Social and Cultural Issues

Social and Cultural Issues

Format APA

Volume of 3 pages (825 words)
Assignment type : Essay


Source A

Enough was enough. The Panic of 1907 sparked one of the worst recessions in U.S. history, as well as similar crises across much of the world. Members of Congress finally saw that having a central bank wasn’t such a bad idea after all. “It is evident,” said Sen. Aldrich, he of the silk top hat and the trip to Jekyll Island, “that while our country has natural advantages greater than those of any other, its normal growth and development have been greatly retarded by this periodical destruction of credit and confidence.”
Legislation Congress enacted immediately after the panic, the Aldrich-Vreeland Act, dealt with some of the financial system’s most pressing needs, but it put off the day of reckoning with the bigger question of what sort of central bank might make sense in a country with a long history of rejecting central banks. It instead created the National Monetary Commission, a group of members of Congress who traveled to the great capitals of Europe to see how their banking systems worked. But the commission was tied in knots.
Agricultural interests were fearful that any new central bank would simply be a tool of Wall Street. They insisted that something be done to make agricultural credit available more consistently, without seasonal swings. The big banks, meanwhile, wanted a lender of last resort to stop crises — but they wanted to be in charge of it themselves, rather than allow politicians to be in charge.
The task for the First Name Club gathered in Jekyll Island in that fall of 1910 was to come up with some sort of approach to balance these concerns while still importing the best features of the European central banks.
The solution they dreamed up was to create, instead of a single central bank, a network of them around the country. Those multiple central banks would accept any “real bills” — essentially promises businesses had received from their customers for payment — as collateral in exchange for cash. A bank facing a shortage of dollars during harvest season could go to its regional central bank and offer a loan to a farmer as collateral in exchange for cash. A national board of directors would set the interest rate on those loans, thus exercising some control over how loose or tight credit would be in the nation as a whole.
The men at Jekyll drafted legislation to create this National Reserve Association, which Aldrich, the most influential senator of his day on financial matters, introduced in Congress three months later.

Neil Irwin, “The Federal Reserve was Created 100 Years Ago, This is How it Happened,” Washington Post, 21, Dec., 2013, available at:

Source B

For most of the nineteenth century, the United States had no central bank to serve as a lender of last resort, leading to a series of crippling financial panics and banking runs. In response, Congress passed—and President Woodrow Wilson signed into law—the 1913 Federal Reserve Act. The law created the Federal Reserve System, comprising twelve public-private regional federal reserve banks.
Today, the Fed is tasked with managing U.S. monetary policy, regulating bank holding companies and other member banks, and monitoring systemic risk. The system’s seat of power is situated in the Washington, DC-based, seven-member Board of Governors, currently headed by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Each member is appointed by the president and subject to confirmation by the Senate. The members of the Board of Governors are part of a larger board, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which includes five of the twelve regional bank presidents on a rotating basis. The FOMC is responsible for setting interest rate targets and managing the money supply.
Historically, the Fed’s monetary policy has been governed by a dual mandate: first, to maintain stable prices, and second, to achieve full employment—the definition of which is debated by economists, but which is generally considered to mean an unemployment rate between 4 and 5 percent. The Fed has generally relied on interest rate policy to pursue these goals, varying its federal funds target rate, the rate at which banks lend to each other, by altering its purchases and sales of U.S. Treasury bonds and other government securities. …
Excessive risk-taking by an undercapitalized banking system triggered the global financial crisis [2008], and it became clear in the aftermath that a new set of regulations was necessary. … [The] Dodd-Frank [Act] instituted a third official mandate for the Fed, empowering it to regulate systemic risk and preserve financial stability. The Fed is now required to present its findings on risky, non-bank financial firms to the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which instructs the Fed on how to sanction those institutions

James McBride, Mohammed Aly Sergie, “The Role of the U.S. Federal Reserve,” Council on Foreign Relations, 17, Dec., 2015, available at:

