American Diplomatic History. National Security Act of 1947

The arena of world politics, in which cooperation, rivalry, law, and anarchy coexist and overlap, is still above all a world of states. Many consequences flow from this fact, but the point for the present is that the operative meaning of national security therefore also varies correspondingly for each state. After the Second World War (WWII), national security and global peace were among the main issues in domestic and international politics. National Security Act of 1947 was a response to political changes in the world order and international politics and a protective measure aimed at defensing population and the American state.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

Just as the postwar defense and intelligence establishments were created simultaneously by the National Security Act of 1947, a new vision of American armed forces–indeed, of the entire “world order”–was heralded at Aspen. Pearl Harbor dominates American thinking on intelligencei. Despite the extraordinary insights into an adversary’s intentions that code-breaking allowed, the United States suffered a painful surprise attack. Strategists argue that should the nation be similarly surprised in the nuclear age, recovery would be impossible and defeat inevitable. Better intelligence and an invulnerable retaliatory force have been proposed as complementary measures to discourage a massive surprise nuclear attack on the United Statesii.

Conversely, a deliberately planned major war required preparations extending many months before its onset, and most of those preparations were detectable. The creation of trained armies, production of combat aircraft, construction of naval vessels, and the psychological-political preparation of society for war could not be hidden. U.S. intelligence provided the American government with a reasonable appreciation of an adversary’s capability to initiate a planned major war. According to Jablonsky (2002):

The Truman Administration officially promulgated the strategy of containment in the March 1947 Truman Doctrine. But despite the apparent open-ended, global commitment implicit in that strategy, that Administration quickly adopted the cost-minimizing pattern of implementationiii.

The 1947 Senate Armed Services Committee report on the proposed National Security Act stated that U.S. intelligence must devote ceaseless attention to the threat of a massive Russian military strike. WWII showed weaknesses and drawbacks of the security and national defense systemsiv. Even deep reductions in strategic forces achieved through arms control negotiations did not ease this responsibility; for as levels were reduced, the deterrent value of each weapon increased, and the demand for warning of an attack grows greater. The same year, The House of Representatives demanded the creation of a new security system aimed to

  1. ensure the coordination of domestic, foreign, and military policies;
  2. integrate military services and strategic command;
  3. effective use of personnel, materials, scientific research, and development resources;
  4. preserve the integrity of all components of the ground, sea, and air forces; and
  5. provide civilian direction and controlv.

According to National Security Act (1947), the U.S. established:

integrated policies and procedures for the departments, agencies, and functions of the government relating to the national security; to provide three military departments for the operation and administration of the Army, the Navy (including naval aviation and the United States Marine Corps), and the Air Force, with their assigned combat and service components; to provide for their authoritative coordination and unified direction under civilian control but not to merge them; to provide for the effective strategic direction of the armed forces and for their operation under unified control and for their integration into an efficient team of land, naval, and air forces vi

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More

Under this Act, eight departments were established: the National Security Council (NSC); the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); the National Security Resources Board (NSRB); the National Military Establishment ( Department of Defense), headed by a Secretary of Defense; the Department of the Air Force, headed by a Secretary of the Air Force; the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS); the Joint Staff; and the unified (multiservice) and specified (single-service) combatant commandsvii.

The main purpose of this Act was to integrate domestic, foreign, and military policies. All states within the international order, which were comprised of those basic elements, shared certain fundamental concerns or values. It has been suggested that the latter include continued existence of the state, maintenance of its territorial integrity, survival of its governing regime, independence from dictation by other states, and physical survival of its citizensviii.

This conception helped to identify one of the foremost genuine elements of security: the state as guardian of its constitutional order from foreign threat. In states where the possibility of invasion was remote, the main concern was over attempts by foreign officials or nationals acting at their behest (sometimes called ‘agents of influence’) to influence the conduct or outcome of democratic politics covertly. The clandestine character of the activity was critical because open subsidy of a political party or journal by a foreign state, or payment to a politician, alerted citizens to the fact that the recipient was neither independent nor to be trusted to differentiate between the interests of the foreign state and their own. Such attempts at covert influence were a general or public injury, going far beyond that suffered by any individual. They were a menace to the integrity of the political systemix.

They were also more dangerous than an attempt by a domestic political group to infiltrate some institution because of the infinitely greater resources accessible to any state likely to want to attempt such operations. Moreover, a domestic group was ultimately concerned with reshaping the institutions of the state according to its vision of what was good for its fellow citizens. However bizarre and unwelcome that vision may be to the intended beneficiaries, the group was at least not compromising the independence of the nation. Hence whilst all forms of domestic political activity free of violence were kept firmly outside the remit of security institutions, the foreign-influenced covert activity of any kind was one of its major concernsx.

This Act laid the foundation for crisis management and crisis prevention methods. U.S. intelligence agencies anticipated heightened responsibilities monitoring world resources and assessing social instability in areas of importance to the United States. The much-discussed “North-South gap,” the world’s continuing population explosion (especially in lesser developed states), the accelerating Information Ages impact of electronic images–these “megatrends” increasingly concerned national leadersxi.

Their questions were directed to many organizations and agencies, within and outside the government; and the unique sources that the intelligence community taps provided answers to some of these questions. While traditional reporting from the U.S. embassy and consulates usually provided a good overview of issues, events, and personalities, such open collections were supplemented by clandestine contacts, secret agents, and in-place networks. From this combination of diplomatic observations and espionage, U.S. intelligence appraised a nation’s internal affairs. According to Jablonsky (2002):

the evolving form of the US government after the National Security Act of 1947 was a creative, military-focused response to the evolving Cold War concept of national security set against a backdrop of Soviet militarism, global reliance on the United States, and dizzying developments in nuclear and other military technologiesxii.

We will write a custom
essays
specifically
for you!
Get your first paper with
15% OFF
Learn More

A special role was established for the NSC. The Act assigned new responsibilities to this Committee and gave it an independent status. It was empowered to perform “such other functions as the President may direct”xiii. Also, its main responsibilities were:

  1. to assess and appraise the objectives, commitments, and risks of the United States in relation to our actual and potential military power, in the interest of national security, for the purpose of making recommendations to the President in connection therewith; and
  2. to consider policies on matters of common interest to the departments and agencies of the government concerned with the national security and to make recommendations to the President in connection therewithxiv.

The first Secretary of Defense was James V. Forrestal. Also, this Act joined two departments, the Department of War and the Department of the Navy. Both Presidents Truman and Eisenhower gave the Defense Department autonomy in how they spent financial resources. The U.S. government understood that future commitments of U.S. forces almost certainly required information that the intelligence community was ill-prepared to provide. The organizations created to warn of a surprise Soviet attack on the United States had to shift their efforts toward other kinds of contingencies: assistance to counterinsurgency forces, noncombatant evacuation missions, anti-terrorist intervention, drug interdiction operations, and peacekeeping presencexv. These military operations needed different forms of intelligence than was obtained through KH-11 imagery and U-2 synthetic aperture radar.

Thus, many of the assets in which the three major intelligence organizations took pride were of limited value in probable scenarios involving U.S. military forces. Whether for political purposes (the rescue of American hostages, the capture of a drug kingpin) or military necessity (destruction of a chemical munitions plant, tracking of a nuclear-armed mobile ballistic missile), U.S. intelligence was expected to provide precise information on individual objects or persons. National leaders understood that ambitious operational objectives aimed at eliminating specific targets might not be supportable by any feasible intelligence capabilityxvi.

So, the new national security strategy tried to accommodate significant reductions in the size of the national intelligence community (including the elimination of many intelligence units and commands) with measures to increase coordination among the remaining organizations. Congress appeared inclined to want “unification” even more than “coordination,” and a Director of National Intelligence, with authority over all U.S. intelligence (including CIA, DIA, NSA, and other organizations), was again being mentionedxvii. The National Security Act of 1947 was changed several times in accordance with the needs and demands of the political situation and global military threats. The main amendments took place in 1949. In this year, National Military Establishment was renamed in Department of Defense, and new duties and responsibilities were assigned to the Secretary of Defensexviii.

Moreover, given their competitive nature and the secretive character of their work, these organizations and people were structured to resist external direction. They were, finally, genuinely concerned with the national welfare, about which they had considerable information and tested convictions. Therefore, organizational “rice bowls” was protected and personal agendas defended from outside pressuresxix. Following Jablonsky (2002):

The 1947 National Security Act established the basis for the American national security state in the Cold War. The fundamental framework of that state still exists over a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This expansive concept of U.S. national security led increasingly to the dominance of military-security concerns and a transcendent military establishment. A major factor was the Soviet military build-upxx.

The likelihood of future “covert action” operations by U.S. intelligence organizations was unclear. Some observers felt that the decline in Soviet-American rivalry obviated the need to “engage” every presumed enemy with propaganda, harassments, and “dirty tricks.” Others predict that future leaders would rely on less obvious means of suasion so that covert action by intelligence operatives might be more, rather than less, necessary. If so, the special requirements for effective covert actions (distinct from simple espionage) augmented the importance of the CIA, particularly its Directorate of Operationsxxi.

Setting up and running the clandestine assets of each covert action was very complicated, involving a Presidential “finding,” congressional notification and oversight, the fielding of qualified operators, the establishment of necessary secret and “front” organizations, and serious reflection on the consequences of discovery.

