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

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

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

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

Synopsis

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

Excerpt

This study examines national security decision making in the administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. It compares the ways in which the two presidents developed their Cold War national security strategies, focusing on how each president's decision-making process shaped his administration's policy. the study also compares how the two presidents communicated their strategies, with particular attention to their apparent awareness of potential signals conveyed to the leaders of the Soviet Union.

National security strategies are of fundamental importance in international politics because they guide a state's specific policies by coordinating its broad political ends with its diplomatic, economic, and military means. During the Cold War, U.S. presidents adopted varying approaches to the containment of communism, each of which served as a guiding principle for American foreign policy. Many scholars have examined the content of these strategies and established their importance, most notably John Lewis Gaddis in Strategies of Containment. But scholars have paid less attention to the decision-making processes that produced these strategies and determined how they were communicated.

This study focuses on two principal components of presidential decision making: a president's leadership style and the nature of the advisory system that he creates around him. in its examination of the development of national security strategies, this study builds upon the theoretically rich scholarly literature on presidential decision making. the study also applies that literature to the less-studied area of presidential policy communication. It is important to note that this study takes as its subject matter the process of policy making and communication, rather than the merits of actual policies. While a decision-making process cannot guarantee that its resulting policies will have merit, certain processes can help to ensure that a president considers a range of options, thus reducing the likelihood of ill-considered and possibly counterproductive actions. in examining the processes by which Eisenhower and Kennedy shaped and . . .

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