In this insightful study, Paul Y. Hammond, an experienced analyst of bureaucratic politics, adapts and extends that approach to explain and evaluate the Johnson administration’s performance in foreign relations in terms that have implications for the post–Cold War era.
The book is structured around three case studies of Johnson’s foreign policy decision making. The first study examines economic and political development. It explores the way Johnson handled the provision of economic and food assistance to India during a crisis in India’s food policies. This analysis provides lessons not only for dealing with African famine in later years but also for assisting Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
The second case study focuses on U.S. relations with Western Europe at a time that seemed to require a major change in the NATO alliance. Here, Hammond illuminates the process of policy innovation, particularly the costs of changing well-established policies that embody an elaborate network of established interests. The third case study treats the Vietnam War, with special emphasis on how Johnson decided what to do about Vietnam. Hammond critiques the rich scholarship available on Johnson’s advisory process, based on his own reading of the original sources.
These case studies are set in a larger context of applied theory that deals more generally with presidential management of foreign relations, examining a president’s potential for influence on the one hand and the constraints on his or her capacity to control and persuade on the other. It will be important reading for all scholars and policymakers interested in the limits and possibilities of presidential power in the post–Cold War era.