"Foreign Policy Appointments"
Leaders often appoint foreign policy agents and advisors whose policy preferences diverge from the leader’s own, and these appointments are thought to be internationally consequential. Yet unlike judges or central bankers, foreign policy appointees typically serve at the pleasure of their appointing leaders and can be removed at will in the event of a policy disagreement. How can executive appointees meaningfully constrain a leader’s foreign policy behavior? Using a game-theoretic model, this paper demonstrates how leaders can use executive appointments to overcome commitment problems in the conduct of foreign relations. With properly aligned preferences, an appointee's public endorsement of a policy can influence a domestic audience’s retrospective evaluation of the leader’s foreign policy performance. By shaping audience beliefs, the appointee can indirectly raise the leader’s cost of taking an action he would otherwise be inclined to take. Foreign actors, aware of these intragovernmental dynamics, interpret an executive appointment as a credible commitment on the leader’s part to conduct foreign policy in a way that is consistent with the appointee’s preferences, and adjust their own behavior in response. The utility of appointing a biased agent depends on the leader’s ideological position relative to that of his domestic audience: a moderately dovish leader can enhance international deterrence by appointing a hawkishly-biased agent; while an extremely hawkish or extremely dovish leader can improve his domestic support by appointing a misaligned agent, even though such an agent will never actually influence the leader’s international conduct.