Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy

Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy

Morton H. Halperin
Priscilla A. Clapp
with Arnold Kanter
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 2
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy
    Book Description:

    The first edition ofBureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policyis one of the most successful Brookings titles of all time. This thoroughly revised version updates that classic analysis of the role played by the federal bureaucracy -civilian career officials, political appointees, and military officers -and Congress in formulating U.S. national security policy, illustrating how policy decisions are actually made. Government agencies, departments, and individuals all have certain interests to preserve and promote. Those priorities, and the conflicts they sometimes spark, heavily influence the formulation and implementation of foreign policy. A decision that looks like an orchestrated attempt to influence another country may in fact represent a shaky compromise between rival elements within the U.S. government. The authors provide numerous examples of bureaucratic maneuvering and reveal how they have influenced our international relations. The revised edition includes new examples of bureaucratic politics from the past three decades, from Jimmy Carter's view of the State Department to conflicts between George W. Bush and the bureaucracy regarding Iraq. The second edition also includes a new analysis of Congress's role in the politics of foreign policymaking.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-3410-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. CHAPTER ONE The ABM Puzzle: An Introduction to Politics inside Government
    (pp. 1-6)

    On September 18, 1967, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara rose to deliver an address entitled “The Dynamics of Nuclear Strategy” to a meeting of United Press International editors and publishers in San Francisco. He stressed that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union had increased their security in any way by deploying strategic nuclear weapons, and he suggested that the United States had bought many more weapons than it needed only because of a groundless fear that the Russians would step up their arms production. Having sketched this general background, McNamara turned to a subject that was then...


    • CHAPTER TWO National Security Interests
      (pp. 9-24)

      All participants in the national security decisionmaking process profess to be pursuing the national interest and much of the time they believe that they are. Nonetheless, they often have differing notions about what the national security interest is. In forming their definitions, participants look to common conceptions of the national interest, but they also seek other clues.

      When participants share a set of global images, those images will decisively shape the stand they take on particular issues. During the cold war period, a majority of American officials (as well as the American public) held a set of widely shared images....

    • CHAPTER THREE Organizational Interests
      (pp. 25-61)

      To the extent that participants in the national security decisionmaking process come to equate national security with the interests of their organization, what stands do they tend to take and how do their stands relate to their organization’s interests? Do organizations always seek to grow larger and do more things? This chapter attempts to specify in detail the organizational interests of the Defense Department, the State Department, and the Central Intelligence Agency and of their components.

      Most organizations have a mission to perform, either overseas or at home, and some organizations need to maintain expensive capabilities in order to perform...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Domestic Politics and Presidential Interests
      (pp. 62-83)

      If some participants in the national security decisionmaking process, particularly career officials, find their clues to what the national interest is in their definition of the interests of their own organization, others, particularly in-and-outers at high levels, detect clues in their conception of presidential interests. Presidents and their close associates frequently come to decide what stand to take largely in relation to the problem of maintaining power or of getting reelected. Presidents and those concerned with domestic problems and the domestic economy also may equate national security with avoiding recession or inflation or promoting specific domestic programs such as welfare...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Interests, Faces, and Stands
      (pp. 84-96)

      The previous chapters have suggested a number of interests that officials are predisposed to protect in developing a position on a matter of national security. Of course efforts are made to determine the nature of threats and sensible responses to them, but the interpretation of events inevitably reflects organizational, presidential, and personal interests. For most participants those interests blur together. Richard Neustadt explained:

      For every player, any move toward action brings an element of personal challenge wrapped in a substantive guise. Of these his stakes are made. The substance is important, never doubt it, for that is what the game...


    • CHAPTER SIX Initiative and Rules
      (pp. 99-118)

      As far as the bureaucratic system is concerned, the main factors that influence the outcome of the process by which issues are raised are the standing of the participants, the rules (formal and informal) that guide an issue through the system, and the information and analysis that participants use to choose among alternative positions and to argue their case. On many issues, the disposition of the president is a further determinant.

      Our presentation concentrates on decisions made at the presidential level. That is not meant to imply, however, that decisions made at lower levels are necessarily less important. Much of...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Planning a Decision Strategy
      (pp. 119-138)

      We use the term “planning” here to describe the process of systematically working out a strategy designed to secure a desired government decision and action.¹ Usually planning focuses on the president, because often the decision wanted is one that only the president can make. (Sometimes planning in our sense may involve keeping an issue from getting to the president.) Frequently, the central problem in planning is to determine how one can get the issue to the president, put him in a position where he believes he has to make a decision, and then get him to decide in one’s favor....

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Information and Arguments
      (pp. 139-163)

      Recall from chapter 2 that participants in the foreign policy process believe that the United States should do what is required for national security as they define it. But they become aware that their own view of national interests, shaped as it is by organizational, presidential, or personal interests, is not necessarily shared by other participants. They therefore recognize the need to present positive, “impartial” evidence in favor of their position. Often they seek to convince other participants by putting forward information and arguments designed to demonstrate that what they advocate is objectively in the interest of the United States....

