FOR a decade or more statesmen and scholars have been unhappy about American methods of making decisions on strategic programs--that is, decisions on the over-all size of the military effort, the scope and character of military programs (continental defense, anti-submarine warfare), the composition of the military forces (force levels), and the number and nature of their weapons. The most common criticisms have been:

1. National security policy lacks unity and coherence. Decisions are made on an ad hoc basis, unguided by an over-all purpose.

2. National security policies are stated largely in terms of compromises and generalities. The real issues are not brought to the highest level for decision.

3. Delay and slowness characterize the policy-making process.

4. The principal organs of policy-making, particularly the National Security Council, are ineffective vehicles for the development of new ideas and approaches. They tend to routinize the old rather than stimulate the new.

5. Policy-making procedures tend to magnify the obstacles and difficulties facing any proposed course of action.

6. These deficiencies are primarily the product of government by committee, especially when the committee members must represent the interests of particular departments and services.

Few persons familiar with the processes by which strategic programs are determined would challenge the general accuracy of these allegations. The persistence of the criticism since World War II, moreover, suggests that the defects are not incidental phenomena easily remedied by exhortations to high-mindedness, assertions of executive authority, or changes in personnel or Administration. Instead, it suggests the necessity of viewing the defects in the context of the political system of which they are a part, and of analyzing the functions which they serve in that system and the underlying causes which have brought them into existence.


In domestic legislation, it is often said, the Executive proposes and Congress disposes. Except when a presidential veto seems likely to be involved, the political processes of arousing support or opposition for bills are directed toward the Congress. In determining strategic programs, on the other hand, the effective power of decision rests not with Congress and its committees but with the President and his advisors.

Congressional incapacity to determine force levels and strategic programs is often attributed to the lack of proper information and technical competence. This is indeed a factor, but it is only a contributory one. Congressmen often tend to consider broad questions of general military policy as technical while at the same time they do not hesitate to probe thoroughly and to render judgments about highly specialized and detailed questions of military administration. The inability of Congress to act effectively on strategic programs derives primarily not from its technical failings but from its political ones.

The initiation and elimination of programs and the apportionment of resources among them are highly political decisions involving conflicting interests and groups. They can be made only by bodies in which all the conflicting interests can be brought in focus. The principal groups concerned with the determination of strategic programs are the armed services, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the State Department, the Treasury, the Budget Bureau, plus a few other governmental departments. The military programs have to be weighed against each other, against conflicting interpretations of the security threats and military requirements, against domestic needs and non-military foreign policy programs, and against probable tax revenues and the demands of fiscal policy. No congressional committee is competent to do this, not because it lacks the technical knowledge, but because it lacks the legal authority and political capability to bring together all these conflicting interests, balance off one against another, and arrive at some sort of compromise or decision. Congress cannot effectively determine strategic programs because the interests which are primarily concerned with those programs are not adequately represented in any single congressional body. The armed services, appropriations, finance, foreign relations, space and atomic energy committees are all, in one way or another, involved in the process. No one of them can have more than a partial view of the interests involved in the determination of any single major strategic program. Every congressional action in military affairs is to some extent ex parte.

Congressional bodies may become advocates of particular programs, but they lack sufficient political competence to determine an over-all program. After World War II, except when confronted by similar competing programs, Congress never vetoed directly a major strategic program, a force-level recommendation or a major weapons system proposed by the Administration in power. Nor did Congress ever achieve this result, with one partial exception (the Navy's second nuclear carrier), through the failure to appropriate funds recommended by the Executive. The relative inviolability of the military requests was striking when compared with those for domestic or foreign-aid appropriations. Almost regularly, of course, Congress reduced the total military request, but it virtually never did this in a manner which seriously affected a major strategic program. Quite properly, Congressmen generally feel that they are ill-equipped to be responsible for the security of the country, and they have, by and large, recognized and accepted the decisive role of the Executive in formulating strategic programs. "God help the American people," Senator Russell once remarked, "if Congress starts legislating military strategy."

The inability and unwillingness of Congress to choose and decide does not mean that congressional groups play no role in the formulation of strategic programs. On the contrary, with respect to strategy, Congress has, like Bagehot's queen, "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn." The most prominent congressional role is that of prodder or goad of the Executive on behalf of specific programs or activities. With the Executive as the decision-maker, Congress has become the lobbyist. Congressional groups engage in sustained campaigns of pressure and persuasion to produce the desired strategic decisions on the part of the Executive, just as in other areas the Administration uses pressure and persuasion to move its legislation through Congress.

