Democracies and Foreign Policy

Democracies and Foreign Policy

Written by: Bernard Cecil Cohen

  • Publisher: Univ of Wisconsin Press
  • Publish Date: 1995
  • ISBN-10: 0299146405
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Book Summary

In Democracies and Foreign Policy, however, Bernard Cohen offers the first detailed comparison of two Western democracies--the United States and the Netherlands--and their patterns of public participation in foreign policy. To assess the influence of citizens on the foreign policies of each nation, he examines the institutions that both shape and express public opinion--national legislative bodies, media of communication, organized interest groups--and searches for the roots of these institutions in the national political systems. Cohen's thought-provoking results demand a reassessment of aspects of foreign-policy making that have been taken for granted in each of these countries. Cohen finds, for example, that within the United States the media have significant power in setting agendas, while the political parties remain relatively mute on foreign-policy issues. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, the media have a lesser role, with the government instead sampling the opinion of the more outspoken political parties and party members. The Dutch Foreign Ministry, remaining walled off from the public, has a much freer hand in foreign policy. Cohen also finds that the U.S. State Department is much more sensitive to public opinion than its Dutch counterpart but, surprisingly, is less successful in understanding and coping with demands from its public.

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