Expanding the Secretary's Role in Foreign Affairs: Robert McNamara and Clark Clifford, 1963-1968

By Mongeon, Al | Air Power History, Spring 2016 | Go to article overview

Expanding the Secretary's Role in Foreign Affairs: Robert McNamara and Clark Clifford, 1963-1968


Mongeon, Al, Air Power History


Expanding the Secretary's Role in Foreign Affairs: Robert McNamara and Clark Clifford, 1963-1968. By Joel C. Christenson. Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2014. Notes. Pp xii, 38. Free download from http://history.defense.gov/Portals/70/Documents/special_studies/SpecStudy5.pdf.

The National Security Act of 1947 created the National Military Establishment (NME), a significant member of which was the Secretary of Defense (SecDef). Subsequent amendments to the Act in 1949 and 1958, sought to enhance the role of the Office of the SecDef (OSD) as a manager of the NME and create an NME more responsive to national foreign policy. From the Truman Presidency through the Eisenhower years, the role of the Secretary continued to evolve and become more involved in the development of foreign policy.

This study, the fifth in the Cold War Foreign Policy Series published by the OSD Historical Office, emphasizes the evolution of the SecDef's role in the United States' foreign policymaking process as a part of the development of OSD since 1947. The study focuses on the tenures of Robert McNamara and Clark Clifford, 1963-1968. In this short monograph (38 pages of text and six pages of notes), Joel Christenson traces the evolution of the SecDef's rise to become a key advisor to the President on foreign policy in the White House under Lyndon Johnson.

Although the study is intended to look at the expanding role of the OSD under McNamara and Clifford, the majority of the monograph is devoted to McNamara. It was during his term that most of the gains were realized. Christenson reiterates the crucial role played by members of McNamara's staff, particularly John McNaughton as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, in the rise of the Secretary's role in international affairs and McNamara's subsequent disillusionment with Johnson's Viet Nam policy and dismissal by Johnson. …

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