The Formulation and Administration of United States Foreign Policy

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

Chapter V. Relationship With the Military Establishment

The creation of a Department of Foreign Affairs would unify three major foreign policy components but would still leave other important agencies concerned with international affairs outside its boundaries. The most influential of the independent organizations would be the Department of Defense. No development affecting the contemporary organization of foreign policymaking is more significant than the impact of military affairs on the daily relations between the United States and other governments. This is unprecedented in times of relative peace, and the trend is likely to continue in future years. It is obviously infeasible, of course, to consider joining the military and foreign policy organizations within a unified department. At the same time, it is clear that there should be the closest possible collaboration between the Department of Defense and the foreign policy apparatus, but this need is not being adequately met at the present time. Much has been done to improve the situation, but this relationship remains one of the weaker links in the foreign policy process.

The most striking inadequacies lie in the area of those military planning and decisionmaking activities which have critical implications for foreign policy but are often not subjected to adequate consideration by foreign policy officials. Obvious examples are the fundamental choices regarding weapons systems with which the military forces are to be equipped, the size, organization, and distribution of the forces, and military planning for various future international contingencies that may confront the United States. Under modern conditions, these are as much the concern of officials responsible for the Nation's foreign policy as major political decisions are rightfully the concern of military policymakers.1

In addition to the systematic integration of military and foreign policy and the organizational specifications set forth at the beginning of this study, there are several other criteria of basic relevance in evaluating the participation of the Military Establishment in foreign policyinaking. One such criterion is the traditional American concept of civilian supremacy. Unfortunately, as with other venerable concepts, the term has sometimes been used with more emotion than clarity. Essentially, it means that, both theoretically and effectively, the ultimate controlling policy decisions should be made by the politically responsible civilian leadership, executive and legislative. It must be added, however, that there is no set of institutional and organizational arrangements that can insure this condition. Providing the Secretary of Defense with numerous Assistant Secretaries is no guarantee of civilian control. Implied in this concept is the belief that national security policy should not be overweighted in the direction

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1
Such lingering doubts as there may be on this question are in large part answered in Bernard Brodie's recent study of "Strategy in the Missile Age" ( Princeton, 1959)

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