Making U.S. Foreign Policy Toward South Asia: Regional Imperatives and the Imperial Presidency

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Making U.S. Foreign Policy Toward South Asia: Regional Imperatives and the Imperial Presidency
By Llyod I. Rudolph and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph
Indiana University Press, 2008
448 pp. $24.95
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Rudolph and Rudolph, longtime leading scholars of the United States' relations with India, explore the ways in which three "imperial" presidents -- Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush -- conducted policy toward a fast-changing South Asia. Revisiting arguments made in their 1980 book, The Regional Imperative, the Rudolphs are particularly interested in how U.S. foreign policy decision-making incorporates or ignores the expertise of country and regional specialists and military professionals. As the political scientist Richard Neustadt did with his two images of executive power, they argue that presidents have tended to employ one of two approaches to foreign policy: one based on "imperative" coordination (marked by hierarchy and command) or one based on "deliberative" coordination (marked by collegiality and persuasion). The Rudolphs suggest that presidents who engage in deliberative processes will be more open to the local knowledge that specialists have to offer. In their view, the Johnson, Nixon, and Bush administrations were remarkable in the extent of their imperative forms of decision-making -- and flawed and self-defeating policies thus followed.