Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume II, Organization and Management of U.S. Foreign Policy, 1969–1972

  • David C. Humphrey
General Editor:
  • Edward C. Keefer


The focus of this volume is the organization and management of the foreign policy process. This theme runs throughout the volume, but is most clearly evident in the first chapter, “The NSC System.” This chapter documents the Nixon administration’s foreign policy process as it was conceived by President Nixon, his Special Assistant Henry Kissinger, and other key advisers. The chapter shows how the foreign policy decision making process was supposed to work in theory, and then documents how the system worked in reality. A primary concern of Nixon and Kissinger was that the President retain control over the foreign policy process through his National Security Council (NSC) Staff, and that the White House oversee the implementation of presidential decisions.

As the documents indicate, the Nixon administration believed that it was fighting an ongoing battle to retain Presidential and White House control of the foreign policy decision making process against the bureaucratic forces of the Departments of State and Defense. The first chapter of this volume documents how this struggle for control caused friction between the White House and the Departments of State and Defense, as well as a certain amount of personal rivalry and tension between Kissinger, Secretary of State William Rogers, and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird.

The second chapter of the volume focuses on the related issue of reorganization and revitalization of the Intelligence Community. This reform was driven by President Nixon’s and the White House Staff’s view that they were not getting the right intelligence and that the United States was spending too much on intelligence for the product it was receiving. In addition, Nixon and the White House were concerned that covert operations, which they believed had a tendency to go on indefinitely, were not properly supportive of larger U.S. foreign policy objectives. Finally, the second chapter documents a formal reorganization of the intelligence function at the Department of Defense, where it was widely held that the intelligence function was too diffuse and not properly coordinated.

The third chapter deals with the administration and management of the Department of State by the Department’s principal officers and by President Nixon and the White House. The documents indicate that the President was determined to appoint his own people to key positions in the Department and ambassadorships, but he also wished to push forward younger Foreign Service officers to ambassadorial posts. Because of balance of payment problems, Nixon was also determined to cut overseas personnel, which would naturally affect Department of State overseas operations. The President also wished to upgrade the Department’s Latin American Bureau, but needed Congressional approval. This chapter deals with the question of the loyalty of the Foreign Service officers to the President, the role—or, more accurately, the lack of a role—for professional women in the Department of State and foreign affairs bureaucracy, and the question of Foreign Service spouses (then called wives, since the Foreign Service consisted overwhelmingly of men).