Avoiding Trivia: The Role of Strategic Planning in American Foreign Policy

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Daniel W. Drezner
Brookings Institution Press, Nov 1, 2009 - Political Science - 190 pages
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After World War II, George Kennan became the State Department's first director of policy planning. Secretary of State George Marshall's initial advice to Kennan: above all, "avoid trivia." Concentrate on the forest, not the trees, and don't lost sight of the big picture. Easier said than done. Avoiding Trivia critically assesses the past, future, and future role and impact of long-term strategic planning in foreign policy.

Strategic planning needs to be a more integral part of America's foreign policymaking. Thousands of troops are engaged in combat while homeland security concerns remain. In such an environment, long-term coordination of goals and resources would seem to be of paramount importance. But history tells us that such cohesiveness and coherence are tremendously difficult to establish, much less maintain. Can policy planners—in the Pentagon, the State Department, Treasury, NSC, and National Intelligence Council—rise to the challenge? Indeed, is strategic planning a viable concept in 21st century foreign policy? These crucial questions guide this eye-opening book.

The contributors include key figures from the past few decades of foreign policy and planning—individuals responsible for imposing some sort of order and strategic priority on foreign policy in a world that changes by the minute. They provide authoritative insight on the difficulties and importance of thinking and acting in a coherent way, for the long term.

Contributors: Andrew P. N. Erdmann, Peter Feaver, Aaron L. Friedberg, David F. Gordon, Richard N. Haass, William Inboden, Bruce W. Jentleson, Steven D. Krasner, Jeffrey W. Legro, Daniel Twining, Thomas Wright, Amy B. Zegart.

 

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Contents

The Challenging Future of Strategic Planning in Foreign Policy
3
Grand Strategy and Policy Planning
21
Planning for Policy Planning
23
A Road Map for American Leadership in a Changing World
34
A Return to Normalcy? The Future of Americas Internationalism
52
Reforming Strategic Planning
67
An Integrative Executive Branch Strategy for Policy Planning
69
Strengthening US Strategic Planning
84
Limits and Opportunities for Strategic Planning
111
Why the Best Is Not Yet to Come in Policy Planning
113
Learning the Right Lessons from the 1940s
125
Foreign Policy Planning through a Private Sector Lens
137
The Garbage Can Framework for Locating Policy Planning
159
About the Contributors
173
Index
179
Copyright

A Strategic Planning Cell on National Security at the White House
98

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About the author (2009)

Daniel Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University. His previous books inlcude All Politics is Global: Explaining International Regulatory Regimes (Princeton, 2007) and The Sanctions Paradox (Cambridge, 1999). He is also the author of a popular blog on politics and foreign policy (drezner.foreignpolicy.com).

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