Interest Groups and Foreign Policymaking: A View from the White House
Ernest J. Wilson III
AT THE start of the Clinton administration the White House was buffeted by vast changes in the international system as well as substantial shifts in domestic politics. 1 Astute observers predicted that these broad shifts would provoke changes in key elements of U.S. foreign policymaking, especially where foreign and domestic issues converged. They anticipated the rise of new foreign policy issues ( U.S. State Department 1992); the appearance of new foreign policy groups and voices ( Clough 1994); and, implicitly at least, new political dynamics in the domestic politics of foreign affairs that would reshape access to the foreign policymaking agencies through lobbying and public engagement ( Stanley Foundation 1996).
This chapter analyzes what actually happened in the domestic politics of foreign affairs during the first term of the Clinton administration. It discusses whether or not forecasts about new issues, new voices, and new politics came to pass. It describes some continuities and changes in the ways that external groups lobbied the White House on foreign affairs and the White House engaged and responded to interest groups on foreign policy. The chapter also presents a framework for understanding the role of interest groups in the White House foreign policy process.
There are certainly a priori political reasons to believe that this particular Democratic president and his administration would eagerly embrace these changes in order to advance their own domestic and international agendas.