Source C

The inflation of the late 1970s was a result of Fed attempts to use money market conditions as a guide to policy when interest rates were responding to inflationary expectations resulting from large increases in money stocks. Pumping more money into the system to keep interest rates down only added to expected inflation and increased nominal interest rates. In October 1979, the Fed shifted to its own version of monetarism. Fed “monetarism” lasted officially only until October 1982. In practice, Fed policy never abandoned interest rate targeting and never accepted any rigorous application of true monetarism.
Congress passed the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) in 1980. Title I of the act extended the Fed’s power to specify member bank reserve requirements to include all depository institutions. This issue was contentious because Fed Banks pay zero interest on reserves; thus, the law placed what was essentially a tax on nonmember banks. Title I also extended the eligible collateral for Fed issues of federal reserve notes to include the “fully guaranteed obligations of a foreign government or the agency of a foreign government.”

Richard H. Timberlake, “Federal Reserve System,” The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, Library of Economics and Liberty (2008), available at:

1. Using Sources A, B, and C and your own knowledge account for the founding of the U.S. Federal Reserve and analyze how its role in economic policy has developed since then.

Source E

Budget deficits affect the economy and are affected by the economy. As economic activity weakens, certain government spending programs increase automatically and tax revenue intake slows down. The growing deficit automatically adds stimulus to the economy. In a strengthening economy the opposite tends to happen, with tax revenues growing faster and certain spending programs slowing down. Thus, to some extent, the budget balance acts as an automatic stabilizer of the economy.
However, most economic textbooks suggest not relying only on the deficit as an automatic stabilizer. Instead, they recommend deliberately increasing the deficit with tax and/or spending measures to combat a slowing economy and deliberately reducing the deficit as economic growth is restored. Ideally, deficits should be run in weak times offset by surpluses in strong time.
Fiscal policy has traditionally focused on the deficit rather than the level of debt. However, in recent years, the level of the debt has received increased attention, with higher and higher levels of debt being thought to inhibit economic activity. Certainly, as debt grows, interest payments on the debt take a larger portion of tax revenues and crowd out other government expenditures. Recently, however, the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, by lowering interest rates over a prolonged period, have reduced the cost of servicing the growing debt. In addition to that, the Fed’s larger balance sheet caused by more Treasury security holdings, have directly reduced the burden of federal debt since Fed earnings on its holdings are repatriated to the Treasury. Some worry that those benefits will reverse when interest rates are normalized and if and when the Fed sells of its portfolio of Treasury securities.

Bob McTeer, “The Shrinking Budget Deficit and the Slowing Growth of Federal Debt,” Forbes, 11, Oct., 2015, available at:

Source F

Maintaining a balanced budget has been a central economic goal since the 1980s, when budget deficits skyrocketed. Large deficits are a concern for several reasons. First, they take a big bite out of current spending. About $258 billion, or 7.3 percent, of the 2012 fiscal year budget went to financing the federal debt. These dollars went to people who own federal bonds and securities; the monies did not buy a single uniform for a soldier, highway exit ramp, or student loan. Second, the total federal debt is a burden on future generations. Each man, woman, and child in the United States in effect carries more than $51,386 of federal debt.

William T. Bianco and David T. Canon, American Politics Today: Essentials Edition (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010), p. 436.

Source G

In the long run, the relationship between the growth rate of the federal debt and the overall rate of economic growth is critical to economic stability. As long as the debt grows more rapidly than output, the ratio of debt to gross domestic product (GDP) will rise. Debt growth in excess of economic growth is ultimately unsustainable. Whether the debt-to-GDP ratio is on such a path depends on the size of the budget deficit, the rate of interest, and the rate of growth in GDP.
What matters most, as far as economic stability is concerned, is what investors believe to be the long-run outlook for the debt-to-GDP ratio. If large deficits are expected to persist, or if the interest rate on the debt is expected to exceed the growth rate indefinitely, then at some point the federal government may begin to find it more difficult to sell new securities.
Should the federal government be unable to find private sector buyers, the Federal Reserve might buy Treasury securities in order to sustain their marketability. Should it decide to do so, then the threat is no longer one of government insolvency, but rather of inflation.

