From the future-
BRYAN W. MARSHALL Miami University BRANDON C. PRINS University of Tennessee & Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy Power or Posturing? Policy Availability and Congressional Influence on U.S. Presidential Decisions to Use Force Presidential Studies Quarterly 41, no. 3 (September) 2011
We argue that the more important effect of Congress occurs because presidents anticipate how the use of force may affect the larger congressional environment in which they inevitably have to operate (Brulé, Marshall, and Prins 2010). It may be true that presidents consider the chances that Congress will react to a specific use of force with countervailing tools, but even more importantly they anticipate the likelihood that a foreign conflict may damage (or advantage) their political fortunes elsewhere—in essence, the presidential calculus to use force factors in how such actions might shape their ability to achieve legislative priorities. To be clear, presidents can and do choose to use force and press for legislative initiatives in Congress. Taking unilateral actions in foreign policy does not preclude the president from working the legislative process on Capitol Hill. However, political capital is finite so spending resources in one area lessens what the president can bring to bear in other areas. That is, presidents consider the congressional environment in their decision to use force because their success at promoting policy change in either foreign or domestic affairs is largely determined by their relationship with Congress. Presidents do not make such decisions devoid of calculations regarding congressional preferences and behavior or how such decisions may influence their ability to achieve legislative objectives. This is true in large part because presidential behavior is motivated by multiple goals that are intimately tied to Congress. Presidents place a premium on passing legislative initiatives. The passage of policy is integral to their goals of reelection and enhancing their place in history (Canes-Wrone 2001; Moe 1985). Therefore, presidents seek to build and protect their relationship with Congress.
And possible winners win type card from the next paragraph
Presidents rely heavily on Congress in converting their political capital into real
policy success. Policy success not only shapes the reelection prospects of presidents, but
it also builds the president’s reputation for political effectiveness and fuels the prospect
for subsequent gains in political capital (Light 1982). Moreover, the president’s legislative
success in foreign policy is correlated with success on the domestic front. On this
point, some have largely disavowed the two-presidencies distinction while others have
even argued that foreign policy has become a mere extension of domestic policy (Fleisher
et al. 2000; Oldfield and Wildavsky 1989) Presidents implicitly understand that there
exists a linkage between their actions in one policy area and their ability to affect another.
The use of force is no exception; in promoting and protecting U.S. interests abroad,
presidential decisions are made with an eye toward managing political capital at home