.D.
I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently, using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.
In Brno, 31.8.2013 Aaron T. Walter
Table of Contents
1.2 Research Question…………………………………………………………….9
1.4 Time and space………………………………………………………………..15
1.5 Literature Review……………………………………………………………...16
1.6 Theory & Methodology………………………………………………………..21
2. Theoretical framework………………………………………………………36
2.1. Neoclassical Realism and United States foreign policy…………………...38
2.2. Theoretical construction……………………………………………………….57
2.3. Research Foundations: Historical Perspective……………………………..63
3. The foreign policy of the United States presidents toward the State of Israel…………………………………………………………………………………...78
3.1. Ronald Reagan………………………………………………………………..79
Constraints: Bureaucratic and political……………………………………………..99
3.2. George Bush…………………………………………………………………111
Constraints: Bureaucratic and political……………………………………………123
3.3. Bill Clinton……………………………………………………………………127
Constraints: Bureaucratic and political……………………………………………137
4. Case Study: Israeli-Palestinian peace process………………………..143
The aim of my dissertation is to investigate the United States foreign policy toward the State of Israel. Within this topic I wish to clarify the quality of relations between these two nation-states under Republican and Democrat presidents. Furthermore, I intend to incorporate the relevance of the type of those relationships either ‘special’ or ‘strategic’ and ideological preference. It is from this that I will pursue an investigation on whether the personality of the occupants of the executive branch has any relevance to said quality of relations, i.e. Ronald Reagan had a better relationship with Israel than Bill Clinton. While ideology will be a component of my analysis it will not be the central determinant. Instead, the hypothesis is that Neoclassical realism (NCR) best explains how Republican and Democratic administrations pursued an approach to foreign relations with Israel that was strategic and special.
Theories of international politics, such as neoclassical realism are utilized to assist in understanding and predicting the external behavior of large states and great powers like the United States as it influences friends and foes.
It is important to understand the significance of NCR by following previous theory. Neorealism states are the primary actors in international relations and act based on calculations of the balance of power.1 The balance of power and states’ behavior based on their assessment of it “is mainly influenced by their external environment, not by their internal characteristics.”2
However, these theories do not explain why “a state chooses bad or foolish foreign policies.”3 Furthermore, these theories do not explain why the United States often pursues suboptimal policies with regard to some states. Suboptimal, is understood as policies designed to address certain security concerns about the part of the U.S., but by their very nature are an inefficient response to a threat or ignore potential changes in the balance of power.
Therefore, while it is domestic-political approaches that may best explain foreign policy choices, especially choices that are suboptimal, and how failed policies achieve path dependence,4 theories of foreign policy and decision-making are best to explain individual U.S. policies from specific U.S administrations. This in turn opens the “black box” of the state offers more explanatory power than systematic theories. In short, a theory of foreign policy helps explain the goals, strategies, and preferences of individual states.
Rosenau5 investigated the main drivers in foreign policy making through a theoretical framework that divided foreign policy making into five parts: (1) the systemic factor of the international system (2) the state’s internal environment (3) the structure of the government (4) the bureaucratic roles within the government and (5) the personalities and characteristics of individual decision-makers. Furthermore, Rosenau is clear in asserting that influential forces may be analyzed as independent variables that in turn contribute individually or collectively to the dependent variable, otherwise known as foreign policy.
An analysis of foreign policy making supports “the systemic factor of the international that foreign policy making does not occur in a vacuum but instead that the state must include and react to incidents happening anywhere else in the international political arena.”6 There is also an allusion to the distribution of power within “the internal political arena and that it does have an impact on state foreign policy making”7 while investigation of the foreign policy between the United States and the State of Israel points to those normative values between the two countries, namely the national character and value system of a state because it may reflect and promote the [similar] fundamental values and ideas of the state’s domestic political regime.8 And while the structure of government is another vital factor9 because struggles over policy occur as the decision-maker views a foreign policy issue based on what bureaucracy they are from, the aim of this research is to examine decision making of the executive in the United States.
