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Journal of American StudiesStuart's research and analysis is largely persuasive and clearly presented. Unravelling bureaucratic clashes represents the strength of the text.
— Kaeten Mistry
"In this lucid, carefully researched, and meticulously argued volume, Douglas Stuart revisits the founding legislation of cold war military and foreign policy. He explains how American thinking about national security was transformed and how the military establishment rose to such prominence in American life. Creating the National Security State is a major contribution--indispensable scholarship for historians, political scientists, and the policymaking community."--Richard H. Kohn, University of North Carolina, ...
"In this lucid, carefully researched, and meticulously argued volume, Douglas Stuart revisits the founding legislation of cold war military and foreign policy. He explains how American thinking about national security was transformed and how the military establishment rose to such prominence in American life. Creating the National Security State is a major contribution--indispensable scholarship for historians, political scientists, and the policymaking community."--Richard H. Kohn, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"This book is unique in demonstrating how ideas, bureaucratic politics, and raw political power interacted with a changing security environment to bring about the birth of the modern national security state. The essential insights and interests expressed by the major players during the 1945-53 period remain with us today, and we could all benefit from this history of experiment, wrong-headed choices, and triumph. Stuart writes with verve and is a master of the judiciously used anecdote."--John Garofano, United States Naval War College
"This is a deeply researched and compelling study of the development of the national-security state from the late 1930s through the late 1950s. This book makes a major contribution to many fields of history, political science, and sociology. It addresses some of the key debates about the nature of the cold war and its effects on American society."--Jeremi Suri, University of Wisconsin--Madison
"This is a first-rate examination of the origins of America's national-security establishment. The book is a significant contribution to the field, providing some excellent insights into why the United States ended up with the hodgepodge of security institutions that it has endured since 1947."--Loch K. Johnson, University of Georgia
"[T]he value in Creating the National Security State is the extensive analysis of the debates leading to the passage of the 1947 National Security Act and the fate of the act's institutional components."--Diane Putney, H-Net Reviews
"At a time when much talk of recasting the national security policies of Western countries, the United States for a start, as well as the institutions in charge of those policies, Douglas Stuart's book on the 1947 National Security Act is a timely contribution in that it lays the historical foundations for such a debate."--Francesco N. Moro, International Spectator
"Stuart's research and analysis is largely persuasive and clearly presented. Unravelling bureaucratic clashes represents the strength of the text."--Kaeten Mistry, Journal of American Studies
The 9/11 Commission is not alone in this regard. Virtually all of the current proposals for institutional reform focus on a particular cluster of agencies involved in related activities, such as intelligence gathering or homeland security, rather than on the national security bureaucracy as a comprehensive system of interdependent institutions. Indeed, the evolvingdebates about reform of portions of the national security system bear little resemblance to the wide-ranging discussions that led to the creation of that system in the period after World War II. This book is designed to introduce readers to those discussions. My focus is upon the 1947 National Security Act, the single omnibus bill that created all of the leading institutions of the US national security bureaucracy, except for the Department of State. The National Security Act is arguably the second most important piece of legislation in modern American history-surpassed only by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But while there are hundreds of books written about the political and social controversies surrounding the 1964 legislation, there is still no comprehensive record of the disputes and compromises that shaped the 1947 National Security Act.
This is especially strange since the early Cold War period has been the subject of so much insightful analysis. Indispensable historical studies such as Melvin Leffler's A Preponderance of Power, richly detailed biographies such as David McCullough's Truman, and definitive memoirs such as Dean Acheson's Present at the Creation do an excellent job of informing readers about the domestic and international environments in 1947, but they do not focus on the debates that culminated in the passage of the legislation. I attribute this to the understandable preoccupation with the various crises and confrontations that crowded the headlines during this period. It can be argued, however, that none of the well-known events of the immediate postwar era-not the passage of the Marshall Plan, not the declaration of the Truman Doctrine, not even Kennan's dispatch of his "Long Telegram"-was as significant as the 1947 National Security Act in determining both the direction of American foreign policy and the future of American society.
I would be remiss, however, if I gave readers the impression that there are no available studies that place a special emphasis on the 1947 Act. Three books in particular deserve special mention. The first is Michael Hogan's essential history of the Truman era, A Cross of Iron. Professor Hogan weaves references to the 1947 legislation throughout his narrative. He also provides, in chapter 2 of his book, an excellent introduction to many of the key players and issues in the postwar struggle over institutional reform.
Both Professor Hogan and I seek to demonstrate how a national security ideology was articulated and institutionalized by the framers of the 1947 National Security Act. We nonetheless differ, to some extent, in our views about the genesis of that ideology. At the core of Hogan's history is a struggle that is played out during the early Cold War period between the proponents of national security and the defenders of "traditional values" of anti-statism and anti-militarism. My study finds the roots of the national security ideology in America's prewar and wartime experience, and places a much greater emphasis upon Pearl Harbor as a turning point in modern American history. John Gaddis has observed that "surprise attacks tend to sweep away old conceptions of national security and what it takes to achieve it." My book goes even further, arguing that Pearl Harbor redefined for most Americans both the nature of international relations and the responsibilities of their government toward its citizens. It quite literally changed the way Americans thought about time and space, with attendant implications for the way they thought about their own vulnerability. The fact that America could be directly attacked from a distance of nearly 4,000 miles did not just "sweep away old conceptions of national security"; it established the concept of national security as the unchallengeable standard against which all future foreign policy decisions were to be made.
The lessons of Pearl Harbor were central to the postwar debates about the need for a global military presence backed up by the threat of nuclear retaliation. Under these circumstances, the priority at the end of the war was the development and maintenance of what Melvyn Leffler has described as "a strategic frontier" from which the United States would be able to take "'timely' offensive action against the adversary's capacity and will to wage war." Of special significance for this study, the lessons of Pearl Harbor also guided efforts to reform the procedures for gathering and sharing intelligence, coordinating the activities of military and civilian advisers, and harnessing the nation's economic and scientific resources in the name of preparedness. Finally, Pearl Harbor convinced the American people that preparing for the next sneak attack was everybody's business, all the time, at home and abroad. In the jargon of contemporary constructivist scholarship, America has been "securitized" ever since.
Viewed from this perspective, postwar debates that culminated in the passage of the 1947 National Security Act were not so much a struggle between two competing philosophies, as Michael Hogan argues, as a dialogue about how best to adjust American values and interests to the non-negotiable demands of national security. Pearl Harbor had such a powerful effect on the thinking of the participants in this dialogue that we are justified in calling the network of institutions created by the 1947 Act the "Pearl Harbor system."
The second study that deserves mention at the start of this book is Aaron Friedberg's In the Shadow of the Garrison State. Professor Friedberg shares with Michael Hogan an interest in the question: "Why didn't America become a garrison state after World War II?" Friedberg provides rich historical and theoretical insights about efforts before and after World War II to harness the American economy to the demands of the state. His arguments were of special value to me as I sought, in Chapter 5 of this volume, to develop my own explanations for the rise and fall of the National Security Resources Board (NSRB). The NSRB was envisioned by some of the framers of the 1947 National Security Act as one of the most important pillars of the new Pearl Harbor system. Professor Friedberg's book helped me to understand why it did not survive the intense bureaucratic struggles that took place during the Truman era.
I also owe an intellectual debt to Professor Amy Zegart for the many insights that I have taken away from her book Flawed by Design. This book comes closest to mine in its focus upon the 1947 National Security Act. Drawing upon, and then going beyond, insights from the new institutionalist literature, Professor Zegart stresses the importance of the bargains struck during the formulation of the 1947 National Security Act in determining the trajectories of the major national security agencies for the next five decades. Her emphasis on the evolution of three components of the national security bureaucracy-the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council-distinguishes her study from mine, which discusses all of the agencies created by the 1947 legislation. We also differ in terms of time frame. Professor Zegart surveys the entire period from the end of World War II to the 1990s, whereas my study extends from 1937 to 1960.
The most important difference between Professor Zegart's study and this volume is that she is more inclined than I am to downplay the role of interest groups and, in particular, Congress during the formative period of the National Security Act. Indeed, her claims regarding the limited importance of these actors in the formulation of national security legislation is fundamental to her revisions of theories associated with the new institutionalist literature. My study treats these actors as more or less determinative depending on the issues involved and the interests engaged. One reason for our disagreement on this important point is that she does not focus upon the monumental disputes associated with the Truman administration's efforts to unify the armed services, or on the subsequent development of the Department of Defense-two related issues that were greatly influenced by Congress. Nor does Professor Zegart discuss in any detail the creation, development, and ultimate failure of the NSRB, an agency whose activities inevitably engaged numerous economic and political interests in the name of national security.
What all three of the above-mentioned studies have in common with this book is an emphasis upon what Professor Friedberg calls the "interior dimension of American grand strategy." In this sense, they are all responses to demands by students of international relations for more empirical research on the circumstances under which "conceptions of self and interest" that guide a nation's foreign policy become institutionalized. One reason why there are still very few studies of the genesis of a nation's foreign policy institutions is the traditional historiographic problem of infinite regression (e.g., should a study of the ideational and institutional elements of German Weltpolitik begin with Bismarck's arrival in 1862 or his removal in 1890?). From time to time, however, history provides us with a relatively unambiguous starting point for a particular story. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is one such event. This book will identify the defining elements of the Pearl Harbor system, by recourse to the debates that took place between 1937 and the passage of the 1947 National Security Act. The participants in these debates were, in the truest sense, "present at the creation" of an entirely new approach to American foreign policy.
THE PEARL HARBOR SYSTEM
Chapter 1 of this study takes readers back to 1937 and introduces them to a small group of policymakers and scholars who had come to the conclusion that America's approach to international affairs was dangerously naïve and unsustainable. My focus in this section is on Franklin Roosevelt's efforts to prepare the nation for war without running afoul of the pervasive national mood of isolationism. I also introduce readers to some of the people who were recruited by Roosevelt between 1937 and 1941 to assist him in his "preparedness campaign." Some of these individuals-George Marshall, Dean Acheson, James Forrestal, Vannevar Bush-would continue after the war to play important roles in the creation and initial operation of the new network of national security institutions.
I also introduce readers to one academic: Professor Edward Pendleton Herring of Harvard. Prior to World War II, no one was more articulate than Herring in identifying fundamental problems in the existing system for foreign and defense policymaking, and no one was more visionary than Herring in his description of an alternative system. During the 1930s, Herring had drawn upon insights from political science and from the relatively new field of public administration in order to develop three related arguments. First, authoritarian regimes were gaining enormous economic and political advantages over democracies by their exploitation of modern technologies of communication and transportation. Second, management science could help America to replicate the efficiencies of totalitarian governments without doing violence to our democratic values. Third, in order for the United States to become competitive, however, it would have to break free of the grip of special interests that had a stranglehold on both the American economy and the American political system. In 1936, Herring developed this last argument in a book entitled Public Administration and the Public Interest, in which he argued that the central problem of our time was "the need for promoting a purpose of the state over and above the purposes of the medley of interests that compose it." Shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Herring published another important book, The Impact of War, which was designed to alert Americans to the immediate and overriding "purpose of the state." It was the first attempt by any American scholar to develop, in a systematic and sustained way, the concept of national security. Herring argued that technological developments (most notably, air power) and political developments (the global spread of totalitarian regimes) had converged to present the United States with an unprecedented threat, which demanded new procedures for the formulation and management of its foreign and defense policies. The first step toward a more competitive system was to "give thought to the possibility of adapting our governmental institutions to the maintenance of a powerful military force as part of the normal structure of our society." Herring recognized that this idea would be strongly resisted by many Americans, due to their "persistent suspicion of militarism." But he was encouraged that "by a strange paradox, the most practicable means of approaching this goal today is under the urgence of the red spurs of war." He also claimed that even after the national emergency was over, the United States would need to remain militarily strong and constantly on guard, since "the Roman phalanx was a necessary preliminary to the Pax Romana." Pearl Harbor confirmed for virtually all Americans the wisdom of Herring's prewar arguments. It also established the concept of national security as the standard against which all future foreign policies would be judged.
National security required all Americans to adopt a completely new attitude about their safety. An editorial in the Washington Post concluded that "the real villain" in the story of Pearl Harbor "was the bureaucratic mind." Changing the way that all citizens thought about security was essential for America's long-term safety. Herring put it this way in 1941: "The happiest future we could envisage in this troubled world is our nation so aroused and unified by the threats from abroad that we could appear too strong for any nation to dare attack." Following Pearl Harbor, few people questioned Herring's theory of deterrence, although policymakers would continue to debate issues of resource management and prioritization. Before Washington could turn its attention to the challenge of deterring the next Pearl Harbor, however, it needed to win the war. This is the focus of Chapter 2 of this book. America's experiences with the management of World War II provided policymakers with valuable tests of institutions and procedures for civilian-military cooperation, intelligence sharing, and interservice policy coordination. America's primary ally, Great Britain, played an especially important role in providing Washington with institutional models. World War II also provided some negative lessons for postwar planners. America's experience with the supply side of the war effort convinced most experts that, contrary to prewar expectations, loosely administered capitalism outperformed centrally controlled systems for economic management. The challenge was to find an approach to postwar planning that would ensure a high level of preparedness without imposing undue restraints on American business and without crippling America's dynamic research and development sector.
Excerpted from Creating the National Security State by Douglas T. Stuart
Copyright © 2008 by Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission.
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