The Democratic Congress and the making of American foreign policy in 2007

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In November 2006, President Bush’s party lost majority in both chambers of the US Congress. The Democrats’ victory is ascribed to the American public’s rejection of the White House handling of the Iraq war. However, in spite of the electorate’s clear mandate, Democrats have had a hard time in substantially redirecting the conduct of the war: they voted in favor of financing a troop surge and failed to obtain any massive troop withdrawal. Yet, they have shown strong legislative activism, unusual since 2001, and have restored the Congress’ powers of deliberation and oversight. The partial failure of the Democrats on the Iraqi issue can be explained in part by several institutional and topical constraints: Bush’s “imperial presidency”, divisions among Democrats, a narrow majority in Congress, and the persisting fear to be blamed for a hasty withdrawal.

AFRI 2008 Summary