Case Study: Armenian and Cuban Ethnic Interest Groups in American Foreign Policy

Harry H. Terzian


Current academic research has moved away from comparative models as a mechanism by which to assess and understand socio-political as well as historical phenomena. In addition, comparative analysis when it comes to addressing ethnic lobbies is almost nonexistent within contemporary research. This work implements a comparative framework and as a result has unlocked a new approach when addressing ethnic advocacy organizations. The purpose of this research is to assess and document the history and impact of both Armenian and Cuban ethnic interest groups within the United States. Specifically, focusing upon the Armenian National Committee of America and the Cuban American National Foundation. The work centers upon two case studies that embody the relative successes and achievements of both institutions. The first being Section 907 of the Freedom and Support Act of 1992 that banned direct US aid to the Republic of Azerbaijan. The second case study is the passage of The Radio Broadcasting To Cuba Act of 1983 that resulted in what became known as Radio Marti. This work attempts to illustrate the degree to which these Armenian and Cuban ethnic interest groups influenced legislation and by so doing, legitimized their status within their ethnic communities. The passage of these foreign policy initiatives portrayed these diasporan advocacy groups as crucial to the long-term viability of their communities. The comparative model used within this work illustrates that the ethnic interest groups listed above shaped and altered their host nation; the processes they utilized can best be described by four key factors. The relative success and long-term viability of both the legislative acts and the ethnic organizations themselves would be driven by the realization and attainment of these four factors. The comparative model provides a platform by which these four factors are realized, allowing for a broader context by which to understand the impact ethnic interest groups have on US foreign policy development. The corresponding success of these two ethnic interest groups can be directly associated with their ability to advance within as well as successfully employ these four factors.