The Day After Russia Attacks
What War in Ukraine Would Look Like—and How America Should Respond
GIGANTISM IN WASHINGTON
American foreign policy is changing, but the machinery of government is not changing with it. As we try to enter what President Nixon has called an era of negotiation, it is time to ask whether the nation is well served by the immense foreign affairs bureaucracies that have grown up in Washington over the past quarter-century. Could institutional reform give new coherence to our foreign policy? How these questions are answered may well determine the success or failure of American diplomacy in the seventies.
In 1902 Lenin asked, in an essay on the organizational problems of Russian Social Democracy, "What is to be done?" and offered this curious answer: "Liquidate the Third Period." The advice is timely, though in a different way than Lenin intended. America in 1970 also confronts an unsatisfactory third period which it wants to liquidate. We are living out the three-part drama of our postwar foreign policy, which opened with the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan in 1947, continued in the Eisenhower and Kennedy years with a global elaboration of these policies, and reached its tragic climax in Vietnam during the Johnson administration. Though our last President was hissed from the stage, the third act of the play continues in anticlimax. It is being "liquidated" slowly as troops come home from East Asia and commitments are reduced elsewhere. It has even received official burial, for President Nixon reported to Congress last February 18 that "the postwar period in international relations has ended." But it will be hard to turn that truism into effective action as long as rigidities built into the bureaucratic process undercut the President's announced policy.
Washington has not one but many foreign offices, autonomous organizations chartered in the late 1940s to wage the cold war on separate fronts. Besides the State and Defense Departments, there is a United States Information Agency (USIA) for propaganda work, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for clandestine operations and research and an Agency for International Development (AID) for economic subvention. Four dozen other units of the executive branch have foreign staffs and programs. A National Security Council tries and generally fails to coördinate the competing offices beneath. Another presidential office, the Bureau of the Budget (recently renamed the Office of Management and Budget) apportions money among the welter of agencies. Fragmented authority makes government policies inflexible and unstable. When delicate diplomacy is needed in the Middle East and in the strategic arms talks with the Soviets, false starts and conflicting directives show the difficulty of obtaining agreement within the separate American bureaucracies. Diplomatic initiatives occur in spite of rather than because of our institutions at home, a situation reminiscent of the weaknesses of the Fourth French Republic.
Beyond interagency chaos there is the problem of sheer size. Twenty-two thousand Americans, only 15 percent of them employed by the State Department, man our diplomatic missions abroad. A cross-agency census has never been taken, but Washington boasts at least another 50,000 workers in the foreign affairs complex. Inside this mammoth machine it is hard to locate authority and assign responsibility. Communication within and between departments is time-consuming and imprecise, and it is nearly impossible to change ingrained outlooks and procedures. Because the system is difficult to manage and hard to rely on, a modern President is tempted to bypass it completely and develop his own more informal methods of decision. In times of crisis he may turn to a closed circle of top advisers who have little knowledge of the subject being discussed, and are unable to consult expert opinion lower down in the government because of fears of a breach of secrecy. When considering whether to intervene in Cambodia last April, President Nixon isolated himself from his State Department and depended almost entirely on military advice and White House staff work. His decision, when announced, led several officials to resign, while 300 others in the State Department signed memoranda of protest. These evidences of internal dissent, which have no precedent, indicate a growing malaise among insiders about the method and competence of the present decision-making apparatus.
It is within the President's power to undertake a major reform of his foreign affairs departments. Piecemeal tinkering will not do; the nature and size of the entire system need to be reconsidered. The way to begin is to separate two conflicting strands of diplomatic theory which have been interwoven in the fabric of our postwar foreign policy.
The first, more traditional theory holds that power is the main engine of international relations, and ideology is a secondary force. Foreign policy, therefore, proceeds by rules different from those which govern the domestic policies of a democracy. Peace is thought to depend on negotiation that respects the sovereignty of separate states and works to maintain balances of power among them.
