First Advisor

Ladis K. D. Kristof

Term of Graduation

Fall 1976

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science


Political Science




James R. Schlesinger, Henry Kissinger 1923-, National security -- United States, Diplomatic relations, United States -- Foreign relations -- 1969-1974, United States -- Foreign relations -- 1974-1977



Physical Description

1 online resource. Digitized photocopy of typescript.


This thesis is a study of national security decision making in the Ford Administration. The subject for study is the Kissinger- Schlesinger controversy in the Ford Administration. The thesis will attempt to prove that the differences that emerged over issues of national policy were due to deep theoretical disagreements as to the nature of the international system, the utility of power in the nuclear age and the means by which to preserve detente.

An examination of the substantive policy differences will be preceded by an examination of the conceptual disagreements between the Secretaries on topics that are fundamental to any study of international politics. Studies on decision making in intemational politics will be used to show that each man had a different perception of the role that the United States should have in the international system and the usefulness of America's strategic arsenal for the preservation of peace.

After having defined the theoretical differences between Kissinger and Schlesinger on issues in international politics, an analysis of the substantive policy disagreements between the two Secretaries will show that they can be directly related to each man's conception of the international system. Policy differences between the two will be shown to have evolved out of disagreements over policy goals, and not policy implementation.

Any study of individual decision making in defense and foreign affairs stresses the importance of individual policy makers and of issues. Foreign nations perceive changes in foreign and defense policy goals when new leadership emerges with which they are uncomfortable. It will be shown, through an analysis of the foreign reaction to the Kissinger-Schlesinger controversy, that foreign nations expressed concern for the outcome of this policy split. In particular, it will be shown that the matter was of great interest to the Soviet Union.

In conclusion the thesis will reiterate the point that national security decision making in the Ford Administration was unab1e to reach a compromise on issues of policy because of funamental differences between the Secretaries of State and Defense on detente, the definition of the national security in the nuclear age and the negotiating strategy that America should follow with the Soviets on arms limitations. These differences on policy were made inevitable due to differing models that each Secretary had on the nature of the international system. The study of their individual perceptions will help to give one an understanding as to why the policy disagreements made compromise impossible.


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