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ADMINISTRATION OF NATIONAL SECURITY
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1963
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 3112, New Senate Office Building, Senator Henry M. Jackson (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Jackson, Muskie, Pell, Ribicoff, and Javits.
Staff members present: Dorothy Fosdick, staff director; Robert W. Tufts, chief consultant; Richard S. Page, research assistant; Judith J. Spahr, chief clerk; and Laurel A. Engberg, minority consultant.
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE CHAIRMAN
Senator JACKSON. The subcommittee will come to order.
In connection with our inquiry on the administration of national security in this country and overseas, we have invited a number of ambassadors to prepare memorandums covering points which they believe we might well consider in the course of our study.
The subcommittee is fortunate to have available for inclusion in its record at this time two forthright and thoughtful statements submitted by the Honorable George F. Kennan, recently retired U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia, and the Honorable Lincoln Gordon, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil.
We are also pleased to be able to publish for the first time the important comments on the training and experience of foreign policy officers made by the Honorable Dean Acheson, former Secretary of State, in a letter to Senator J. William Fulbright, printed here with their permission.
We are grateful for these valuable additions to our testimony.
INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY SENATOR HENRY M. JACKSON
Ambassador Kennan has a distinguished record of over 25 years in the Department of State and the Foreign Service. During critical years after World War II he was Director of the Department's policy planning staff, and then Ambassador to the Soviet Union, retiring from the Foreign Service in 1953. In 1961 Ambassador Kennan again answered the call of public duty, and served for 21/2 years as Ambassador to Yugoslavia, returning just this fall to his permanent professorship in the School of Historical Studies, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J. For many years Ambassador Kennan has been a source of thoughtful and critical comment on deficiencies in the national policymaking process.
IMPRESSIONS OF A RECENT AMBASSADORIAL
By Hon. George F. Kennan (Former U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia and permanent professor, School of
Historical Studies, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.) Memorandum for Senate Subcommittee on National Security Staffing
(November 3, 1963) I am happy to be able to submit my views to this subcommittee and to contribute in this way to its important work.
Since I appeared before the Subcommittee on National Policy Machinery on May 26, 1960, I have served for nearly two and a half years as Ambassador to Yugoslavia. I shall not attempt, in this statement, to go over the same ground covered in the statement I made at that time, but shall restrict myself, generally, if I may, to the impressions of this recent ambassadorial experience.
1. THE POSITION OF THE AMBASSADOR WITH RELATION TO THE COUNTRY
I assume that the members of the subcommittee will be interested, in the first instance, to have my impressions about relations between the Ambassador and other members of the country team, on the basis of this recent experience as Ambassador in Belgrade. I must say at once that I encountered no difficulty whatsoever in exerting what seemed to me to be adequate authority over the entire American establishment in Yugoslavia. It may be that I was favored in being surrounded with a group of exceptionally able and loyal assistants, whose abilities I myself admired, whose judgment I valued, and whose attitude toward myself was at all times eagerly and enthusiastically cooperative. But aside from this fortunate circumstance, I had the impression that the authority of an Ambassador over official American personnel stationed in his country is just about whatever he wants to make it. So long as they are in his territory, they have to respect his authority, if he insists they do so. This applies even to those who represent other agencies.
If he requires them to do things they consider contrary to their general instructions from Washington, or intrinsically unwise to an intolerable degree, their recourse is in Washington. They can take appeal, in effect, from the Ambassador's judgment; and if they are upheld, appropriate instructions will eventually be issued from Washington to both him and them, and the matter will be settled.
But so long as they are there, in his bailiwick, and so long as Washington has not specifically overruled the Ambassador, they have to respect his authority. Anything else would be insubordination; and in a case of flagrant and persistent insubordination, he could require them to leave the country. We, fortunately, had no such situations in Belgrade, and nothing even resembling one.
2. RELATIONS WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND OTHER AGENCIES IN
A much more serious limitation on my own effectiveness in shaping policy toward the country in which I was stationed was presented by inability to get recommendations accepted in Washington. I rarely bad difficulty in this respect when it was a case of policy matters on which the Department of State had discretion to act, although, of course, there were such cases, too. The trouble usually occurred where the Department of State, or at least its central organs, did not have primary responsibility for the decision. The difficulties were greatest, it seemed to me, when the matters in question were ones considered to lie within the primary competence of AID, of the Pentagon, of the budgetary or fiscal authorities, or of those authorities (I am ashamed to say that I do not know exactly who they are) which backstop the Department of State in, and in some respects control, such matters as the issuance of passports, visas, reentry permits, etc.
With these latter, in particular, I felt the lack of any effective liaison. They included, I suppose, people in the Immigration Service, and in the FBI. I was never sure that they understood, or shared, or
respected, the policy determinations of the Department of State with Er relation to Yugoslavia. I had the impression, perhaps erroneous, that
many of these people were going on the assumption that Yugoslavia was a member of the Soviet bloc, a thesis contrary to our own observations and to the established analysis of the Department. This hampered our operations and had, in a number of instances, what I considered to be adverse effects on our operations in the field.
