Courtesy Reuters

Our Foreign Affairs Machinery: Time for an Overhaul

Recommendations for fundamental reforms in the organization and administration of foreign affairs have been made by high-level committees and task forces on the average of every two years since World War II. Despite the near unanimity of diagnosis, little has been done to deal with the serious problems uncovered; they are still with us, unsolved and debilitating.

Today, the nation may at last be compelled to face up to these problems. The advent of a new Administration, both popular and Congressional disenchantment with the results of America's involvement in the world over the last two decades, and the growing sentiment that we must put our domestic house in order as a matter of first priority, all suggest that the country can no longer afford the inefficiencies which too often have characterized its foreign programs in an era of rising budget curves.

The solution to these problems is not simply "new policies." Foreign affairs are the result of a dynamic interaction among domestic politics, the budgetary process, the foreign policies of other nations, the constraints imposed by the organization of our foreign affairs and the abilities of the people who make up and run that organization. The objects of reform, thus, become the hierarchy within which decisions are made, the linkages between our objectives abroad and the budget, the way information is handled or mishandled, the manner in which people are organized and their talents developed; these are managerial rather than policy problems.

The reform agenda for 1969 is already apparent. The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has proposed another public commission to take a fresh look into the foreign affairs process. A group of Republican Congressmen has recommended that a new Hoover Commission be appointed to reëxamine the entire structure of the Federal Government. The Brookings Institution and the Institute for Defense Analyses, the campaign task forces and other groups have been examining these problems for months past. And so have the professionals in foreign affairs, the men and

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