When word came in 1934 that the German Reichstag was ablaze, Americans tended to look upon the event with curiosity rather than concern; few, indeed, paused to consider that these flames, the funeral pyre for German democracy, might one day threaten our shores. Within a few years, however, our sensibilities began to change until now distant tremors--the death of Joseph Stalin, the feud between the Shah of Iran and his Premier, the struggle in Kashmir--promptly register in Washington. They send officials into emergency conference, and become the substance of staccato newscasts everyhour-on-the-hour. For the United States, having freed itself of the tradition of no foreign entanglements, has moved into a whirlpool of international life. "In the swift rush of great events," Dwight D. Eisenhower reminded the nation upon taking the oath as President, "we find ourselves groping to know the full sense and meaning of the times in which we live . . . We summon all our knowledge of the past and we scan all signs of the future." The Republic is now in quest of a course which would again bring the security we had known when the great oceans were our bulwarks.
But the way is not proving easy. With every foreign event a potential stimulus to new policy decisions, and therefore a source of concern, the rush of events makes great demands upon the nation's institutions. The arrangements by which the government reaches its conclusions, formulates policies, and carries them out--the process of making foreign policy--become of crucial importance. Foreign policy these days more than ever before means action maintaining the initiative in the leadership of the West and not merely responding to foreign stimuli. To questions on diplomacy and events abroad are being added questions about our own institutions and how they function-- the American process for the conduct of foreign relations. How we reach foreign policy decisions becomes as important as what these decisions are. To whom does the President turn for advice, and why? With many separate executive agencies having a voice in foreign affairs, how do we achieve unity and consistency? What voice does the military have, why, and what issues does this raise? How does the constitutional system of checks and balances affect foreign affairs in these new times? What accounts for several congressional committees being concerned with the same foreign policy issues, and what are the consequences? How does "bipartisanship" affect policies? Are there democratic controls on the conduct of foreign relations? Are there . . .