This book provides a welcome dose of optimism at a time when most analyses of the role of Congress in foreign policy highlight the institution’s partisan division and its passivity in the face of presidential power. A spate of studies have found growing polarization over the past several decades in congressional foreign policy votes. Linda L. Fowler, in Watchdogs on the Hill: The Decline of Congressional Oversight of U.S. Foreign Relations, has further shown that congressional oversight of presidential activity has declined considerably since the end of the Cold War.
Lantis highlights a more inspiring phenomenon—entrepreneurial activity by junior lawmakers on international issues. The book builds on Ralph Carter and Jim Scott’s 2009 work Choosing to Lead: Understanding Congressional Foreign Policy Entrepreneurs. While Carter and Scott focus mainly on entrepreneurial activity by veteran members of Congress, Lantis examines efforts by junior lawmakers to advance their conceptions of good foreign policy. Lantis also explores how members of Congress work with advocacy groups to build support for their foreign policy agendas—efforts that have been given little attention by foreign policy scholars.
The heart of the book consists of eight case studies from the years of the Barack Obama presidency. Several of these c
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