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elect in the transition months of 1960–61.
The views he will offer are a product of this Washington experience. Combined with study.
It is a great pleasure, Professor Neustadt, to welcome you here today.
Senator Javits. Mr. Chairman, may I make a very brief statement? Senator JACKSON. Certainly.
Senator Javits. Mr. Chairman, this is the first time I have had an opportunity to make a statement. I heard General Norstad, but I had to leave before he was through. Subsequently, I was unable to attend when Mr. Harriman was here because of the fact that I am a member of the Permanent Investigations Subcommittee considering the TFX problem, and I have other responsibilities. I am glad to be here this morning at the invitation of the Chair. I shall have to leave at 11 o'clock. Professor Neustadt may not be finished before then, so I would like to state for the record that I consider these hearings extremely important. I think our chairman is carrying them on, as he did before when I had the privilege of participating, with great fairness and deliberation, worthy of the subject.
I believe that the quality of American policy decisions, especially in the foreign affairs field, is so vital not only to the security of our Nation, but to the peace of mankind, that I consider these hearings and what we shall be able to develop as a result of them one of the most important activities of the Congress and one of the most important developments in Government.
I shall do my utmost to make a constructive contribution, bearing in mind the bipartisan tradition to which I am completely devoted, of Arthur Vandenberg, Cordell Hull, and the great men, regardless of party, who have preceded us here and in the Federal Government.
Senator Jackson. I thank my colleague for a very fine statement. He has certainly stated the spirit and intent of the committee.
You may proceed, Doctor.
STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD E. NEUSTADT, PROFESSOR OF
GOVERNMENT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY Mr. NEUSTADT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Senator Javits.
It is a privilege to appear before you. This subcommittee and its predecessor have contributed a great deal to the fund of information on which we in universities depend for the enlightenment of those we teach. If I can be of use to you today, please take it with my thanks as a return for benefits received.
You have asked me to comment on basic issues in national security staffing and operations. This is a vast field and a very complex one, where troubles are hard to track down and “solutions" come harder still. The field is full of genuine dilemmas, many of them quite new to our governmental system but all of them quite likely to endure as far ahead as one can see. Durability is a common characteristic. So is difficulty.
Perhaps the chief of these dilemmas is the one placed first in the subcommittee's recent, cogent staff report on "Basic Issues.” To quote from that report:
The needs of a President and the needs of the departments and agencies are not identical • * *.
What does a President need to do his job?
Essentially to keep control * • * to get early warning of items for his agenda before his options are foreclosed, to pick his issues and lift these out of normal channels, to obtain priority attention from key officials on the issues he pulls to his desk, to get prompt support for his initiatives, and to keep other matters on a smooth course, with his lines of information open, so that he can intervene if need arises. * * *
What do the officials of our vast departments and agencies need to do their jobs?
Essentially orderly, deliberate, familiar procedures accustomed forums in which to air their interests, a top-level umpire to blow the whistle * * * written records of the decisions by which they should be governed.
middle-level yearnings for some equivalent of the OCB [originate) in the desire to have one's views heard through some set, certain, reliable procedure which binds the highest levels as well as other agencies.
A President needs flexibility, freedom to improvise, in dealing with those below. Officialdom needs stability, assurance of regularity, in dealing with those above. To a degree these needs are incompatible; hence the dilemma. As your staff report notes:
It is not surprising that the departments often find a President's way of doing business unsettling or that Presidents sometimes view the departments almost as adversaries.
In considering the problems now before you, I find it the beginning of wisdom to face this dilemma candidly. That is what I hope to do today.
THE PRESIDENT VERSUS OFFICIALDOM
So much of our literature and everyday discussion treats the executive branch as though it were an entity that effort is required to visualize the President apart from the departments, in effect a separate “branch,” with needs and interests differing from those of "his" officialdom. Yet constitutional prescription, political tradition, governmental practice, and democratic theory all unite to make this so. In all these terms the separateness of presidential need and interest are inevitable
and legitimate. The man in the White House is constitutional commander of our military forces, conductor of foreign relations, selector of department heads, custodian of the "take care clause” and of the veto power. No other person in our system has so massive a responsibility for national security. At the same time he is the one executive official holding office on popular election, and save for the Vice President he is our only public officer accountable directly to a national electorate. He is, besides, a relative short-timer in our Government. Members of Congress and career officials often hold high places for a generation. He, at most, holds his for just 8 years. The first year is a learning time, the last year usually a stalemate. Whatever personal imprint he can hope to make is usually reserved to the short span between. Yet his name becomes the label for an "era" in the history books; his accountability widens as time goes on. Schoolchildren yet unborn may hold him personally responsible for everything that happens to the country in "his” years.
