Shaping and Signaling Presidential Policy: The National Security Decision Making of Eisenhower and Kennedy


National security strategies are vitally important in international politics because they integrate a nation's broad foreign political goals with the means to achieve those goals, thus helping to shape specific policies. In Shaping and Signaling Presidential Policy: The National Security Decision Making of Eisenhower and Kennedy, Meena Bose compares how Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy developed their Cold War strategies, focusing on how each president's decision-making process shaped his policy. The study also compares how the presidents communicated their strategies, with particular attention to possible signals conveyed to the leaders of the Soviet Union.

Bose analyzes the leadership styles and advisory systems of the two presidents, applying Alexander L. George's concept of "multiple advocacy", which recommends that presidents systematically review a wide range of policy options in a structured setting with their advisers before making a decision. Bose finds that Eisenhower's formalleadership,style ensured that he examined alternatives thoroughly with his associates before making policy decisions. Kennedy's informal leadership style increased opportunities for access to the president but also overloaded him with detail. The development of Eisenhower's "New Look" national security strategy illustrates the benefits of multiple advocacy, whereas the development of Kennedy's "Flexible Response" strategy demonstrates the problems with not employing such a process. At a more general level, the study finds that policy planning efforts early in an administration can be of great help to presidents in preparing their agendas.

Bose also finds that multiple advocacy has importantpayoffs for presidential policy communication in helping to ensure that messages do not convey unintended signals. In the area of national security, where misperceptions can heighten tensions and exacerbate conflicts with adve


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