June 1, 1989

June 1, 1989 | Backgrounder on National Security and Defense

The State Department and Arms Control

(Archived document, may contain errors)

709 June 1,1989 THE STATE DEP'"T AND ARMS CONTROL INTRODUCTION hm control policy affects the security of the United States enormously.

The degree to which U.S. arms are limited or reduced by treaties can determine the capability of the U.S. not only to defend itself and its allies, but to deter war. An American President , therefore, must be able to reject arms agreements that are not in the national interest as well as accept those that are. He also must receive clear, realistic advice and analysis concerning the technical aspects of proposed agreements and their implica t ions for U.S security. deal of influence over the direction of U.S. arms control policy. Generally the Department advocated a softer line than the Department of Defense or the National Security Council (NSC) staff during the many internal debates on arms c ontrol policy.Typica1 was the 1988 State Department position on interpreting the nature of Soviet violations of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile ABM) Treaty. AU government departments, including the State Department, believed that the construction of a hug e radar by the Soviets at Krasnoyarsk in central Siberia was a technical violation of the ABM Treaty.

The Pentagon argued that the violation constituted a "material breach" of the treaty a violation so severe that it abrogated the treaty's basic guarantee of During the Reagan Administration, the State Department exercised a great This is the eighth in a series byThe Hcdtage Foundation State Department Assessment Project. It was preceded by Bockpunder No. 697 The Crisis of Security at State March 30,1989 Ba c lcgnwcnder No. 682 A Country Like Any Other: The State Department and the Soviet Union December 7,1988 Bockpw&r N0.'673, The State Department's Structure Puts It At Odds with the White House September 22,1988 Bockpunder No. 653 Rethinking U.S. Foreign Aid June 1,1988 Backpuntier No. Sl Rethinking the State Department's Role in Intelliicnce February 11,1988 Backpunder No. 615 Breaking the Logiam in State Department Reports from Overseas November 9,1987 and Bac&uunder 605 Understanding the State Department S e ptember 25,1987 Upcoming studies will analyze, among other topics, the role of Foreign Service Officers. limiting strategic defenses.The State Department, by contrast, insisted that the Krasnoyarsk radar was a mere technical violation, requiring nothing m o re from Washington than further attempts to persuade the Soviets to comply with the treaty internal arms control debates in the early years of the Reagan Administration, to efforts by the Pentagon and other agencies to end U.S compliance with the unratifi e d 1979 Strategic Arms LimitationTreaty SALT I1 Treaty.The State Departments posture in all such arms control matters tends to emphasize good relations with U.S. allies, as well as the Soviet Union, at the expense of national security considerations White House Direction. George Bush can limit State Department influence on the arms control policy-making process in two ways: through choice of personnel and the distribution of arms control responsibilities.

Political appointees who emphasize improved national security over good relations with the Soviets should be chosen to make U.S. arms control policy.

In addition, the distribution of institutional responsibility for arms control activities should be decided by the President and directed by the White House through the National Security Council staff. Because arms control issues cut across bureaucratic and institutional lines and are a major component of national security policy, they should be directed from the White House and should reflect the Presidents policy goals accurately.

Otherwise, the President risks losing control of national security policy to a concession-minded State Department To prevent repetition of excessive State Departm ent influence on arms control policy, Bush has already designated a member of the National Security Council staff to chair all arms control interagency committees comprising State, Defense, and other department members In addition, the President should Us e the National Security Council staff to enforce presidential arms control decisions as soon as they are made 4 Limit the number of career Foreign Service Officers detailed to the National Security Council because they understandably tend to represent Stat e Department interests and viewpoints rather than those of the White House 4 4 Create an arms control think tank in the Pentagon to research the national security and purely military implications of U.S arms control proposals 4 Tighten White House control o f the State Department by requiring more political appointees in senior arms control policy-making positions 4 Transfer the arms control functions at the State Departments Politico-Military Bureau to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency to reduce State s influence on the technical aspects of arms control policy making Also typical of the State Departments attitude was its opposition, during 2 THE ARMS CONTROL BUREAUCRACY Arms control has become big business. Within the federal government are at least ten departments or agencies pursuing arms control activities including the State and Defense Departments, the National Security Council NSC the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS the Central Intelligence Agency CIA the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), and t he Department of Energy (DOE In the Reagan Administration, the Defense and State Departments, the NSC staff, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were the principal formulators of arms control policy. Though nominally responsible for arms control, the Arms Contr o l and Disarmament Agency typically was overshadowed by these large and powerful agencies. ACDA usually provided technical support for negotiations with Moscow Siding with State. In recent years, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have emerged not only as an import a nt contributor to arms control policy but as a frequent State Department ally in internal arms control policy debates. Last year, for example, the JCS sided with State against the Secretary of Defense in refusing to designate the huge Soviet radar at Kras noyarsk in south central Siberia a material breach of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

The Joint Chiefs also supported State over the civilian leadership at Defense in pushing for negotiations with Moscow on permitting Strategic Defense Initia tive (SDI) tests in space. Through such negotiations, Moscow might have tried to slow down U.S. testing of SDI in space. The White House needs to ensure that arms control policy reflects the Presidents priorities and is not merely the result of bureaucrat ic alliances between the various agencies that have influence over arms control.