Brian W. Cashell, “The Federal Government Debt: Its Size and Economic Significance”, Congressional Research Service Report, 3 Feb. 2010, Summary.

2. Using Sources E, F, and G and your own knowledge, assess the significance of U.S. budget deficits and the escalating national debt.

Source H

The United States federal government has spent or obligated 4.4 trillion dollars on the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. This figure includes: direct Congressional war appropriations; war-related increases to the Pentagon base budget; veterans care and disability; increases in the homeland security budget; interest payments on direct war borrowing; foreign assistance spending; and estimated future obligations for veterans’ care.
This total omits many other expenses, such as the macroeconomic costs to the US economy; the opportunity costs of not investing war dollars in alternative sectors; future interest on war borrowing; and local government and private war costs.
The current wars have been paid for almost entirely by borrowing. This borrowing has raised the US budget deficit, increased the national debt, and had other macroeconomic effects, such as raising consumer interest rates. Unless the US immediately repays the money borrowed for war, there will also be future interest payments. We estimate that interest payments could total over $7 trillion by 2053.
Spending on the wars has involved opportunity costs for the US economy. Although military spending does produce jobs, spending in other areas such as health care could produce more jobs. Additionally, while investment in military infrastructure grew, investment in other, nonmilitary, public infrastructure such as roads and schools did not grow at the same rate.
Finally, federal war costs exclude billions of dollars of state, municipal, and private war costs across the country – dollars spent on services for returned veterans and their families, in addition to local homeland security efforts.

Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, “Costs of War: Economic Costs”, Brown University, April 2015, available at:

Source I

Over a decade of US wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq will in the end cost as much as $6 trillion, the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household.
These wars have left the United States heavily indebted and will have a profound impact on the federal government’s fiscal and budgetary crises over a protracted period. These are the conclusions of a new report issued by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Drafted by Linda Bilmes, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard and a leading expert on financial, budget and veterans issues, the report attributes the largest share of the trillions of dollars in continuing costs to care and compensation for hundreds of thousands of troops left physically and psychologically damaged by the two wars. …
Another major share of the long-term costs of the wars comes from paying off trillions of dollars in debt incurred as the US government failed to include their cost in annual budgets and simultaneously implemented sweeping tax cuts for the rich.
In addition, huge expenditures are being made to replace military equipment used in the two wars. The report also cites improvements in military pay and benefits made in 2004 to counter declining recruitment rates as casualties rose in the Iraq war. …
Washington ended up borrowing some $2 trillion to finance the two wars, the bulk of it from foreign lenders. This accounts for roughly 20 percent of the total amount added to the US national debt between 2001 and 2012. According to the report, the US “has already paid $260 billion in interest on the war debt,” and future interest payments will amount to trillions of dollars.
“It is important to note that this borrowing has not been used to invest in the capital stock of the country,” the report notes. “For example, investing in education, infrastructure and knowledge (R&D) benefits the nation, so this is debt for a helpful purpose. By contrast, the war debt has been especially unhelpful.”
Vast resources literally went up in smoke in Iraq and Afghanistan, while tens of billions of dollars were squandered on supposed aid and reconstruction programs that were riddled with corruption, incompetence and inefficiency, doing little or nothing to improve conditions for the populations of those countries.

Bill Van Auken, “The Most Expensive War in World History: Costs of Iraq, Afghanistan wars could rise to $6 trillion”, Global Research: Center for Research on Globalization, 2 April 2013, available at:

3. Using Sources H and I and your own knowledge, assess the economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source J

The budget that the president submits to Congress each winter is the end product of a process that begins the previous spring under the supervision of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB is located within the Executive Office of the President and is headed by a director appointed by the president with the approval of the Senate. The OMB, with a staff of more than five hundred, is the most powerful domestic agency in the bureaucracy, and its director, who attends meetings of the president’s cabinet, is one of the most powerful figures in government. Thousands of pages long, the president’s budget contains more than numbers. It also explains individual spending programs in terms of national needs and agency objectives, and it analyzes proposed taxes and other receipts.

