COMMAND DECISION AND THE PRESIDENCY: A Study in National Security Policy and Organization by R. Gordon Hoxie

COMMAND DECISION AND THE PRESIDENCY: A Study in National Security Policy and Organization

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Post-Vietnam fears of the ""imperial presidency"" notwithstanding, the Truman and Eisenhower records show what a chief executive can accomplish in shaping and carrying out national security policy when Congress does not challenge his Constitutional mandate to do so. This is the argument developed by the head of the Center for the Study of the Presidency, who drew on Defense and State Department resources for this generally assertive, sometimes repetitive overview. To show that Truman was indeed a strong president, not a figurehead for the containment policies of George Marshall and Dean Acheson, Hoxie reconstructs his role in centralizing defense responsibilities despite diehard opposition in the service branches; as for Korea, Truman may have failed to inspire popular commitment to the war, but he ""never evaded difficult decisions,"" including the MacArthur case. Eisenhower is convincingly shown as ""a master politician"" who managed to heighten military strength despite defense budget cuts as well as streamlining the Pentagon's relations to the executive; and his second-term ""peace-waging"" diplomacy was exemplary. More briefly and superficially, Hoxie charts the late-'50s rise of ""limited war"" and ""flexible response"" doctrines, ""overcautious gradualism"" in Vietnam, and Nixon's dÉtente efforts, concluding that Congress must help recreate a bipartisan foreign policy and allow the president to make ""command decisions,"" since ""we continue to face an implacable foe."" Introduced by Gerald Ford and Elliot Richardson, this is a broadly-aimed thematic exercise with auxiliary reference value.

Pub Date: Nov. 28th, 1977
Publisher: Reader's Digest--dist. by T. Y. Crowell