Moving Democracy to Action: Agenda Setting and Consensus Building in Developing Responses to Perceived Soviet Threats.
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH
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The need to set the public agenda in such a manner as to build support for foreign affairs and defense initiatives has been a recognized aspect of democratic politics ever since Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence with an eye toward a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. This study examines the struggles to set that agenda which have been associated with efforts to build domestic consensus in support of American defense policies in three cases NSC-68 in 1950-51 the missile gap of the late 1950s and the window of vulnerability which was supposed to open in the early 1980s. The focus of this effort is upon the relative influence of the President, the Congress, opinion elites, foreign powers, and the American mass media in setting the agenda and building consensus in support of specific policies designed to counter what were perceived as increases in the Soviet threat to the security of the United States in each case. Looking at stages in the development of governmental and public awareness of an increase in the level of the threat as portrayed in the mass media, and subsequently at the success or failure of efforts to counter that threat, this study advances the thesis that while a threat may be placed upon the public agenda by any combination of governmental and non-governmental sources, only the President has the ability to transform this effort into the support which may carry a defense program through to policy execution. Author
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics