The Making of United States International Economic Policy: Principles, Problems, and Proposals for Reform

By Stephen D. Cohen | Go to book overview

13 A Critique of Existing Organization

[W]hile organization isn't everything, disorganization isn't anything.

-- SenatorDaniel Patrick Moynihan

Foreign economic policy in the United States is shaped not systematically, but almost by accident. It is a least common denominator, worked out, as some have so aptly put it, by a kind of guerrilla warfare among the Departments of State, Treasury, Agriculture, the Federal Reserve Board, and a whole host of other Executive Branch agencies.

--former Senator Lloyd Bentsen

The society of the United States is hopelessly pluralistic. Reflecting this situation, the strengths and weaknesses of American society and government are inherent in the international economic policymaking process. In a democracy with a population whose interests are so diverse, there is a degree of virtue and logic in providing each of several constituencies a designated pipeline to the decision-making process. The downside is a large, shifting, and overlapping organization. Despite this untidiness, the process often works efficiently, blending contrasting views into a consensus that serves the national interest reasonably well and attracts widespread support. But when the system is working poorly, policy usually is delayed, deficient, or both.


PROBLEMS INHERENT AND INEVITABLE

At the onset, it should be noted that it is natural for one's perception that organization is either excellent or inept to be linked to one's opinions of the policy substance that has been produced. If one is pleased with substance, he

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