The constitutional responsibility, the political accountability, the the time perspective, the judgment of history: all these adhere to the President himself, not as an "institution" but as a human being. In this combination his situation is unique. No one else in the executive
branch—cr for that matter in the Government—shares equally in his responsibility or feels an equal heat from his electorate and history. It is no wonder that his needs can be distinguished from, and actually are different from, the needs of most officials in executive departments.
Cold war and nuclear weapons make the difference greater. A new dimension of risk has come upon American decisionmaking. Its effect has been to magnify the President's responsibility, and to intensify his needs for flexibility, for information, for control. This new dimension first began to manifest itself in President Eisenhower's second term. Mr. Kennedy is the first President to live with it from the outset of his administration.
THE PRESIDENT AS RISKTAKER
What a President now lives with is the consequence of a substantial nuclear delivery capability acquired by the Soviet Union as well as the United States. It is the mutual capability which pushes our decisionmaking—and theirs, too, of course-into a new dimension of risk. In an article included in your volume of selected papers, I have termed this the risk of “irreversibility,” the risk that either bureaucratic momentum in a large-scale undertaking or mutual miscalculation by atomic adversaries, or both combined, may make it infeasible to call back, or play over, or revise, an action taken in our foreign relations, at least within the range of the cold war. But the term “irreversibility,” standing alone, does not really suffice to convey what is new in this dimension. Bureaucratic momentum and multiple miscalculations made a German emperor's snap reaction after Sarajevo "irreversible” as long ago as July 1914. Therefore, to amend the term: what is new since the Soviets acquired their ICBM's is the risk of irreversibility become irremediable. Unlike_the problems facing Kaiser Wilhelm 50 years ago-or those of President Roosevelt in World War II, or even those of President Truman in Korea-a possible result of present action is that nothing one does later can ward off, reduce, repair, or compensate for costs to one's society.
Let me underscore this point; it goes to the heart of my presentation today. Last October we all
glimpsed the new dimension in a President's risktaking. But the Cuban confrontation seems to me a relatively simplified affair: geographically, in the issue raised, in the number of contestants, and in duration. What if there were two or three such issues simultaneously, or stretched over 2 months instead of 2 weeks! What if there were as Mr. Kennedy told us last week there may be 10 years hence--a multiplicity of nuclear powers, a multiplicity of possible miscalculators, each capable of setting off irreparable consequences? Consider the next President's risktaking, let alone Mr. Kennedy's. This new dimension deepens year by year.
The consequences for the Presidency are profound.
One consequence is that the sitting President lives daily with the knowledge that at any time he, personally, may have to make a human judgment-or may fail to control someone else's judgment—which puts half the world in jeopardy and cannot be called back. You and I will recognize his burden intellectually; he actually experiences it emotionally. It cannot help but set him and his needs-sharply apart from all the rest of us, not least from the officials who have
there remains, at least for the time being, a further source of
only to advise him. As Mr. Kennedy remarked in his December television interview: “The President bears the burden of the responsibility. The advisers may move on to new advice."
A second related consequence is that now more than ever before his mind becomes the only source available from which to draw politically legitimated judgments on what, broadly speaking, can be termed the political feasibilities of contemplated action vis-a-vis our world antagonists: judgments on where history is tending, what opponents can stand, what friends will take, what officials will enforce, what "men in the street" will tolerate; judgments on the balance of support, opposition, indifference at home and abroad. Our Constitution contemplated that such judgments should emanate from President and Congress, from a combination of the men who owed their places to electorates, who had themselves experienced the hazards of nomination and election. The democratic element in our system consists, essentially, of reserving these judgments to men with that experience. But when it comes to action risking war, technology has modified the Constitution : the President, perforce, becomes the only such man in the system capable of exercising judgment under the extraordinary limits now imposed by secrecy, complexity, and time.