In brief, the personalities of the American presidents, the individual background and the generation they subscribe themselves to. “The key political events of the time frame the individual emerges politically are argued to be influential of the person’s perspective on geo-political issues.”10 Further argument suggest environment factors such as religious upbringing or social class that may shape predispositions and, or, misperceptions during policy making. Moreover, such belief systems form the basis for an individual’s filtering lens when analyzing data to make foreign policy decision.
To best understand how and why certain policies choices have been made with regard to the State of Israel, an approach that bridges the gap between systemic theories and decision-making paradigms is appropriate; to this end, Poliheuristic theory (PH) the integration of the classical Rational Choice theory and cognitive approach created by Alex Mintz is employed.
This dissertation integrates the poliheuristic theory of decision-making with neoclassical realism to explain decision-making of U.S. administrations in U.S. foreign policy making toward Israeli governments. Poliheuristic theory employs cognitive and rational choice approaches to explain how leaders and elites make decisions. Neoclassical realism “posits that systemic pressures are filtered through intervening domestic variables to produce foreign policy behaviors.”11 This approach recognizes that systemic pressures cause different reactions by states in part because domestic-level pressures have a profound influence on foreign policies, especially on how leaders view external threats. Therefore, the poliheuristic approach in decision-making is found within the neoclassical realist framework and assists in the following dissertation in determining the special and or strategic aspect of a particular American administration toward Israel.
1.2. Research Question
To see the foreign policy of the U.S. toward Israel there are often two broad understandings. The first is that the U.S. views Israel as an ally and a friend and supports this nation in the region of the Middle East. The support is manifested in financial and military as well as political support. The last point is discussed since the relationship between American presidents and Israeli prime ministers have often been highlighted for their differences than widely accepted congeniality. The second broad understanding is that relations are determined by the ideological background of the leaders, and this in turn affects the kind of relations; so Republican presidents have had or will have better relations with an Israeli prime minister who is also conservative. Moreover, whether relations are more special or less special, more strategic or less strategic is a result of this specific relationship due as well to personality.
Therefore, to further investigate this and find a clearer, definitive answer, the following research question is poised. Have Republican administrations pursued an approach to foreign relations that were primarily strategic while Democratic administrations held special relations with the State of Israel?
The qualification of terminology is vital to understand the forthcoming body of research. There exists several agreements, actions, and statements issued between the U.S. and Israel that offers a reflection of the alliance's strength, and the special nature of the relationship, evolving over the last half century into a web of military, economic, academic, bureaucratic and personal connections. In explaining the relationship between the United States and Israel it is necessary to reveal what the words special and strategic used in this dissertation in fact mean.
The word, special is used in the context of my research to mean that the United States (US) and Israel have designed their relations for a particular purpose. To note that relations have been exceptionally good is opposite to say casual and epistemologically one may draw comparison to the United States and the United Kingdom; in so far as the level of cooperation between the US and Israel in economic activity, military planning, execution of military operations, nuclear weapons technology, and intelligence sharing. And while the word itself ascribed to Winston Churchill’s speech in 1946, I intend to use the specific mention by John F. Kennedy in his meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir as a start point. Moreover, since President Kennedy was a Democrat an investigation of democratic administrations within the time-period under review will either confirm or refute the hypothesis. Shaping American attitudes and policies toward the Middle East arguably has contained an element of faith in the context of how religion influences policy. While there are pragmatic (realist) calculations there is also an element of idealism as Americans expect their government to do good in the world.12 American idealism is reinforced by Christian feelings unique to the Holy Land, and sympathy for Judaism with historical roots to the philo-Semitism of the Puritans, who were themselves influenced by 17th-century English Puritanism that identified strongly with Biblical Israelites. Special is also meant to include bureaucratic and academic cooperation. For example, the number of areas for joint activities was expanded by Ronald Reagan, making military, and bureaucratic memorandums of understanding (MOU) routine. In 1996 the U.S. Department of Energy renewed its agreement with the Israeli counterpart and a new MOU was signed between the U.S. Security Exchange Commission and the Israeli Securities Authority on cooperation in the enforcement of each other's security regulations. The symbolism of the MOU’s is important because the cooperation is broader and deeper than the United States has with any other nation. The Shared Value Initiatives begun through such agreements also reinforce the values the countries share. This is reinforced through the Americans and Israeli relationship at the state and local level, a milestone in formalized contacts beginning with the 1984 Texas Israel Exchange where mutually beneficial projects between the Texas Department of Agriculture and Israel's Ministry of Agriculture spurred 19 other agreements between Israel and American states increasing cooperation in research amongst American and Israeli scholars, culture, trade and tourism.
