Crisis management in the US
Throughout the period of the Cold War, crisis management had led Washington to exclusive dialogues with Moscow to prevent tension from escalating into nuclear escalation. Every international crisis was necessitated by the White House in a special relationship with the Soviet Union, the only power capable of challenging the United States. It soon became clear that a settlement of the crisis could be greatly facilitated if some form of strategic stability based on the negotiated control respective of nuclear arsenals, pre-existed between the two superpower opponents, was made.
This imperative, which is closely related to crisis management, gave birth to an original practice of relations between opposed nations, centered around the notion of 'arms control', a concept that is characterized by its dual normative and preventives (SARLT agreements I and II, ABM Treaty, START agreements, etc.). As such, arms control is a main branch of crisis management.
Another aspect of crisis management has, however, remained as a constant implicit in the minds of US officials. For the first world power, the crisis can also be an opportunity to increase its influence. The notion of crisis is, as suggested by the Chinese ideograms, used to transcribe both a threat but also an opportunity?
The operation of American political and military decision reflects the political organization of the United States, characterized by its wide decentralization and is based on a series of power and power-cons. To simplify, we can say that all government agencies, particularly the National Security Council at the White House (National Security Council, NSC), the Office of Secretary of Defense (Office of the Secretary of Defense-OSD), the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon (Joint Chiefs of Staff, JCS), the State Department and the Agency for arms Control and Disarmament (Arms control and Disarmament Agency, ACDA), saw a large parity of moderate activity by the imperatives of crisis management.
At the White House, an organization for consultation, the Special Situation Group, is responsible for crisis management. Under the authority of the Vice-President, he met the Secretary of State, the defense, the senior National Security Council. A series of focus groups (Inter-Agency Group, IG) geographically was specialized and was responsible to imagine situations of crisis and how the U.S. could respond.
At the Pentagon, crisis management with respect to the Secretary of Defense was based on his study in the broadest sense: the OSD included about 2000 persons of which were concerned with crisis management. This was particularly true of the undersecretary of Defense for Political Affairs (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy), which had a team built around two key figures: the Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs) which addressed all security issues and crises outside NATO, Europe and the former USSR, on the whole area.
It was therefore the responsibility of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Policy). The defense secretary has, from the Pentagon, a specialized center (Crisis Coordination Center) to coordinate responses to U.S. military nature in a crisis; he also relied on a large simulation capability to prepare decisions. This set was implemented during the various crises that affected the United States since the early eighties.
Tags: International Security Policy, National Security Council, Crisis Coordination Center, crisis management, Soviet Union