In budgetary and fiscal matters, again, the Ambassador was sadly powerless. In general, he simply took what he got. The Department of State might receive his recommendations sympathetically; but the Department itself was too lacking in flexibility and authority to put them into effect with any firmness or promptness. Such recommendations had a habit of trailing off into the mysteries of the Budget Bureau, or the Treasury, or congressional appropriations committees, to a point where all track of them was lost, where months and years went by, and the Ambassador eventually either was transferred or forgot he had made them. At an early stage in my ambassadorship, I made recommendations for new fencing around the residence in Belgrade, owned by our Government, also for a swimming pool for staff recreational purposes, and for an extension of the Embassy residence. The changes were obviously desirable. We had literally tens of millions of dollars piled up in local currency, which might have been drawn on for most of the costs of these improvements, and much of which, if not used in this way, will probably never be used at all by us. Nevertheless, nothing actually occurred during my time there as Ambassador. Things are now about to occur, I understand; but the delays were long and discouraging. I should think that if a man enjoys such confidence on the part of his Government that he can be entrusted with the responsibilities of an important diplomatic mission, it ought also to be possible to entrust him with a limited control over funds, not major funds, just governmental pocket money, so that he could at least make minor dispositions affecting Government property at his post, without waiting years for approval.
With the respect to matters falling under the competence of AID, I found our governmental procedures slow and inflexible to an alarming degree. In general, I felt that the time for aid to Yugoslavia had passed. The aid programs were, in fact, generally dismantled during the period of my service there; and this was in accordance with my own recommendations. But there were times when a minor area of discretion on the part of the Ambassador would have yielded dividends from the standpoint of national interest, and when the absence of it was frustrating and embarrassing. This, again, was primarily a matter of congressional policy-particularly of the existence of sweeping and rigid restrictions on aid, or anything that smacked of aid, toward Yugoslavia. As an example, we were seriously handicapped by these legislative restrictions when it came to trying to render assistance in the case of the Skoplje earthquake. This was surely unnecessary. If the legislative stipulation had only allowed us a relatively small sum, to be used at the discretion of the Ambassador or the Secretary of State in instances when there appeared to be special need, we would have been spared this sort of embarrassment.
3. RELATIONS WITH CONGRESS
I mention with some hesitation these instances of the limitations placed by legislative action on the ability of the Ambassador to play his part effectively. I have no choice but to do so; for these were the main impediments I experienced to the full deployment of my usefulness at my post. I do not need to remind you of the restrictions placed last year, not only on the extension of anything under the heading of aid, but even on the extension of normal trading facilities to Yugoslavia. These restrictions were adopted in the face of the most solemn and formal sort of warnings and objections on my part, conveyed to congressional leaders on many occasions and in many ways. It seems to me that a problem is arising here to which we shall, all of us, have to give attention sooner or later.
If I had known, for example, when I was offered the position of Ambassador in Yugoslavia, how little value the Congress would assign to my own judgment, in the light of an experience of nearly 30 years in the affairs of the Eastern European area, I would not have accepted the appointment; for without the support of Congress it was impossible to carry out an effective policy there. I do not know how this sort of a situation can be avoided; but I think Members of Congress might wish to bear in mind that there is usually a price to be paid, not just in terms of the peace of mind of the person most affected, but in terms of the national interest itself, when an Ambassador's recommendations are wholly disregarded on the legislative side of the Government; for it is not just his usefulness in the given question, but his usefulness as a whole, which is thereby affected.
4. LACK OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION IN FILES AT HOME
I found myself particularly handicapped, as Ambassador, by lack of information as to what was going on at home in matters affecting our work in Belgrade, or of information about Yugoslavia to which other departments or agencies of the Government were privy. For
example, it was important to us, from the standpoint of determining policy toward Yugoslavia, to know definitely whether the Yugoslavs were or were not conducting any sort of activity in this country to which we could object. It was my impression they were not; and if anything they were doing here lent itself to any such interpretation, this is something I think I could have discussed to good effect with the Yugoslav authorities in Belgrade. But in the absence of any sort of liaison with the internal security organs of our own country, we simply had to bat in the dark in all such matters. The same was true with regard to the rather complicated affairs of the Serbian church authorities in North America--affairs in which the patriarchate in Belgrade was intimately involved and which it fell to me to discuss officially, on more than one occasion, with the Serbian patriarch
person. Again, although our naval authorities obviously had good information on the question of the use, or nonuse, of Yugoslav vessels in trade with Cuba, and although this, too, was a matter which I was obliged to discuss officially from time to time with the Yugoslav authorities, I was never adequately informed even of what our Government knew about this subject. On all such matters, and others as well, the Yugoslavs with whom we had to deal were better informed, as a rule, than we were.
I understand the reasons that impel our intelligence-gathering authorities to be cautious about divulging to anyone information they have in their files. But the Department of State and the Foreign Service cannot do their work properly if they are denied information, already in the Government's files, which is pertinent to their determinations of policy. I am reluctant to believe that means could not be found, compatible with governmental security, to keep the Foreign Service at least as well supplied with such information as the governments with which it has to deal.
Members of this subcommittee may recall that I was one of those who at one time expressed himself as being of the opinion that Department of State and Foreign Service were both greatly overstaffed. I cannot speak, today, for the Department of State. But I should like to say that so far as the official establishment in Yugoslavia was concerned, I found myself in most respects corrected. It is true that this establishment was a great deal larger than the Foreign Service establishments in which I had served before the war. It included, for one thing, a large USIS component-something which we did not know at all in earlier days. The administrative section, too, was larger than anything we knew in earlier days. There were also some minor instances of what seemed to me to be excessive paternalism. But when I looked around and asked myself where I could cut, beyond those major cuts which attended the dismantling of the aid mission, it was not easy to find the places. I could have objected to the size of the informational establishment, had it not been for the fact that these people were doing an extraordinarily perceptive and effective job, and making, as it seemed to me, the fullest possible use of their time and facilities. Either one wanted these things to be done, or one did not. To me, they seemed obviously constructive and desir