The theory used to determine the special character of these two nation’s relations is neoclassical realism. In brief, Gideon Rose observes that Neoclassical realism argues that the scope and ambition of a country’s foreign policy is driven by relative material power, but the impact on foreign policy is indirect and complex, because systemic pressures is translated through intervening unit-level variables; these variables: perception and misperception of systemic pressures, other states' intentions, or threats, and domestic variables, such as state institutions, elites, and societal actors within society, affect the power and freedom of action of the decision-makers in foreign policy13. Balance of power, so important to neorealist's is reaffirmed by neoclassical realists with the addition that mistrust and misperception between states or state leaders inability to mobilize state power and public support can result in three types of behavior. Either appropriate balancing, the correct perception of another state’s intentions; overbalancing, the incorrect perception of another state and uses to many resources in an attempt to create a balance; underbalancing, a state fails to balance due to misperception of a state being less of a threat than it is and finally; nonbalancing, avoiding balancing by conducting a number of various escapes such as buck passing or bandwagoning.
The method deployed to achieve the understanding of this relationship is the case study. The case study will contain a review of the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian peace process, an investigation of efforts taken by Democratic as well as Republican administrations to bring peace between Israel and the Arab-Palestinians, from which was there a prevalence of special quality of relations under one ideological administration than the other and if so to ascertain the possible reason why.
The word, strategic is used in the context of my research to mean the identification of overall aims, carefully planned in serving the purpose of national interests for the U.S. in the region of the Middle East. This may include military assistance to the State of Israel as well as intelligence gathering and sharing between the two nations. The Memorandum of Understanding of November 31, 1981 signed between the U.S. and Israel for the first time, formally recognized Israel as a strategic ally. A new MOU was signed two years later that created the Joint Political-Military Group (JPMG) and a group to oversee security assistance, the Joint Security Assistance Planning Group (JSAP). The JPMG originally intented on countering Soviet threats soon focused on bilateral concerns. Bilateral relations were given significance in 1987 when the U.S. Congress designated Israel as a major non-NATO ally. This distinction allowed Israeli industries to compete for contracts to produce defense items and Israel also began to receive billions of dollars in grant economic and military assistance. The theory used to determine the special character of these two nation’s relations is neoclassical realism.
The method deployed to achieve the understanding of this relationship is the case study. The case study will contain military planning and military operations by Israel and military assistance by the United States and whether or not there was a quantitative difference between Republican and Democratic administrations during the time period under review on this point with the aim for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Time-period is defined in my dissertation work to mean a definite period in history beginning on a set date or covering a number of years. The definite period under review is 1980 to 2000, however this twenty-year time period is influenced by events and decisions made by American presidents throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and the Carter administration (1976-1980). So specific events and American presidents from this period will be referenced.
Republican is one of the two main U.S. political parties that follow a conservative program favoring limited central government and a strong national defense. Two Republican administrations will be reviewed: Ronald Reagan and George Bush.
Democrat is one of the two main U.S. political parties that follow a liberal program, tending to promote a strong central government and expansive social programs. One Democrat administration will be reviewed: William J. Clinton.
Labor is one major political party in Israel, which follows a liberal economic and social program typically representing the interests of working people. Labor ends to favor concessions towards the Palestinians.
Likud is a political coalition of conservative Israeli political parties, formed in 1973, that follows a conservative social program and is not in favor of concessions towards the Palestinians.
1.4. Time Period Under Review
In this research, there is a concentrated specific time period and area. Discussed are the relations between Israel and the United States, two countries who have had a bond for years, which strongly determined the foreign policy of the United States towards the Middle East. This relationship has been illustrated by various kinds of support, such as military and financial help as well as political interaction. Moreover, concerning the time period, I have chosen to focus on the administrations of two Republicans and one Democrat.
