James M. Lindsay, senior vice president, director of studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg chair at the Council on Foreign Relations, lists the foreign policy powers of the U.S. Congress—including the particular powers of the Senate—and of the president for “Boko Haram in Nigeria” and other CFR Model Diplomacy (https://modeldiplomacy.cfr.org) case studies. He reviews various ways in which Congress can affect foreign policy. Lindsay also explains that influence over foreign policy has ebbed and flowed between the president and Congress over time. He cites, for example, congressional dominance in the second half of the nineteenth century and the “imperial presidency” after World War II.

Congressional power is greatest, Lindsay says, when the president cannot act without congressional consent, as in lifting sanctions that Congress has imposed. Conversely, the president has the upper hand when he or she can act without congressional approval, as presidents have often done when using military force. Lindsay concludes by suggesting that agreement between the president and Congress does not always produce good policy, and that disagreement is not always something to fear.

Instructors interested in exploring “Boko Haram in Nigeria” and other cases for their classrooms can visit the Model Diplomacy case library. https://modeldiplomacy.cfr.org/#/cases

For more educational resources from the Council on Foreign Relations, visit CFR Campus at http://www.cfr.org/campus/.


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