The Presidents National Security Advisor and the NSC staff, who often had led arms control policy development in prior administrations, generally had a reduced policy-making role in the Reagan Administration.

Nevertheless, the NSC staff often alerted Reagan to Stpte Department attempts to take arms control initiatives behind his back, as when State attempted to open discussions with Moscow on limiting SDI tests in space.

Duri ng the final months of the Reagan Administration, however, the NSC staff shunned an active role in arms control policy making, ceding the initiative to the State Department and its top arms control adviser, Paul Nitze HOW ARMS CONTROL POLICY IS MADE Since no department or agency has clear authority to formulate arm control policy, each President decides how it is to be developed. If a President does not designate an arms control czar, internal bureaucratic battles are likely and arms control policy making s uffers 3 lnferagency Commiff ees The mechanism for formulating arms control policy is a system of interagency committees, composed of representatives from the State Department, the Pentagon, the National Security Council staff, and other government agenci es interested in arms control They are intended to coordinate the creation of arms control policy and to ensure that the views of the different agencies are presented in the process.

In the Reagan Administration, representatives of agencies were designated to chair interagency groups (IGs which were committees made up of assistant secretaries from different departments. Examples: the IG dealing with the Strategic Arms ReductionTalks (START) was chaired by a State Department representative; the IG for the D e fense and SpaceTalks, which handled negotiations on strategic defense, was chaired by an Arms Control and Disarmament Agency representative. Each IG established procedures for lower-level working groups. They developed policy papers, such as a 1984 report to Congress on controlling antisatellite (ASAT) weapons through negotiations, which concluded that controlling ASAT weapons was unverifiable because of the impossibility of distinguishing between ground-based ASAT missiles intended to destroy satellites a n d other civilian or military space launches Higher and Higher Reviews. The IGs are supposed to reconcile the divergent views of the various government agencies on arms control issues and develop the US. position. They also are supposed to prepare options papers for review and decision at higher levels of government In practice however, the IG process often is unable to resolve the frequently opposing positions of the State and Defense Departments on basic arms control issues.

When this happens, the unresolved issues are sent to a higher interagency committee for decision.

This higher committee is the Senior Arms Control Group (SACG which is chaired by the National Security Adviser and includes under secretaries and assistant secretaries, or other represent atives, from the Departments of State, Defense, and Energy, the National Security Council, the Arms-Control and Disarmament Agency, and the CIA.The SACG discusses the work of the IGs, sometimes resolves issues, and sometimes sends them to the President fo r decision. Very important issues are considered by a still more senior committee, the National Security Planning Groupqchaired by the President and comprising the full National Security Council. This body is the supreme forum for deciding national securit y issues; the President is the final arbiter 1 In addition to the President, the NSC includes the Vice President and the Secretaries of State and Defense.

The Director of Central Intelligence and the Director of ACDA are statutory "advisers while the Natio nal Security Adviser and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff attend NSC meetings, as do others whom the President invites 4 In the final Reagan years, because of summits with Moscow and frequent ministerial meetings with U.S. allies, another committee, t he Arms Control Support Group, was created. Chaired by Air Force Colonel Robert Ward of the NSC staff, it was to chart the U.S. negotiating position at summits and ministerial meetings. This group became the principal vehicle for structuring presidential d ecision making on arms control, which relegated the IGs to backing up the Arms Control Support Group with technical analysis and support Extraordinary Negotiating Groups The increased intensity of arms control negotiations in the three find years of the R e agan Administration led to the creation of some extraordinary negotiating groups -extraordinary in that they stood outside the normal interagency process and were intended to deal with special problems, such as the formulation of policy during U.S.-Soviet summits. Perhaps most well known of these was the"'experts' group It generally consisted of the principal negotiators who represented the U.S. in arms control talks in Geneva the President's two special advisors for arms control, the Arms Control and Disa r mament Agency director, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, representatives from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA, the director of the NSC arms control staff, and the President's science advisor. Chaired by Paul Nitz e the Secretary of State's senior arms control advisor, this group'met with its Soviet counterparts, often in intense, marathon sessions at such major U.S.-Soviet meetings as the 1986 Reykjavik summit and the frequent meetings of Soviet Foreign Minister Ed uard Shevardnadze and Secretary of State George Shultz.

