A Creative Tension is a unique look at the foreign policy roles of Congress and the president by one of the most astute congressional practitioners of foreign policy of recent decades, former U.S. representative and chairman of the House International Relations Committee Lee H. Hamilton. With an insider’s perspective based on thirty-four years in Congress, Hamilton elucidates current domestic and international pressures influencing U.S. foreign policy, strengths and weaknesses in the foreign policy process, and ways to improve the performance of the president and Congress. A Creative Tension argues persuasively that better consultation between the executive and legislative branches is the most effective way to strengthen American foreign policy. This book should be of interest to foreign policymakers, scholars and students of American politics, and the general public.

Lee H. Hamilton was U.S. representative from the Ninth District of Indiana from 1965 to 1999, and a member of the House Committee on International Relations for his entire tenure. Now director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., he also serves as director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. Jordan Tama was until recently special assistant to the director at the Woodrow Wilson Center.



1. Introduction: New International Challenges and Opportunities

2. Changes in the Making of Foreign Policy

3. Continuities in the Making of Foreign Policy

4. Consultation between the President and Congress

5. Conclusion: Shaping a Twenty-First-Century Foreign Policy



“This is the best participant/practitioner work on the topic by far. There is a need for it, and the best feature is that it is by a highly respected participant in the congressional-executive relationship, Lee Hamilton.”—James A. Thurber, Director, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University