In lobbying with the Executive, Congress employs three major techniques. First, congressional groups may attempt, through letters, speeches, investigations and threats of retaliation in other fields, to bring continuing pressure upon the Administration to construct certain types of weapons. The Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, for instance, has been an active lobby on behalf of nuclear weapons: its members played important roles in prompting executive decisions on the hydrogen bomb, the nuclear powered submarine, the intermediate-range ballistic missiles. On the other hand, no lobby ever scores 100 percent, and the Committee was somewhat less successful with the Polaris speed-up and the nuclear-powered airplane.

Second, congressional groups may establish force-level minimums for their favored services or appropriate more money for the services than the Administration requested. In these cases, Congress attempts to use its ancient powers of authorization and appropriation for the positive purpose of establishing floors, whereas these powers were designed originally for the negative purpose of establishing ceilings to prevent a tyrannical executive from maintaining military forces without the consent of the people. Such actions undoubtedly influence the Administration in planning future force levels, and in two cases involving the National Guard and the Marine Corps, the Administration formally complied with congressional wishes. In the final analysis, however, no way has yet been evolved of compelling an Administration to maintain forces it does not wish to maintain or to spend money it does not wish to spend.

Third, Congress can bring pressure upon the Executive through investigation and debate. Although it is generally held that Congress' power to investigate rests upon its power to legislate, in actual fact Congress investigates, in the grand manner, matters which it cannot legislate. The activities of Senators McCarthy and Kefauver are obvious examples, but more reputable and worthwhile ones are furnished by the great investigations of strategy: the 1949 inquiry into "Unification and Strategy," the 1951 MacArthur investigation, the 1956 Symington airpower hearings, and the Johnson missile investigation of 1957-1958. None of these directly produced legislation but they did compel the Administration to make a public defense of its policies, enabled Congress to bring pressure to bear on the Executive and helped to educate the attentive public on strategic issues.


Strategic programs are thus decided upon in the Executive rather than in Congress. The process of decision within the Executive, however, bears many striking resemblances to the process of decision in Congress. It retains a peculiarly legislative flavor. Legislative and executive processes of policy-making do not necessarily correspond to the legislative and executive branches of government. A policy-making process is legislative in character to the extent that (1) the units participating in the process are relatively equal in power (and consequently must bargain with each other), (2) important disagreements exist concerning the goals of policy, and (3) there are many possible alternatives. A process is executive in character to the extent that (1) the participating units differ in power (i.e. are hierarchically arranged), (2) fundamental goals and values are not at issue, and (3) the range of possible choice is limited.

Strategic programs, like other major policies, are not the product of expert planners rationally determining the actions necessary to achieve desired goals. Rather, they are the product of controversy, negotiation and bargaining among different groups with different interests and perspectives. The conflicts between budgeteers and security spokesmen, between the defenders of military and non-military programs, among the four services, and among the partisans of massive retaliation, continental defense and limited war, are as real and as sharp as most conflicts of group interests in Congress. The location of the groups within the executive branch makes their differences no less difficult to resolve. The variety and importance of the interests, the intensity of the conflicting claims, the significance of the values at stake, all compel recourse to the complex processes of legislation. The inability of Congress to legislate strategic programs does not eliminate the necessity to proceed through a legislative process. It simply concentrates it in the executive branch.

To be sure, the specific techniques for innovating proposals, mobilizing support, distracting and dissuading opponents, and timing decisions may differ in the executive "legislative" process from those in the congressional "legislative" process. None the less, in its broad outlines the development of a major strategic program, such as continental air defense, lacks none of the phases involved in the passage of a major piece of domestic legislation through Congress. The need for the program is recognized by an executive agency or some skill group (nuclear physicists) or consulting group close to the executive branch. The agency or group develops policy proposals to deal with the problem and arouses support for them among other executive agencies, congressional committees and, possibly, some non-governmental groups. Opposition develops. Alternative solutions to the problem are proposed. Coalitions pro and con are organized. The proposals are referred from committee to committee. Consultants and advisory groups lend their prestige to one side or another. The policies are bargained over and compromised. Eventually a decision or, more accurately, an agreement is hammered out among the interested agencies, probably through the mechanisms of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council, and is approved by the President. The locus of decision is executive; the process of decision is primarily legislative.

