Decision-Making in the Executive Branch



Several agencies participated in the formulation of American arms control policy, and each was expected to evaluate proposals according to its expertise and judgment of the national interest. Policy was formally constructed in the Committee of Principals where such heterogeneous organizations as the Department of State, the Atomic Energy Commission, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the Department of Defense were represented.1 All agreed that national security was their primary goal, that peace was preferable to war, and that unilateral disarmament was unwise. These norms were hardly sufficient to guarantee harmony among the participants who held different interpretations of the elements which defined national security; the institutional ways in which peace might be assured; and the limits, if any, which should be imposed on the testing and use of weapons.


National Security Nuclear Weapon Atomic Energy Commission Executive Branch Foreign Relation 
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  1. 1.
    The Central Intelligence Agency was also an important participant, supplying information and recommendations on the state of Soviet technology and nuclear testing. It recommended the treaty, but the basis and intensity of the recommendation are not known because of security considerations.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    No organization is completely open or completely closed. Agencies differed not only because of their specialized goals but also because they were open to outside pressures, support, and constraints. For a discussion of open systems as organizations, see Charles Z. Wilson and Marcus Alexis, “Basic Framework for Decisions,” Journal of the Academy of Management,5 (August, 1962), particularly p. 162.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See McGeorge Bundy, “The Presidency and Peace,” Foreign Affairs,XLII (April, 1964), pp. 353–365. The President talked with the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a group on July 23, 1963 and discussed the treaty with each Chief individually the week before. He asked them to weigh the military and political considerations in their evaluations of the test ban. U.S. Senate, Preparedness Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services, Military Aspects and Implications of Nuclear Test Ban Proposals and Related Matters,88th Cong., 1st Sess., 1963, p. 733.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Interview, Washington, D.C., January, 1964. The effect of signing the treaty can be seen in the opposition to the test ban by the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when they appeared before the Preparedness Subcommittee in late June, 1963 before the treaty was negotiated and in mid-August when they gave a qualified endorsement after it had been signed. Ibid., pp. 302–305 and 587–591.Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    For example, see Lewis L. Strauss, Men and Decisions (New York: Doubleday, 1962), p. 416, and passim.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    Preparedness Subcommittee, op. cit.,p. 395.Google Scholar
  7. 21.
    Committee on Foreign Relations, op. cit.,p. 615.Google Scholar
  8. 22.
    Preparedness Subcommittee, op. cit.,p. 531.Google Scholar
  9. 56.
    Interview, Washington, D.C., February, 1964.Google Scholar
  10. 57.
    Interview, Washington, D.C., January, 1964.Google Scholar

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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1970

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