Therefore as a matter not alone of securing his own peace of mind, but also of preserving the essentials in our democratic order, a President, these days, is virtually compelled to reach for information and to seek control over details of operation deep inside executive departments. For it is at the level of detail, of concrete plans, of actual performance, on "small” operations, to say nothing of large ones, that there often is a fleeting chance-sometimes the only chance to interject effective judgment. And it is at this level that risks of the gravest sort are often run. “Irreversibility become irremediable” is not to be considered something separate from details of operation. If, as reported, Mr. Kennedy kept track of every movement of blockading warships during the Cuban crisis of October 1962, this is but a natural and necessary corollary of the new dimension of risk shadowing us all, but most of all a President.
The net effect is to restrict, if not repeal, a hallowed aspect of American military doctrine, the autonomy of field commanders, which as recently as Mr. Truman's time, as recently as the Korean war, was thought to set sharp limits upon White House intervention in details of operation. The conduct of diplomacy is comparably affected. So, I presume, is the conduct of intelligence. Also, we now rediscover that age-old problem for the rulers of States: timely and secure communications. The complications here are mind stretching.
The only persons qualified to give you a full appreciation of the President's felt needs in such a situation are Mr. Eisenhower, keeping his last years in view, and Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Khrushchev might now be equipped to offer some contributory evidence. The situation is so new and so unprecedented that outside the narrow circle of these men and their immediate associates one cannot look with confidence for understanding of their prospects or requirements as these appear to them. I do not advance this caution out of modesty—though my
suffers along with the rest of the outsiders—but to suggest bet ween the President and most executive officials: the
former cannot fail for long to see what he is up against; the latter have not seen enough of men so placed to have much sympathy or a sure sense for how it feels these days, in these conditions, to be President. What they see with assurance is what they in their jobs want of him in his, a very different matter. Such differing perceptions of the Presidential task are bound to widen differences of perceived need between the White House where responsibility is focused and officialdom where it is not.
The same phenomenon of differing perceptions seems to play a part in other Presidential relationships. No doubt it has some bearing on the current difficulties of relationship between the White House and its counterparts in certain allied capitals where political leaders, in their own capacities, have not experienced the risk to which our President is heír because they lack the power which produced it. Presumably some of the sore spots in congressional relations have a comparable source. Certainly this is the case with some of the complaints voiced against Messrs. Eisenhower and Kennedy, in turn, by private groups intent upon particular action programs.
The lack of common outlook increases the Presidency's isolation and thus reinforces the dictates of common prudence for a man who bears the burden of that office in our time, namely, to stretch his personal control, his human judgment, as wide and deep as he can make them reach. Your staff report is quite right in its catalog of Presidential needs.
OFFICIALDOM VERSUS THE PRESIDENT
The cold war, however, and the pace of technology have not af. fected only Presidential needs. They also have affected departmental needs, and in a very different way.
Well before the Soviets achieved ICBM's the pace of change in our own weaponry combined with our wide-ranging economic and political endeavors overseas were mixing up the jurisdictions of all agencies with roles to play, or claim, in national security: mingling operations along programmatic lines, cutting across vertical lines of authority, breaching the neat boxes on organizational charts. Defense, State, CIA, AID, Treasury, together with the President's Executive Office staffs, now form a single complex—a national security complex, if you will—tied together by an intricate network of program and staff interrelationships in Washington and in the field. ÅEČ, ACDA, USIA are also in the complex; others lurk nearby, tied in to a degree, as for example Commerce.
As early as the National Security Act of 1947 we formally acknowledged the close ties of foreign, military, economic policy; these ties had been rendered very plain by World War II experience. But in the pre-Korean years when ECĂ was on its own, when CIA was new, when MAAG's were hardly heard of, while atom bombs were ours alone and military budgets stood at under $15 billion, a Secretary of Defense could forbid contacts between Pentagon and State at any level lower than his own, and within limits could enforce his ban. That happened only 14 years ago. In bureaucratic terms it is as remote as the stone age.
While operations now have been entangled inextricably, our formal organizations and their statutory powers and the jurisdictions of