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"A revelatory account from a Washington insider of how modern presidents have succeeded - and failed - in making foreign policy. An important contribution in the wake of recent American experiences abroad, and an essential book for the new administration, here is a fascinating, in-depth look at what actually happens in the Oval Office From a respected expert who has held high-level positions in several governments." "Illuminating the qualities of personal leadership - character, focus, determination, persuasiveness, and consistency - that determine a president's ability to guide his staff, Peter W. Rodman makes clear how these qualities shape policy and determine how this policy is implemented." "Rodman offers an original and telling survey of modern presidential policy-making, challenging many conventional accounts of events as well as standard remedies. This is a vivid story of larger-than-life Washington personalities in action, an invaluable guide for our new president, and a deeply insightful primer on executive leadership."--BOOK JACKET.
Peter W. Rodman was a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He served as deputy assistant to the president for National Security Affairs, as director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, as special assistant to Henry Kissinger in the White House, and, most recently, as assistant secretary of defense of international security affairs (2001–2007). Rodman is the author of More Precious Than Peace. He died in August 2008.
Table of Contents
Bureaucracy, Democracy, and Legitimacy
The Modern Setting
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.
Bureaucracy, Democracy, and Legitimacy
There is a famous story of President Abraham Lincoln, taking a vote in a cabinet meeting on whether to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. All his cabinet secretaries vote nay, whereupon Lincoln raises his right hand and declares: “The ayes have it!”
The story is apocryphal, but it well captures the truth of Lincoln’s relations with his cabinet. That cabinet included supremely ambitious men, substantial political figures in their own right, several of whom had sought the presidency in 1860 and remained convinced that they, not the country lawyer from Illinois, should be sitting in his chair. Yet Lincoln came to dominate this “team of rivals” and seized the responsibility that was inescapably his.
Such a story brings a smile when the president under discussion is the most revered political leader in the history of the republic. But our modern political culture and sensibility are more ambivalent. When less revered presidents make controversial decisions, what do we really believe about presidential authority? How do we feel, for example, about Richard Nixon overruling the dissent of both his secretary of state and his secretary of defense to order military escalations that he thought essential to prosecute the Vietnam War? What do we think of Ronald Reagan pursuing what he thought was a strategic opening with Iran, over the objection of his chief cabinet officers? With respect to the very public anguish of Secretary of State Colin Powell and his State Department over George W. Bush’s decisions on Iraq, do we identify with Bush or with Powell? How often do we read in the press about White House “interference” in the work of experts in the departments and agencies, and complaints that their work is being “politicized”? One part of our brain seems to side with the permanent government. In the age of the whistle-blower, what do we really think about a president’s authority to decide and carry out policies with which subordinates disagree?
The answer should not depend simply on one’s own policy or partisan preferences. There ought to be neutral principles, not only to guide the public discourse but also to guide presidents. The modern trend, especially since the United States emerged from World War II as a global power, has been to expand the White House staff and institutions like the National Security Council (NSC) precisely to enable more centralized control, or at least better central coordination, over an expanding policy community. That policy community includes traditional cabinet departments with an international role (State, Defense, Treasury), other institutions (the Central Intelligence Agency, the uniformed military, and agencies in charge of trade and foreign aid policy), and departments and agencies only recently playing an important role in foreign policy (the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration). But like a law of physics, presidential efforts to strengthen control over this expanding community only stimulate the countertrends that are at work—powerful centrifugal forces in Congress, in the media, and in the Executive Branch itself.
The subject of this book is not the question of presidential prerogative vis-à-vis Congress. Library shelves are already filled with books on the two “co-equal” branches, and especially the ancient debate over war powers. The issue here is presidential control over the Executive Branch.
Congress’s role, however, is an enormously important factor. As scholar Richard Neustadt has expressed it, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 did not, as commonly thought, create a system of separated powers. “Rather, it created a government of separated institutions sharing powers.” Presidents undoubte
Excerpted from Presidential Command: Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard Nixon to George by Peter W. Rodman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.