The issuance of executive orders is one out of several tools that presidents have at their disposal, which they can apply in order to implement policies and more controversially to expand their powers.
Throughout the twentieth and continuing into the twenty first century, presidents have been able to claim broad powers through the issuance of executive orders as they have implemented policies of legislative nature, taking a legislative role, and thus in practice used powers which are originally granted to the Congress in the Constitution.
By examining the executive orders issued from the presidency of FDR, up until present time, one finds that President William (Bill) J. Clinton used executive orders for foreign policy purposes more than any other president. The post- Cold War world was marked by instability and conflict, economic globalization and the opening up of new markets around the world, creating an interesting and challenging international environment in which to operate. As the first president elected after the Cold War’s end, Clinton faced the important task of re-inventing America’s central role on the international scene as he entered the Oval Office.
This thesis explores how and why President Bill Clinton used executive orders for foreign-policy purposes significantly more frequently than most of his predecessors in the 20th century. It provides an assessment of Clinton’s use of executive orders as part of his foreign policy, examining the foreign policy concept of “democratic enlargement”, and moreover, the importance of the economy as part of his foreign policies.
Through the case study of the humanitarian intervention in Kosovo the thesis focuses on Clinton’s use of executive orders as part of the new international environment facing the American government in the post-Cold War world. In doing so, the thesis shed light on important aspects of the use of executive orders implementing foreign policies. These include the issue of Separation of Powers and the War Powers Resolution, and the importance of the president’s ability to act and react swiftly when needed, through the issuance of executive orders.