While the importance of pressure groups in the policymaking process in the United States has been studied widely and generally accepted as a given, the role that these groups play in foreign policy development is less well known. However, the explosion of ethnic conflicts abroad, the increasingly “global” economic environment, and calls for U.S. intervention in trouble spots abroad have increased the number of pressure groups focusing on foreign policy and brought new attention to the role that these groups may play in influencing U.S. foreign policy. Noting the relative success of the Israeli, Cuban, and Irish lobbying efforts, ethnic and diasporic groups are now frequent voices in today's pluralist universe, and a new literature is emerging that attempts to explain the proliferation of ethnic lobbying. 2 These groups focus predominantly on policies affecting their countries of origin and must rely on grassroots lobbying techniques to legitimize their causes to members of Congress and the executive branch.
Despite the increased attention to ethnic interest groups, scholars know little about the ways in which these groups form, attract membership, and mobilize to influence U.S. policy. Social scientists have not adequately explained why some groups successfully mobilize their communities to produce powerful ethnic lobbies while other groups remain politically dormant, failing to translate ethnic solidarity into political activism. The post-Cold War conflict in the Balkans gave rise to activism by a number of ethnic groups in the United States and offered a unique opportunity to study how ethnic groups develop and implement strategies to mobilize ethnic Americans in an attempt to sway U.S. policymakers. As global attention turned to the bloody conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Serbs, Croats, Muslims, and Kosovars in the United States strove to have their views heard as successive U.S. administrations debated appropriate responses. This