The Eisenhower Administration’s Formulation of U.S. Antarctic Policy, 1953-1959
by Steve Dobransky
Abstract: This paper analyzes the Eisenhower Administration’s Antarctic policy from 1953-1959. It recognizes that Antarctica may return as a major international issue as the world searches for new wealth and resources. Understanding the origins of United States Antarctic policy gives us the current status quo and the roots of future tension and conflict. This paper mostly uses declassified documents in the Foreign Relations of the United States to shed light on the intricacies of long-term foreign policy formulation. The declassified documents on U.S. Antarctic policy offer a great source of how a foreign policy is formulated from beginning to end. At each step of the way of the Antarctic policy, the declassified documents give a detailed understanding of what occurred and why and how things evolved. U.S. Antarctic policy is a scholarly treasure trove in terms of policy formulation. This paper utilizes the opportunity to consolidate the information and meetings in the declassified documents and, then, presents the information in a chronological and cohesive manner. The paper compares the results with Allison’s Model III assumptions. In short, the research leads to a number of propositions for foreign policy decision making. First, when an issue has long-term flexibility in interpretation and appeal, then a greater number of participants can be gathered together to support the current policy. Second, policy incrementalism and lower velocity can minimize disagreements. Third, the President’s ability to lead and unite the participants corresponds significantly with an issue’s importance and duration. Fourth, the President is stronger and able to manage a more peaceful and coherent policy process when the issue is kept exclusively in the Executive Branch and, preferably, in the White House. Finally, including only authorities recognized by the Executive Branch and requiring them to use objective summary reports given to all participants can eliminate or reduce substantially informational advantages. In the end, the paper concludes with its overall findings and, then, makes recommendations for future research.
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Many books and articles have been written on group decision making in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy. A very large number of these works have focused on a relatively few issues that have been crises or high priorities, i.e. highly publicized issues. U.S. foreign policy decisions on the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam have been examined very thoroughly. Many scholars have investigated these and other cases in an attempt to develop group decision making theories and models. Graham Allison’s three models from Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (1971) have been given considerable attention and are considered a high watermark of scholarship in terms of group decision making. The three models are: rational actor, organizational process, and governmental politics. Allison’s models have been applied to many case studies. Through testing and analysis, a number of the strengths and weaknesses of Allison’s models have been revealed. Allison’s governmental politics model, designated Model III, was criticized significantly right from the start (Krasner 1972, Art 1973, Perlmutter 1974; and others to the present). The criticism of Model III could be warranted, but it is based mainly on studies that have examined other crises and high priority issues. Decisions on foreign policy crises and high priority issues are relatively rare in terms of number and duration of appearance. In order to assess fully Allison’s Model III, there must be more critical examinations of the foreign policy formulation process on issues that are not crises or high priorities, i.e. gradual and long term foreign policy issues.
This paper helps to redress the gap in testing Allison’s Model III. It analyzes and evaluates the Eisenhower Administration’s formulation of Antarctic policy from 1953-1959, using mostly declassified documents from the Foreign Relations of the United States. Although its focus is on an issue from several decades ago, the study’s relevance remains, as does the existing U.S. Antarctic policy. The U.S. government’s policy interactions on the domestic and international levels since the 1950s give us a detailed comprehension of continued tension underlying international Antarctic relations and the potential sources of future conflict. Antarctica is estimated to have a huge amount of natural wealth and energy resources, and it could become a primary target for major exploitation in the future, especially after detailed exploration is completed. Thus, analyzing and evaluating the Eisenhower Administration’s Antarctic policy is critical to understanding Antarctic policy today and the possible developments and peaceful solutions for tomorrow.
Jonathan Bendor and Thomas Hammond’s “Rethinking Allison’s Models” (1992) provide a very useful framework for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of Allison’s Model III in explaining the Eisenhower’s Administration’s formulation of Antarctic policy. They pose a number of questions regarding the bargaining process in the Executive Branch in order to explain foreign policy decision making. This study addresses their five key questions:
1) Do Executive Branch decision makers always have different goals?
2) Does conflict imply that policymakers have different goals?
3) Why would a President bargain with other Executive Branch officials?
