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The Domestic Sources of American Foreign Domestic Policy


The domestic sources of American foreign domestic policy is a masterpiece book by James McCormick. The book is about the US politics and international relations policies. The author is a professor who chairs the department of political science at Iowa State University. The content of the book covers the wide societal, individual, and the states’ factors that affect the US foreign government policies and its stability. The book is very helpful for students interested in a broad study of domestic and international policies with respect to politics, coupled with how they affect the governments therein. This paper is a book review that aims at highlighting the social, individual, and country factors that are governed by both domestic and international foreign policies politically, socially, and economically.

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Book Summary

The book is divided into three major parts, which include the context of societal politics of the US foreign policy, the revision of the old and new institutions in transforming the policy decisions, and a broad focus on controversial essays on the decision-making process. The essays in this context perfectly cover controversial issues like the incursion on Iraq, the war in Vietnam, the war involved in politics, bureaucratic political contexts, roles of the presidency, the executive departmental functions and collisions, and the defense procurement system (McCormick 6).

The author presents two insightful, controversial essays on the context of society, institutions, and the individual sources of American foreign policy. The well-written introduction highlights how and why the domestic factors influence American foreign policy. In part I on the ‘Societal environment,’ the author describes the numerous articles that are focused on the interest groups’ rankings, the influence of the military experience in the political context, the impact that the masses have, and the role of the political bodies and the elections therein. The editor brings out the entire political context on how and why society participates in elections. Societal opinions are the main political determinants in the democratic government systems. However, this assumption does not always hold since the political system, and the administrations encourage the uncouth ways of gaining public opinion on the political arena.

Moreover, the book portrays how the security system is inclined to politics in a bid to influence the public opinion indirectly towards the dominant political bearers. The ‘institutional’ section in part II describes how different public institutions like the presidency and other bureaucratic systems like the national security council and the community intelligence systems affect the US foreign system (McCormick 25). The editor portrays how the government systems are focused on implementing the self-made domestic and international policies on the political context. Moreover, the book shows how the ‘selfish’ and greed in the political arena can harm the individual public opinion.

Part III gives the various case study analyses on different political administrations and bureaucratic governmental systems coupled with how they influence the American foreign policy decision-making in the high governmental ranks. According to the author, those in high governmental ranks mainly influence the decision-making process. In addition, the author portrays how selfish such people are by making decisions that favor their political dominance. For instance, two individuals from the city of Chicago were sued for the wrongful act of the highest malfunction of decision-making. Ultimately, the city granted one of the individuals requisition even though he was never reinstated to his original position. This aspect illustrates how those in the highest hierarchies of power and authority can make their interests fulfilled by influencing the decision-making processes. The book shows how the minor policy activists do not have effects on the decision-makers’ opinions.

For instance, the author illustrates the unfairness of the Canadian courts’ case study. McCormick argues that the higher the hierarchal judges rank, the higher the expectation by the public to make the correct and fair ethical judgments in the courts (17). The book reveals how judges can make human errors, which may culminate in poor judgments. Moreover, due to human factors, some cases may be taken to higher courts of higher ranks for appeal, but unfair or inconsiderate decisions may be made. The author highlights that due to the different thinking capacities, different factual methodologies, legal weights, and discretions and reasoning, judges make their diverse judgments. Moreover, some governing laws and regulations tend to be unclear on some issues, and this aspect puts the judges in a position to make their own impudent decisions, which are not always pleasant to the public.

Conventionally, the decision-making process focuses on how the law, democracy, and policymaking affect each other in the political and governmental context. The decision making of the judges is a broad contradictory issue since the decisions that are arrived at are not always included in the public laws (McCormick 25). The judiciary system may seem anti-democratic as it solely relies on the judges’ power and authority. Due to the human error, reasoning disparities, unclear laws on specific issues, and different backgrounds, judges make their own judgmental decisions. Ultimately, the democratic power in the higher governmental systems, like the judiciary systems, is undermined significantly. The author argues that the policymakers make things appear executable on paper, but individuals that have power and authority in the different governmental systems control the decisions.

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Importance of the topic

The book covers a wide variety of individual knowledge on political, societal, and international government policies. The book offers a wide knowledge of the government’s operational systems with laws and rules that govern the general state. Evidently, the political arena relates broadly to individual and societal factors in its governance. The challenges that face the political foreign policy include the dominant power and authority that rest upon individuals and institutions.

The decision-making process mainly influences the general decisions that govern the state law (McCormick 29). Evidently, the higher positions of political and executives in the leadership affect the decision-making process. For instance, the decision-making process highlighted in the Canadian courts seems to be under the manipulation of the judges who make their own decisions in accordance with their knowledge.

Furthermore, the democratic power of activists is not considered significant. This aspect gives the perception that the judicial system can make ‘correct’ evaluations and decisions therein. However, this assumption does not always happen since the decisions vary due to the different methodologies used to arrive at conclusions. In addition, American foreign policy highlights the political arena in Obama’s government systems. The presidential elections mainly seek to win public opinion and attention. The political arena relies heavily on public opinion, which contradicts the decision-making. The state’s political systems ruled by the American foreign policy operate in accordance with power and authority from the highest in the ironically termed democratic government system.

Apparently, the entire government system is replete with the manipulation of power by influential government leaders. Moreover, there is an imbalance of opinions with respect to the decision-making process. The indifference in the dominance of the power between the policymakers and the public creates discrepancies in the democratic foreign system. Ultimately, both individual and societal factors highly contribute to the shaping of the political arena. Therefore, for students, this book gives insights into the governmental leakages and weaknesses that dominate domestic and international political policies. The book offers a deep knowledge of the ways that public opinions can be incorporated into a democratic system.


The foreign policy in the political context provides knowledge on how to counteract the conflicting political issues. Controlled democratic systems should highly be incorporated into the decision-making process. The policymakers ought to value the public opinions the same way the political leaders seek the public’s vote to gain the lead. In fact, the policies on decision-making should be based on societal, individual, and the state’s growth. The high-ranking leaders are expected to make laws and decisions correctly and fairly to ultimately contribute to the balance of power in the government systems.

Therefore, the challenges that prevail in the domestic and foreign governments are based on the unequal and imbalance of policies used in the decision-making process. Democracy is a complicated form of governance as people can use the freedoms therein to abuse the very system that they should be respecting. However, with the right leadership combined with controlled democracy, a stable political regime can be achieved harmoniously.

Works Cited

McCormick, James.The domestic sources of American Foreign Domestic policyInsights and evidence, New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, January 24). The Domestic Sources of American Foreign Domestic Policy. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, January 24). The Domestic Sources of American Foreign Domestic Policy.

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