This theory was shared by most of the men who made foreign policy in the Truman administration. They believed that the government should be organized not to conduct a crusade against communism, but rather to maintain a defensive balance of power with the Soviet Union. They favored simplicity and economy of structure and staffing in Washington, primacy for the Secretary of State as the President's number-one adviser, and centralization of foreign expertise and authority in the State Department. Creating giant new bureaucracies with divided duties, they foresaw, would make American foreign policy more interventionist, for the programs of each separate agency would generate their own self-justifying momentum. Political judgment and diplomacy would come to be regarded as the handmaiden of something called "national security policy," rather than as the directing purpose and controlling agent of our foreign affairs. Transferring authority from the State Department to a large White House staff would divide responsibility further, undercut a Secretary of State and isolate a President. In Dean Acheson's view, these organizational mistakes are what "blighted the high promise of President Johnson's administration" and have now begun to damage President Nixon as well. Acheson also recalls in his memoirs that he had "the gravest forebodings" about the establishment of a Central Intelligence Agency in 1947, and warned President Truman that "neither he, the National Security Council, nor anyone else would be in a position to know what it was doing or control it."
The State Department, in this view, is too big, too weak and too overshadowed by other departments to do its job. Acheson, George Kennan and Hans Morgenthau have separately suggested that State be cut down to about half its present size, with other foreign affairs agencies even more severely curtailed. As Kennan puts it, "Excess people in the government cause a kind of damage that multiplies throughout the system. The damage caused by unnecessary people is equal to the square of their number."
A rival theory emerged early in discussion of the more active foreign policy we commenced in 1947 and the reorganizations which accompanied it. Ferdinand Eberstadt of the Navy Department, who drafted the plan for a National Security Council, urged the need for "waging peace, as well as war." His NSC plan was championed by military men who felt that the United States had entered a revolutionary new age which rendered traditional diplomatic methods obsolete. They thought that World War III was imminent and would be decided by the same techniques that turned the tide in World War II. Massive mobilization of resources, weapons technology and a "battle for men's minds" were the keys to the future of world politics.
The military-ideological theorists have been Washington's main organizational planners for the past two decades. In each administration they have proposed new foreign policy super-staffs. An NSC Psychological Strategy Board created in 1951 was father to the Operations Coördinating Board of the Eisenhower years, a Special Group-Counterinsurgency under Kennedy and General Maxwell Taylor's Senior Interdepartmental Group and his unrealized plan for a "Cold War Strategy Board" under Johnson. General Taylor argued in a speech in 1966 that "There are many troublemakers creating for us many trouble spots around the world," and that the main need of our foreign policy apparatus was for "watchful eyes looking constantly in all directions and giving warning before we are surprised."
This approach focused particularly on the emerging third world, which by the early sixties had come to be regarded as an important "battleground" of ideology. The Herter Report of 1962, "Personnel for the New Diplomacy," suggested that American diplomacy should bring about "rapid social, economic, and political progress in developing countries," and that the ideal "new diplomat" must be skilled in such fields as: "intelligence; political action; technical assistance and various types of foreign economic aid; military aid programs; information and psychological programs; educational exchange; cultural programs; trade development programs; and . . . measures to counter insurgency movements."
Like the authors of the National Security Council, the authors of the Herter Report rested their case on the assumption that a new epoch in world politics had begun. The main feature of this epoch was "conflict between the free countries, struggling to build a world of free, independent, peaceful, and progressive peoples, and the communist world." The report concluded : "Our interest in every part of the world is today extensive, and our commitment to the pursuit of growth and progress among the free nations is well-nigh total."
Today Vietnam has made the New Diplomacy seem more a transient fad than a wave of the future. The global ideological concept of an American policy to bolster non-communist governments everywhere and stimulate "modernization," "stability," and "progress" in the third world appears costly, unwise and impossible. It is also a highly ambiguous policy. (What do "progress" and "stability" really mean? Are they mutually exclusive?) More recent formulations such as the Nixon doctrine propose the beginning of the end of "well-nigh total" commitments.
Sheer numbers of personnel working in the New Diplomacy fields have swamped the preëxisting organizational structure. In the seventies, however, we shall have to operate programs abroad more modestly and less massively, eschewing interference in the internal affairs of other states where it is not wanted or not likely to accomplish an agreed objective. If no more convincing rationale for foreign aid can be found than the old anti- communist "national security" argument coupled with a generalized American "responsibility" to raise the living standards of poorer states, then AID appropriations will continue to go down. These arguments offer no guidelines for the apportionment of limited U.S. resources, and no yardsticks of accomplishment. They are essentially ideological arguments, and they have been used not only for economic aid, but also to justify U.S. military, intelligence and propaganda programs.
