Thursday, November 21, 2013

when strategy was grand

I wanted to note the passing of a man who was a major, though largely unrecognized, architect of U.S.. grand strategy early in the cold war, Robert R. Bowie. He also played an important role in my life: a key source for my senior thesis and later for my doctoral dissertation; a mentor who let me help run his graduate seminar; and a friendly advisor to an academic who also wanted to work in Washington.

Bowie (rhymes with Louie, as the Times obituary helpfully mentions) was the head of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff under John Foster Dulles. He played a major role, and later wrote about it, in the Eisenhower administration's lengthy sessions that led to its new grand strategy -- reducing military spending by relying more on nuclear deterrence while increasing the other tools of foreign policy, challenging the Soviet Union but also offering cooperation.  I don't mean to defend all of the Eisenhower-Dulles foreign policy. (A new dual biography of the Dulles brothers is highly critical in many ways I share.) But I do believe that Eisenhower's policy review was an extraordinary example of a wise process to make grand strategy that has all too rarely be tried in later years.

Bowie had a full life. He died at 104.

No comments:

Post a Comment