4) Do subordinates have political support outside the Executive Branch?
5) Do the President’s subordinates have informational advantages?1
With some modification in wording, the questions above can be used to assess the consistency of Model III’s assumptions with the Eisenhower Administration’s formulation of Antarctic policy. Allison argues in Model III that decision makers tend to have different conceptions of policy interests, goals, and courses of action. He describes the decision making process as consisting of a high degree of conflict, bargaining, and compromise among the major participants involved. He contends that the outcome of the decision making process, i.e. the political resultant, is a mix of preferences that emerge from all the conflict, bargaining, and compromise.2 Regarding the five questions presented by Bendor and Hammond, Allison would answer in short “yes” to the first two questions, “it is the norm” to the third question, “possibly” to the fourth questions, and “definitely” to the last question.
This paper challenges Allison’s Model III by using Bendor and Hammond’s framework to explain the Eisenhower Administration’s formulation of U.S. Antarctic policy. Since most foreign policies are gradual and long term like Antarctica, the lessons from this particular case study are very relevant and significant to this day. The dynamics of group decision making are highlighted in this study. Rarely is there a foreign policy case in which scholars can follow the entire evolutionary process from the beginning. The apparent lack of immediate urgency to the Antarctica issue may have encouraged government officials to be more straightforward in discussing the issue in meetings and, later on, for the government to release all the key documents related to the policy. The Eisenhower Administration set everything in motion in 1953 and the comprehensive policy was established by 1959. During those six years, there were many Executive-level meetings that contributed to the overall formulation of policy. This paper examines those meetings. It relies primarily on the declassified documents in the Foreign Relations of the United States series 1952-1954, 1955-1957, and 1958-1960. The declassified documents are a very valuable source that shed much light on the inside policy making process, which few other case studies tend to use or have available.
A number of books and articles have been written on Antarctica, although most have been on the Antarctic Treaty (1959) and the international political and environmental dimensions of Antarctica.3 Little has been done on utilizing the declassified documents and following the entire policy formulation process on Antarctica, let alone challenging Allison’s Model III with Bendor and Hammond’s conceptual framework using Antarctica as the case study. This paper raises some serious questions regarding the value of Allison’ Model III to most U.S. foreign policy issues and decision making processes. It challenges many perspectives to this day regarding the importance and relevance of Allison’s Model III. It lays the foundation for more comprehensive, comparative, and theoretical studies involving the formulation of U.S. foreign policy, from the Antarctic issue to well beyond. And, it concludes with a new understanding of the Executive Branch’s decision making process, and it makes recommendations for further scholarly research. The entire analysis provides us with important insights into today’s Antarctic regime and the possibility of its fracture and collapse in the future.
Early History and Context of U.S. Antarctic Policy
The Eisenhower Administration began its first term in office in 1953. Inheriting the Truman’s Administration’s foreign policy, the administration ordered immediately a full review of all current U.S. foreign policies, including Antarctica. The review process on Antarctica took approximately one and a half years to complete. The final outcome was NSC 5424/1, which established U.S. Antarctic policy to 1957. This paper analyzes and evaluates the review process and NSC 5424/1 and, then, follows the decision making process up to NSC 5804/1 in 1958, which leads directly to the Antarctic Treaty in 1959 and current U.S. Antarctic policy. First, a brief historical context will be given on the Antarctic issue, in order to provide a better idea of the key factors that existed at the time of the 1953 review process.