Specifically, the date of January 24, 1980 from which the Carter doctrine was promulgated, including the time span of the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan from 1981-1989; through the four year Republican administration of George H.W. Bush 1989-1993, concluding with the Democratic administration of William (Bill) Clinton 1993-2001. Both case studies as defined under strategic and special definitions will be included in the level of analysis.
1.5. Literature review
Literature on the nature of foreign policy of the United States, including its challenges offered in broad context Hans Morgenthau (1985) Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, Laura Neack, Jeanne A.K. Hay & Patrick J. Haney (eds). (1995) Foreign Policy Analysis: Continuity and Change in Its Second Generation as well as Ken Booth & Steve Smith (1995) International Relations Theory Today and Miroslav Nincic (1992) Democracy and Foreign Policy: the Fallacy of Political Realism were most valuable. Explaining U.S. foreign policy during and immediately after the Cold War within the context of superpower collaboration and confrontation were Henry Kissinger (1977) American Foreign Policy, J. Dumbrell (1997) American Foreign Policy: Carter to Clinton, James Dougherty and Robert Pfaltzgraff (1986) American Foreign Policy: FDR to Reagan, R.J. McMahaon ‘Making Sense of American Foreign Policy During the Reagan Years’, Diplomatic History, 1995, vol.19 and R.A. Melanson (1996) American Foreign Policy since the Vietnam War: The Search for Consensus form Nixon to Clinton and finally Michal Beschloss & Strob Talbot (1993) At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War proved most helpful.
Literature on the United States and the Middle East offering broad explanation of American foreign policy in the region since 1945 was found in Henry Kissinger (1979) The White House Years, Walter Isaacson (1982) Kissinger: A Biography, W. Stivers (1986) America’s Confrontation with Revolutionary Change in the Middle East and Jimmy Carter (1982) Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President, William Quandt (1986) Camp David: Peacemaking and Politics and Quandt (1993) Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Isreali Conflict since 1967.
Specific literature does exist on this topic though not extensive. Abraham Ben-Zvi (1993) discusses the origins of the American-Israeli Alliance beginning with American presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy (1996) John F. Kennedy’s first military cooperation with the State of Israel and (2002) specifically the limits of this special relationship. Warren Bass (2003) also discusses the US-Israeli Alliance though he does not offer anything significantly new not already uncovered by Ben-Zvi. It is Ben-Zvi (1993) again who looks at the limits of the American and Israeli relationship, while David Schoenbaum (1993) looks at the two countries special liaison throughout history. And William Quandt’s historical overview of the special relations between the U.S. and Israel on Israeli-Palestinian peace process is investigated in William B. Quandt Peace Process, American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967. Nd. A further review can be read in Hussein Agha and Robert Malley. “Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors,” The New York Review of Books, Volume 48, Number 13, August 13, 2001 where Agha and Malley make it clear that the inherent contradictions in the various roles that the United States had taken made it impossible for it to act effectively to promote a genuine peace deal. And looking at various constraints upon presidential decisions, Steven Spiegel, The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict: Making America’s Middle East Policy, from Truman to Reagan Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985 writing about Presidential decision-making, argues that: Domestic politics affects the timing and handling of [Presidential] decisions [regarding Israel] more than their actual content. Since the nexus of foreign policymaking is in the Executive Branch, not the Congress, so the assumption that contributions to Congressional campaigns shapes policies around crucial decisions around the Israeli- Palestinian peace process seems highly problematic. Congress acts mostly as an intermediary filtering public opinion and transmitting it to the decision-making bodies in the Executive Branch.
There are several government documents that may be relied upon, B.W. Jentleson & T.G. Paterson (eds.)(1997) Encyclopedia of U.S. Foreign Relations, 4 volumes, from the U.S. Government. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957, V.16, Suez Crisis (1990), U.S. Government. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, V.13, Arab-Israeli Dispute; United Arab Republic; North Africa (1992), and U.S. Government. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-68, V.18, Arab-Israeli Dispute (2000), while the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States Ronald Reagan, 1982, Book 2: July 3 to December 31, 1982; Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States George H.W. Bush, 1989, Book 1. United States Government Printing, U.S. National Archives have also used. Finally, ready access to primary sources found Foreign Relations of the United States14 containing published US diplomatic documents. Furthermore, the presidential libraries of Ronald Reagan15, George Bush16, and Bill Clinton17 provide detailed information on the Presidential administrations under review in this research with copious primary source material. While not a government website, the archival documents made available through the Jewish Virtual Library18 provided amble secondary source material.
