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Leader Characteristics and Foreign Policy Performance Essay

The old saying ‘heroes are made, not born’ describes the making of leaders and leadership. The exceptional courage, nobility and strength attributes to the main character of a hero that may be brought about by a particular circumstance. Within the circumstance of a leadership referring to a President, the epitome of a hero is may be characterized by a political will or the strong decisiveness in role-modeling; by effecting the sovereign mandate of the people reflective of harnessing socio-political idolatry at home and abroad.

The role-modeling of a President represents impact towards interstate (domestic) and foreign (intrastate) policies. Thus, the epitome of a hero is outlined in the execution of policies in which heroes are made. This paper will discuss the critical role-model of leadership that is bestowed upon the mandate of a President symbolical to the creation and performance of foreign policies. US foreign policy decision illustrating the rational actor model

In the most recent electronic journal issue published by the Council on Foreign Relations (2008) features the article, ‘The Future of American Power: How America Can Survive the Rise of the Rest’, adapted from the book of Fareed Zakaria (2008), discusses Britain’s and America’s distinctions of foreign political power illustrates the “political leadership of the empire”. According to the article, there has been tremendous shift of political power [shifted from various political leadership] wherein Britain and America competed.

The shifting is perceived to be on the third wave in which the “rest of political power shifting” remains a window of opportunity for the US to shape and master the changing global landscape, in which the strength and dynamism to continue shaping the world can overcome its political dysfunction and reorient its foreign policy for a world defined by the rise of other powers (Zakaria, 2008). From the point of view of Zakaria, the rest of emerging powers in the “third shift” is the current focus of a foreign policy within the social, political and economic rationale of the US government, and specifically a primary agenda under Bush’ leadership.

The “rational actor model” that could be attributed to Bush’ leadership may be exemplified by the comprehensive enactment of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004, in which the national and global call of President Bush for “safe (America) and secured world” is by enacting strategic reforms in the intelligence community and the streamlining of the US bureaucracy.

To cite the coherence of the “calling for safe and secured world” is outlined under Section 7001 of the IRTPA that states the provisions, such as “(Paragraph: 2) to win the war on terrorism, the United States must assign to economic and diplomatic capabilities the same strategic priority that is assigned to military capabilities, and (Paragraph: 3) the legislative and executive branches of the Government of the United States must commit to robust, long-term investments in all of the tools necessary for the foreign policy of the United States to successfully accomplish the goals of the United States” (IRTPA, 2004; in US Public Law 108–458, 2004). It is therefore reflective of Zakaria’s (2008) work that the “third shift” of power by emerging governments and world economies is the focal point of the US’ shifting of political leadership through its decision illustrating the leader’s rational actor model in framing a foreign policy. US foreign policy decision illustrating the hero-in-history model

The “messianic complex” has been attributed to the character of leadership of President Bush in the US war on Iraq. It may have been recalled that US 9/11 tragedy have sprouted with the “hero-villain” role-modeling that refers to the US servicemen as hero that fought the villainous terrorists cohorts in Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical regime in Iraq. In which case, the US war on Iraq was attributed to the “messianic redemption” that freed the Iraqi people from the bondage of tyranny and renewed the democratic processes. Several political experts says that the character of Bush’ leadership has in some degrees being a “romanticist’; the sentimentalism that catalyzes decisiveness and unwavering acts.

Thus, the hero-in-history model is patterned and entangled to the history of war and gaining dominance. In effect, the hero-in-history model has inherent circumstance and dominion vis-a-vis tailored in a foreign policy. As cited from the article of Lynne Olson in the electronic magazine of The Guardian, “George Bush’s favorite role model is famously Jesus Christ but Winston Churchill is close behind” (Olson, L. , 2007). According to Olson the idolatry is circumstantial in the rose to power of government leaders, in which the hero-in-history has inherent value; referring to Bush’ admiration to the works of Churchill in uniting and bringing the allied nations against Hitler as comparatively what the US did on its war to Iraq.

It may be perceived that the framing of the socio-economic-political aspects of US foreign policy manifests “heroic adventurism” that exalts the hero-in-history model of American policy, and specifically the so-called “heroic idealism” of the President. US foreign policy decision employing the psychobiographical model Based on the book ‘Profiling Political Leaders: Cross-Cultural Studies of Personality and Behavior’ by Ofer Feldman and Linda O. Valenty, the psychobiographical model deeply links the personality (inner-self) of the leader towards the leadership style. Meaning, personal ideals or beliefs is being applied in the capacity to govern the state or lead the government in enacting policies.

To cite, the system of psychobiography assume that leaders’ personal histories [and childhood experiences] are essential aspect that characterized the personality and leaders’ convictions that influences the mode, predisposition and performance in decision making (Kaarbo, J. , 2001; in Feldman & Valenty, 2001). One example that could best describe the personal (psychobiographical model) influence in the process of decision making is the personal conviction of President Bush in his ideals for “safe and secured world”; as being referred by American war historians as a “recycled thought” as inspired by his father, the former President George H. W.

Bush, during the US troops deployment in the Middle East in the 1990’s known as Operation Desert Storm (The White House, 2008). It may be also recalled that former President Richard Nixon’s (1913-1994) “abhorrence” to socialism and communism have led to US aggression in Vietnam that weakened the diplomatic ties with China, Soviet Union and the Middle East, and left the American economy into recession (The White House, 2008). It could be viewed that the psychobiographical model relating to the “influence factor” of the leader in the process of decision making somehow affects the direction, significance and performance of a policy in light of the sovereign will.

