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Watchdogs on the HillThe Decline of Congressional Oversight of U.S. Foreign Relations$
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Linda L. Fowler

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151618

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151618.001.0001

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Return to the Rule of Law in International Affairs

Return to the Rule of Law in International Affairs

(p.171) Chapter 6 Return to the Rule of Law in International Affairs
Watchdogs on the Hill

Linda L. Fowler

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines normative political issues regarding the importance of legislative oversight in fostering the rule of law and public deliberation about foreign policy. Some observers of U.S. foreign policy argue that lawmakers ask too many questions and damage the nation's interests abroad with untimely inquiries. The performance of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees thus raises broader issues about whether public accountability in international affairs is desirable or even possible in the twenty-first century. The chapter first provides an overview of the paradox of public opinion and oversight of national security before suggesting that a major barrier to a more constructive role for lawmakers in international affairs is not the Constitution, but the large number serving today who have very limited legislative experience. It also discusses the risks to the presidency that result from asserting executive supremacy over national security.

Keywords:   rule of law, foreign policy, Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, international affairs, public opinion, national security oversight, U.S. Constitution, presidency, national security oversight

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