The building of a consensus for a particular strategic program is as complex and subtle as it is for either domestic policy or foreign policy. At a minimum, within the Executive, it involves complicated interlocking patterns of vertical bargaining along the executive hierarchy and horizontal bargaining through a conciliar structure. In almost no executive hierarchy is the exercise of power all in one direction: the actual authority--even the influence--of administrative superiors over their subordinates is hedged around by a variety of inhibiting considerations. Underlying the hierarchy is a set of bargaining relationships, explicit or implicit. The dispersion of power in American society and the separation of powers in government tend to reinforce this tendency. Agencies and officials in subordinate positions often are substantially independent of their administrative superiors. At best the superior may be able to persuade; at worst he may be openly defied.

Vertical bargaining is exemplified in the efforts of the Administration to secure the concurrence of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, individually and collectively, in its budgetary and force-level decisions. On the one hand, each Chief presses for what he believes is essential for his service; on the other, the Administration attempts to cut back and fit service demands into its strategic plan and budgetary goals. Each side has to balance the risks involved in alienating the other against the benefits gained in shaping the final decision. The interlarding of hierarchical and bargaining roles inevitably enhances the possibilities for ambiguity and confusion. As subordinates the Chiefs would be expected to accept but not necessarily to approve decisions made by their administrative superiors. "I'd be worried," Secretary Wilson once declared, "if Ridgway didn't believe in the good old Army."[i] On the other hand, the semi-autonomous position of the Chiefs enhances the value of their approval to their superiors. An administrative decision derives legitimacy (as well as effectiveness) in part from its acceptance and support by the subordinate officials and agencies affected by it. Consequently, great efforts are made to secure the Chiefs' concurrence. "The pressure brought on me to make my military judgment conform to the views of higher authority," General Ridgway declared, "was sometimes subtly, sometimes crudely, applied."[ii] The intensity of the pressure applied was tribute to the value of the approval sought.

While vertical bargaining plays a crucial role in strategic decision-making, horizontal bargaining is probably even more widespread and important. Theoretically, of course, authority to determine strategic programs rests with the President and the Secretary of Defense. Actually, the compromising and balancing of interests tends to focus about the two most important committees in the executive branch of the national government: the J.C.S. and the N.S.C. On the surface, it seems strange that two committees should play such important roles in the formulation of military policy and national security. These are areas where one might expect clear-cut lines of authority and executive decision-making. Within the executive branch, few committees of comparable stature exist in domestic areas of policy-making. The J.C.S. and the N.S.C. are significant, however, precisely because they do perform essentially legislative rather than executive functions. They have what Congress lacks: the political capability to legislate strategy. Just as agricultural policy is the product of conflict, bargaining and compromise among the interested groups represented in Congress, military strategy is the product of conflict, bargaining and compromise among the interested groups represented in the J.C.S. and the N.S.C. Hence, the same criticisms are now leveled at these committees which have long been leveled at Congress: logrolling prevails; over-all objectives get lost in the mechanism; a premium is put upon agreement rather than decision. Just as Congress often wrote tariff legislation by giving each industry the protection it wanted, the N.S.C. and the Joint Chiefs make decisions on weapons by giving each service what it desires. The individual members of these bodies suffer the classic conflict known to members of all legislatures: on the one hand, they must represent the interests of their departments or constituencies; on the other, their decisions are expected to be in the national interest.


In strategy, as elsewhere, effective policy requires some measure of both content and consensus. Strategic programs, like statutes or treaties, are both prescriptions for future action and ratifications of existing power relationships. A strategy which is so vague or contradictory that it provides no prescription for action is no strategy. So too, a strategy whose prescriptions are so unacceptable that they are ignored is no strategy. Consensus is a cost to each participant but a prerequisite of effective policy.

In strategy-making, as in congressional legislating, one means of avoiding disagreement is to postpone decision. The proliferation of committees serves the useful political end of facilitating and, in some cases, legitimizing the avoidance of decision. Issues can be referred from committee to committee, up and down the hierarchy. Normally the same service and departmental interests are represented on all the committees; agreement in one is just as unlikely as agreement in any other. Controversial decisions may also be removed entirely from the jurisdiction of the N.S.C. or the Joint Chiefs and devolved back upon the interested agencies; the "decision" is that each will pursue its own policy. Disagreement on major issues also may be avoided simply by devoting more time to minor ones. The J.C.S. "dips into matters it should avoid," Vannevar Bush complained in 1952, "it fails to bring well considered resolution to our most important military problems, and it fritters away its energy on minutiae."[iii] The Joint Chiefs, however, were treading a classic legislative path. In almost identical terms, political scientists for years have accused Congress of refusing to grapple with major issues of public policy and of wasting time and energy on minor matters of administrative detail.

Where stringent limits are imposed from the outside, the decision-makers are especially prone to compromise. As the $14 and $13 billion ceilings firmly succeeded each other in the late 1940s, the tendency to divide the funds equally among the three services became more and more pronounced. On the other hand, if the limits permitted by superior executive authority are relatively undefined or broad, logrolling enables each agency to obtain what it considers most important. The result is "Operation Paperclip," in which Army, Navy and Air Force proposals are added together and called a joint plan. Duplication in weapons systems--Thor and Jupiter, Nike and Bomarc--is simply the price of harmony. It is hardly surprising that the J.C.S. should be referred to as "a trading post." This, after all, is the traditional legislative means of achieving agreement among conflicting interests. As one Congressman remarked to his colleagues:

If you are concerned, you politicians, with getting unanimity of action, I refer you to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There is a classic example of unanimity of action on anything: You scratch my back and I will scratch yours. "Give me atomic carriers," says the Navy, "and you can have your B-52s in the Air Force." I do not know why General Taylor is going along, because I have never been able to find anything that the Army is getting out of the deal.[iv]

The political and legislative character of the strategy-making process also casts a different light on the argument that the N.S.C. and J.C.S. have failed to initiate new policy proposals. As many observers of the domestic legislative process have pointed out, relatively few statutes actually originate within a legislative assembly. They are first developed by interest groups or executive agencies. It is therefore not surprising that relatively few strategic programs originally come to life in the committees or staffs of the N.S.C. or J.C.S. The latter necessarily serve as negotiating bodies; the responsibility for innovation lies with the participating agencies.

Just as much of the early criticism of Congress stemmed from a failure to appreciate the political roles of that body, so much of the criticism of the N.S.C. and J.C.S. stems from the application to these bodies of nonpolitical standards. At times in the past, it has been assumed that through investigation and debate all members of a legislative body should arrive at similar conclusions as to where the public interest lay. More recently, conflict within a legislature has been viewed as normal, and policy thought of as the result, not of a collective process of rational inquiry, but of a mutual process of political give and take. Congress is seldom criticized today because of conflicts and disagreements among its members. To a considerable extent, however, the J.C.S. and the N.S.C. are judged by the former theory: in them disagreement is still considered inherently evil. As one naval officer wryly commented: "How curious it is that the Congress debates, the Supreme Court deliberates, but for some reason or other the Joint Chiefs of Staff just bicker!"[v]

Significantly, the Joint Chiefs have also been criticized for employing precisely those mechanisms designed for reaching agreement: delay, devolution, referral, platitudinous policies, compromise, logrolling. On the one hand, the Chiefs are criticized because they cannot resolve major issues; on the other hand, they are criticized because they do resolve them through the classic means of politics.

Much criticism of strategic decision-making has failed to appreciate the tenuous and limited character of hierarchical authority in American government. Reacting against the prevalence of horizontal bargaining, the critics have advocated the abolition of committees and the strengthening of executive controls. In brief periods of emergency, presidential coördination may partially replace the normal bargaining processes. But no presidential laying on of hands can accomplish this on a permanent basis. Decisions on strategic programs are simply too important to be fitted into a symmetrical and immaculate model of executive decision-making. Clarifications of the chain of command and legal assertions of formal authority may reduce bargaining, but they can never eliminate it. Each of the three reorganizations of the military establishment since 1947 has purported to give the Secretary of Defense full legal authority to control his department and yet each succeeding Secretary found his control circumscribed if not frustrated. The existence of counterparts to the N.S.C. and J.C.S. in virtually every other modern state suggests that the causes which have brought them into existence may be pervasive and inherent in the problems with which they deal.

The problem of legislating strategic programs is thus the dual one of producing both content and consensus. On the one hand, little is gained by assuming that effective policy can be achieved without compromise, or that the political problems of strategy-making can be eliminated by strengthening the executive chain of command. On the other hand, it is also impossible to accept what emerges from the bargaining processes as ipso facto in the national interest. Too often, this has blatantly not been the case, and national purposes have been lost in bureaucratic feuding and compromise. The road to reform begins with recognition of the inherently complex political and legislative character of strategic decision-making. The need is for methods which will, at best, contribute both to the substance and the acceptance of policy, or, failing that, at least contribute more to the improvement of one than to the impairment of the other.


When the strategy-making process is viewed as essentially legislative in nature, the critical points appear to be not the prevalence of bargaining but rather the weakness of legislative leadership and the limited scope of the strategic consensus.

In the traditional legislative process, interest groups and executive agencies originate proposals, the President integrates them into a coherent legislative program, Congress debates, amends and decides. In the strategy-making process, executive agencies and related groups originate proposals, the N.S.C., the J.C.S., the President and Secretary of Defense debate, amend and decide upon them. But who plays the role of the legislative leader? Who winnows out the various ideas in the light of an over-all set of priorities or grand strategy and integrates these proposals into general programs which can then be discussed, amended and ratified? In the decade after World War II no clear concept developed as to which official or agency had the responsibility for leading the J.C.S. and the N.S.C. in their deliberations. In actual practice, leadership tended to rest with the Chairman in the J.C.S. and with the Department of State in the N.S.C. However, the case was frequently made for expanding the N.S.C. staff in the Executive Office of the President and for strengthening the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs. Similarly, it was often urged that the Secretary of Defense be provided with a mixed civilian-military policy staff which would, at the least, give him an independent source of advice, and, at most, enable him to play a stronger role in making strategic decisions. Other suggestions[vi] include the creation outside the executive hierarchy of a council of elder statesmen, a "supreme court" for foreign and military policy, or an "academy of political affairs" (modeled on the National Academy of Sciences) which could study national security problems, issue reports and advise the President directly.

It seems likely that either the leadership functions of the Secretary of State and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs will become more fully recognized and clarified, or the Special Assistant and Secretary of Defense will develop the staff facilities necessary to perform these functions, or new organs of policy recommendation will come into existence. Such developments would not only facilitate consensus but also would probably improve the content of strategic decisions. The form in which issues are presented for decision often drastically affects the nature of the decision. The problem in the Executive today resides not in the presence of bargaining but rather at the point at which bargaining begins. The development of more effective leadership organs in the N.S.C. and J.C.S. would permit bargaining to be more limited and focused. The starting point would become not three separate proposals advanced by three separate departments but rather one set of proposals advanced by the legislative leader. The requirements of consensus might still cause those proposals to be torn apart tooth and limb, but, at the very least, the clear visibility of the mutilation would have certain restraining effects. It has had them in Congress.

A related and perhaps more important problem concerns the relatively limited scope of the strategic consensus. The strategy-making process goes on largely within the Executive, and the consensus arrived at, if any, is primarily an executive one. As a result, it tends to be both tenuous and tentative. Although the effective power of decision rests with the executive branch, the possibility always exists that it may be upset by forces from the outside. Consequently the activity of the Administration is largely devoted to defending a policy which has been decided upon rather than advocating a policy which has yet to be adopted.

In the traditional legislative process, an issue is debated first within the Executive and then publicly within and about Congress. All the debate, however, contributes directly or indirectly to shaping the final product: to pushing the legislation through without change, amending it in one direction or another, or defeating it entirely. When the President signs the bill, the policymaking process is over, and the debate stops--or at least lessens--for a while. In strategy-making, debate among the various executive agencies and related groups also contributes directly to shaping the measure. Once the decision is made, this debate subsides, but as soon as the decision becomes known to non-executive agencies and groups, the public debate begins. The likelihood of such debate may have had its effects upon the executive policy-makers before the decision was reached, but their anticipation of public reaction to policy often is, at best, an informed hunch and, at worst, a rationalization that the public will not accept policies which they do not accept themselves. Public debate of a strategic decision may also affect its implementation and may influence subsequent decisions. Coming after the initial decision, however, the debate necessarily loses much of its force and value.

It is striking that both the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations, different as they are otherwise, have been regularly criticized for not exercising "leadership" in national security policy. In each case, it is alleged, the President has failed to take the initiative in bringing strategic issues to the people, in arousing support for foreign and military policy proposals, and in educating the public to its responsibilities in the nuclear age. Such criticism assumes that the President should play the same leadership role in strategic matters that he does in domestic legislation. In the latter, the President must be the source of energy for his program, and it is normally in his interest to dramatize the issue and to broaden the public concerned with it. The concept of presidential leadership is that of Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson, F.D.R. rallying support for a legislative program which he is urging upon a recalcitrant Congress.

In the strategy process, however, the President's role is very different, and the domestic model is inapplicable. Here, the President and his Administration have little reason to desire public debate and many reasons to fear it. The decision has been made; the policy is being implemented. The extension of the public concerned with the policy can only lead to pressure to change it in one respect or another and to the exploitation of the issues by the opposition. The primary role of the Administration has to be defensive: to protect the balance of interests, the policy equilibrium which has been laboriously reached within the Executive, against the impact of profane forces and interests outside the Executive. Mr. Cutler put the matter bluntly when he declared:

There is another seamlessness in our complex world: the fabric of our national defense. Perhaps the most potent argument against public disclosure of secret projects or of short-falls (which inevitably always exist) in any one aspect of our national defense is that such disclosure builds up a Potomac propaganda war to rectify that defect or over-finance that project. But if you devote larger resources to one area of national defense, you are apt to imbalance the rest.[vii]

Given the nature of the decision-making process, this concern is a natural one. The cold-war Presidents have evolved a variety of means to limit public interest in strategy, to minimize the concern of external groups with force levels and weapons, and, most particularly, to insulate and protect the executive balance from the disruption of outside interests. Hence the tendency of both Presidents and their Administrations to reassure the public, to pour on the "soothing syrup" which has so exasperated the Alsops and others, to limit the information available on American deficiencies and Soviet achievements, to discount these achievements and to minimize their significance, to preserve discipline and to suppress leaks, to discourage dissenting and disquieting testimony before congressional committees, and in general to maintain an air of calm assurance, an imperturbable façade. All these actions stem from a fear of the fragility of the executive consensus and of the irrationality and uncontrollability of the external political forces. These are the new "defensive" weapons of presidential leadership, as important to an Administration in the formulation of strategy as the old "offensive" techniques are in the promotion of domestic legislation in Congress.

A striking feature of the past dozen years has been the extent to which expressions of alarm at the decline of presidential leadership have occurred simultaneously with expressions of alarm at the growth of executive power. This apparent paradox simply reflects the fact that the increasing responsibility of the executive branch in making crucial decisions on strategic programs has undermined the ability of the President to lead. The more the President becomes, at least in theory, the judge, the less he can be the advocate. Yet, in practice, even his power to decide strategic issues is difficult to exercise. To be sure, the N.S.C. and the J.S.C. are theoretically only his advisors: no policy exists until he has approved it. But in part this is a myth to preserve the appearance of presidential decision-making. Surely the President does not over-ride united opinion among his top advisors much more often than he vetoes acts of Congress. The theory that the President makes the decisions, in short, serves as a cloak to shield the elaborate processes of executive legislation and bargaining through which the policies are actually hammered out. Consequently, the President may be less influential as a decision-maker than he is as a legislative leader. The latter function is personal to him. The former is one which he shares with a variety of other groups in the executive branch.

Whatever defects may exist in this situation cannot be removed by shifting the point of decision away from the executive branch. The tenuous character of the decisions and the defensive role of the Administration could be modified only by broadening the scope of discussion and concern in the early stages of the policy process--before key decisions are made. Once adequate legislative leadership emerges in the executive branch, the debate could focus on the proposals of this leadership, provided they were made public to the fullest extent possible. Greater publicity for and public participation in strategy-making at an earlier stage would tend to restrain some of the more gross forms of "horse trading" in the Executive, and should enhance the President's actual power of decision. At present, one way in which issues are brought to the top and forced upon the President for decision is through the lobbying activities of congressional committees. Broader and earlier public discussion of strategic programs would in all probability have a similar effect, and instead of interested guesses we would be provided with concrete evidence of what "the public will support." Certainly, discussion is more useful before decisions are made than afterwards. Broadening the scope of the policy consensus could well go hand in hand with improving the quality of the policy content.

[i] Duncan Norton-Taylor, "The Wilson Pentagon," Fortune, December 1954, p. 94.

[ii] General Matthew B. Ridgway, "My Battles in War and Peace," The Saturday Evening Post, January 21, 1956, p. 46.

[iii] "Planning," speech at Mayo Clinic Auditorium, Rochester, Minnesota, September 26, 1952, p. 8.

[iv] Rep. Daniel J. Flood, Congressional Record (85th Congress, 1st Session), May 27, 1957, p. 7733.

[v] Vice Admiral H. E. Orem, "Shall We Junk the Joint Chiefs of Staff?" U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, February 1958, p. 57.

[vi] See Walter Millis, "The Constitution and the Common Defense." New York: The Fund for the Republic, 1959, p. 36-46.

[vii] "The Seamless Web," Harvard Alumni Bulletin, June 4, 1955, p. 665.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now
  • SAMUEL P. HUNTINGTON, Associate Director, Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University; author of "The Soldier and the State"
  • More By Samuel P. Huntington