Kenneth Janda, Jeffrey M. Berry, and Jerry Goldman, The Challenges of Democracy, 8th edition, (Boston: Wadsworth Publishing, 2012), p. 476.

Source K

About two-thirds of the budget goes to mandatory spending, programs for which the government does not set a spending cap in advance, but, instead, provides specified benefits to everyone who meets the eligibility criteria. For example, once Congress sets the rules for Medicare—the health insurance program for the elderly—the exact amount of spending varies from year to year based on the size of the elderly population and how much or how little they use heath care services.
The other third of federal outlays, discretionary spending, is determined by Congress on an annual basis. Agencies cannot spend more than the sums appropriated by the Congress. For example, funding for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is discretionary, which means that every year Congress decides how much federal money to authorize it to use—in 2015, $18 billion. NASA then has to operate within that budget.

Anna Malinovskaya and Louise Sheiner, “The Hutchins Center Explains: Federal Budget Basics,” The Brookings Institution, 1 June 2016, available at:

4. Using Sources J and K and your own knowledge, analyze how the Federal Budget is drafted, approved, and implemented.

Topic 2: Social and Cultural Issues

Source L

Real progress was made during the era of affirmative action. A 1998 study conducted by William Bowen and Derek Bok (former presidents of Princeton and Harvard) found that in 1960 5.4% of blacks between the ages of 25 and 29 had graduated from college; by 1995 that share had jumped to 15.4%. Blacks went from barely 1% of law students in 1960 and 2.2% of medical students in 1964 to 7.5% and 8.1% by 1995. They almost doubled their representation among the nation’s doctors and almost tripled it among America’s engineers and lawyers.
But that was not all due to affirmative action. Thomas Sowell, an economist, points out that black education levels began rising, and poverty levels falling, as blacks started to move out of the South in the 1940s and 1950s. And even if Mr Bowen and Mr Bok are correct, and affirmative action did greatly benefit blacks in the first couple of generations after segregation, it does not follow that it should remain in place today, when most blacks at university are from middle- or upper-class families and many are recent immigrants never touched by pre-1960s discrimination.

Hence the shift in goals from remedying racial injustice to fostering diversity: hence the insistence of university administrators that race is just part of an “overall holistic view” of each candidate.

“Affirmative Action: Unequal Protection, The Economist, 27 April 2013, available at:

Source M

The University implemented the Top Ten Percent Law in 1998. After first admitting any student who qualified for admission under that law, the University filled the remainder of its incoming freshman class using a combination of an applicant’s AI and PAI scores—again, without considering race. The University used this admissions system until 2003, when this Court decided the companion cases of Grutter v.Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, and Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244. In Gratz, this Court struck down the University of Michigan’s undergraduate system of admissions, which at the time allocated predetermined points to racial minority candidates. … In Grutter however, the Court upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s system of holistic review—a system that did not mechanically assign points but rather treated race as a relevant feature within the broader context of a candidate’s application. … In upholding this nuanced use of race, Grutter implicitly overruled Hopwood’s categorical prohibition.
In the wake of Grutter, the University embarked upon a year-long study seeking to ascertain whether its admissions policy was allowing it to provide “the educational benefits of a diverse student body . . . to all of the University’s undergraduate students.” … The University concluded that its admissions policy was not providing these benefits. Supp. App. 24a– 25a.
To change its system, the University submitted a proposal to the Board of Regents that requested permission to begin taking race into consideration as one of “the many ways in which [an] academically qualified individual might contribute to, and benefit from, the rich, diverse, and challenging educational environment of the University.” … After the board approved the proposal, the University adopted a new admissions policy to implement it. The University has continued to use that admissions policy to this day.