It is time to reconsider the tools of the New Diplomacy as a modest adjunct rather than a major organizational competitor to the more settled traditions. If we are indeed at the end of a period of ideological confrontation and hope to nurture negotiation, then events are pushing toward a rediscovery of the need for traditional methods. Some of the cold war agencies formed two decades ago may have to be disestablished or severely cut back in a program that improves the quality but diminishes the quantity of our overseas representation.
We are heirs in 1970 to an extraordinary process of birth and growth that has changed the nature of our foreign affairs institutions since World War II. The pre-Pearl Harbor State Department, located next to the White House, made do with a staff one-seventh the size of today's State. The 21 personnel who comprised Secretary Cordell Hull's office staff in 1938 have grown to 336 staff members serving Secretary William Rogers and his deputies. Over the same three decades the geographic and functional offices of State have expanded from 499 up to 2,625 personnel, while administrative overhead has risen from 443 up to 3,307 employees. Overseas, the prewar U.S. representation at 323 embassies and consulates was below 2,000, while today we employ 22,000 Americans at 263 diplomatic missions. The White House national security staff of Dr. Henry Kissinger now numbers more than 100, about four times larger than the staffs of McGeorge Bundy and Walt W. Rostow during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. When new other- agency jobs in intelligence, aid, propaganda and military programs are taken into account, the postwar expansion in U.S. foreign affairs personnel has been more than twenty-fold.
We have acquired our bureaucracy, like some of our foreign commitments, in a fit of absentmindedness. Postwar studies of government organization have regularly criticized overstaffing and diffusion of authority. But little corrective action has been taken. Our past four Presidents have cursed the State Department while at the same time presiding over a 20-year decline in its authority, abetting the process by building an intermediary foreign office in the White House. Though every President needs his own staff and each will impress on the government his own personality and habits of work, it has been forgotten that any President stands to benefit from having a strong and able State Department. For State's stock-in-trade is a kind of expert knowledge and judgment and international negotiating skill that has no other institutional home in Washington. The stronger and abler the Department, the better the chances for wisdom in foreign policy, or, put another way, the higher the "reality input" into presidential decision- making on the foreign side. Paradoxically, the way to strengthen State may be to cut back its size drastically, as Messrs. Acheson and Kennan (and most of our recent Presidents, in private utterance) have proposed, while at the same time giving it new executive authority over other agencies.
Could it be done? There is no reason why not. The cutbacks should appeal to Congress, and the attempt to introduce more orderly procedure should help attract abler people into government. These proposals are not new. They have much in common with recommendations made in 1949 by the Hoover Commission Task Force on foreign affairs organization.
Twenty-one years later, the questions addressed by that Task Force continue to haunt Washington policy-makers. How can the State Department, "cast in the role of the specialist in foreign affairs," stay on top of the economic and military and intelligence departments which showed, even in 1949, "an increasing tendency to establish policies . . . which are not coördinated with the foreign policies or interpretations of the State Department?" The Hoover body answered this question only indirectly. It pointed out that the National Security Council, then less than two years old, was already straying into "matters of foreign affairs which are strictly not its business" and warned that the "NSC can easily slip into a highly improper role." It suggested that the President establish small cabinet-level committees, as the need arose, to advise him on any foreign policy questions having important domestic aspects.
But the main burden of the Hoover recommendation was to strengthen State by cutting it down to size. A radical restructuring would be needed to do this, centering authority in four geographic divisions responsible for the main areas of the world. There would be left within State only one other major official outside the regional scheme, as "Assistant Secretary for Multilateral Affairs," who was to handle U.S. diplomacy in international organizations, supervise small groups of economic specialists and attend to several "matters transcending the spheres of the regional assistant secretaries" as well as interdepartmental coördinating chores. State's large economic, intelligence and public affairs offices were to be disbanded. To prevent diffusion of authority through a committee system that would compromise issues at the bottom rather than forward them up to the top, the Task Force insisted that action "should be assigned in each case to a single officer ... who must consult (but never be required to secure concurrence of)" the other offices affected, "and then report their consultation and comment with his recommendation."
