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Getting His Way: Presidential Preferences and Bureaucratic Relations During Foreign Policy Crises Open Access

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When do presidents harness the power of the office, to get their way in a foreign policy crisis, in the face of bureaucratic opposition? The answer, I find, lies in exploring the influence of factors at the general political, organizational, and individual level of analysis. Drawing from theories at each level, I deduce hypotheses about factors that could influence the success of presidents in realizing their preferences. I test these hypotheses by contrasting two cases with similar empirical characteristics but very different outcomes. I find that the variables determining the success of presidents in realizing their preferences in crisis are length of time in office, experience with the foreign policy machinery of government, and the type and quality of their relationships with top officials. I conclude, in fact, that presidents are likely to realize their preferences when subordinates see themselves as "presidential advisers" rather than as heads of departments, bureaus, or agencies.

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