A RESPONSIBLE CONGRESS: The Politics of National Security by Alton Frye

A RESPONSIBLE CONGRESS: The Politics of National Security

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A decorous but faintly playful examination of past and possible Congressional participation in decisions about war and armaments. Frye himself moves in Foreign Policy/Harvard Center for International Affairs/Woodrow Wilson Center/Council on Foreign Affairs circles. The book is focused around the late '60's questions of anti-ballistic missiles and the ferocious MIRV warheads. Frye lays out the efforts of Senator Edward Brooke to prevent MIRV deployment that could create a new ""spiral"" in the arms race (though many experts might comment that once MIRV production was under way in the middle of the decade, they would inevitably be activated). He also lauds the contributions a few informed, active congressmen can make, and presses for heightened legislative participation in systematic evaluation of weapons research and development. As for war powers, Frye shudders at the idea of a national referendum, and argues that the president is hostage to Congress should he war-monger in bad faith. But he argues that legislators should be informed about secret executive commitments to foreign governments and about National Security Council operations. Frye barely hints that legislators had any porkbarrel motives for their 1960's liberality toward defense spending, nor strays from a pragmatic acceptance of the basic armaments system, nor explicitly deals with Washington faction fights beyond, e.g., the obvious McNamara ""cost accounting"" issue. Sometimes, to be sure, his discretion seems tongue-in-cheek (the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and the Armed Services committees have been ""inclined to skepticism about the possibilities of international arms control""). Both specialists and bleacher occupants will find this a narrow but unusually readable study.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1975
Publisher: McGraw-Hill