    • CHAPTER NINE Maneuvers to Affect Information
      (pp. 164-180)

      A great deal of the information that reaches the president and other senior participants has been selected because it confirms the position of the officials who report it. Higher-ups in turn may digest the information at their disposal in such a way as to support a given policy line, or they may seek to “recover” facts that have been filtered out. In this chapter we focus on maneuvers commonly used at all levels to affect information in favor of a given decision.

      Report only those facts that support the stand that you are taking. For any complicated foreign policy issue...

    • CHAPTER TEN Uses of the Press
      (pp. 181-203)

      Information that appears in the American press (including television and the Internet) plays a central role in shaping presidential decisions. Much of the information available to senior participants on any issue consists of what they encounter in the media, particularly with the recent explosion of electronic information, because the news media often set the agenda by being first on the scene. Most of the information reaches the press routinely or through the persistence of reporters, but some is put there by participants in an effort to influence presidential decisions. This chapter explores the techniques that bureaucrats employ in using the...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Involving the President
      (pp. 204-225)

      As we saw in chapter 7, ascertaining whether the president is to be involved in a decision is one of the crucial steps in planning to obtain the decision that one wants. The rules of the game, particularly those set by the president, may necessitate the president’s involvement, or they may specify that the issue be decided at another level of the bureaucracy. Often, however, the rules are sufficiently flexible that they do not prescribe the exact progress of a decision through the bureaucracy. This chapter first discusses the reasons why participants prefer to achieve consensus without involving the president,...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Influence and Decisions
      (pp. 226-240)

      We have discussed shared images, interests, the rules of the game, and stratagems for both advancing proposals and blocking them. A great number of officials operate within this framework, subject to the same constraints. What personal characteristics enable some of them consistently to influence decisions more than the rest? In brief, the list reads as follows:

      —They have the ability to gain the confidence of the president.

      —They are willing to assume responsibility.

      —They exercise finesse in threatening to leak information or to resign.

      —Their staff is skilled in performing the functions of the bureaucracy.

      —They have an aptitude for...


    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Decisions and Implementation
      (pp. 243-272)

      The reader has every right to expect to be at the end of this book. For one thing, it is already quite long. For another, we have reached the end of the topic as it is normally discussed. We have traced the process of making foreign policy inside the bureaucracy to the point of presidential decisionmaking.

      But the process is by no means over. If our question is not “How do presidents decide?” but “How does the United States act?” then we need to explore the relationship between presidential decisions and the subsequent actions of government officials.

      Presidential decisions vary...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Actions in the Field
      (pp. 273-291)

      Foreign policy decisions made by the president often must be implemented in the field by ambassadors and their subordinates or by military commanders. The relationships between officials in the field and the president are similar to those between Washington agencies and the White House, but there are enough differences to merit a separate discussion.

      We begin with a discussion of the structure of field operations and why and how the perspective of those in the field differs from that of officials in Washington; then we consider the range of specific maneuvers open to those in the field to resist Washington’s...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Presidential Control
      (pp. 292-310)

      According to some standard accounts of how the U.S. government works, the only time the bureaucracy can ignore presidential orders is when the president is uninterested or unconcerned in a matter. If the president devotes his personal attention to a matter, it is said, the bureaucracy and his principal subordinates have no choice but to obey. Yet the evidence indicates the contrary. Even when the president does devote his time and effort and the issue is critical, disobedience can occur.

      The Cuban missile crisis is often taken as the extreme example of presidential involvement. President Kennedy did almost nothing during...


    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Congress and Bureaucratic Politics
      (pp. 313-344)

      We have now completed our exploration of the process of making foreign policy in the executive branch, with only occasional mention of Congress’s role in affecting foreign policy decisionmaking and implementation within the executive branch. This chapter turns then to considering how Congress itself functions and presents a brief look at Congress as a bureaucratic entity. First it gives a brief overview of how Congress impacts the foreign policy–making process of the executive branch, then proceeds to its primary topic, how Congress’s bureaucratic perspective affects the views and actions of its members.

      On July 26, 1947, with the stroke...


    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Back to ABM: Some Tentative Answers
      (pp. 347-360)

      We are now ready to return to the puzzles posed in chapter 1 about the decision to deploy the ABM. Some tentative answers to those puzzles emerge when the framework presented in the intervening chapters is employed in the search for explanations.

      Our first question is why in January 1967 President Johnson asked Congress to appropriate the funds to deploy an ABM but stated that he would defer deployment pending an effort to get the Soviet Union to engage in talks on limiting the arms race.

      Technological improvementis part of the answer. The technology of ballistic missile defense had...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN A Complicated Reality
      (pp. 361-364)

      This book has tried to do two things. At the most general level, it has presented a way of thinking about how governments function in the area of national security. It also has provided a good deal of detail about the nature of the American bureaucratic system in the period since World War II.

      Having concentrated largely on the specifics of the American system in this period, we wish to pull back briefly to view the broader perspective and look at the implications of this approach for an understanding of international politics and of the impact of American actions on...

  10. References and Bibliography
    (pp. 365-378)
  11. Index
    (pp. 379-400)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 401-401)