The New Tug-of-War

Congress, the Executive Branch, and National Security

Jeremy D. Rosner
Release Date: January 1, 1995

Since the birth of the republic, U.S. foreign policy has been an uneasy joint venture between the executive branch and Congress. Now that the end of the Cold War has transformed world affairs and the 1994 elections have turned Capitol Hill upside down, how is Congress’s role changing? As the United States faces an array of global challenges—from ethnic conflict to proliferation to trade—is congressional assertiveness in foreign policy a post-Vietnam relic or a post-Cold War inevitability? Is Congress pushing the United States toward isolationism or simply toward more selective internationalism?

The New Tug-of-War addresses these important questions, offering one of the first examinations of the post-Cold war relationship on national security between the White House and Congress. Jeremy Rosner analyzes the sources of change in the relationship-shifting definitions of security, lingering budget deficits, an influx of new members of Congress, partisan turnover in both branches—and traces their influence through detailed case studies of the work of the two branches on aid to the former Soviet Union and multilateral peacekeeping. The study highlights the potential and pitfalls for the executive-congressional relationship in a new security era.