The purpose on my research here on the topic of US-Israeli special relations is to be more focused on the US administrations. Such a narrow focus, it is believed, will indicated and support the working hypothesis that while the American presidents confirmed the special nature of their relationship with Israel, it was only President Clinton who experienced it, yet all three administrations reaffirm the central tenant of NCR scholarship.
Literature on the topic of strategic relationship does exist. Much of it is extremely thorough. In Ben-Zvi19 argues that both American presidents invested in Israel's growing strength and political stability, evolving with the increasing significance of the Middle East on the world stage. Ben-Zvi also traces the process of deterrence and coercion used by both presidents to transform Israel into a strategic asset for the United States. There is the work by Melman and Raviv20 showcasing thorough and intricate work of investigation and research, offering a new level of understanding of America's most intense international alliance, as does Organsky.21
Some notable articles have appeared in periodicals and academic journals in the last few decades on this topic. Most notable is Puschel22 who investigates the a JCSS study23 on the American-Israeli strategic relationship since 1967 and Feldman24 who discusses the future of U.S.-Israeli relations as does Malka25 writing from the arresting title: “Crossroads: the future of the U.S.-Israeli strategic partnership”. The research has been assisted by additional literature that may be used as foundational support as the U.S. Army War College26 looking at the strategic lessons from Middle East crisis and the U.S.-Israeli connection respectfully.
However, there has not been enough research conducted utilizing Rational Choice theory and Cognitive approach created by Alex Mintz within neoclassical to answer the question of what kind of relationship did the U.S. have with Israel under Republican and Democrat presidents and discover if any possible variations there might be. Therefore, the intent is to contrast the approach taken by the Reagan Administration and the George Bush27 Administration. Both ideologically the same, but while Reagan had fairly good relations with his Israeli counterpart, George Bush had a difficult almost confrontational relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Shamir; while, the Clinton Administration had better relations with the Rabin (1992-1995) and Barak governments (1999-2000) than the Netanyahu government (1996-1998).
1.6. Theory & Methodology
After careful review of the realism paradigm, neoclassical realism is most suitable for the explanation of the subject matter. Baylis, et.al.28 offer the basic definition of this form of realism as that of the actions of a state in the international system being explained by systemic variables, examples being the distribution of power capabilities among states or cognitive variables such as the perception and misperception of systemic pressures, other states' intentions, or threats with domestic variables then, namely state institutions, elites, and societal actors affecting the power and freedom of action of the decision-makers in foreign policy.
In research for this topic, the neorealist concept of balance of power is affirmed, but with the additional insight into state leaders’ inability or ability to mobilize domestic support which results in either an underexpansion or underbalanced behavior leading to imbalances within the international system. During the 1990s, theorists began to investigate how foreign policy was shaped by international power. What was the link between the dependent variable and the independent variable, all the while with considerable influence by domestic politics or an intervening variable? From seeking an explanation, neoclassical realism (NCR) was born.
This dissertation will utilize the basic theoretical architecture of neoclassical realism: Distribution of power in the international system (independent variable) Domestic perception of the system and/or domestic incentives (intervening variable)29 and foreign policy decision (dependent variable). With the introduction of an intervening variable, NCR can help explain the U.S. grand strategy within an unchanging systemic environment, and observe unit change that in turn may drive strategic adjustment as shifts occur within the state or international scene.30 To this end, institutional power, personnel, or popularity of ideas may precipitate changes, “in goals or encourage reassessment of the means by which to pursue them. Such shifts may be driven from the bottom up, by electoral results or by the use of bureaucratic leverage; or from the top down, in the form of the executive power of patronage and final decision.”31
Since the attention of my research is on the geographical area of the Middle East, security issues need to be addressed. To this, defensive realism is employed to explain the actions of both actors in question since it is believed that domestic politics can influence a state’s foreign policy. And since security for Israel and the United States are mutually important to national interests due to the especially highly constrained international environment, meaning, external threats to national interests and values are particularly high.32 Waltz himself admits, “in the absence of counterweights, a country’s internal impulses prevail”.33 The neoclassical realist position takes that admission further, arguing that variables at the unit-level – in the ideas and perceptions of actors within the state – play a “pivotal” role in the selection of a grand strategy.34
Another approach utilized in my work is that of decision-making (DM) theory. DM theory directs attention not to states but seeks to highlight the behavior of the specific human decision makers who actually shape governmental policy. Snyder, Bruck and Sapin (1963)35 look at the state as the official decision maker, but narrowing the subject of investigation however, political analysis may become more precise and more amenable to systematic analysis. So there is within political realism in foreign policy occurrences outside national borders according to policymakers while the overarch umbrella is realism, it is those politicians behavior and personality that influence decisions as well and play a role in the foreign relations. For example, the political realism encountered by President Clinton in 1994 between PLO Chairman Yasar Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was different five years later when Clinton tried to mediate between Arafat and Ehud Barak.