In which case, the effect could be in the derailment (consistency or inconsistency) or achievement of a policy that addresses all the socio-economic-political interstate (domestic) and intrastate (foreign) perspectives. At hindsight, the enactment of the IRTPA of 2004 could bear the idealistic norm of ensuring a “safe and secured world”, in which the US foreign policy adheres to those ideals. Significance of political terminologies According to Barbara Kellerman (1983) of Farleigh Dickinson University, the Bureaucratic Politics Model or BPM is the identification and systematic installation of key government functions in which the government’s “hierarchical organization” compose a bureaucracy.

The BPM has been implemented in the US war on Iraq, as exemplified by the streamlining or functional alignment of governmental agencies through multi-lateral functions with the legislative, judiciary, executive branches of the government and its military establishments. In short, BPM is a synergy within a governmental function pre-disposal to the process of decision making and enactment of a domestic and foreign policy (Kellerman, 1983). Decision avoidance is being defined by sociologist as a “common type” of indecision particularly in major decision making referring to the acts of the President, policy makers, military leaders and even the private corporate chief executives. The decision avoidance is also characterized by “playing safe attitude” to decide on a situation, condition or state of facts wherein critical analysis is needed (Michael, A. , 2006).

Instrumental rationality is being described as a requirement of coherence on non-instrumental desires and means-end beliefs, in which the requirement of coherence can be satisfied either locally or more globally (Smith, M. , 2004). As perceived, one that describes the coherence of instrumental rationality is the legal parlance of IRTPA 0f 2004 in the conduct of US’ war on terrorism wherein recognition, acceptance and collaboration is being worked with allied governments. Thus, the legal parlance in the conduct rationalizes the issues on the flawed effects to human rights violations. Based on the journal ‘Substantive and Procedural Rationality in Decisions under Uncertainty’, the “procedural rationality” is a method to test the empirical study that is uncertain (Choi, S. , Fisman, R. , Gale, D. , & Kariv, S. , 2005).

This definition may be again correlated with the IRTPA’s policy that mandates to reform the US intelligence community by creating and establishing the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI) that shall streamline the operation of US homeland defense system, wherein the level and condition of national and global “uncertainties” are critically studied and processed in aid of policy legislation or Executive decisions (referring to Presidential directives). To cite, the “rational decision-making model” refers to the process-analysis of circumstantial or situational factor that is guided by parameters, such as (1) define the situation and decision to be made; (2) identify the important criteria for the process and the result; (3) consider all possible solutions; (4) calculate the consequences of these solutions versus the likelihood of satisfying the criteria and select the best option (Decision-Making-Confidence. Com, 2008). This modeling may be exemplified in the Presidential directives creating the US 9/11 Commission that has recommended the legislative process of enacting the IRTPA of 2004.

We may quote the saying of the 2nd US President John Adams (1797-1801) that describes the presidential character, “liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people who have the right to that knowledge and the desire to know, but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge—I mean of the character and conduct of their rulers” (President John Adams, 1735-1826; in Texas University Press, 2004). Interpreting the “Presidential Character” connotes the moral values and virtuosity in the character of a President or a political candidate.

It may be perceived that the moral attributions to “presidential character” also relate to the socio-religious-cultural upbringing of the state, to which the moral values of social responsibility, accountability and confidence must be retained to the people. Conclusion The role-modeling of every government in its domestic and foreign affairs is characterized by the figure-heading of a President being the pre-dominant figure of the bureaucracy. It may be said that the 2ist century character of the US government in bringing about and reaching out its foreign policies has related or shifted in the sensibility of personality and political will or decisiveness of the Chief Executive of the Land, especially when formulating effective and strong governance correlating the “heroic ideals” and championing of democracies.

The power shifting, as therewith previously discussed in this paper, could be substantive in framing a foreign policy within the emerging democracies throughout the world. The substantive role of the US government may be viewed as more than strategically entangled in the socio-political-economic conditions of its allied governments and other countries, which may be going beyond based on the Presidential performance and effectiveness of a foreign policy. In today’s political race in America, the American people are overly conscious in exalting their right to suffrage, likewise the people of the world casts on their predicaments and seeming alienation to whom America shall bear its foreign policy where heroes shall be made.

References Choi, S. , Fisman, R. , Gale, D. , and Kariv, S. , (2005). ‘Substantive and Procedural Rationality in Decisions under Uncertainty’. Departmnet of Economics, New York University. Retrieved 01 May 2008 from http://fic. wharton. upenn. edu/fic/papers/06/0601. pdf. Decision-Making-Confidence. Com (2008). ‘The Rational Decision Making Models’. Retrieved 01 May 2008 from http://www. decision-making-confidence. com/rational-decision-making-models. html. Feldman, O. and Valenty, L. O. (2001). ‘Profiling Political Leaders: Cross-Cultural Studies of Personality and Behavior’. Questia E-Library. Retrieved 01 May 2008 from

http://www. questia. com/read/113103019? title=Profiling%20Political%20Leaders%3a%20%20Cross-Cultural%20Studies%20of%20Personality%20and%20Behavior. Kellerman, B. (1983). ‘Allison Redux: Three More Decision-Making Models’. Polity, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 351-367. Palgrave Macmillan Journals. Retrieved 01 May 2008 from http://www. palgrave-journals. com/pal/index. html. Michael, A. (2006). ‘Manage to Change’. Retrieved 01 May 2008 from http://managetochange. typepad. com/main/2006/06/the_change_resi_5. html. Olson, L. (2007). ‘Yes, George Bush does recall a British wartime Prime Minister’. The Guardian. Retrieved 01 May 2008 from


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