The Policy Makers: Shaping American Foreign Policy from 1974 to the Present. Edited by Anna Kasten Nelson. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. 188 pp.
In The Policy Makers: Shaping American Foreign Policy from 1974 to the Present, Anna Kasten Nelson has collected a series of seven chapters that help place a face on American foreign policy. While much academic research has focused on the various influences on American foreign policy, little research has taken a critical look at the individuals within these institutions and the roles they have played in the policy process. As a result of the Cold War, presidents no longer solely depended on their secretaries of state as the sole determiner of policy; instead, they chose to begin expanding the actors involved with shaping foreign policy to include individuals from the military, intelligence departments, and personal advisors located within the White House. By focusing on these individuals, Anna Kasten Nelson and her contributors highlight the impacts of various individuals on American foreign policy who have otherwise not been fully discussed in such a role in the academic literature.
The book begins with a brief introduction from Nelson that serves as little more than overview of the text. Within it, Nelson explains how the National Security Act of 1947 shapes the book's contents by "creating a united military establishment, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and a National Security Council" (p. 1). Rather than only relying on secretaries of state, presidents now had the secretaries of defense, directors of central intelligence, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and advisors on national security joining in discussions. The volume begins its case studies by examining how Paul Nitze, as head of the State Department Planning Staff, altered the previous policies of George Kennan and deliberately changed U.S. Cold War policy with the drafting of NSC 68. The second chapter remains in the State Department and looks at Robert Bowie, an often forgotten head of policy planning under John Foster Dulles, who despite living in the shadows, was influential in relations between the United States and Europe in the formative years of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Moving away from the State Department, the third chapter looks instead at the impact of national security advisor Walt Whitman Rostow's firm belief that Vietnam could be won on President Lyndon Johnson's policy decisions. The other national...