The Role of ACDA in 1961 to take the primary responsibility for developing and carrying out U.S. arms control policy. By law, the ACDA director is the principal arms control advisor to the President and Secretary of State.

The reality, however, is quite different. Although ACDA's technical expertise is formidable, the agency has taken a back seat to the State Department in developing arms control policy. State has at its disposal a huge staff and impo rtant foreign contacts, which can be mobilized to support or oppose an arms control policy or initiative. State also has the prestige of the Secretary of State to fight for its policy Views against those of an often obscure ACDA director. Finally, ACDA, w i th a permanent staff of less than 200, is housed in the State Department building surrounded by State Department offices. It is often outgunned by the Department's bureaus of European Affairs and Politico-Military Affairs, as well as the Office of the Sec r etary of State, all of which have arms control expertise equal to if not greater than that of ACDA. Most ACDA directors have allied themselves with the Secretary of State or the President's National Security Advisor in policy disputes to survive the burea u cratic battles that swirl constantly around U.S. arms control policy The US. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency was created by Congress 5 THE STATE DEPARTMENT ROLE IN SEG ARMS CONTROL POLICY The State Department has at least four offices working directly on arms control matters the Under Secretary for Policy, the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and the Bureau of European Affairs. There were two special advisers for arms control to Reagan and his Secretary of S t ate -former Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) negotiator Edward Rowny and former Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force INF) negotiator Paul Nitze. In addition, Nitze held the high-level title of ambassador-at-large for arms control and occupied an office n ear the Secretary of State. Nitzes proximity to power reflected his influence The Politico-Military Affairs Bureau The State Departments Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs (PM) is responsible for policy on issues that touch U.S. security and diplomatic r e lations with foreign countries. It has significant input into the arms control policy process A representative of PM chairs the interagency groups for the START and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force negotiations that led to the 1987 INF Treaty. Other inter agency groups handle States supervision of proposed high-technology sales to other nations, particularly the Soviet bloc and U.S. government arm supplies to other states, chieflyThird World allies.

Most important is the bureaus Office of Strategic Nuclear Policy, which orchestrates the State Departments arms control efforts. PM supplies the State Department representatives to the Geneva Nuclear and SpaceTalks The principal U.S. negotiators, however, report directly to the Secretary of State, In recent year s , the Politico-Military Bureaus power has grown, thanks largely to the aggressive direction of its former bureau chief arms control expert Richard Burt 1981-1983 who until recently was the U.S Ambassador to West Germany for ensuring that interested agenci e s and offices of the government are invited to meetings and apprised of information, developments, and initiatives concerning arms control policy. In this capacity the Politico-Military Bureau serves not only as a central organizer of arms control policy meetings but as a clearinghouse within the State Department for the exchange of arms control ideas for the entire government.

Officers (FSOs some military officers on loan from the Pentagon, and a few civil service employees with technical backgrounds.The senior officials of the bureau generally are career FSOs or military officers on special assignment who appear to be chosen with little regard for prior experience in the complexities of arms control Clearinghouse for Ideas. The Politico-Military Bureau a l so is responsible The Politico-Military Bureau is staffed primarily by Foreign Service 6 The European Affairs Bureau The Bureau of European Affairs (EUR), which is responsible for U.S foreign policy toward the Soviet Union and Eastern and Western Europe p l ays a major role in arms control policy. Since U.S. arms control discussions and negotiations are primarily with the Soviet Union and its East European allies, EUR is heavily engaged in arms control matters. Under skilled and determined leadership, like t h at of Lawrence S. Eagleburger (1981-1983) and Richard Burt 1983-1989, the Bureau can play a leading role in States effort to dominate US. arms control policy EUR suffers from a certain schizophrenia, however, because it must also consider the interests of U.S. allies in arms control talks between the U.S and USSR.The European Bureau often takes the side of allies who fear that the U.S. is too tough with the Soviets.This happened, for example, in debates within the Reagan Administration about ending complia n ce with the 1979 SALT I1 Treaty Contradicting the White House. Within the EUR, the Office of Soviet Union Affairs exercises considerable influence on making and promoting arms control policy. Virtually no statement can be made anywhere in the U.S governme n t on U.S.-Soviet arms control matters without the sanction of the Office of Soviet Union Affairs. State Department officials from this office have even contradicted White House officials.when they used language not approved by State. Example: the State De p artment last December continued to say that the START and space and defense talks, conducted by the Reagan Administration, would resume on February 15,1989, in Geneva, even though the Reagan White House and the Bush transition team both had said that the t alks would not resume until the incoming administration had time to review strategic issues The diffusion of responsibility within the U.S. government for arms control and the large arms control staff at State give the Department enormous influence on the process. This is partly because each of the interested bureaus at State demands to be represented on the interagency groups and other intergovernmental working groups that make or influence arms control policy. It is not uncommon for half of the voting me m bers on these interagency committees to be from State HOW THE STATE DEPARTMENT UNDERMINED REAGAN POLICY State often has sought the support of U.S. allies in opposing presidential arms control views or decisions. Whenever Reagan, for example, considered en d ing U.S. compliance with the unratified 1979 SALT II agreement on long-range nuclear weapons in response to clear Soviet violations, the State Department, with the support of the Joint Chieti of Staff, helped to stir up protests from Congress, the media, a nd the NATO allies. By claiming that ending compliance with SALT I1 would harm NATO, State argued that continued compliance was necessary for the sake of Western unity against the Soviet threat.The opposition by Americas allies carried great weight with 7 putting forth its own views as those of U.S. allies.

State sometimes seeks support for its positions in arm control policy from civilian U.S. scientists who maintain close contact not only with State but with U.S. allies and the Soviet Union. Scientists working for the U.S. National 1 Academy of Sciences (NAS) meet frequently with Soviet scientists and arms control experts. State Department arms control officials use NAS scientists as a back channel to Soviet arms control officia l s. Very useful in this regard are the semi-annual meetings on arms control issues of scientists from the U.S National Academy of Sciences and the Soviet Academy of Sciences? In talks on such issues as Verifying Limits on Sea-launched Cruise Missiles or Me a sures to Control the Production of Fissionable Materials, as occurred at meetings in Moscow and Washington in 1987, U.S. government scientists have discussed with the Soviets issues or ideas of which the President already had disapproved An example was a p roposal to limit the testing of SDI weapons and sensors in space, which Reagan explicitly rejected, but which U.S. government scientists unofficially discussed with the Soviets between US. and Soviet officials most likely led to a U.S. arms control propos al not to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty for ten years if the Soviets reduced their offensive nuclear forces by 50 percent.

The idea for this proposal very likely came first from unofficial U.S. arms control experts and scientists wh o mentioned it as a trial balloon in unofficial meetings with the Soviets. The idea was then raised with the official U.S. delegation by the Soviets in the Defense and SpaceTalks in Geneva.

This approach tended to undermine Reagans policy, since the White House did not control these nongovernment scientists, most of whom were outspoken opponents of the Administrations arms control policy. If the White House wishes to control policy, it needs to be aware that such unofficial initiatives provide State with yet another method of increasing its influence in the process.

State also can use its direct diplomatic access to Soviet officials to promote States own arms control policy preferences. An example was the State Departments effort to weaken the U.S. positio n on limiting the throw-weight the payload capacity of a ballistic missile) of Soviet missiles during the early days in the Strategic Arms ReductionTalks (START) in Geneva.The President had approved a U.S. negotiating position requiring a 50 percent cut i n Soviet throw-weight. Yet, during the first rounds of the START negotiations in 1983, State worked constantly to dilute the U.S. proposal to meet Soviet objections Opposition Trial Balloons. These backdoor swaps of arms control ideas 2 Another group of ar m s control advocates that also meets regularly with the Soviets is the Dartmouth group and includes many of the same scientists as the National Academy of Sciences committee 8 REFORMING HOW ARMS CONTROL POLICY IS MADE It is not enough for the President to s tate his arms control policy. His appointees must have the institutional means to enforce that policy.To do this, the Bush Administration should 1) Make the National Security Council a more powerful architect of arms control policy Too often, State Depart m ent representatives circumvent the Presidents policies on arms control through winks and nods to the Soviets, backdoor dealings with other governments, or the Secretary of States private meetings with the Soviet Foreign Minister. State uses Americas allie s to apply pressure on the President and Congress to dilute U.S. positions. An expert independent NSC staff, including fewer career officials and more political appointees, along with a comparable staff in the office of the Secretary of Defense, can help c h eck the State Departments institutional tendencies toward accommodation and compromise. They could do this by ensuring that the impact of State Department arms control initiatives is reviewed thoroughly by the Pentagon and the NSC arms control staff 2) De signate National Security Council members as chairmen of interagency groups.