Since the focus of NCR is on foreign policy, and all three levels of analysis are present: international, the state, and the individual; this theory best supports the argumentation of the kind of foreign policy decisions American presidents have made towards Israel.
Like structural realism, though, NCR attributes ultimate causal power to the international level and seeks to build real theories, similar to structural realism. Neoclassical realism is different because it defines foreign policy, not recurring patterns of behavior, as its dependent variable, thereby sharing the classical goal of focusing on the state and its relationship to society, but aspiring to "greater methodological sophistication"36 than its classical predecessors.
Neoclassical realism serves as a bridge to the classical literature, namely with insights into state motives and changes herein. While classical realists considered fear, honor, and interest, or power, self-interest, and prestige; even status quo and revisionism as the real building blocs of understanding state motives37 However, this assumes a level of rationalism; a degree of rationalist certitude birthing the belief that politics can be rationally controlled; while human nature involves other dimensions, biology and spirituality, as Morgenthau labeled them, and to understand power politics, what really motivates concrete actors instead of making general assumptions about average actors must be understood38. Furthermore, the formally neat distinction between international power and domestic issues as the independent variable and intervening variables respectfully we now can see the interaction between these factors and the link to single and comparative case studies of limited reach. This interaction is also understood in how behavior of individual actors influences decision-making.
Nick Horton states “decision theory in foreign policy analysis has been characterized by a split between two different, and at times rival, models of human behavior.”39 The first is the classical model of Rational Choice theory40, a theory that takes as its starting point the end of the decision making process and attempts to figure out why the choice was finally made. The second is the Cognitive approach, a theory that focuses on the “how” questions of decision-making and attempts to reconstruct why the end outcome occurred. In an attempt to integrate these two different, but useful, approaches, Alex Mintz created Poliheuristic Theory (PH);41 Horton further explains that the model consists of two stages. “The first is the “heuristic” stage. In this stage the actor uses heuristics, or simple tools of thought, to limit the number of choices available to him. This is similar in character to Robert Axelrod’s Schema Theory42 and other cognitive approaches43; and Tversky and Kahneman44, including Prospect Theory by Lev45 and Tversky and Kahneman46. The second stage is the “evaluation” or “calculation” stage. Here the actor makes calculations based on the given information garnered from the first stage. PH theory is an attempt to understand both why and how a particular actor came to a decision.” For example, why did Ronald Reagan support Israeli military action in Lebanon in 1982, but withdraw American military personal from Lebanon in 1984.
There is a very large literature in behavioral decision theory that suggests that human decision makers do everything they can to avoid making value trade-offs. For example, decision makers “satisce” (by adopting a sequential search process and selecting the best alternative that is “good enough”) rather than optimize.47 They also adopt non-compensatory decision rules that eliminate difficult value trade-offs48, a tendency that is also widely recognized in the decision- making literature in international relations.49 For example, one common non-compensatory decision strategy is “elimination by aspects”50 where alternatives are eliminated from consideration on the basis of a single criterion without regard to other criteria. The failure to make value trade-offs may ease the burdens of choice but can lead to suboptimal decisions. As such, the rational model of foreign policy making is not value-free. This is where the decision-making theory (DM) is helpful in my analysis.
