The Foreign Service Journal - November 2014 - page 29

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
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NOVEMBER 2014
29
frequently in recent months, wondering whether we lived up to
the general’s trust.
What I see is an American foreign policy establishment that
lacks the capacity for consistent strategic analysis and policy-
making. Decisions at the White House have tended to be ad hoc
and personalized. During my time in the U.S. government, it was
this way more often than not. The Eisenhower administration
was an exception. Ike used to say: “Plans are nothing; planning
is everything.” The Nixon and Ford administrations believed
firmly in top-down policymaking, and Henry Kissinger used the
National Security Council apparatus to good analytical effect.
These administrations were the butt of jokes for their perceived
overuse of the analytic process, but that process was useful as an
educational tool, both up and down the ladder of authority and
responsibility.
Strong and visionary Secretaries of State, like Dean Acheson
and George Shultz, who enjoyed the confidence of the presi-
dents they served, have devised and executed highly successful
strategies. President Harry Truman and Acheson, for example,
worked closely to create the institutions that dominated trans-
Atlantic and even global relations throughout the Cold War.
Three decades later, President Ronald Reagan and Shultz laid
the basis for the end of the Cold War through an approach based
on realism: strength, not only in military and economic capabili-
ties but also in resolve; and a firm and consistent agenda with
which they continued to engage with the Soviet Union through
good times and bad. They believed that the Soviet Union would
change, a belief that needs to be the bedrock assumption of
American policy in the era of Putin.
Preventive diplomacy is the functional equivalent of deter-
rence, and it is more necessary than ever in an era when nuclear
deterrence is less relevant to today’s threats than it was at the
height of the Cold War. I think that the best way to make preven-
tive diplomacy work and to justify my Ukrainian colleague’s trust
in the seriousness and constancy of U.S. policy would be to build
an improved institutional capacity in the foreign policy machin-
ery for serious analysis and for the setting of strategic priorities.
It must operate at the highest levels of government.
If the United States followed the advice offered by former Sec-
retary Shultz to make greater use of clusters of Cabinet secretar-
ies with similar functional responsibilities to consider policy
issues, and less use of White House “czars,” that would help
enormously. But the culture of Washington may have to change,
too—a difficult proposition. Preventive diplomacy cannot work
in the absence of agreed, long-term strategic objectives. It would
be like deterrence without a target.
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