Justice Kennedy with the opinion of the Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin et al. No. 14-981, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), available at:

5. Using Sources L and M and your own knowledge, assess the impact of affirmative action on higher education.

Source N

In 28 states, it is legal to fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. While there is some federal recourse through civil rights and equal employment claims, there’s no national anti-discrimination law to protect LGBT workers from state whims. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits job discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion and nation of origin, but does not extend those protections to LGBT people.
Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island democrat, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon democrat, introduced comprehensive legislation on July 23 to address the issue. The bill, called the Equality Act, has 168 co-sponsors in the House, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, 39 co-sponsors in the Senate and encompasses issues of discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education and jury service.
“Although you can be married Saturday, post your pictures on Facebook on Sunday, you could then be fired Monday,” Cicilline told USA TODAY.
Workplace gay rights are likely to take more of the national spotlight in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on June 26 to legalize same-sex marriage. For many people, the Supreme Court decision was just the beginning. Advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community now seek to conquer another frontier: ending workplace discrimination.

Jennifer Callas, “Employment Discrimination: The Next Frontier for LGBT Community,” USA Today, 1, Aug., 2015, available at:

Source O

Nationally, antidiscrimination laws for gay people are a patchwork with major geographic inequities, said Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute at the School of Law of the University of California, Los Angeles. “Those who don’t live on the two coasts or in the Northeast have been left behind in terms of legal protection,” he said.
At least 22 states bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, and most of them also offer protections to transgender people…
In many states, some local governments have antidiscrimination laws, but they are often weak or poorly enforced, said Ruth Colker, an expert on discrimination law at Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University.
“Typically, the penalty for violating a city ordinance is more akin to a traffic violation,” she said. “State-level penalties can be much more significant.”
As they push for more state and local safeguards, rights advocates are also starting a long-term campaign for a broad federal shield that would give sexual orientation and gender identity protected status under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The goal is to achieve overlapping local, state and federal laws, an approach that has proved effective in curbing other kinds of discrimination, said Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group. Visible laws can not only permit lawsuits, she said, but also deter employers and others from biased behavior.
Although a majority of states lack such protections, federal orders and court decisions, especially in employment, are gradually offering more safeguards.
With executive orders last year, President Obama barred discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by federal agencies and federal contractors, including companies employing about one in five American workers, Mr. Sears said.

Erik Eckholm, “Next Fight for Gay Rights: Bias in Jobs and Housing,” The New York Times, 27 June 2015, available at:

6. Using Sources N and O and your own knowledge, evaluate the effectiveness of protections afforded to LGBT individuals in housing and employment at the state and federal levels.

Source P

To many Americans, the war on poverty declared 50 years ago by President Lyndon B. Johnson has largely failed. The poverty rate has fallen only to 15 percent from 19 percent in two generations, and 46 million Americans live in households where the government considers their income scarcely adequate.
But looked at a different way, the federal government has succeeded in preventing the poverty rate from climbing far higher. There is broad consensus that the social welfare programs created since the New Deal have hugely improved living conditions for low-income Americans. At the same time, in recent decades, most of the gains from the private economy have gone to those at the top of the income ladder.

Annie Lowrey, “50 Years Later, War on Poverty Is a Mixed Bag,” The New York Times, 4 January 2014, available at:

Source Q

But the on-the-ground successes weren’t matched by an equivalent long-term shift in attitudes. By the late 1970s, a majority of the electorate was growing impatient with the escalating costs of these programs. And in the decades since, poverty and its accompanying scourges—food insecurity, homelessness, inadequate access to medical care, poor schools—have all made a dramatic comeback. Today, almost all of the benefits of economic growth flow up to the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans—and even within that narrow band, a grossly disproportionate share of the gains go to the tiny sliver of the top 1 percent. The further down the economic ladder one finds oneself, the more one is vulnerable to stunningly destructive financial trends. For the bottom quintile of income earners in particular, real wages have declined massively in the past decades—accelerating trends unleashed in the mid-1970s, just as the efforts of the War on Poverty were drawing down and the “war on crime,” which would ultimately see the United States become the world’s largest incarcerator, was ramping up.
Today, nearly 47 million Americans live below the poverty line. And 22.5 percent of kids, according to Census Bureau data, live in impoverished households. But until the fiftieth anniversary of the War on Poverty focused attention on the issue, the conversation in Washington and in most state capitals hasn’t been about their plight. Rather, at least since the 2010 midterms, it’s been about cutting their access to benefits like food stamps, limiting expenditures on programs like Head Start, and attempting to drug-test applicants for welfare and, in some states, for unemployment benefits. For much of the electorate and a good portion of the country’s political elite, the poor have returned to their old Victorian status as undeserving and morally problematic, their poverty a sign of failure and sloth.