The Antarctica issue for decades rested primarily on both conflicting and compatible territorial claims. Seven countries had made formal claims to portions of Antarctica, based upon their geographical locations. The seven countries were Britain, France, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile. The U.S. had made no official claims on Antarctica prior to 1953, and it did not recognize the claims made by other countries. The U.S., however, declared its right to make a claim in the future to the unclaimed areas and parts of the claimed areas of Antarctica. The U.S. would base its claim on evidence of discovery, exploration, mapping, and unofficial claims made by private American explorers who had been to Antarctica.4 International law, it should be emphasized, was not completely clear on the precise conditions for establishing and, more importantly, maintaining and developing territorial claims to a large, uninhabited continent. It was believed by many high-level government officials and international lawyers that, aside from discovering and claiming a territory, physical and verbal demonstrations of sovereignty had to be made on a regular basis. None of the seven formal claimants were willing to risk putting their claims before the International Court of Justice (aka the World Court) or an international arbitration panel. In fact, some of the claimants considered a willingness to risk a court decision or arbitration as a sign of weakness and a questionable claim in itself. They, in their opinion, had legitimate claims that should not be contested by anyone else.5
Antarctica became a significant international political issue in the late 1940s, when a number of conflicting claimants aired openly their differences and acted in an apparently hostile manner towards each other. Since the claimants were U.S. friends and allies, the Truman Administration felt compelled to intervene in order to prevent violent conflict, reduce international tensions, and resolve peacefully the Antarctic issue, at least for the time being. The Antarctic problem subsided quickly before any significant diplomatic action took place and, as a result, was sent to the bottom of the international agenda and left unresolved. The 1952 declaration that the International Geophysical Year (IGY) would be held from July 1, 1957 to the end of 1958 changed the international context of the Antarctic issue and, in effect, brought the Antarctic issue back to the forefront of the international agenda. The IGY was intended to promote international scientific programs and cooperation throughout the world, including in Antarctica. Many people expected substantial increases in national activities in Antarctica before and during the IGY. It, thus, became a serious cause of concern for the U.S. and the seven formal claimants. The Eisenhower Administration inherited this situation and concern when it entered office and began its official review of U.S. Antarctic policy in 1953.6
In the early stages of the Eisenhower Administration’s review process, the Departments of State and Defense were the primary organizations involved in formal discussions on Antarctica. The Eisenhower Administration, for reasons still unexplained, expanded in April 1953 the number of participants in Antarctic policy discussions. Two interagency groups were established to determine U.S. objectives and possible U.S. territorial claims in Antarctica. The “Technical Group” on Antarctica was given the former task (i.e. policy objectives), and the “Ad Hoc Group” on Antarctica was given the latter tasks (territorial claims).7 It should be noted that the Foreign Relations of the United States series did not provide any documents from these two groups and did not name the members of each group. It may be assumed, however, that since members of the Departments of State and Defense were the major actors in these two groups, then the information, views, and recommendations from these two groups were represented also in the State Department, Defense Department, and National Security Council documents that were included in the FRUS series.
The Ronne Expedition
As the Eisenhower Administration was reviewing U.S. Antarctic policy, it encountered its first need to articulate the existing U.S. Antarctic policy in April and May of 1953. The State Department was requested by Finn Ronne, a famous American Antarctic explorer, to express its views on Ronne’s proposed expedition to Antarctica. The State Department’s assessment of the proposed expedition, which was articulated briefly in a memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Bonbright) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Matthews) and in more detailed form in a paper prepared in the Bureau of European Affairs, sheds some light on the then-present and future U.S. Antarctic policy. Although the following analysis (and some analyses further on in the study) will use the term “the State Department” for shorthand, it should not be interpreted as an analysis of a unitary actor. It should be emphasized that a number of mid-level and high-level officials examined and supported the documents that went through the department’s policy formulation channels for Antarctica. A general consensus on the Antarctic issue existed in the State Department right from the beginning of the Eisenhower Administration. So, using the term “the State Department” is intended to denote the consensus among the major individual participants in the State Department who were involved with the Antarctic issue.
The State Department analyzed the potential costs and benefits of Ronne’s expedition to the U.S. The department concluded that Ronne’s expedition would help maintain and strengthen the foundations for a possible U.S. territorial claim by demonstrating continued American interests and rights in Antarctica. The State Department also recognized that Ronne’s expedition would gather important scientific information for the United States and, to a lesser extent, the international community. The State Department suggested that among the potential costs of Ronne’s expedition could be increased international tensions between the U.S. and the existing claimants of Antarctic territory. The State Department, however, believed that this outcome was unlikely since Ronne’s expedition was to take place in a mostly unexplored area that was considered to be of little importance to the official claimants of Antarctic territory. The State Department declared that Ronne’s expedition would likely produce significantly more benefits than costs for the U.S.8
The State Department acknowledged that the U.S. government probably could not prevent Ronne from carrying out his expedition even if the government opposed it. The State Department, nevertheless, had to consider whether the U.S. government should officially sponsor Ronne’s expedition. The State Department thought that official U.S. sponsorship may increase the chances of international tension with Antarctica’s claimants. The department, however, refused to make a final decision on official U.S. sponsorship until other government organizations had considered the issue and determined their positions.9 The State Department’s action here demonstrated that the formulation of U.S. Antarctic policy was truly an inter-organizational effort, with no single person or office dominating the process.
