Avoiding Trivia: The Role of Strategic Planning in American Foreign Policy

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After World War II, George Kennan became the State Department's first director of policy planning. Secretary of State George Marshall's initial advice to Kennan: above all, "avoid trivia." Concentrate on the forest, not the trees, and don't lost sight of the big picture. Easier said than done. Avoiding Trivia critically assesses the past, future, and future role and impact of long-term strategic planning in foreign policy.

Strategic planning needs to be a more integral part of America's foreign policymaking. Thousands of troops are engaged in combat while homeland security concerns remain. In such an environment, long-term coordination of goals and resources would seem to be of paramount importance. But history tells us that such cohesiveness and coherence are tremendously difficult to establish, much less maintain. Can policy planners —in the Pentagon, the State Department, Treasury, NSC, and National Intelligence Council —rise to the challenge? Indeed, is strategic planning a viable concept in 21st century foreign policy? These crucial questions guide this eye-opening book.

The contributors include key figures from the past few decades of foreign policy and planning —individuals responsible for imposing some sort of order and strategic priority on foreign policy in a world that changes by the minute. They provide authoritative insight on the difficulties and importance of thinking and acting in a coherent way, for the long term.

Contributors: Andrew P. N. Erdmann, Peter Feaver, Aaron L. Friedberg, David F. Gordon, Richard N. Haass, William Inboden, Bruce W. Jentleson, Steven D. Krasner, Jeffrey W. Legro, Daniel Twining, Thomas Wright, Amy B. Zegart.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815703068
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 5/5/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 190
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University. His previous books inlcude All Politics is Global: Explaining International Regulatory Regimes (Princeton, 2007) and The Sanctions Paradox (Cambridge, 1999). He is also the author of a popular blog on politics and foreign policy (drezner.foreignpolicy.com).

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Table of Contents

1 The challenging future of strategic planning in foreign policy Daniel W. Drezner Drezner, Daniel W. 3

2 Planning for policy planning Richard N. Haass Haass, Richard N. 23

3 A road map for American leadership in a changing world David F. Gordon Gordon, David F. Daniel Twining Twining, Daniel 34

4 A "return to normalcy"? : the future of America's internationalism Jeffrey W. Legro Legro, Jeffrey W. 52

5 An integrative executive branch strategy for policy planning Bruce W. Jentleson Jentleson, Bruce W. 69

6 Strengthening U.S. strategic planning Aaron L. Friedberg Friedberg, Aaron L. 84

7 A strategic planning cell on national security at the White House Peter Feaver Feaver, Peter William Inboden Inboden, William 98

8 Why the best is not yet to come in policy planning Amy B. Zegart Zegart, Amy B. 113

9 Learning the right lessons from the 1940s Thomas Wright Wright, Thomas 125

10 Foreign policy planning through a private sector lens Andrew P. N. Erdmann Erdmann, Andrew P. N. 137

11 The garbage can framework for locating policy planning Stephen D. Krasner Krasner, Stephen D. 159

About the contributors 173

Index 179

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