Defense and Security:
Opposite Sides of the Same Coin
A Conversation with Frank Carlucci
Mr. Secretary, how do you think your Foreign Service
career has helped shape your approach to problems that you
face at the Pentagon?
A large part of this job is engaging in a form of international
diplomacy. Indeed, the line between Defense and State becomes
increasingly blurred as the means of communication improve, a
steady stream of visitors come through Washington, and we’re all
traveling around the world.
Just to take two examples. I spent most of today meeting with
the new German defense minister. While we spent a fair amount
of time on purely military and procurement matters, most of
our time was spent discussing changes in the Soviet Union and
negotiating strategy for START and conventional arms reductions.
These are a form of diplomacy. Another example: When I was in
Japan, my host at dinner was the Japanese foreign minister. So I
have spent a lot of time on this job serving in a diplomatic role.
In recent crisis situations, such as Panama and the Persian
Gulf, State and Defense have eachmade policy recommenda-
tions in accord with the other’s primary instrument of policy,
with Defense supporting diplomatic overtures and State advo-
cating military commitments. Is this apparent institutional
role reversal becoming more and more common?
First of all, you have to look at situations like Panama in their
broader policy context. One of the reasons you have a National
Security Council is that, in 1947, President Truman and the nation
recognized the need for a forum in which issues of diplomacy and
national security can come together because they are opposite
sides of the same coin.
When the State Department deliberates on a course of action
or when they negotiate, they have to be aware of the underlying
military strategy. Similarly, when the State Department talks of
the possible need to use the military in any contingency, Defense
has to look at it in terms of achieving the goal, its cost, the level of
readiness, and what lives will be at risk. Obviously, in such cases,
Defense expresses a view. So, there’s nothing unnatural about each
department talking about the skills and resources of the other.
You are one of only a handful of civilians with diplomatic
experience to serve as the president’s national security advi-
sor. Why do you think Foreign Service officers have so seldom
held this particular post?
Basically, the national security advisor is a staff job, and it’s
very much a president’s individual choice. The question of why
presidents select certain individuals as opposed to other indi-
viduals is almost impossible to answer.
There have been Foreign Service officers in many, many NSC
jobs, including the current deputy national security advisor, John
Negroponte. I doubt very much that any president takes into
consideration whether somebody is a military man or a Foreign
The secretary of Defense comments on the relationship between Defense and State.
Frank Carlucci, a former Career Minister in the Foreign Service, served as assistant to the president for national security affairs before becom-
ing secretary of Defense in November 1987. Carlucci joined the Department of State in 1956 and was posted to Johannesburg, Kinshasa,
Zanzibar and Rio de Janeiro. In his long government career, he has served as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, deputy director
of the Office of Management and Budget, under secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and deputy director of Central
Intelligence. In 1976, he was appointed ambassador to Portugal.
This June interview was conducted by David A. Sadoff, a presidential management intern with the State Department, presently detailed to
the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement.
ON DIPLOMACY AND DEFENSE
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL