Thursday, August 7, 2014

Should the White House delegate more power over foreign policy?

Many observers of the Obama administration have complained about the tight, centralized control exerted by the White House over all aspects of American foreign policy. Former defense secretary Bob Gates made that point, and now even loyal Democrats are saying the same thing.

I'm sure they're complaining. People outside the White House always complain about micromanagement. I know I was frequently unhappy with the ways the Clinton NSC dealt with me and my colleagues in the State Department at the time.

But I also believe that the Executive Office of the President should run a tight ship, both for policy consistency and problem avoidance. Nevertheless, I think the number of current problems is great enough, and the bandwidth [and hours in the day] available for the most senior officials to consider options, that more needs to be delegated to subordinate officials.  Give clear guidance, but then get out of the way.

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