Bush already has appointed a member of the NSC staff to chair all meetings of interagency groups dealing with arms control. Appointing an NSC staff member as chairman, rather than a member of State or another agency, reduces the likelihood that his own loyalties will lead the chairman to promote his agencys preferences through the interagency process.

Representation of the various agencies on the interagency groups meanwhile, shou ld be limited strictly by the NSC so that there is only one State Department staffer per committee.This would reduce States overrepresentation in these groups, and thus its disproportionate influence on arms control policy making 3) Limit the number of de tailees to the NSC staff.

The National Security Council would benefit from a reduction in the number of personnel detailed to its staff from other government agencies.

Too many NSCstaff members are drawn from the foreign service and the military. Understa ndably, most bring with them the institutional agenda of the agency in which they have made their careers and to which most plan to return. All senior NSC staff should be political appointees with no ties to the career bureaucracy, whether military, forei gn service, or civil service.

Assignments from the agencies or the military should be limited tojunior officials and support staff. The NSC staff was created specifically to serve the President and should be composed of those who share his views.The depart ments and agencies of government have large staffs of career experts the White House and National Security Council staffs should not 9 4) Create an arms control think tank in the Defense Department U.S. arms control policy would be vastly improved if the P entagon created a permanent policy office, responsible for determining how arms control could improve U.S. security. This office would offset the State Departments considerable arms control establishment, which too often seems to seek compromise and conce s sion for the sake of forging agreements The Pentagons new arms control policy office should receive intelligence material on the Soviet Union and other participants in arms negotiations directly from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelli g ence Agency.The Joint Chiefs of Staff would provide it with information on U.S military plans and programs and keep it abreast of developments in the Soviet armed forces. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy would supply a c ivilian assessment of this information, as well as evaluations of allied defense concerns and the possible impact of U.S proposals on the NATO alliance and other U.S. allies.The policy office itself would use this material to evaluate the national securit y implications of U.S arms control proposals 5) Transfer part of States Politico-Military Bureau to ACDA The arms control functions of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs should be transferred from the State Department to the Arms Control and Disarmame n t Agency.This would help free the State Department to concentrate on other areas of military policy that have consequences for diplomacy.Transferring parts of the Politico-Military Bureau to ACDA would eliminate redundant positions and reduce overhead cos t s. The non-arms control functions of States Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs such as those dealing with security assistance and military policy in different regions of the world, could be transferred to the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Se curity Assistance, Science, and Technology or left in a modified Politico-Military Bureau.

In addition to transferring most of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs to ACDA, the senior-level arms control positions in the State Department that were filled in the Reagan Administration by Paul Nitze and James Timbie (the arms control assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State) should be abolished.Their successors, if needed, should be assigned to ACDA, as was senior arms control adviser, Ambassador Edward R o wny. Finally, all U.S. arms control delegations should be managed and supported by ACDA which is one of the principal purposes for which that agency was created. 1 CONCLUSION Arms control policy is crucial to U.S. security. Arms control, however, is only o ne element in US. global political and military strategy it is not an end in itsel.The degree to which U.S. arms are limited or reduced by treaties can affect the capability of the U.S. not only to defend itself and its allies, but to deter war and to car r y out its political goals 10 Disproportionate Influence. An issue as important as this should be reviewed thoroughly by all interested agencies of the U.S. government. In reality, however, the State Department has more influence on arms control policy tha n the Pentagon, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, or even the National Security Council staff.This influence derives from the interest in afms control matters by a succession of Secretaries of State and from the formidable arms control bureaucracy t hat has become entrenched at State over the past two decades.

Such a degree of State Department influence on the formulation of U.S arms control policy is not in the U.S. interest.The State Department softens U.S. arms control positions for the sake of imp roving relations with the Soviet Union. State Department officials therefore tend to play down Soviet violations of existing arms control treaties for,fear of provoking Moscow. And they use their extensive contacts with private arms control experts, scien t ists and representatives of U.S. allies to promote arms control positions that have already been expressly opposed by the President under whom they serve Returning to Diplomacy. By its nature, arms control policy always will be formed by a number of diffe r ent agencies and departments in the U.S government.The State Department will continue to have a role in the discussion and implementation of U.S. arms control negotiations with the Soviets.This role, however, should be defined by the President and his adv i sors, not by the State Department bureaucracy. By making the National Security Council the central arena of arms control decision making, limiting the State Departments domination of important interagency committees creating a new Pentagon arms control th i nk tank, and strengthening the independence and influence of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency the Bush Administration can serve U.S. security interests and help to return the State Department to its properly limited diplomatic role in U.S.-Soviet a rms control negotiations.

Baker Spring Michael Lind Visiting Fellow Policy Analyst 11

About the Author