Need a
100% original paper
written from scratch

by professional
specifically for you?
308 certified writers online
Learn More

Some observers questioned whether any U.S. covert action was kept secret; others doubt the utility of such operations; and the U.S. intelligence community was of a mixed mind about the extent to which “covert action” properly was an intelligence responsibility. The direction that administrations took on covert action renewed this argument and affected the prominence of the CIA in the intelligence community. The esprit de corps of an intelligence service, and individual morale within its organizations, mattered greatly in effective intelligence operationsxxii. Newmann (2001) admits:

Thus, in the defense reorganizations of 1947 and 1958, Eisenhower’s views played a major role in shaping legislation. He was an architect of the modern American national security establishment. Despite revisions to the national security structure since the 1950s, the main lines of Eisenhower’s reorganization remain in place todayxxiii.

Transitioning to meet the requirements of the 1950s and beyond demanded exceptional leadership to maintain the strength that survived the nadir in American Cold War intelligence self-esteem. Honorable severance arrangements, recruitment of new talent, realignment of organizational responsibilities, and resolution of fundamental questions about intelligence were aspects of the leadership challenge ahead. Of course, the primary task of the American intelligence community’s leadership was to demonstrate what sometimes seemed uncertain: that a free society could conduct secret activities without destroying itself.

Such concerns suggested that intelligence estimates of capabilities were distinct. The new national security strategy proposed to treat capabilities assessments as adequate warning indicators to initiate the reconstitution of American military forces. Increased enemy military capabilities were disregarded because they were not perceived to be accompanied by hostile intentions. War could begin as a minor dispute and grow into a major conflict, not by design, so there would be no warning that the enemy was planning such a war. An enemy regime might achieve a war-winning capability before the United States could recognize and respond to such preparations. Finally, the nation’s leaders may ignore intelligence warnings until it is too late to avert the disaster of war. Concurrently, other difficulties are likely to arisexxiv.

The U.S. intelligence community has responsibilities that extend beyond warning of and preparation for military operations. Future intelligence requirements also will stem from American grand strategy–the full and varied political, economic, and cultural interactions with other nations by which U.S. interests are advancedxxv. While the American intelligence establishment will be challenged to support the new national security strategy, it must also significantly upgrade the capabilities required by a U.S. grand strategy appropriate for the twenty-first century. Following Newmann (2001):

The National Security Act of 1947 still provides the blueprint for designing foreign policy. It was fundamentally a method of creating inclusivity, diversity, and coordinated foreign policy. Inclusivity of agencies and departments allows participation in decision making for those agencies and departments that have important roles in implementationxxvi.

Language skills, foreign area expertise, knowledge of religious and political views, agricultural and economic appraisals, industrial and technology assessment, cross-cultural understanding–these have never been strengths of American intelligence. Yet, such capabilities can be developed. Doing so will require organizational wisdom, substantial investments of time and money, and (most importantly) continual recognition that these traditional forms of intelligence capabilities are every bit as vital as those that newer systems provide. These improvements will be hard to accomplish, however, if there is a serious reduction in the intelligence communityxxvii.

In sum, a new national security strategy was a significant event in the history of America. The new national security strategy was actually not a “strategy” at all, in the strictest sense. American national security strategy is being transformed by larger global trends. American officials, who prudently rely on the axiom that one must focus on an adversary’s armed capabilities rather than its intentions, generally concluded that the dramatic changes within the Soviet Union in the late 1980s made it far less dangerous.

One sense of strategy was that it was a design for the implementation of national goals. It was appropriately accompanied by challenging situations and international events. This strategic policy, this design architecture, did not stand even through succeeding administrations of either political party. Just as the Cold War strategy was embodied in the Truman Doctrine’s simplicity, this new national security strategy had been both the touchstone and the defining event for all the strategies which followed.

For the intelligence community to survive, it must be transformed to meet threats that are judged clearly more dangerous than those latent in a powerful secret government organization. Intelligence for the beginning of the 21 century, must make the new national security strategy viable by supporting the U.S. nuclear deterrence retaliatory force, providing timely information for conventional military operations, verifying treaty compliance, detecting long-lead-time changes in Russian warfighting capabilities, and understanding the historic changes taking place in the former Soviet Union.

It must also keep track of weapons proliferation, espionage, terrorism, narcotics trafficking, ecological hazards and disasters, the struggle for resources and social unrest arising from population growth and international conflicts, as well as economic competition among industrialized states. Many of these are unfamiliar areas to U.S. intelligence, which will have to meet these requirements by adding skills, personnel, and new modes of analytic monitoring. One of the key points those leaders must make is that while intelligence is related to military requirements, it is a distinct national activity. Hence, although the end of the Cold War has eliminated one form of military threat as a concern, the total demands on the U.S. intelligence community have not eased.

