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ADMINISTRATION OF NATIONAL SECURITY
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1964
STAFFING AND OPERATIONS,
Washington, D.C. (This hearing was held in executive session and subsequently ordered made public by the chairman of the committee.]
The subcommittee met at 9:30 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 3112, New Senate Office Building, Senator Henry M. Jackson (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Jackson, Pell, Brewster, Javits, and Miller. Staff members present: Dorothy Fosdick, staff director; 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.
Today the subcommittee will take additional testimony on the role of American ambassadors and the relation of Washington to our diplomatic missions in the field. This subject has been a central one in our nonpartisan study of the administration of national security.
Our witness today is the Honorable Livingston T. Merchant, career ambassador, retired, who has had a long, varied, and successful experience in high posts in Washington and overseas. Today he is back on duty as Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for NATO Multilateral Force Negotiations.
A Princeton graduate, Ambassador Merchant was associated with Scudder, Stevens & Clark, investment counsel firm, from 1926 to 1942, for 12 years as partner. His period of public service dates from 1942 when he joined the Department of State.
Ambassador Merchant's posts have included Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, 1953–56; Ambassador to Canada, 1956–58; Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, 1958–59; Deputy Under Secretary of State, 1959; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, 1959-61; and Ambassador to Canada, 1961-62.
I might observe that I think you have set somewhat of a record, Mr. Ambassador, in that you became a career ambassador after about 20 years of Federal service including service within the Department of State. I don't know of any other person who has been so honored and who has come up so fast and who has done such an outstanding job in that time.
I might venture the guess that maybe your fine experience as an investment banker has been of some help. "We have noted with great interest over the years that people with investment banking experience are so often outstanding in the field of national security. The list of those people is very impressive.
We are very fortunate to have you with us, and you may wish to start out with some informal remarks before we ask you questions.
STATEMENT OF HON. LIVINGSTON T. MERCHANT, CAREER
Ambassador MERCHANT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no prepared statement. I am delighted to be here. I have followed, of course, the work of this subcommittee with the greatest interest. I think I have read all of the reports that have been issued. I have only recently refamiliarized myself with two for this appearance, “The Secretary of State” and “Basic Issues” on the role of the ambassador.
I think the work being done is tremendously constructive. Everyone I know who is interested in these problems of operating successfully in the field of national security is equally impressed.
I have a few opinions and convictions on certain aspects of the phase of Government operations that I have been concerned with. Probably rather than get into them in a disconnected fashion, it might be better to let questions and answers develop discussion. If I find any point I really feel strongly about that hasn't been touched on, I will volunteer it.
Senator Jackson. Why don't we start out this way: In your judg. ment, how big is the job of Ambassador today? This is a period of fast travel and quick communication and decisions have to be made on short notice. This obviously affects the job of any Ambassador.
Many of these great changes have occurred during your period of service. Would you tell us in your judgment how important is the job of Ambassador today, and what are some of the problems as you see them?
Ambassador MERCHANT. Well, I think the character of the role has greatly changed over the years. To me the role of the Ambassador is, or certainly can be, just as important as it ever was.
If you go back 150 years, the Presidential envoy to a foreign country would be 6 or 8 weeks out of communication with his Government and it was impossible to obtain prompt instructions, or amendments to his instructions. He necessarily operated as a negotiator, a representative, with a very considerable field for personal maneuver and decision.
Instant communication has obviously changed that. The complexity of the world has changed it. I think increasingly today the importance of the Ambassador really depends on the man himself. It is often overlooked, for example, that in bilateral dealings with any country, each government or each of the two governments has the choice of two channels through which to negotiate. They can negotiate and deal primarily through the resident Ambassador of the other country in Washington, or through their Ambassador in the capital of the other country. By and large most governments, I