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of delicacy, and importance—where he is properly justified in sending a telegram to the Secretary asking him to discuss this urgently with the President and let him have his answer.
Then it comes down to crying “Wolf, wolf." This can be abused. In the trade there is an accepted method of indicating the importance of a particular telegram by the use of the perpendicular pronoun. I used it in my telegrams as Ambassador very rarely—the "I”—but when I wrote a telegram in the first person, everybody back in the Department knew that I personally had written it.
Similarly, every Ambassador jumps when he gets an instruction from the Department which is written in the first person. It means that the Secretary himself had dictated it or felt it was so important that he changed "we" of the Department to an "I.”
There has to be someone who knows all there is to be known and reads everything available on the subject of every country. This is the desk officer. He is an inch wide and a mile deep. There are some problems, obviously, that have to have a decision which can't wait for the desk officer even to read the telegram, and there are some telegrams that the Secretary of State will require come to his desk automatically, and there will be cases and I have seen many of themwhere the minute he reads the telegram the Secretary personally telephones the President and calls in his secretary, and dictates the answer within 5 minutes.
It is really a question of experience and discrimination and judgment.
Mr. ENGBERG. Isn't there a danger where you have excessive layering that a number of items of considerable interest and of real importance might not get to the top as rapidly as they should ?
Ambassador MERCHANT. Not in a well-run State Department, with the right people in the right spots. By golly, they get there. If the desk officer spots something that the President ought to be concerned with that night and the Secretary has to know about at once—if he is any good-he will hand-carry it to the Secretary's office, and tell the Assistant Secretary on the way by that he is doing so. I don't know what the answer really is. I know when I was just Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, in my little message center, outside of my office, I had some statistical sample checks made. I used to average between 14,000 and 15,000 documents a week, just coming to me as head of the European Bureau. This included letters from Senators, memorandums from the AEC, and JCS papers, and telfgrams and instructions, and incoming and outgoing airgrams, and internal memorandums and chits from the Secretary, and whatnot.
Well now, obviously, every one of those 14,000 or 15,000 documents was of importance to my responsibility. But it is humanly impossible to read 15,000. I could only read on an average about 100 or 150 telegrams a day. I found I just had to keep it down to that number.
Now, the fellow who screens your telegrams for you, in that office, vill control to a large extent what problems are attended to that day. This takes great judgment. The Secretary has to be served by men of discrimination and responsibility and judgment right down to the desk officer, which is a supporting argument for having senior, experienced, talented men right down to the desk level.
But I don't think that there is any easy answer. I think it is a question of training the best human material that you can find into exercising the necessary quality of judgment in order to distinguish the important from the very important and from the trivial and deciding what can wait, and what the President must know within an hour of its arrival in the Department.
Mr. ENGBERG. That brings up the last question I had.
Ambassador MERCHANT. This sounds defeatist but it comes down to men.
Mr. ENGBERG. That is what we want. This brings up another question
Ambassador MERCHANT. Excuse me, I don't mean to interrupt, but don't misunderstand me. There are things that you can do. There are a lot of things that have been done and maybe we will find other devices. For example, we have the establishment of the Secretary's secretariat, by General Marshall, I think. It was an enormous step forward in the Department of State to insure that the Assistant Secretary concerned and the Secretary and the President were kept as instantly informed of what was truly important as human judg. ment could devise. And I think that you can make organizational improvements. But fundamentally it comes down to the quality of your men and the existence of judgment.
Mr. ENGBERG. In relationship to this matter of communications, including some of the ideas the committee members have presented about related agencies and the different departments, and in view of your very extensive experience, what is your reaction to a top coordinating agency such as the National Security Council or something similar, in coordinating the entire foreign policy field? We cani get away from the fact that foreign policy and domestic policy in the different departments are all vitally interested in all of these particular situations.
The President has to make a final decision. Ambassador MERCHANT. I feel very strongly, sir, that under our Constitution and under our traditions and by experience—and thought has been applied to this problem by many people - I feel strongly that nothing should be organizationally done which downgrades the Office of Secretary of State. There is obviously the final role of coordination which could be said to be the marriage, I suppose, of domestic policy, military policy, and foreign policy in dozens of questions a year. Only the President can make these decisions. That is the burden of his Office, or one of the burdens of his Office. To the extent that coordination can and must be delegated in the general field of foreign policy, I think the Secretary of State has to exercise this as the first Cabinet Officer.
I think the President must always support the Secretary of State and the authority of his Office. I think the President obviously must be served by a small but extremely talented staff—but staff and not line people-operating in this complex field of foreign relations, including defense strategy and problems. I think the Secretary of State has to be clearly first among equals. He can't overrule the Secretary of Defense, but I think that the Secretary of Defense in any Cabinet must have a clear understanding of the all encompassing responsibilities of the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State can never overrule the Secretary of Defense and there should be cases where he will persuade him, but if there is a continuing difference of view only the President himself can resolve that. I think it is essential for orderly government under our Constitution that this principle be maintained.
Mr. ENGBERG. That is all, Senator Jackson, and thank you.
Senator JACKSON. Mr. Ambassador, in response to the many quest tions that we have asked you, you have given us much helpful advice and counsel which I trust will reach the right places. We are hopeful that something constructive will come out of the series of hearings that we have held in this field. We are most appreciative to you and grateful.
Ambassador MERCHANT. I am very appreciative of having had a chance to sit here and discuss these important matters. I would repeat, I think the work that your subcommittee is doing, Senator, is of utmost value. You have approached the whole problem so constructively and it is one of the great examples of the unique wisdom of our Founding Fathers, I think, in the Constitution. You are doing something here which I don't think could be done by the executive branch and I don't think it could be done by any outsider-any outside experts or consultants or anyone,
I only hope, and I am sure it will be the case, that to the extent that your conclusions affect the Foreign Service and the Department of State that they will be given the attention they obviously deserve.
