Creating the National Security State

Creating the National Security State: A History of the Law That Transformed America

Douglas T. Stuart
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 358
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7sz13
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  • Book Info
    Creating the National Security State
    Book Description:

    For the last sixty years, American foreign and defense policymaking has been dominated by a network of institutions created by one piece of legislation--the 1947 National Security Act. This is the definitive study of the intense political and bureaucratic struggles that surrounded the passage and initial implementation of the law. Focusing on the critical years from 1937 to 1960, Douglas Stuart shows how disputes over the lessons of Pearl Harbor and World War II informed the debates that culminated in the legislation, and how the new national security agencies were subsequently transformed by battles over missions, budgets, and influence during the early cold war.

    Stuart provides an in-depth account of the fight over Truman's plan for unification of the armed services, demonstrating how this dispute colored debates about institutional reform. He traces the rise of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the transformation of the CIA, and the institutionalization of the National Security Council. He also illustrates how the development of this network of national security institutions resulted in the progressive marginalization of the State Department.

    Stuart concludes with some insights that will be of value to anyone interested in the current debate over institutional reform.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2377-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-xv)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-11)

    On july 22, 2004, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, issued its final report. In many respects, it is an exceptional product—well written, authoritative, and admirably nonpartisan. It is nonetheless a curiously myopic study. In the preface to their report, the commission members describe their mandate as ʺ looking backward in order to look forward,ʺ yet the report rarely looks back much further than the mid-1980s.¹ In spite of the fact that the report recognizes the need for substantive reform of the US national security bureaucracy, no attempt is...

  6. Chapter One A FAREWELL TO NORMALCY
    (pp. 12-42)

    On the evening of September 16, 1940, Army Chief of Staff George Marshall gave a national radio address in support of the creation that afternoon of a compulsory selective service system. ʺThe situation today is utterly different from that of 1917.Thenwe were at war—but we foresaw small possibility of military danger to this country.Todaythough at peace, such a possibility trembles on the verge of becoming a probability.ʺ¹ Marshallʹs alarming rhetoric was needed in order to make the case for the first peacetime draft in American history. The general had, in fact, pressed President Roosevelt to...

  7. Chapter Two “ONE MAN IS RESPONSIBLE”: MANAGING NATIONAL SECURITY DURING WORLD WAR II
    (pp. 43-72)

    The japanese surprise attack confirmed for all Americans that our procedures for monitoring and managing foreign affairs were fundamentally flawed. Our machinery for intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing had been proven unreliable. So had our arrangements for communication and cooperation between the War Department and the Navy, and between the armed services and the civilian leadership in Washington. But Pearl Harbor also united the nation as never before. An editorial in theNew York Herald Tribuneone day after the attack noted: ʺThe air is clearer. Americans can get down to their task with old controversies forgotten.ʺ¹

    Within fairly broad...

  8. Chapter Three MARSHALL’S PLAN: THE BATTLE OVER POSTWAR UNIFICATION OF THE ARMED FORCES
    (pp. 73-108)

    Pearl Harbor and World War II created a consensus among most US policymakers on the need for fundamental changes in the way that America managed its national security. But at warʹs end, key questions about the shape and content of such a system were unanswered. This was due in part to the fact that the war had ended more abruptly than most people expected. In his memoirs, Secretary Stimson notes that at the time that the first nuclear weapon was dropped on Hiroshima (August 6, 1945), US war plans assumed that ʺmajor fighting would not end until the latter part...

  9. Chapter Four EBERSTADT’S PLAN: ACTIVE, INTIMATE AND CONTINUOUS RELATIONSHIPS
    (pp. 109-143)

    As intensely divisive and exhausting as it was, the battle over armed forces unification was only one part of the debate that culminated in the 1947 National Security Act. And it was by no means the most important part, according to many of the participants. As the struggle over unification evolved, various members of the armed services, the media, Congress, and the White House staff became convinced that reform of the national military establishment was not nearly as significant for Americaʹs long-term security as were changes in the arrangements for civilian-military consultation, for intelligence gathering and analysis, and for harnessing...

  10. Chapter Five CONNECTING THE DOMESTIC LIGAMENTS OF NATIONAL SECURITY
    (pp. 144-179)

    For most Americans, World War II reinforced the message of Pearl Harbor—that the United States needed a more centralized and powerful state apparatus for the management of national security. But the wartime experience tended to have the opposite effect on opinions about state management of the economy. As discussed in Chapter 2, the war confirmed for many people that unfettered capitalism was a vastly more powerful source of state power than central planning.

    Still, two world wars had demonstrated that the nation could not wait until ʺM-Dayʺ to begin to mobilize for another protracted conflict. If America was ʺsucker-punchedʺ...

  11. Chapter Six FROM THE NATIONAL MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT TO THE OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
    (pp. 180-229)

    The Army and the Navy agreed on one thing after the 1947 National Security Act was signed into law: The battle over armed forces unification was not over. Army Secretary Kenneth Royallʹs prediction that the new system ʺwill not save money, will not be efficient, and will not prevent interservice rivalryʺ encouraged many Army representatives to believe that, when the wheels began to come off of the new system, the government would have to revisit the issue of unification. For its part, the Navy leadership began almost immediately after the passage of the 1947 legislation to prepare for the next...

  12. Chapter Seven CLOSING THE PHALANX: THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NSC AND THE CIA, 1947–1960
    (pp. 230-273)

    The efforts by Truman and Eisenhower to increase efficiency within the armed services represented one important element of a larger campaign to ensure presidential control over the national security bureaucracy. This chapter will survey the attempts by the two postwar presidents to place their stamp on two other key components of this bureaucracy: the National Security Council (NSC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). I will also comment on the efforts by the State Department to preserve an influential role in this emerging national security system during the period from 1947 to 1960.

    It is useful to discuss the early...

  13. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 274-288)

    The American Political Science Association celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary in 2004. As part of the festivities, the association organized an event in honor of one of its former presidents, Dr. Edward Pendleton Herring, who, coincidentally, had also just turned 100 years old. Herring came from his home near Princeton for the occasion. He was recognized for his career as a political scientist, for his leadership of such institutions as the Social Science Research Council and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and for his distinguished service as president of the American Political Science Association. What some people in the audience did not...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 289-333)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 334-342)