A central place in DM theory is perception. Robert Jervis51 observed the tendency of leaders to interpret their own decision as responses to objective conditions, while attributing the actions of foreign rivals to a hostile disposition. Michael Brecher52 insists, “the operational environment affects the results or outcomes of decisions directly but influences the choice among policy options, that is, the decisions themselves, only as it is filtered through the images of decision-makers.”53 For other early studies in this field, see Harold Lasswell54 and James A Robinson and R. Roger Majak55, including the bibliographical references;56 Brecher makes the elite image the decisive input of a foreign-policy system;57 while Jutta Weldes58 goes as far as to claim, following the constructivist approach that decision makers “construct the national interest” within this understanding of relations among the various important states and other actors.
Robert Putnam59 portrayed political leaders positioned between two tables of (1) international negotiation, whether in crisis or non-crisis situations, and (2) the pressures of domestic political forces. The diplomatic course, tailed then both to what other states are likely to find acceptable and to what domestic constituencies can be persuaded to ratify. Therefore, DM brings much to the overall analysis and supports quality research. Finally, it should be noted that neoclassical realism is appealing from a research point of view since it holds possession of theoretical rigor that Waltz brought to the field in neorealism, but incorporates content rich analysis in the process-tracing method of case studies.
The case study method has been chosen because it is the best approach to add to the body of knowledge on this topic. Simply, through better understanding of a key part, one understands better the whole. The case study is the most sound methodically for my research. In taking a broad cross-disciplinary view of the topic insight can be gained on any topic. This indicates the fact that by examining basic methodological issues in a wide empirical context an understanding not visible from a narrow perspective is possible. Case study research, by definition, is focused as John Gerring says, “on a single, relatively bounded unit. That single may, or may not, afford opportunities for large-N within case analysis. Individual-level variation bears upon a group-level inference,”60 Gerring uses various examples to describe this, citing Middletown, by Robert and Helen Lynd and Political Ideology, by Robert Lane to name two where style of analysis differ only in the respect of qualitative analysis. The hypothesis itself should be the primary interest. In framing the question a researcher is able to explore and gain insight in contrast to a cross-case researcher whose empirical data is rather narrow. Case study research conducted with the purpose of offering relevant information vis a vis the hypothesis allows for greater confidence, the true intent being to eliminate rival explanations by confirming the theory. As Gerring points out, “for the single-case study allows one to test a multitude of hypotheses in a rough-and-ready way.”61 This, expressed a different way gives virtue to internal validity: where the focus is on cause and effect relationships. The notion of one thing leading to another is applicable here; where event A (i.e. Madrid Peace Conference) leads to event B (i.e. Oslo Accords). In the case of the research, Republican administration approaches are more special while Democratic administration foreign policy towards Israel is more strategic. Criticism can be made about the scope of proposition. Essentially, to offer an analysis that gives less about more or more about less. This criticism can also be defended though by offering the choice and preference for depth in comparison to breadth.
On this point, there is a distinction to be made between the subject and the object of the case study, the subject, the “practical, historical unity” through which the theoretical focus of the study is being viewed. The object is theoretical focus. Thus, for example, the research interest is US president Clinton’s dogged pursuit of a peace settlement between the PLO and Israel as a theoretical focus, then Rabin’s assassination might be taken to be the subject, the lens, the case study through which the theoretical focus, the object, could be viewed and explained with his friendship with Yitzhak Rabin.
Within the framework detailed in the above paragraphs, it is my intent to research the personality of the American incumbent influencing foreign policy decisions toward Israel during a specific time or event(s).
In making such a choice a direct link is made to casual arguments and implications. With that said, there is another fact. Within disciplines and subfields the case study is then the most dependable approach to research. Furthermore, through using a casual equation for particular outcome and specific hypothesis the typical values relative to the overall causal is well understood. This is best attainable utilizing the narrative approach of a case study.
