September 08, 2002

The Advantages to Open, Cha...

The Advantages to Open, Chaotic Foreign Policy-Making: An interesting point today from Walter Russell Mead:

[T]here is every reason to believe that U.S. foreign policy is in better shape than it looks. The foreign policy process is notoriously messy. Cabinet members squabble openly with one another. Congress and the executive branch are at one another's throats. Foreign-policy experts and former government officials write blistering opinion pieces denouncing administration shortcomings. Europeans and famous American intellectuals denounce the simplicity, militarism and unilateralism of U.S. foreign policy.

It's important to realize that this kind of chaos doesn't mean that our system is breaking down. It means that our system is working. U.S. foreign policy has its own unique style. It isn't the product of masterminds developing long-term national strategies in ivory towers. It is the product of give and take, of political battles, of struggles between lobbies, interest groups and bureaucracies in both the Congress and the executive branch. The Pentagon pulls one way; the State Department another; the House and the Senate throw their weight around. The result is almost always a hideous, embarrassing and very public mess.

For more than 200 years, experts and seasoned political observers have looked at the U.S. foreign policy process with fascinated horror--and predicted imminent disaster. Yet something very strange keeps happening: It keeps working.

Posted by at September 8, 2002 05:10 PM
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