Presidential Success and International Security in the Middle East

My initial interest in the topic came from a class I took last spring semester that was focused on the American Presidency, and how the power of that office can be wielded. We covered a lot of the classic presidential theory, looking at everything from executive orders to presidents’ characters to presidential war power. I’m also writing my senior thesis in a course called Conflict in the Middle East, so my topic is an attempt to marry those two topics and come up with some meaningful conclusions.
My project will focus on presidential success in international security decisions, specifically in the Middle East, from Richard Nixon’s presidency through that of George H.W. Bush. My paper will seek to analyze how presidents achieve success in the international security subset of foreign policy, using case studies in the Middle East during the given time period.
Presidential success has often been framed as the President’s ability to persuade Congress and negotiate with political opponents regarding legislation; foreign policy presents a situation where this is not explicitly the case. Sometimes bargaining with Congress is essential to achieving foreign policy objectives, but frequently (especially involving matters of immediate international security) the President can operate somewhat autonomously from Congress. So, I will look at how presidents during this time period achieved (or failed to achieve) success in the international security arena in the Middle East.
I spent a gap year between high school and college living and working at a school in Jordan, and have been following news in that region pretty closely ever since. So, my interest in this part topic comes both from academic interests as well as personal experience. My topic is, quite honestly, a bit vaguer than I’d like at this point but I’m planning on doing a lot more research in the next couple of days to narrow it down further. Let me know what your thoughts are – I look forward to meeting and talking with you all in November.

Peter Boal, Haverford College

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