The Formulation and Administration of United States Foreign Policy

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

Chapter IV. Political, Economic, and Information Affairs

The effectiveness of the proposed Secretary of Foreign Affairs will depend in large measure on his relationship with the three major activities under his direction: political, economic, and information. The thesis is that his general control over these programs, while allowing them considerable operational autonomy, will place him in a strategic position, with the leadership and support of the President, to guide the main stream of U.S. foreign policy. The following analysis examines the proposal in greater detail by discussing certain organizational aspects of each of the three components in order to determine how they might best be organized to function as a unified team.


A. POLITICAL AFFAIRS

The most central and significant policy area under the direction of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs will continue to be the formulation and execution of general, or "political," policy regulating U.S. relations with other countries in the most comprehensive terms. This function, which calls for the broadest skills and experience, has always been the core of the diplomatic role and should be the principal source of day-to-day guidance for all U.S. activities overseas. The organization that will be primarily responsible for this function will continue to be the Department of State, operating under its own Secretary. As indicated earlier, there are those who prefer to use the title "Secretary of Foreign Affairs" for this position and to give the "Secretary of State" title, which they feel connotes a broader jurisdiction, to the higher position. While this view has much in its favor, it seems simpler and clearer, at least for the purposes of this analysis, to use the reverse nomenclature.

The precise organization of the Department of State has varied considerably over the years and should continue to be adjusted to changing circumstances. Until 1949 the Department was organized primarily along functional lines. That is not to say that there were no geographic units. There were such units, and their geographic jurisdictions were roughly equivalent to those of their present counterparts, but their functions were restricted to political matters rather narrowly defined. There was a time after the war, for example, when the Division of Southeast Asian Affairs, the geographic-political unit, was smaller than the Southeast Asian Branch of one of the functional units, the Office of Intelligence and Research. Following the recommendations of the first Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government (the Hoover Commission), the four geographic-political offices headed by office directors were expanded into geographic, or regional, bureaus under Assistant Secretaries of State by incorporating into each of them almost all of the functions represented in the Department as a whole. Each was equipped to deal not only with political affairs, but also with economic affairs, international

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