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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 21, 2006


Release of Foreign Relations Volume II

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release                        December 21, 2006

 

 

Media Note

 

 

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, volume II, Organization and Management of U.S. Foreign Policy, 1969-1972.  The volume examines the efforts undertaken by the administration of President Richard Nixon to thoroughly reorganize the foreign policy decision-making process during Nixon's first term.  Particular attention is paid to the structure, operation, and problems of the new National Security Council (NSC) system created by the Nixon administration during its first year, as well as to attempts to revamp the operations and management of the U.S. intelligence community.  Shorter chapters are devoted to the management of the Department of State, the organization of foreign economic policy, and the Nixon administration's conflict with Congress over war powers legislation.

 

Even before taking office in January 1969, Nixon sought to introduce sweeping change to the structure of U.S. foreign policymaking.  In late December 1968, President-elect Nixon approved a new NSC system proposed by his Assistant for National Security Affairs-designate, Henry Kissinger.  President Johnson, Kissinger believed, had not used the NSC as a decision-making instrument, and had instead relied on informal meetings to reach policy decisions, thereby preventing a full range of policy alternatives from being considered.  Kissinger therefore proposed that the NSC become the principal authority for issues requiring interagency coordination, with the National Security Advisor responsible for its agenda and for ensuring the preparation of papers that presented a wide range of policy options.  With Nixon's inauguration, the new system was formally established, bringing with it a large-scale expansion of the NSC staff and the creation of several new working groups to facilitate planning.  These changes would not come without opposition, however.  The Departments of State and Defense feared a loss of control over their traditional domains.  The Department of State objected to Kissinger's use of the new system to create special, direct channels of communication to foreign leaders.  The Department of Defense objected to Kissinger's efforts to institute NSC review of defense strategy, programs, and budget.  Over time, these institutional battles created deep personal divisions, especially between Kissinger and Secretary of State William Rogers.

 

Inter-agency battles also accompanied the Nixon administration's attempts to reorganize the intelligence community and the Department of State.  Dissatisfied with the direction, collection, analysis, and dissemination of intelligence, Nixon demanded thoroughgoing reform.  Operationally, the administration pushed for closer alignment of intelligence needs with the achievement of its policy goals, and gave greater authority to the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), Richard Helms, to plan, program, and review the activities of the various intelligence entities.  The defense intelligence capability came under particular scrutiny, and the administration's proposed reforms drew the suspicion of the Pentagon.  Likewise, the Department of State, chafed under White House attempts to assert greater control over staffing and the organization of personnel.  The President placed a premium on loyalty when evaluating the Department, and screened high-level personnel for their sympathies.  At the same time, the administration also pressed the Department to make staff cuts, even as State officials sought ways to update and modernize their operations.

 

The organization of U.S. foreign economic policy also proved to be a source of inter-departmental conflict during Nixon's first term.  The new President signaled his intention to use trade policy more actively in support of foreign policy goals.  He asked his Secretary of Commerce, Maurice Stans, to take a greater role in the formulation of trade policy, much to the discomfiture of the NSC as well as the Department of State, which feared a further diminution of its role in foreign policymaking.  Under the leadership of Secretary Rogers, the Department opposed White House attempts to transfer the Office of the Special Trade Representative and control of U.S. foreign economic and commercial functions to the Department of Commerce.  Ultimately, this inter-departmental deadlock would be broken by the creation of the Council on International Economic Policy (CIEP), in January 1971.

 

The Nixon administration also clashed with Congress over the President's authority to exercise military power.  Against the polarized backdrop of the Vietnam War, House and Senate leaders sought to restrict the President's power to commit troops without Congressional approval.  Several resolutions were introduced during 1970-71, and all were judged unacceptable by the White House.  Faced with the prospect of open political warfare with Congress, however, the Nixon administration supported a compromise bill introduced by Rep. Clement Zablocki (D-Wisconsin), in the hope of defeating a more restrictive bill introduced by Senators Jacob Javits (R-New York) and John Stennis (D-Mississippi).  The White House won a temporary victory when the Javits-Stennis bill died in conference; however, the legislation ultimately passed in 1973.

 

The volume and this press release are available at the Office of the Historian website at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/nixon/ii.  Copies of the volume will be available in January for purchase from the U.S. Government Printing Office at http://bookstore.gpo.gov (GPO S/N 044-000-02594-9, ISBN 0-16-072510-0).  For further information contact Edward Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663-1131 or by e-mail to history@state.gov.

 

2006/1135


Released on December 21, 2006

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