Senator Jackson. We thank you very much. We have been aided by very fine members of the committee and by an excellent staff, which is crucial.
We will, of course, welcome any other comments you might wish to send us, which we could include in our record.
(Text of letter from Ambassador Livingston T. Merchant, March 2, 1964.)
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 2, 1964. Hon. HENRY M. JACKSON, U.S. Senator.
DEAR SENATOR: In connection with my appearance before the Subcommittee on National Security Staffing and Operations on February 27, I did not find the occasion to discuss one matter relating to the organization of the State Department. If there is any appropriate fashion in which this letter could be appended to or otherwise related to my testimony, I would be most appreciative.
I strongly recommend the concept that the existing position of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs be customarily filled by a Foreign Service officer and that the tradition be further established that a change in the incumbent is not made except under unusual circumstances, where there is a change of administration in the White House. I make this recommendation with high admiration for Averell Harriman who now occupies that position and who happily comes as close to being a professional Foreign Service officer as any non-FSO can. And certainly I would not want my recommendation to be construed other than as inaugurating the custom in the future and in normal course.
My reasons for the proposal are twofold. First, it would insure continuity at a very high level in the State Department hierarchy
which would be of particular value when administrations change. Second, it would not only, I believe, improve the morale of the entire Foreign Service but I think in the long run it would favorably affect the quality of young officers being recruited into the Service. I believe that the Foreign Service contains and must in the future continue to seek men of such outstanding ability who are entitled to such an opportunity for recognition of their talents and need to have the possibility of achievement of such a role of responsibility to keep them at full stretch. Incidentally it is a practice long ago adopted and followed by the British and French.
There are several objections which can be raised with this suggestion. The first is that it would be unjust and unfair to the Foreign Service in general and to a Foreign Service officer appointed to the position because of the inevitable exposure to public and at times even partisan attack. My reply is that this sort of heat can equally expose an Assistant Secretary or an Ambassador and yet appointment to such positions of Foreign Service officers is common practice. Moreover I do not know any Foreign Service officer worth his salt who would not philosophically, if not happily, accept such risks in exchange for the satisfaction of serving the country in such high office.
Second, it can be said that there is no assurance the Foreign Service will produce men of the quality and caliber to fill such a responsible office. To say this is contrary to past experience when one considers the success of professional diplomats running from Grew and even earlier Under Secretaries of State on through such men as Doc Matthews and Bob Murphy. I believe the Foreign Service will continue to produce a spate of qualified officers. In any event I am not suggesting that this be made a matter of statute but rather one of praetice developing into tradition. This would meet the argument that a time might come when no suitable, qualified officer seemed available.
The third argument against establishing this practice is to cite the obvious right of the President to be served in positions of high responsibility by men of his own choosing. Nothing in my suggestion would prevent a President from making a change whenever he desired for whatever reason. I would, however, submit that wisdom would merely argue against making a change in the holder of this position in the early months of any new administration when the thread of continuing experience is so important in assuring the continuity of coherent foreign policy.
I hope that this suggestion will commend itself to you and your colleagues on the subcommittee. Thank you again for all your courtesy. Sincerely yours,
LIVINGSTON T. MERCHANT. Senator JACKSON. I wanted to state that we will hold the record of this hearing open for a memorandum which we have requested from the Honorable Edmund Gullion, until just recently our Ambassador to the Congo, on the subject of our hearing today.
(Whereupon, at 11:45 a.m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to call of the Chair.)
(The memorandum of Ambassador Gullion follows:)
INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY SENATOR HENRY M. JACKSON
The subcommittee is happy to be able to include in its record a memorandum by the Honorable Edmund A. Gullion, career Minister, and most recently U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo.
We requested Ambassador Gullion to prepare a statement containing comments on the main points which he thought we should consider and reflect upon, and he has responded with this lucid and thoughtful contribution.
Ambassador Gullion is a career Foreign Service officer of 27 years, who has come up through the ranks to the top position of Chief of Mission. He has served abroad in a series of posts in Europe, the Far East, and Africa, and at home in a variety of assignments in the Department of State, including the policy planning staff.
Ambassador Gullion has just completed a 21/2-year tour of duty in one of the Nation's most difficult and sensitive posts—we are grateful that he was able to give us this helpful statement just at this time.
THE AMERICAN DIPLOMATIST IN DEVELOPING
By Hon. Edmund A. Gullion (Career Minister and, recently, Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo)
Memorandum for Senate Subcommittee on National Security Staffing
(March 23, 1964)
I. THE NEW ENVIRONMENT
All of us are still under the sway of President Kennedy's powerful, positive concept of the Presidency—a leading, creative, wide-ranging force in American life, culture, government,
and foreign affairs. Mr. Kennedy had a matching concept for the Department of State. From the outset of his Presidency he wanted to restore to it primacy in the conduct of foreign relations. He reversed a tendency to consider the Department as but one of many agencies involved in external ffairs. He cut back the undergrowth of interdepartmental commitees in the management of foreign policy. He summoned the Departnent of State to guide the work of other agencies within the Eramework of that policy.
Part of the Kennedy plan was to strengthen the hands of the American ambassador abroad. In addition to a direct and sometimes lisconcerting personal interest in the problems of particular missions, his took the form of explicit instructions from the President enjoinng all American ambassadors to grasp leadership of American overnment activities in their areas, and to make the best contribuon they knew how to policy formation.
If it had become easy to think of the chief of mission as typically ne agent of policy, reduced by modern communications to the role f mere executant, this was not the Kennedy idea.