chapter  Chapter Six
10 Pages

Executive-Legislative Tensions in Foreign Affairs

ByZbigniew Brzezinski

This chapter deals with a most timely and important topic: foreign affairs and the Constitution. A number of constitutional questions have direct relevance to the manner in which the United States shapes its foreign policy. The tensions inherent in the Constitution in the area of foreign policy are an especially timely topic given the current tensions between the executive and legislative and among contending factions within the Congress itself over the US role in the Gulf. The delicate, informal, flexible relationship between the executive and the legislative in foreign affairs operates differently in the context of partisanship than in a context of bipartisanship. A partisan approach to foreign policy inevitably affects the executive-legislative relationship, especially if one party controls the Congress and the other holds the White House. The National Security Council could serve as a vehicle to promote a dialogue on strategy. Congress has debated for months—literally months—about the proper role for US military forces in the Gulf.