  1. Jordan, A. A., Taylor, W. J., Mazarr, M. J. American National Security. (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 61.
  2. Ibid, 62.
  3. Jablonsky, D. The State of the National Security State. (Parameters, 2002, vol. 32, iss. 4), 5.
  4. Jordan, A. A., Taylor, W. J., Mazarr, M. J. American National Security. (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 66.
  5. Ibid, 66, 109.
  6. National Security Act 1947. 2008. Web.
  7. Jordan, A. A., Taylor, W. J., Mazarr, M. J. American National Security. (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 101.
  8. Preston, A. The Little State Department: McGeorge Bundy and the National Security Council Staff, 1961-65. (Presidential Studies Quarterly, 2001, vol. 31, iss. 4), 635.
  9. Ibid, 635.
  10. Jordan, A. A., Taylor, W. J., Mazarr, M. J. American National Security. (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 102.
  11. Ibid, 103.
  12. Jablonsky, D. The State of the National Security State. (Parameters, 2002, vol. 32, iss. 4), 4.
  13. National Security Act 1947. 2008. Web.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Sarkestan, S. C., Williams, J. A., Cimbala, S. J. US National Security: Policymakers, Processes and Politics. (Lynne Rienner Pub; 4 edition, 2001), 87.
  16. Ibid, 88.
  17. Ibid, 109.
  18. Wolk, H. S. Eisenhower, the Air Force, and National Security. (Air Power History, 2005, vol. 52, iss.4), 60.
  19. McDougall, W. A. Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776. (Mariner Books, 1998), 157.
  20. Jablonsky, D. The State of the National Security State. (Parameters, 2002, vol. 32, iss. 4), 5.
  21. Jordan, A. A., Taylor, W. J., Mazarr, M. J. American National Security. (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 145.
  22. Ibid, 147.
  23. Newmann, W. Causes of Change in National Security Processes: Carter, Reagan, and Bush Decision Making on Arms Control. (Presidential Studies Quarterly, 2001, vol. 31, iss. 1). 69.
  24. Jordan, A. A., Taylor, W. J., Mazarr, M. J. American National Security. (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 157.
  25. Doyle, R. America and China: Asia-Pacific Rim Hegemony in the Twenty-First Century, (Lexington Books, 2007), 56.
  26. Newmann, W. Causes of Change in National Security Processes: Carter, Reagan, and Bush Decision Making on Arms Control. (Presidential Studies Quarterly, 2001, vol. 31, iss. 1). 69.
  27. Jordan, A. A., Taylor, W. J., Mazarr, M. J. American National Security. (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 159.

Bibliography

  1. Doyle, R. America and China: Asia-Pacific Rim Hegemony in the Twenty-First Century, Lexington Books, 2007.
  2. Jablonsky, D. The State of the National Security State. Parameters, 2002, vol. 32, iss. 4, pp. 4-8.
  3. Jordan, A. A., Taylor, W. J., Mazarr, M. J. American National Security. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998,.
  4. National Security Act 1947. 2008. Web.
  5. Newmann, W. Causes of Change in National Security Processes: Carter, Reagan, and Bush Decision Making on Arms Control. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 2001, vol. 31, iss. 1, p. 69-70.
  6. McDougall, W. A. Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776. Mariner Books, 1998.
  7. Preston, A. The Little State Department: McGeorge Bundy and the National Security Council Staff, 1961-65. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 2001, vol. 31, iss. 4, pp. 635-645.
  8. Sarkestan, S. C., Williams, J. A., Cimbala, S. J. US National Security: Policymakers, Processes and Politics. Lynne Rienner Pub; 4 edition, 2001.
  9. Wolk, H. S. Eisenhower, the Air Force and National Security. Air Power History, 2005, vol. 52, iss.4, pp. 59-69.
Print Сite this

Cite this paper

Select style

Reference

StudyCorgi. (2021, August 24). American Diplomatic History. National Security Act of 1947. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/american-diplomatic-history-national-security-act-of-1947/

Work Cited

"American Diplomatic History. National Security Act of 1947." StudyCorgi, 24 Aug. 2021, studycorgi.com/american-diplomatic-history-national-security-act-of-1947/.

1. StudyCorgi. "American Diplomatic History. National Security Act of 1947." August 24, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/american-diplomatic-history-national-security-act-of-1947/.


Bibliography


StudyCorgi. "American Diplomatic History. National Security Act of 1947." August 24, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/american-diplomatic-history-national-security-act-of-1947/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2021. "American Diplomatic History. National Security Act of 1947." August 24, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/american-diplomatic-history-national-security-act-of-1947/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2021) 'American Diplomatic History. National Security Act of 1947'. 24 August.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.