Secrets of State

Secrets of State : State Department and the Struggle Over United States Foreign Policy

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A fascinating history of how policy-makers have created US foreign policy since the days of the early Republic, filled with portraits of the personalities who have held high decision-making posts, and with accounts of battles pitting agencies, individuals, and ideologies against one another. The author traces the development of the State Department, the National Security Council, and the White House staff, and shows how each president has organised the foreign policy system in his own way, and how powerful figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry Kissinger have moulded policy for particular periods of history. Included are detailed analyses of US foreign policy during the Carter and Reagan administrations and indications of where our current structure and policy is leading. Students of American history and politics, and of international more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 134.62 x 200.66 x 20.32mm | 340.19g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 019505010X
  • 9780195050103

About Barry Rubin

About the Author: Barry Rubin, a Council on Foreign Affairs Fellow, was previously Senior Fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is the author of Paved with Good Intentions: The American Experience and more

Review Text

No matter how one interprets the title, the content is disappointing. Rubin, a Senior Fellow at the Georgetown U. Center for Strategic and International Studies (and author of the solid Paved with Good Intentions: The American Experience with Iran), says that he wants to show how policy-making goes on; but what he produces is a fairly conventional history of the State Department and its leading personalities. He goes back to the beginning, when foreign affairs were treated almost as an afterthought; and, starting with Jefferson, the first Secretary of State, follows the trajectory from early arguments about the propriety of sending US ambassadors to aristocratic courts, through the growth of the apparatus to present-day arguments over the relative weight of Secretaries of State and National Security Advisers. The episodes in that history - the successful diplomacy of the Civil War period, the emergence of the Foreign Service as a haven for rich kids - are pretty well known. Rubin keeps track of pay scales, numbers of staff employees, etc., and follows such further, internal developments as the advent of area specialists, a new breed represented by Soviet experts Charles Bohlen and George F. Kennan. Once he gets to World War II, during which the Department expanded enormously, the story gets even more familiar - the purging of the China hands, the Hiss case, the morale boost of George Marshall and the Marshall Plan, the dominance of Acheson and Dulles. Rubin chronicles the rise and fall of State Department influence on policy, as well as the uneven relations between presidents and their Secretaries. (Roosevelt wouldn't even bring his, Cordell Hull, to his summits.) The more recent material includes the current structure of State - career trajectories within the Foreign Service, conflicts between careerists and appointees, the bureaucratic wars at Foggy Bottom. Rubin takes the story up to the Reagan term, providing a serviceable history for a general audience - but not telling any secrets to anyone. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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