The New Plan for Implementing National SecurityNews Abroad
In an interview, he noted that membership in the “national security community” was limited to State, Defense and the NSC since the National Security Act limits NSC membership. In this new world of ours, he continued, national security includes among other issues, climate change, drug enforcement, cybersecurity, and nation building, all of which involve other departments. The report, as well as Jones’s plans for the Obama administration would thus put homeland security under the NSC umbrella and broaden membership. If the Obama administration succeeds in implementing this plan, Americans will be living in a full- blown national security state.
Many of the conclusions of both the report and the Obama plan, however, are based on incorrect assumptions. First is the assumption that the United States is now at far greater risk from its enemies than ever before. That would be news to Harry Truman who faced a massive Soviet army standing at the borders of a Western Europe which was in a state of economic collapse, perceived subversion of democratic countries by a communist monolith that stretched from Eastern Europe to Canton, and a bloody, lengthy war in Korea. Underlying all these problems was the reality of the new nuclear age which made the US particularly fearful of its enemies. The bomb shelters recommended in the Eisenhower administration illustrate that the fear of irrational leaders in the Soviet Union was no less than the fear of non-state terrorists today. The list of crises is long.
A second assumption is that because the membership of the NSC is set in statute, it remained static while the world changed around it. But over the 40 years of its existence it was perpetually changing. CIA directors and the JCS representatives have always attended NSC meetings. Truman brought in the budget director, Eisenhower included the Treasury Secretary and Nixon added his attorney general. If disarmament was the subject, the head of the disarmament agency attended. If it involved trade agreements the Commerce Secretary was included. Presidents who find organized NSC meetings useful rarely sit down with just the statutory members. If anything, the NSC has been diluted by too many participants, since every attendee tends to bring staff members who line the walls.
Third, many of the “new” changes are old ones with new hats. Jones is proposing the equivalent of inter-agency groups. But these groups have been an integral part of the national security process for most of its life. Inter-agency groups were relied upon by Kennedy and Johnson and remained active through the Clinton administration. Problems have crossed over many agencies since World War II and have required agency personnel to meet, discuss and try to solve those problems for 60 years. Other presidents, as is now recommended, have also required agencies to appoint a high level official to coordinate agency action. Similarly, every administration has struggled with problems of implementation. In general, unless the groups are ad hoc for a particular crisis, they soon disintegrate and become dysfunctional.
There is little question that the federal government has changed since 1947 but the changes largely lie with the proliferation of agencies. This has required the further growth of agencies designed to coordinate all the new agencies. The Office of National Intelligence is a perfect example of a new agency to coordinate a proliferation of intelligence agencies. Homeland Security is also an example, combining ( if failing to coordinate) disparate agencies into one Department. These have burdened but not necessarily negated the organization under the National Security Act.
There are additional problems to the Obama plan. Jones evidently intends to be a policy maker as well as the coordinator who brings everyone’s view to the president, the traditional function of the national security adviser. He also plans to be the only conduit to the President “eliminating back channels” that allow cabinet secretaries to independently reach the president and “make policy out of the view of others.” His military experience is probably the root of this desire for control, which sounds unlike Obama’s attempts at transparency. Does this mean that the Secretary of State cannot pick up the telephone and call the president? National Security Advisers are not subject to Senate confirmation. Should they be given this enormous amount of power?
Finally, the very premise of this reorganization and its predecessors is questionable. The report notes the foreign policy failures of the Cold War period and presents a number of case studies but failures were caused by presidents and their advisers, not by weaknesses in the NSC system. Lyndon Johnson, who regarded large meetings with suspicion, nevertheless did not lack for intelligence from the CIA or strategic planning from the Defense Department. Ronald Reagan was clearly told of the dangers of defying Congress and funding the Contras. Similarly, there is no reason to believe that President Bush would have paid more attention to the warnings of the CIA before 9/11 if the new policy system was in place. Nor is there any reason to think that he would not have made the disastrous decision to invade Iraq. Good policy comes from the people who make it. When policies fail, it is time for new policy not for another round of reorganization.
comments powered by Disqus
sell mbt shoes cheap - 11/21/2009
For sell mbt shoes man is man and master of his mbt walking shoes fate. Have an aim in mbt anti shoes life, or your energies will all be wasted. What makes life dreary is the want of mbt uk motive. When the fight begins within himself, a man's mbt shoes worth something.http://www.4myboots.com/
ugg boots on sale - 10/31/2009
An ugg bailey button better be unborn than untaught,for ignorance is the root of misfortune.Genius17 withoutugg knightsbridge education is like silver in the mine. ugg boots man is not made for defeat. an uggs boots man can be destroyed but not defeated.No rational man can die without ugg lo pro button? uneasy apprehension.
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Humans Hard-Wired to Teach, Anthropologist Says
- Parents outraged after students shown ‘white guilt’ cartoon for Black History Month
- Maryland is once again considering retiring its state song
- One of the last remaining Nazis goes on trial in Germany
- Inside story finally told of the young US diplomat who cracked the case of the murder of 4 nuns in El Salvador in 1980
- Historian at the center of Sanders-Clinton debate
- James Loewen Says Additional Baltimore Confederate Statues Should be Removed
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- A historian’s advice to students thinking of getting a PhD in a tough economic climate
- German historian Heinz Richter cleared of charges