The classic model of decision making, policymakers make a calculation in two basic dimensions, utility and probability, and, assuming that they are rational, they will attempt to maximize the expected utility. Snyder62 points out that decision makers may be assumed to act in terms of clear-cut preferences. However, DM theory does not assume the rationality of decision makers. An example would be President Reagan in his administrations efforts at finding peace, supported Israel’s military. President George Bush’s personal involvement in getting Ethiopian Jews to Israel is part of the answer to the unwavered U.S. support during his term in office, but at odds with his difficult relations with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. This is a key part in the entire understanding of the U.S.-Israeli relationship and how the special and strategic relationship was maintained during the Bush years and supports Michael Brecher‘s opinion (i.e. image of decision-maker). James Rosenau63 speaks to the dynamics of the processes but indicated the shortcomings of single case study. While the author acknowledges the validity of Rosenau’s view, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as the single case remains because it is the best option.
In conducting single-case research many researchers turn to analysis within the context of process tracing research. The case study method is arguably the most methodologically sound. To borrow from Willard Waller’s explanation of the case study approach as gaining insight. That is, the product of a good case study according to him is, “the unknown quantity which has eluded students of scientific method.”64 Moreover, as practical questions are considered and answers are sought the true intent of the case study is reached. In gaining knowledge of a key part, the whole is better understood. DM is used in support of this effort in the following research.
Case studies frequently contain a strong element of narrative, which typically builds on plot, i.e., a sequence of events and their relationship to each other and to context.65 While, yes the use of narrative involves a danger, however, of committing the narrative fallacy this fallacy consists of a human propensity to simplify data. I have avoided the narrative fallacy by using the consistent checks for validity and reliability in how data are collected, analyzed, and presented. For example, while it was the Eisenhower doctrine, a program of economic aid and military assistance with the promise of protection against Communist aggression to all Middle East states in 1957 that created the roots of American policy and later the alliance with Israel, was it Republican links between the two nations? Likewise the different interpretation of the America’s national interest by Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and Secretary of State George Shultz during the Reagan administration exposes the internal bureaucratic struggles of the Reagan administration and disproves a narrative of harmonious relations with Israel. Moreover, to place the Republican administration and its relations with Israel in contrast to its successor, another Republican administration, process tracing is employed.
There is an additional benefit to process tracing. The case study is effective for generalizing the falsification test administration that formed this strategic relationship. In a simple narrative one may argue yes. However, this explanation is not so simple when one accounts for the elites in the U.S. State Department in the decades before Israeli statehood and those who remained throughout the 1950s and 1960s an incubation period of U.S.-Israeli relations to use a term from Abraham Ben-Zvi; or when one accounts for the socio-religious made popular by Karl Popper and part of critical reflexivity. The black swan is best suited for case studies due to the in-depth nature of the study. Upon examination of my research this may be the truth in examining the Republican administrations of George Bush and Ronald Reagan; the former having a more strategic relationship with Israel, while the latter holding what may be categorized as special relations, yet in the subtext of the Middle East peace-process both holding special relations with Israel.
Within the context of this understanding then decision-making is supplemental and though I admit broad, I do not pretend to cover it entirely. Also it is admitted that the field of comparative foreign policies is distinct from that of international relations theory and specifically from theories of decision making the international system. The former has much to contribute to the latter by way of concrete data and perhaps of insights leading to useful new theoretical approaches in the international relations dimension. Finally, the study of decision-making is an essential element to any effort to understand unit-level behavior. While, neorealist theory defines a system as composed of structure and of interacting units, as Barry Buzan has pointed out, Waltz’s emphatic distinction between unit-level theories and systemic theories “and his usage of terms such as “systems theory” and “systems level” makes the term system effectively a synonym for structure.”66
This includes how, from the perspective of the decision maker, the variables represented by the international structure or domestic variables shape decision. Classical realism as understood by Thucydides incorporated this fact in the external behavior of Athens and Sparta. Immanuel Kant in his treatise Perpetual Peace brought domestic politics into the debate regarding foreign policy Thus, decision making within the broader levels of analysis, including structure-agent relationships, have much to contribute to the examination of foreign relations. Neoclassical realism, on the other hand, recognizes that the international system is composed of units, their interactions, and structure as classical realism did. The system has structure, but the system defines structure only in as much as its logic informs the interactions of states that constitute structure. Interaction, therefore, “is crucial to the concept of system, for without it, the term system has no meaning”.67 The recognition of intervening variables in neoclassical realism is particularly important when considering their impact on the strongest states, such as those between the United States and Israel and American administrations in particular.