The Hoover proposals remain the beginning of wisdom about foreign affairs organization. Only part of the wisdom, to be sure, for the symptoms first detected in 1949 have gone untreated for two decades and the illness has spread. Major changes are required today in the internal structure of the State Department, our embassies overseas and the other executive branch agencies.
Size is the first problem to attack and bureaucratic surgery is the answer. There should be a Five Year Plan of personnel reductions to bring the 6,800- man State Department of 1970 down by more than 50 percent to a ceiling of 3,000 by 1976. Restructurings and transfers to other agencies might account for nearly half of the cuts. The remainder can come from normal attrition (now running about 10 percent per annum, but subtract five percent for new recruitment), specific job-abolitions following a study that sets ceilings on the numbers of officers and clerical workers in each bureau, continuation of present incentives for early retirement, more serious application of the statutory selection-out principle to Foreign Service officers (at least five percent, or 160 per year rather than the present 70 per year should be eliminated) and cutbacks in the Foreign Service "Reserve Officer" category. (Seven hundred and fifty "FSRs," statutorily defined as employees having "special skills" not otherwise available to the Department, now work in State; at modest estimate, 250 of the positions are Congressional patronage jobs.)
At the same time, nine of the present 16 bureaus headed by Assistant Secretaries (or equivalents) could be usefully abolished, leaving a new total of seven. This, in essence, was the Hoover Task Force plan. The five main geographic bureaus for Europe, Africa, East Asia, Latin America and the Middle East (with 980 personnel in all) should be retained as the basic core of the policy machine. They should be supplemented by a sixth Bureau of Multilateral Affairs, combining the staffs of the present Economic, Scientific and International Organizations bureaus. The new multilateral office might start with the 483 employees presently in its three components, but reduce itself considerably over time. Its task should be mainly advisory and liaison, including coverage of international conferences and the kinds of multiregional work specified in the Hoover study. Six other of the present bureaus, now comprising more than 1,000 employees, could be abolished by stages. These are the offices for Congressional Relations, Public Affairs, Educational and Cultural Affairs, Intelligence and Research, Politico-Military Affairs and the Legal Adviser's staff. Much of their work duplicates the work of others, and the portion of it that is not duplicated should be brought into the regional and multilateral system and up to the Secretary's office. Another 500 personnel in the consular offices could be transferred out of State. The visa office, as Hoover recommended, should be transferred into the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Justice. The passport office could have many of its functions decentralized and routinely performed at post offices around the country, as is now being tried experimentally in several cities.
These reductions should help to improve internal communications and decision-making, while fixing responsibility more clearly. But just to make sure, State's present procedure of requiring elaborate "lateral clearances" among all interested offices before a proposal for action can pass up the line should be abolished.
Substantial reductions must come as well in the administrative half of State. More personnel-3,307 in all-work in personnel, security, communications, general services and like offices than in all of the 16 other divisions combined. Extra administrative staffs, not included in the above total, exist within each policy bureau, where they comprise as much as 20 to 30 percent of the manpower. In the African Bureau, for example, 44 of its 166 employees administer budget, personnel assignments, procurement of supplies and processing of official travel. Separate department-wide administrative offices do the same job. Hence much of the work is duplicated and "coördinated" between two distinct offices. Time and efficiency could be saved by abolishing these redundant positions and centralizing the work under the Assistant Secretary for Administration.
The most important administrative task of all is currently not performed by anyone in Washington. The government has no unified foreign affairs budget. Like the three armed services in the 1950s, each agency negotiates separately with the Budget Bureau and then with Congress. This reinforces the impression that we have not one but many conflicting foreign policies. State's annual budget of $400 million is the lowest of any cabinet department, but former Budget Director Schultze has estimated that the cost of all U.S. programs overseas (excluding CIA and troop costs) would total $5.6 billion. Expenditure of all government funds abroad should be centrally planned in one place, and the logical place to do it is the State Department. Otherwise there is no assurance that the money serves a coherent national purpose. With other-agency coöperation, this task could be performed by transferring into State the present staff of the international division of the Bureau of the Budget, some 50 personnel in all. Ambassadors in the field and regional Assistant Secretaries in State should have a hand in recommending (and reducing) budget levels for the entire spectrum of U.S. foreign activities. The central budget staff could usefully be centered under the fifth ranking officer of the Department, now known as Deputy Under Secretary for Administration, who could spend full time on budget management on behalf of the Secretary of State.
At the top of the ladder, there is no simple way to ease the burdens of a modern Secretary of State. Recent Secretaries have spent about half their time testifying before Congress, traveling abroad to conferences and advising the President, with only a remainder of the schedule free for superintending the day-to-day business of their department. They can no more delegate leadership to their deputies than Presidents are inclined to delegate work to Vice Presidents. But there are ways of helping a Secretary make better use of his time and exert clearer control over the sprawling bureaucracy beneath him. At present, some 336 staff aides and advisers and office helpers comprise the personnel of the State Department's seventh floor, where the Secretary's office is located. These men and women are not organized in a coherent way, but perform overlapping tasks with confused mandates. A large Executive Secretariat (120 strong) competes with a smaller Policy and Coördination Staff and with miscellaneous personal consultants and assistants to serve the needs of the Secretary, the Under Secretary who is his deputy and alter-ego, another Under Secretary whose duties are ill-defined, and a number-four man called the Deputy Under Secretary, whose job is also that of a vague extra helper. These latter two officers should be given specific tasks and they should not clutter the chain of command between Assistant Secretaries on the one hand and the Secretary and his deputy on the other. One of them might be denominated Deputy Under Secretary for Foreign Economic Policy, acting as chief economic adviser to the State Department and as its main point of contact with the Treasury, Commerce and other economic departments. The other could be styled Deputy Under Secretary for Coördination, acting as the Secretary's monitor and watchdog of CIA, the Defense Department and the military establishment, with his own representatives on the staffs of the military and intelligence agencies.
In a smaller State Department, a single secretariat of modest size should continue to organize the meetings, appointments and papers of the Secretary and Under Secretary. It should also be able to give them independent advice on pending business, should formulate their decisions in writing and should communicate on their behalf with the President's staff. The Secretary needs a small policy planning staff as well, detached from day-to-day responsibilities and empowered to conduct such studies as he may require.
As reorganization and reduction proceed, the Department ought to move its main offices back into the Executive Office Building next to the White House, its pre-1948 home. Closer proximity to the President should, of itself, eliminate the need for a major buffer in the form of a large White House foreign office between the President and his Secretary of State. Even at State's present size, the total number of personnel in the geographic bureaus (980), the "heart" of the policy machine, is barely larger than the entire Department of prewar vintage (963). If a President wants his Secretary close at hand (as Eisenhower once proposed to Dulles), then the logical solution is to move his office back to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Questions of the quality and ability of personnel remain. Who belongs in a leaner, fitter State Department? Do changes in organization really accomplish anything without changes in people?
The answer to the last question is yes and no. Of the four broad categories of personnel in State today, 1,700 are Foreign Service officers, about 750 functional specialists, between three and four hundred political and patronage appointees, and the balance of 4,000, clerical workers. This staff could do a better job in a streamlined structure, but its present level of competence has been criticized. State has a reputation for cautious conformity that may in part be a reflection of historic decline: it has lost some of its drawing power for able young men and women as it has lost authority to other agencies in postwar Washington.
Much of its present weakness stems from Senator Joseph McCarthy's attacks 20 years ago. The Department of the early fifties acquiesced in a purge of a number of its professional diplomats, who were accused of disloyalty because they had accurately predicted the corning of communist revolution in China and had advocated Realpolitik rather than ideological warfare in our relations with the Soviet Union. The purge was followed by the Wriston Program, which trebled the number of Foreign Service officers in 1954-56 by bringing in 2,500 new personnel at the middle grades. The atmosphere of that period is best recalled by the motto of Security Chief Scott McLeod: "An ounce of loyalty is worth more than a pound of brains." Most of State's senior career men today are veterans of that era ; and if honesty and brilliance are in short supply, it is partly because honesty and brilliance were not rewarded in the fifties.
History cannot be repealed, but some of its effects are self-liquidating as older men retire. The way to build for the future is to commence a Fifteen Year Program to improve our career diplomacy. High academic standards should be stressed rather than downgraded, as specialists in foreign areas and languages and economics are recruited from American universities in some rough relation to the estimated representational needs of the United States over a period of years.
