In his book The Power Game, Hedrick Smith speaks of the foreign policy game in the United States as a bureaucratic tribal warfare, using a tribal metaphor to describe the fierce fights which take place in Washington, DC. The notion of bureaucracy emerged in the early 20th century, with the work of a German sociologist, Max Weber, who described the process of rationalization in Western administrations. For Weber, the term was positive, but it has now negative implications, for it evokes red tape, lengthy procedures and complexity. The machinery of US national security policy is indeed bureaucratic, since it involves many agencies and governmental departments, and unlike in other Western countries, where foreign policy is run by professional diplomats, political appointees shape the US diplomacy. Since 1945, the United States has asserted itself as the policeman of the world and has generated a huge bureaucracy, along with an enormous military might: the National Security Act of 1947, under Truman, is a watershed date, from which the US never escaped its global responsibilities, even when it was willing to retreat.
[...] Another key institution in the making of the American security policy are the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, who are the principal military advisers to the President, the National Security Council and the Secretary of Defense, and act as an administrative unit outside the operational chain of command. A last but not least institution of national security is the Intelligence Community, which has created many fantasies. The Central Intelligence Agency, created by the National Security Act of 1947, is the best known of all the agencies that form the American intelligence community, but accounts for only one tenth of the intelligence budget of $30 billion. [...]
[...] Bush, with the aim of better coordinating the national security policy. From the start, such a task proved difficult, since it could arise concurrence with some other agencies. Some authors pointed at the risk of the potential for a new rivalry between the Homeland Security Advisor and the National Security Advisor. The Bush administration chose an interagency model based on the NSC process a Homeland Security Council, Office of Homeland Security, and a Homeland Security Advisor. William W. Newmann thus identifies areas where there is a risk of competition between the NSC and the Office of Homeland Security, like scenario planning, intelligence gathering, foreign diplomacy, budget preparation. [...]
[...] Therefore, the Iran- Contra hearings revealed a pattern of White House disdain for the Department of State: the National Security Advisor, Admiral John Poindexter, had placed the State Department on the list of those didn't need to know” certain overseas actions. This White House disdain for State lies deep in the minds of American foreign policy makers, as Sorenson reckons: President is willing to entrust the nation's security and survival (and his own political effectiveness and survival) wholly to professional diplomats or to a secretary of State necessarily lacking his perspective. [...]
[...] Therefore, under the Bush administration, the game of “bureaucratic tribal warfare” went on between the key institutions of US national security policy. However, one must not overestimate the influence of the battle between bureaucracies: the President has huge power resources and can appeal to a much larger support outside Washington. The current American security policy suits the President and one can see his imprint on it. The campaign for next year Presidential election has already begun, with the front-runner Democratic candidate, Howard Dean, strongly criticizing the war in Iraq. [...]
[...] In the field of national security policy, much power is indeed concentrated in the hands of the President, which can rely on effective political advisers, who expectedly share his views. As Barry Rubin argues, growth of a small, efficient NSC staff allowed a President to circumvent the seemingly slow and uncertain State Department. White House advisers have the advantage of proximity to the President and a detailed knowledge of domestic politics”. For instance, Nixon and Kissinger freed themselves from the bureaucratic web and manoeuvred quickly and dramatically to open relations with China. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee