This article explores efforts to reform the us State Department under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, with the intention of making the Department better able to lead and coordinate the sprawling foreign policy apparatus. When Kennedy soon gave up on what he described as the ‘bowl of jelly’, the reform effort was left to his successor Johnson. Under Johnson, there were attempts to boost the State Department’s internal efficiency and its ability to support counterinsurgency efforts. Yet there was a justified perception by the end of 1968 that the State Department was unredeemed managerially and in terms of its standing in the foreign policy nexus. The reasons for the lack of progress include sporadic presidential engagement, and Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s limited aptitude for managerial affairs.
Hamilton to Bundy 28 August1967frus 1964-1968 xxxiii p. 288.
Rusk to Johnson 31 December1964frus 1964-1968 xxxiii p. 31.
Rusk to Johnson 31 December1964frus 1964-1968 xxxiii pp. 29-31; Leacacos Fires in the In-Basket p. 43; Simpson Anatomy of the State Department pp. 18-19; and Warwick Meade and Reed A Theory of Public Bureaucracy pp. 25-29.
Clark and Legere (eds)The President and the Management of National Security p. 62.
SchlesingerOne Thousand Days pp. 368-370; William I. Bacchus ‘Diplomacy for the 1970s: An Afterview and Appraisal’ The American Political Science Review vol. 68 no. 2 June 1974 note 1 pp. 736-738. See also Bacchus Foreign Policy pp. 3-7 for an account of the difficulties facing the State Department.
SchlesingerOne Thousand Days pp. 367-370. See Robert Dean Imperial Brotherhood: Gender and the Making of Cold War Foreign Policy (Amherst ma: University of Massachusetts Press 2001) chapter 7 ‘John F. Kennedy and the Domestic Politics of Foreign Policy’ pp. 169-199 for ‘the ideology of masculinity’ that permeated the Kennedy administration.
SchlesingerOne Thousand Days p. 383; Bowles to Kennedy 28 July 1961 frus 1961-1963 xxv p. 68; Roger Hilsman To Move a Nation: The Politics of Foreign Policy in the Administration of John F. Kennedy (Garden City ny: Doubleday) pp. 69-72.
HilsmanTo Move a Nation p. 29; Bruce A. Flatin interview conducted by Charles Stuart Kennedy 27 January 1993 in Foreign Affairs Oral History Project adst; and Leacacos Fires in the In-basket pp. 72-76.
SchlesingerOne Thousand Days p. 860; Ted Sorenson Counsellor: A Life at the Edge of History (New York ny: Harper Collins 2008) p. 234; and Kenny O’Donnell and David Powers with Joe McCarthy ‘Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye’: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (Boston ma: Little Brown 1972) p. 282. On Rusk’s suggestion that Kennedy did not wish to replace him see Richard L. Schott and Hamilton People Positions and Power: The Political Appointments of Lyndon B. Johnson (Chicago il: Chicago University Press 1984) pp. 39-40.
Bundy to Johnson 21 January1964frus 1964-1968 xxxiii pp. 34-35. For biographies of Ball see James A. Bill George Ball: Behind the Scenes in us Foreign Policy (New Haven ct and London: Yale University Press 1997); and David DiLeo George Ball Vietnam and the Rethinking of Containment (Chapel Hill nc: University of North Carolina Press 1991).
Schott and HamiltonPeople Positions and Power p. 37.
Memorandum from Bundy 25 January1963frus 1961-1963 xxv pp. 110-111.
Pedersen to Rogers 30 December1968frus 1969-1976 ii p. 661.
Dean to Gore-Booth 11 August1967au 1/6 fco 7/744 tna. The Task Force known also as the Special Committee of the National Security Council was established to provide high-level crisis management of the war and its immediate aftermath. The Committee also ended up playing the leading role in establishing the postwar us position. See note 12 frus 1964-1968 xix: Arab–Israeli Crisis and War 1967 (2004) p. 291.
Pederson to Rogers 30 December1968frus 1969-1976 ii p. 661.