Date Presented

Spring 3-28-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

International Relations

First Advisor

Dr. David Richards

Second Advisor

Dr. Daniel Lang

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian Crim

Abstract

This study utilizes Robert Putnam’s “Two Level Game Theory” to understand whether public opinion influenced President Obama's first-term administration when confronted with foreign policy decisions. Some scholars argue that there is an overall lack in understanding of how public opinion affects American foreign policy because the public is disengaged and uneducated on foreign issues and that the role of media influences the public’s attitude towards a certain issue. Accordingly, it is hypothesized here that public opinion was not a factor in this process. To test this proposition, the study evaluates three cases: the “closing” of Guantanamo Bay, the United States’ intervention in Libya, and the continuation of the drone program. Throughout each case, multiple variables are examined including: public opinion of the citizens and the political elite, President Obama’s political communication, and international diplomatic actions. Findings indicate that public opinion did not play any major role in President Obama’s foreign policy decision-making process; therefore, President Obama’s policies did not meet Robert Putnam’s criteria of domestic influence in the two level game theory.