Courtesy Reuters

Crisis Diplomacy

To judge from the daily news, the management of American foreign policy is the art of throwing ourselves into one crisis after another. By shifting the spotlight from one trouble spot to the next, the impression is created that the United States Government deals exclusively in short-range reactions to external emergencies.

Most of the people engaged in the management of American foreign policy, most of the time, are not working on the headline crises, but on other subjects. A round of tariff negotiations, a student exchange program, the use of surplus food for economic growth, the tedious but important process of getting to know hundreds of leading personalities in more than a hundred foreign countries, the analysis of bits and pieces of intelligence from all over the world, the selection and instruction of government delegates to 500 conferences a year-these and many, many other necessary works are also "American foreign policy."

Yet in the upper reaches of our Government, and particularly at the level of the President and his nearest echelon of advisers, the newspaper version of relative priorities is not, after all, so far from the facts. The President, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence and several dozen other men do spend a very large part of their time working on the crises of the moment. (This does not, paradoxically, mean that long-range policy is neglected; for it is often at moments of crisis that the most basic long-range decisions about foreign policy are made.)

The highest officials of our Government spend their time on crisis management because there is no other way for responsible men to take the responsibility for crucial decisions. For the problem of decision-making in our complicated world is not how to get the problem simple enough so that we can all understand it; the problem is to get our thinking about the problem as complex as humanly possible-and thus approach (we can never match) the complexity of the real world around

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