Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2006

Both Sides of the Aisle: A Call for Bipartisan Foreign Policy

Nancy Roman

September 2005

Council on Foreign Relations


The Tuesday-through-Thursday schedule for members of Congress, coupled with social and technological changes that contribute to a scarcity of time, means that fewer Democrats and Republicans know one another in Washington these days. That means that more often, foreign policy is conceived and hatched on one side of the aisle, without the constructive, honing fire of a truly deliberative process.

In this Council Special Report, Nancy E. Roman, vice president and director of the Council's Washington Program, argues that a deliberative bipartisan process matters because it increases the odds that foreign policy will be perceived as American policy and not just Democratic or Republican policy. This increases the likelihood that policy will remain relatively consistent as administrations change hands. At the same time, it improves the odds of developing better policy as criticisms are considered and addressed.

Both Sides of the Aisle offers some recommendations for Congress, the executive branch, and even state legislatures and courts. The report makes clear that much will depend on individual policymakers and the choices they make. We hope this report will encourage them to engage fully on both sides of the aisle.