The Formulation and Administration of United States Foreign Policy

By H. Field Haviland; Robert E. Asher et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter III. Executive Leadership

The President is the central figure in American foreign relations. Responsibility is fixed upon him. He has great authority, and the constitutional system, as well as the constitutional document, has given him the function of leadership. He may play his part well and wisely, or not; but he cannot escape it. This is a fundamental constitutional principle, understood by all, and most of all by the President. His effective leadership is essential.

The President's responsibility and authority, however, are not exclusive; they are shared. The nature of "foreign relations" today, in contrast with times past, has increased the sharing. As "international" relations have become "intranational" relations, and as social, economic, and defense activities of impressive proportions have become important in American foreign policy, they have brought the Congress more and more into the process of authorizing programs, appropriating funds, and appraising operations. The interaction of measures which are intended to have an effect abroad and those which are intended to have a domestic effect has increased, thus adding to the joint task of the President and Congress in rationally adjusting objectives, timing, and methods on a wide front of national policy.

The President and the Congress are also dependent upon others, as well as upon each other -- for information, advice, and new ideas as well as for performance. The business of conducting foreign relations has become a big dynamic enterprise with a prodigious demand for alertness, imagination, professional and technical skill, cultural empathy, courage, vitality, and dedication. Busily engaged in this vast enterprise are political executives, Foreign Service officers, career civil servants, men plucked out of their normal pursuits in education, industry, or agriculture, and private citizens as employees of contractors, scattered over the United States and the rest of the world.


A. THE NATURE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LOAD

The President, the Congress, and the public have a special interest in the basic features of administrative organization at the highest levels. Here administrative organization provides the structure to support the principal responsibilities of democratic government. It establishes political and public responsibility as well as administrative accountability. It symbolizes the status and relationship of responsible officials and of important programs. It is almost the only means by which the citizen can visualize even in an approximate sense what his Government is up to. A well-conceived and well-understood top structure also is not without its symbolic uses to President, Congress, and even the humbler employees who work within it.

Essentially foreign policy as an administrative problem presents three questions and an overriding imperative: What to do? How to do it? When to do it? And to do it and get it done. Administrative

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