Executive Agreements Serve to Alter or Detail: An Overview
Executive agreements refer to agreements made between the President of the United States and foreign leaders or governments. These agreements serve as an instrument to manage and guide US foreign policy in the absence of a formal treaty. Executive agreements can be used to alter or detail an existing treaty or to establish new policies without the need for Senate approval.
In essence, executive agreements serve as a means of achieving diplomatic ends without the constraints and time-consuming processes of traditional treaty-making. In this context, executive agreements are often used to address urgent diplomatic issues such as crises, trade disputes, and security concerns.
Executive agreements can be classified into three main categories:
1. Political agreements – These agreements cover non-binding arrangements regarding the political relationship between the US and other countries. Political agreements often involve issues such as human rights, democracy, and security cooperation.
2. Trade agreements – These agreements cover issues related to international trade. One example of this is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which was not ratified by the Senate but enacted through executive agreement.
3. Military agreements – These agreements cover military cooperation and defense issues. Military agreements often involve the establishment of military bases or the deployment of troops to other countries.
Executive agreements can also be used to alter or detail an existing treaty. For example, the US-China Joint Communique of 1972 was not a treaty but an executive agreement. The communique aimed to establish diplomatic relations and set the stage for future cooperation and dialogue between the US and China.
The use of executive agreements has become more prevalent in recent years due to political gridlock and partisanship in the Senate. As the Senate has become increasingly polarized, it has become more difficult to gain approval for treaties. This has led to an increase in the use of executive agreements as a means of achieving diplomatic objectives.
In conclusion, executive agreements serve as an important tool for the President to guide US foreign policy. They allow for the implementation of urgent diplomacy and the alteration or detailing of existing treaties without the need for Senate approval. While executive agreements are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as treaties, they still play an important role in shaping the relationship between the US and other countries.