This chapter turns to the third “outside-in” influence considered in this section of the text: social movements and interests groups. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are important societal actors in the U.S. foreign policy process. Unlike traditional domestic policy interest groups, NGOs involved in foreign policy often cross national boundaries and fill an important and expanding sovereignty gap. In this sense, both transnational organizations and multinational corporations place political pressure on U.S. foreign policy makers. NGOs represent multifaceted foreign policy interests, as some groups are focused on environmental issues while others are driven by religious motives. The sheer number of NGOs and the self-interests of their members make developing foreign policy difficult.
This chapter discusses NGOs at a broader level in the context of social movements--large-scale efforts for political and social change. Issues such as war and the environment have dominated the large social movements inside and outside the United States, influencing the foreign policy agenda and decision-making process. The anti-war movements from Vietnam to Iraq are discussed in detail as they embody some of the most familiar means through which social movements express their preferences. As this chapter concludes, NGOs are an inherent part of the U.S. foreign policy process and continue to influence government actors.