You don’t need to include as much biographical background information on the president. Include only what is relevant to his foreign policy ideas and his leadership and policy making style. And, when you discuss both of these areas, link biographical information to a particular personal characteristic. For example, many find President Obama’s policy making style to be very “legalistic” (as you mention), with discussion taking on the tenor of a law school classroom (challenges on logic and reasoning, demands for high level of precision and information).
2. You also over-promise a bit in terms of presidential power. As Allison and Zelikow make clear in Chapter 5, the president’s power can actually be quite limited (a “chief clerk”). This is, of course, least true when it comes to a president’s powers as Commander in Chief. But, it is quite true in most other aspects.
3. You don’t discuss the president’s relationships with his chief advisors. Is he more willing to listen to his Chief of Staff or his NSA? His Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense?
4. You should also include (in a more specific, organized fashion) the primary characteristics of his foreign policy making ideas. Does he prefer unilateral or multilateral approaches to foreign policy issues? Diplomatic or military? What types of military actions is he most likely to choose (in this case, a discussion of his willingness to use drones is important)?
In an email to the rest of the class (which you will receive as well), I’m going to recommend that students that the read the second half of Chapter 5 very carefully as they prepare their papers. Pay particular attention to the discussion of how the Secretary of State’s role on pp. 297-298. This is a good example of the type of analysis one should use in this paper.
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