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

By Jean A. Garrison | Go to book overview

Conclusion
Effective Influence in the Advisory Process

The previous chapters have focused on categorizing and analyzing power games of foreign policy advisors in the advisory process. The intent was to demonstrate how foreign policy advisors were able to act strategically, managing the advisory process in different settings so as to see their policies prevail. In Harold Lasswell's terms, key advisors in the inner circle tried to control "who gets what, when, how."1 Efforts to control the influence process also shaped the policy alternatives placed before the president. By tracing the policy process, this study begins to show how power games shape the policy choices that are made. In this way, strategic advisors make important contributions to policy outcomes.

At this point, the study must again consider the questions posed in the introduction. First comes a comparison of the effectiveness of different tactics within different advisory structures, together with their associated group dynamics. The remaining sections summarize this study's lessons about the nature and quality of the advisory process. Advisory system "pathologies" will be revisited to discuss the difficult task of perfecting the advisory system to produce high-quality decisions. Finally, the wider implications of this study will be placed in the context of the literature on foreign policy and the presidency.


The Effectiveness of Power Games in Different Settings

Thus far, this study has presented a list of tactics advisors may use, and case studies have illustrated their use. The conditions under which they are most likely to be influential and the resources advisors employ to be effective have been addressed. In this section, the Nixon and Carter administrations will be compared, showing how the structure and group dynamics of the advisory system shape the potential influence of foreign policy advisors. To what degree did the choice of tactics change as the decision-making environment changed?

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