Meanwhile, there must be an attack on the inverted pyramid shape of the Foreign Service hierarchy. Two-thirds of our 3,100 Foreign Service officers today are in the top four ranks, with the remaining third spread among the bottom four ranks, rather like an army with twice as many brigadiers as captains. This bizarre condition stems from the Wriston bulge of 15 years ago and the inability of administrators in the sixties to enforce tough promotion standards with some view to the future. Most jobs have been inflated by two or three ranks in the past decade, and need to be reclassified downward. Other steps can be taken to reëstablish the merit system envisaged by the Foreign Service Act of 1946. That law made provision for annual selection-out of the Foreign Service of low-performing officers and, at the opposite extreme, accelerated promotions for exceptionally meritorious work. Today, 24 years later, there has not been a single meritorious promotion, and selection-out has occurred at the low rate of about two percent. Here is evidence of the dead hand of seniority. The simple solution would be for the Secretary of State, annually, to direct the promotion boards to eliminate a fixed number of officers-about five percent-for low performance, and to give accelerated promotions to a similarly fixed number.
Besides officers skilled in foreign diplomacy, a strong State Department requires a separate cadre of men and women to control and manage the Washington machine. It is not easy for transient Foreign Service officers, whose careers are pointed to overseas diplomacy and whose home tours of duty are generally only two to four years at a stretch, to stay on top of their opposite numbers in the Defense Department, the Treasury and the other home agencies. State badly needs what these other agencies already have-a permanent home staff. Such a staff of civil servants, working side- by-side with Foreign Service officers and presidential appointees, could give the Department a strength and continuity that it now lacks in interdepartmental dealings. As a corollary, the heavy majority of FSOs ought to be deployed abroad, and should remain at their posts for longer periods of time than the present two to three year average. Since 1969, for the first time since the Wriston report, there have been more FSOs assigned to Washington than outside the country. The ratios, compared with those of 20 years ago, are startling:
DEPLOYMENT OF FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS
Year At Home Abroad
1948 185 1,147
1969 1,700 1,500
Though this skewed concentration is largely an accident, it demonstrates how unplanned State's personnel policy has become.
Size is also a problem at our 263 diplomatic missions in 115 countries overseas. American embassies are ostentatiously bigger than those of other nations, but over 80 percent of our diplomatic staffs are not employees of the State Department. In Vietnam, the U.S. mission has 4,000 Americans, only 357 of whom are on State's payroll. Several years ago Henry Villard reported that our embassy in Rome, with 800 employees, was 10 times larger than the French and British missions, while in the small African nation of Burundi, American officials outnumbered the entire colonial administration that had run the country before independence. Today there are more than 1,000 U.S. officials at our embassy in Thailand, 495 in Germany, 460 in Turkey, 275 in Columbia. Wives and children and alien clerical workers bring up the total size of each American diplomatic community to a figure three to four times greater than these data would suggest.
Our embassy staffs should be cut by more than 50 percent over the next five years, down from 22,000 to 10,000 personnel. This can be accomplished without closing down consulates, our 133 diplomatic branch offices away from capital cities, which are important adjuncts to our embassies. Indeed, a number of the three dozen consulates closed for economy reasons during the sixties could be usefully reopened. The heaviest cutback should come in agencies other than the State Department, particularly Defense, which sends 68 percent more people than State to our embassies, and CIA, whose personnel figures cannot be publicly discussed because of their security classification. At present our largest diplomatic posts employ 500 to 1,000 Americans from all agencies and only our smallest embassies have fewer than 50 to 100.
It has not occurred to Washington that sending large numbers of official Americans to small and poor countries can have negative side-effects on our relations with those countries. Large U.S. missions create an impression of massive American interference. When those large missions are compartmentalized among separate government agencies, with each agency's staff competing for the time and attention of foreign officials, we convey the impression of a diffuse and unfocused policy that lacks seriousness. Though the Secretary of State does not now control (nor does anyone else) the numbers of personnel sent by other agencies to our embassies, he can be given that power by the President, along with control over their foreign budgets. Fixed manpower ceilings should be set for each of the four categories of our missions, for example, 150 personnel for Class I embassies (London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc.), 75 for Class II, 35 for Class III, 15 for Class IV. The non-State Department staff generally ought not to exceed 50 percent of total mission personnel.
All personnel should serve "at the pleasure of the Ambassador." To enhance an ambassador's authority, the ownership and operation of embassy coding and communications equipment should be transferred from the CIA to the State Department. All other-agency personnel serving at embassies, military and civilian alike, should be "seconded" into the State Department and made subject to its internal discipline for the duration of their tours. Finally, ambassadors should be accountable for all U.S. government funds expended by all U.S. agencies in a given country.
One reason why past Secretaries of State have not pressed for greater reductions of non-State Department staffs abroad is that their department receives $120 million annually in fund transfers from other executive branch agencies. These so-called "administrative support costs" give State important funds above and beyond its annual Congressional appropriation. By tying itself to these funds and to a pattern of large embassy staffs, State perpetuates what some have called "the PX Culture."
The administrative sections of our embassies, which account for the largest part of State's foreign staffs, could be measurably decreased in size, with the bulk of the work performed by alien clerical workers. Special food and clothing stores, post exchanges, and housing compounds administered directly by the embassy or by military members thereof on a "non- appropriated fund" basis should be phased out, leaving individual staff members responsible for administering themselves in matters of personal housing, food, clothing, and education for their children. It is DO longer necessary to continue practices dating from out-postwar military occupation of Germany and Japan : provision of pre-packaged administrative services to our personnel abroad, including U.S. government furniture for houses, U.S. government-constructed housing compounds, and PXs and schools. Unusual personal expenses, which are invariably a part of running a diplomatic household, should be compensated for by cash allowance, as is the practice in every other major diplomatic establishment.
Slimming down the bureaucracy also requires rethinking the purposes of propaganda, intelligence, economic aid and military programs. Four agencies- the Defense Department, CIA, USIA, and AID-today account for more than two- thirds of the population of our embassies. All operate large programs abroad and all, from their birth in the late 1940s, inherited an organizational vested interest in ideological conceptions of international politics. Each of the four is not unnaturally inclined to recommend that the special techniques at its disposal be used actively to promote "change" in other countries and that its mission be defined in a broad interventionist way. CIA in particular, and the other agencies to lesser degree, operate with wide freedom and without very close daily scrutiny from the President or the National Security Council or the Secretary of State.
Three of these four institutions-CIA, AID and USIA-need not continue to exist in their present form. Proposals for disestablishing them are not new, since plans to do just this have existed within the government for a number of years. After the Bay of Pigs in 1961 and again after the National Student Association disclosures of 1967, presidential study groups considered dismantling CIA, but concluded that it was not politically opportune to do so then. The most commonly suggested plan is to split the Agency in two, transferring the bulk of its employees into an overt Government Research Institute and leaving behind a much smaller and genuinely secret operational arm under the close control of the Secretaries of State and Defense. But a major intelligence shakeup continues to pose political problems for any President, and probably cannot occur except in the wake of another fiasco like Bay of Pigs or Pueblo. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State should at least begin to review CIA's budget and to set low ceilings on the number of people it sends abroad.
With respect to USIA, the need to employ 11,000 Americans and spend $175 million annually in foreign propaganda and cultural work was questioned by the Rusk Commission in 1967. Among other alternatives, that body considered turning over the job to a quasi-public corporation. More recently Bruce Oudes, a journalist and former USIA official, has proposed a more thorough dismantling of the Agency. National chauvinism in cultural fields and a massive projection of government propaganda in peacetime are not consistent with the values of a free society. USIA programs are in competition with our private communications media. In the seventies is time to replace USIA with subsidized but politically independent public corporations for broadcasting and cultural exchange, modeled on Britain's successful BBC and British Council programs.
Our foreign aid agency, which has been reorganized seven times over the past two decades, is about to be reorganized again. The Peterson Task Force on International Development recommended to President Nixon last March 4 that most of the 5,234 U.S. AID employees abroad come home and that their agency be abolished. The large AID missions currently in fourscore countries are to be dismantled and we are to adopt the simpler practice of most other aid donors, which is to administer bilateral programs directly through embassy economic sections. For Washington, the Peterson Report envisages a modestly staffed development bank and an institute for technical assistance, which would channel most of our future foreign aid through international institutions. This approach, though it is not certain to commend itself to Congress, would remove foreign aid from its cold war context of political expediency. Whether adopted now or a few years hence, the Peterson recommendations promise a more serious aid program which is in accord with the realities of development.
The foreign role of the Defense Department poses separate problems. A more fruitful collaboration between State and Defense is needed, and the first step is for the Secretary of State to reassert his senior partnership over the military authorities in all foreign questions. For Defense has come to play an independent role in foreign affairs. One symptom of this is evident in personnel statistics: at the start of the 1970 fiscal year there were 8,264 Defense Department personnel serving at our diplomatic missions, or 3,100 more than the State Department total. In his annual posture statement the Defense Secretary now insists as a matter of course on propounding a foreign policy independent of the views of his colleague at State.
The Pentagon has its own little foreign office, the 321-man Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA), organized on geographic desk lines which imitate those of the State Department. To complement ISA, State has created a 90-man Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs. Thus there have emerged two essentially duplicative liaison bodies, each of which mainly exists to negotiate with and give clearance to the work of the other. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the three services also have separate foreign affairs staffs, and a large Defense Intelligence Agency collects and disseminates duplicated versions of diplomatic and CIA information in addition to military intelligence.
A strong Secretary of State would undoubtedly propose that, if the Defense Secretary felt the need for having foreign policy advice within easy reach, he be assigned a senior State Department adviser with a few assistants rather than forming and recruiting his own separate foreign staff. In asserting his senior role, the Secretary of State could assure that coördination occurs at the top rather than the bottom of the chain of command, and could end the spreading confusion and duplication of effort that now exist in both departments. Above all, he could re-right a balance of authority that has shifted ominously in the past 20 years toward military technologists and away from foreign policy planners.
The President and the Secretary of State can, with some cooperation from Congress, accomplish all of the reforms that have been suggested above. New legislation is needed to shake down CIA, AID, and USIA, but major cuts in personnel throughout the government and an internal reorganization of the State and Defense Departments can occur by executive action alone. If such action is not taken early in the seventies, Congress will be all the more tempted to propose its own solutions. The power of the purse gives it at least a negative means of forcing changes by cutting budgets. At this late date it would be an evasion for Congress or the President to appoint yet another commission to re-study the organization of our foreign departments. There have been studies by the dozen already, from the two Hoover Commissions of 1947 and 1953 to the Herter Committee of 1962 to the recent Peterson Task Force of 1970. By now the dimensions of the difficulty should be evident to all.
They were long ago evident to the President's assistant for national security affairs, Dr. Henry Kissinger, who remarked in 1968 that there is a "sort of blindness in which bureaucracies run a competition with their own programs and measure success by the degree to which they fulfill their own norms, without being in a position to judge whether the norms made any sense to begin with."[i] In an essay written two years earlier, Kissinger criticized Washington's "elaborate and fragmented" administrative machine and observed that "the staffs on which modern executives come to depend develop a momentum of their own." What begins as an aid to decision-makers, he wrote, "often turns into a practically autonomous organization whose internal problems structure and sometimes compound the issues which it was originally designed to serve."[ii]
Kissinger's analysis is as accurate in 1970 as it was in 1966. What has been lacking thus far is a plan of reform designed to correct the known deficiencies of the system. Although the postwar period of foreign policy has come to an end, the institutional forms that emerged in that earlier era are still very much with us. The continuance of those forms, devised in haste and accident more than 20 years ago, undercuts the announced purposes of President Nixon's foreign policy. We are still organized more to engage in a clash of ideologies than to negotiate a balance of power, and the voice of diplomacy has become weak within the structure of our government. If an era of negotiation is ever to get off the ground, policy changes abroad must be accompanied by bureaucratic reform at home.
[i] "No More Vietnams?" (Richard M. Pfeffer, ed.). New York: Harper, 1968, p. 11.
[ii] Henry A. Kissinger, "Domestic Structure and Foreign Policy," Daedalus (Spring 1966), reprinted in H. Kissinger, "American Foreign Policy: Three Essays." New York: Norton, 1969, p. 20.