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Street Corner Preachers of Foreign Policy: Religious Organizations and the Attempt to Change U.S. Policy Toward Cuba

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Abstract:

Street corner preachers are preachers without walls. They do not have the comforts or benefits of established congregations. Each time they preach, they must acquire and try to keep an audience while they deliver a message. However, the costs of not having a supportive religious institution could also result in benefits such as having the freedom to choose any style and to preach an uninhibited message.

The purpose of this article is to look at the role of faith-based nongovernmental organizations (FNGOs) in incorporating normative issues of human rights concerns into foreign policy. FNGOs could be considered the “street corner preachers” of U.S. foreign policy. Rather than addressing what has happened or what could happen in international relations, normative debates focus on what should happen. Normative issues are not typically given priority in foreign policy. Difficulties for FNGOs in finding a voice in foreign policy are high considering the fact that they typically lack the resources and acceptability of more powerful organized interests such as foreign governments and large corporations. Nevertheless, FNGOs are free from policymaking constraints and are therefore able to maintain a consistent witness in the realm of politics.

The case of U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba provides a prime context for studying FNGOs due to the deep division between those who advocate the position that Cuba is a national security threat to the United States and those who emphasize the normative argument that provision of food, medicine, humanitarian aid, and normalized relations should be the United States’ primary policy towards one of its nearest neighbors. For over forty years, the latter viewpoint has faced an uphill battle in establishing itself in U.S. policy on Capitol Hill. This leads to the main topic of this article: In particular, how and why do FNGOs seek to have an impact on U.S. foreign policy when they typically lack the resources and acceptability of more powerful organized interests?

Even though any FNGO seeking to have influence in this realm may be considered outside the mainstream and therefore a “street corner preacher” of foreign policy, some are more acceptable to decision-makers than others. A street corner preacher who stands still and speaks gently may be considered more acceptable than one who uses a bull-horn and confronts passers-by. Similarly, FNGOs use a diversity of tactics to impact U.S. foreign policy.

In delving into the complexity of the FNGOs in this study, their tactics can be divided into two separate stances. On the one hand, moderate groups seek to increase their acceptability to policy makers by engaging in traditional lobbying tactics such as establishing coalitions, building relationships with government officials, and seeking success on incremental measures. On the other hand, resistance-oriented groups seek to protest policy measures they consider immoral by engaging in civil disobedience. As a result, several questions are addressed: 1) What do FNGOs hope to achieve with these stances as moderate groups or resistance groups? 2) What are the implications of each mode of operation?

Most Common Document Word Stems:

group (123), polici (108), cuba (97), crs (69), foreign (68), mcc (67), fngos (63), u.s (62), organ (60), polit (54), 2001 (51), humanitarian (47), human (47), right (46), goal (45), peac (40), seek (35), faith (32), issu (32), embargo (32), interest (31),

Author's Keywords:

Cuba, interest groups, organized interests, Mennonite, Pastors for Peace, religious interests, foreign policy, civil society, faith-based, NGOs
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MLA Citation:

Zook, Nathan. "Street Corner Preachers of Foreign Policy: Religious Organizations and the Attempt to Change U.S. Policy Toward Cuba" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL, Sep 02, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p60654_index.html>

APA Citation:

Zook, N. , 2004-09-02 "Street Corner Preachers of Foreign Policy: Religious Organizations and the Attempt to Change U.S. Policy Toward Cuba" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p60654_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Street corner preachers are preachers without walls. They do not have the comforts or benefits of established congregations. Each time they preach, they must acquire and try to keep an audience while they deliver a message. However, the costs of not having a supportive religious institution could also result in benefits such as having the freedom to choose any style and to preach an uninhibited message.

The purpose of this article is to look at the role of faith-based nongovernmental organizations (FNGOs) in incorporating normative issues of human rights concerns into foreign policy. FNGOs could be considered the “street corner preachers” of U.S. foreign policy. Rather than addressing what has happened or what could happen in international relations, normative debates focus on what should happen. Normative issues are not typically given priority in foreign policy. Difficulties for FNGOs in finding a voice in foreign policy are high considering the fact that they typically lack the resources and acceptability of more powerful organized interests such as foreign governments and large corporations. Nevertheless, FNGOs are free from policymaking constraints and are therefore able to maintain a consistent witness in the realm of politics.

The case of U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba provides a prime context for studying FNGOs due to the deep division between those who advocate the position that Cuba is a national security threat to the United States and those who emphasize the normative argument that provision of food, medicine, humanitarian aid, and normalized relations should be the United States’ primary policy towards one of its nearest neighbors. For over forty years, the latter viewpoint has faced an uphill battle in establishing itself in U.S. policy on Capitol Hill. This leads to the main topic of this article: In particular, how and why do FNGOs seek to have an impact on U.S. foreign policy when they typically lack the resources and acceptability of more powerful organized interests?

Even though any FNGO seeking to have influence in this realm may be considered outside the mainstream and therefore a “street corner preacher” of foreign policy, some are more acceptable to decision-makers than others. A street corner preacher who stands still and speaks gently may be considered more acceptable than one who uses a bull-horn and confronts passers-by. Similarly, FNGOs use a diversity of tactics to impact U.S. foreign policy.

In delving into the complexity of the FNGOs in this study, their tactics can be divided into two separate stances. On the one hand, moderate groups seek to increase their acceptability to policy makers by engaging in traditional lobbying tactics such as establishing coalitions, building relationships with government officials, and seeking success on incremental measures. On the other hand, resistance-oriented groups seek to protest policy measures they consider immoral by engaging in civil disobedience. As a result, several questions are addressed: 1) What do FNGOs hope to achieve with these stances as moderate groups or resistance groups? 2) What are the implications of each mode of operation?

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Document Type: .PDF
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Street Corner Preachers of Foreign Policy: Religious Organizations and the Attempt to Change U.S. Policy Toward Cuba By Nathan Zook University of Tennessee Prepared for delivery at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association September 2-5 2004. Copyright by the American Political Science Association. Street corner preachers are preachers without walls. They do not have the comforts or benefits of established congregations. Each time they preach they must acquire and try to keep an audience while
A. Loomis. Washington: Congressional Quarterly 1995. 369-391. Warkentin Craig. Reshaping World Politics: NGOs the Internet and Global Civil Society. Lanham: Rowman 2001. Weaver R. Kent and James G. McGann. "Think Tanks and Civil Societies in a Time of Change." Think Tanks and Civil Societies: Catalysts for Ideas and Actions. Ed. James G. McGann and R. Kent Weaver. New Brunswick: Transaction 2000. Wehr Paul and John Paul Lederach. Journal of Peace Research 28.1 (1991): 85-98. Wolfe Alan. "Whose Keeper? Social


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