Sasha Abramsky, “The Battle Hymn of the War on Poverty,” The Nation, 15 January 2014, available at:

7. Using Sources P and Q and your own knowledge, assess the effectiveness of the “War on Poverty” today.

Source R

It is Rogers M. Smith who, in his analysis of the evolution of American citizenship laws, provides one of the most insightful frameworks to best understand how the evolution of national identity in American political development has often depended on both exclusion and inclusion, that is, identifying a group for exclusion from the rights and privileges of full citizenship because of its perceived threat to national interests while, at the same time, calls are made for the inclusion of other groups to be added to the aggregation of interests that comprise the national interest. According to Smith, it is useful to characterize “American civic identity” as being comprised of three coexistent civic ideologies or myths of civic identity: 1) individual liberalism that acknowledges individual rights and limited government; 2) democratic republicanism that gives importance to collective fate; and 3) ascriptive inegalitarianism that uses law to define who is included in the body politic, and by necessity, who is excluded. These three traditions compete with one another in the extent to which they drive which groups and interests, often times including immigrant groups, are included as legitimate parts of the American nation. The need for elected leaders to receive support from majorities of the electorate, he argues, gives political leaders opportunities to manipulate whose interests are—and, by extension, are not—legitimate in the body politic. It is this constant tension between the need to include and the simultaneous benefits of exclusion, that has directly contributed to the evolution of American national identity.

Luis R. Fraga and Gary M. Segura, “Culture Clash? Contesting Notions of American Identity and the Effects of Latin American Immigration,” Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 4, No. 2, (June 2006), p. 280, available at:

Source S

The dilemma of immigration and identity ultimately converges with the larger problem of the valuelessness of postmodernity. That is, the rise of relativism has made it impossible for postmodern people to assert positive values for which they stand, and therefore the kinds of shared beliefs they demand as a condition for citizenship. Postmodern societies, particularly those in Europe, feel that they have evolved past identities defined by religion and nation and have arrived at a superior place. But aside from their celebration of endless diversity and tolerance, postmodern people find it difficult to agree on the substance of the good life to which they aspire in common. Immigration forces upon us in a particularly acute way discussion of the question “Who are we?” posed by Samuel Huntington. It is easy to agree on things like football and beer-drinking as elements of a common culture, but it is much harder to say which aspects of national history are important. If postmodern societies are to move toward a more serious discussion of identity, they will need to uncover those positive virtues that define what it means to be a member of the larger community. If they do not, they will indeed be overwhelmed by people who are more sure about who they are.

Francis Fukuyama, “Identity, Immigration, and Liberal Democracy,” Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, No. 2, (Apr., 2006), pp. 18-19.

8. Using Sources R and S and your own knowledge, analyze the problems associated with the construction of American national identity.

Topic 3: U.S. Foreign Policy

Source T

How do international relations look when viewed through the lens of FPA? First and formemost, the decision-making approach of FPA breaks apart the monolithic view of nation-states as unitary actors. It focuses on the people and units that comprise the state. For example, “the United States” could mean certain individuals (the president, secretary of state, secretary of defense), a set of bureaucratic agencies (the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency), or certain formally constituted groups with a mandate involving international affairs (the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives). Indeed, for any one problem, all these entities could be doing things at once-and their actions may not logically fit together into a coherent “U.S. policy.” Moreover, for scholars involved in FPA, “the national interest,” a concept that lies at the heart of the realist analysis of IR, is more productively viewed as the interests of various players-not all of which may coincide, and not all of which are coherently related to anything resembling an objective national interest.

