Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Effects of Ideological Conformity on Foreign Policymaking
During the 1970s, ideological divisions caused by divergent interpretations of the American failure in Vietnam permeated the world of foreign policymaking. This led to a concern among the architects of the Reagan administration that foreign policymaking had become incoherent. They attempted to mitigate the effects of this disharmony by re-establishing a workable degree of ideological conformity within the foreign policy bureaucracy. This thesis focuses on the strategy used to improve ideological conformity and its effect on the foreign policy bureaucracy’s ability to produce well informed policy. Using case studies of two of Reagan’s ambassadors to Central America, it argues that Reagan’s strategy created a foreign policy bureaucracy that manufactured uninformed policy. The influence granted to officials who based their recommendations on regional expertise was severely curtailed. This shift produced a subsequent change in diplomatic practice, as foreign service officers adapted to the demand for allegiance to the president’s agenda. Author Keywords: American Foreign Policy, Central America, Ronald Reagan

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