Games Advisors Play: Foreign Policy in the Nixon and Carter Administrations

By Jean A. Garrison | Go to book overview
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Introduction
Machiavelli's Warning

In The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli describes a mutually dependent relationship between the minister and the prince, in which the success of a leader cannot be separated from the characters of those who surround him. He notes that if ministers "are competent and faithful one can always consider [the prince] wise . . . But when they are the reverse, one can always form an unfavourable opinion of him, because the first mistake that he makes is in making this choice." Machiavelli goes on to warn the prince that he should beware of the minister who thinks "more of himself than of you, and in all his actions seeks his own profit." Essentially, he is warning the prince to be careful of advisors who would be motivated to act, and would be capable of acting, independently of him to pursue their own goals.

While close relationships between presidents and their advisors (for example, that between Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House) have been described at length, the manner in which American foreign policy advisors systematically influence both the advisory process around the president and the definition of policy options remains relatively unexplored. Instead, most studies of the presidency and most analyses of foreign policy focus on the formal/structural and organizational arrangements, the small-group relations, and the individual characteristics of the president (such as personality) that shape the advisory process. Even studies in the bureaucratic-politics tradition, which discuss the "pulling and hauling" among contending bureaucratic factions, fail to illustrate exactly how and why individuals shape the advisory process.1 Therefore this study supplements current understandings of the advisory process with insights gleaned from a broader, experimentally validated literature in social psychology and the management sciences. Much of this work has yet to be applied to the political setting.

This book illustrates how an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the presidency and United States foreign policy helps to explain the advisory process around the president. My concern is with the unique contribution advisors make within the dynamic advisory process. The chapters that follow depict instances of foreign-policy decision making, focusing on policy toward the

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