Valerie M. Hudson and Christopher S. Vore, “Foreign Policy Analysis Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” Mershon International Studies Review, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Oct., 1995), p. 210.

Source U

A critical reading of American foreign policy-making process suggests that no single source category can dictate American foreign policy. These sources collectively influence American foreign-policy outcomes; therefore, they are all essential to get a comprehensive picture of how American foreign decisions are made.
The external or systematic sources point out that to understand the behaviour of US foreign policy it is necessary to take into account the events or dynamics taking place in the international system. Like any other country, the US can be affected by what is happening in the realm of world politics, therefore, US government has to take into consideration what is happening in the international system when it decides its foreign policy behavior. Put it simply, the making of US foreign policy is impacted by events in the international politics.
Yet, many foreign policy analysts argue that domestic sources of US foreign policy have a more important role to play than external sources. The societal sources represent the nongovernmental aspects of US society. It is believed that US foreign policy reflects the core values and ideology of its domestic political system. This can be seen in the way the US seeks to promote and expand democracy, freedom and human rights all over the world.

Hang Thi Thuy Nguyen, “Theories of U.S. Foreign Policy: An Overview,” World Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 1, No. 1, (2014), p. 21.

9. Using Sources T and U and your own knowledge, examine how foreign policy analysis can aid understanding of American political systems.

Source V

Power is one of the more contestable concepts in political theory, but it is conventional and convenient to define it as “the ability to effect the outcomes you want and, if necessary, to change the behavior of others to make this happen.” (Joseph S. Nye, Jr.) In recent decades, scholars and commentators have chosen to distinguish between two kinds of power, “hard” and “soft.” The former, hard power, is achieved through military threat or use, and by means of economic menace or reward. The latter, soft power, is the ability to have influence by co-opting others to share some of one’s values and, as a consequence, to share some key elements on one’s agenda for international order and security. Whereas hard power obliges its addressees to consider their interests in terms mainly of calculable costs and benefits, principally the former, soft power works through the persuasive potency of ideas that foreigners find attractive. The nominal promise in this logic is obvious. Plainly, it is highly desirable if much of the world external to America wants, or can be brought to want, a great deal of what America happens to favor also. Coalitions of the genuinely

Colin S. Gray, “Hard Power and Soft Power: The Utility of Military Force as an Instrument of Policy in the 21st Century,” Strategic Studies Institute, (Apr., 2011), p. v, available at:

Source W

The debate over whether U.S. interests abroad are better served by hard power—coercive means such as military force—or soft power—less aggressive means of persuasion, such as diplomacy, economic aid, and propaganda—is perennial. Since becoming president, Barack Obama has emphasized soft power, suggesting that an over-reliance on military force has alienated many of the United States’ friends and allies without achieving much in return. But many Republicans, and even some Democrats, accuse him of overcorrecting and, in turn, inviting bad behavior from the likes of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. For all their finger-pointing, both parties have, in reality, come to embrace an intermediary approach—what can best be called “energy power.”

10. Using Sources V and W and your own knowledge, evaluate whether U.S. interests are best served by hard power or soft power.

Short Essay Rubric

General Guidance

Students should be rewarded according to the quality of thought expressed in their answer and not solely according to the amount of knowledge conveyed. However, students with only a superficial knowledge will be unable to develop analytical points sufficiently to move to higher levels in the rubric. In assessing the quality of thought, consider whether the answer:

• is relevant to the question;
• responds to all elements in the question;
• establishes and sustains an argument;
• deploys knowledge accurately in support of the argument.

Decide which of the level descriptors best captures the characteristics of the answer. There may well be evidence of work at different levels within a short essay. One stronger passage characteristic of Level 4 would not by itself merit a Level 4 award, but it would be evidence to support a Level 3 award, unless there were also substantial weaknesses in other areas.

The rubric must be considered in conjunction with the assignment excerpts. Instructors and students are reminded that essays must incorporate analysis of the excerpts in the assignment.


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