National Security Council 5424
On July 15, 1954 the National Security Council met to discuss the draft policy for Antarctica, which was labeled NSC 5424. NSC 5424 had taken more than a year to develop. It was drafted by the National Security Council Planning Board and it had been circulated in late June 1954 to the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, Interior, Commerce, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Budget Bureau for comments and recommendations. NSC 5424 presented the immediate and historical context of the Antarctic issue with regards to the U.S., stated U.S. objectives, and listed a number of proposed courses of action to achieve the U.S.’s objectives. It also included a financial appendix which estimated the costs of implementing the recommended policy and explained how the program’s funds would be used.10 While the contents of NSC 5424 will be explained later, it is important to examine at this point the NSC Planning Board’s central recommendation.
The NSC Planning Board declared in NSC 5424 that the U.S. should announce an official claim to part of Antarctica in the near future and, then, negotiate a resolution of conflicting territorial claims made by the U.S. and other countries. The draft policy presented two sets of alternative courses of action for announcing a territorial claim. The majority proposal was given in the left column and the CIA’s proposal was given in the right column. The two proposals were basically the same, although the CIA proposal recommended that the U.S. make a smaller territorial claim than what the majority had wanted. The CIA also inserted an explanation of its proposal and recommendations on what to do if its proposal was accepted. Because of its smaller territorial claims, the CIA proposal was not supported by any other members and represented groups on the Planning Board, including the Defense Department in general and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in particular.11
The National Security Council’s discussion on U.S. Antarctic policy was relatively short. James Lay, the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, briefed President Eisenhower and other NSC members on the Antarctic issue. He presented the proposed policy statement on Antarctica (NSC 5424), and he stated the recommendations made by the majority on the NSC Planning Board. President Eisenhower started the discussion on NSC 5424 by stating his strong desire to proceed slowly on the Antarctic issue. Eisenhower declared that the best policy would be to reaffirm U.S. territorial claims and rights to Antarctica and engage the other claimant states in negotiations to find a solution to the problem. Eisenhower believed that NSC 5424’s recommendation to announce a U.S. territorial claim in the near future was premature and would create more problems than solutions. Eisenhower noted that past and present American activities in Antarctica were sufficient to maintain an informal U.S. claim to large parts of Antarctica. James Lay concurred with Eisenhower and he added that the U.S. must continue exploring Antarctica in order to be successful in reserving its rights.12
Allen Dulles, Director of the CIA, jumped into the discussion on Antarctica to express his willingness to fully support the majority of the NSC Planning Board’s recommendations if two changes were made. Dulles wanted the U.S. to negotiate first with Argentina and Chile (two of the major claimants to Antarctica) at the time an official U.S. claim was made on Antarctica. And, he wanted NSC 5424 to be more precise in stating that the U.S. should keep the Soviet Union out of any international negotiations on Antarctica. Whether or not Dulles heard Eisenhower’s previous statements in strong opposition to considering a formal U.S. claim (which is highly unlikely) or respectfully dismissed them, is unknown. Either way, Eisenhower himself closed the case on announcing an official Antarctic claim and Dulles’ first recommendation, therefore, was tabled. Dulles’s second recommendation, however, was approved. Dulles, it should be noted, was the only NSC member who expressed openly at the meeting his support for NSC 5424’s recommendation regarding U.S. territorial claims. All the other NSC members who had drafted and supported NSC 5424’s recommendations remained noticeably silent. Possibly recognizing a lost cause at that particular moment, they probably assumed that Eisenhower’s position would just postpone a little longer the implementation of their recommendations. Their actions, nevertheless, showed that everyone at the NSC meeting had no illusions about who was in command and who made the final decisions.13
It must be emphasized that President Eisenhower and the other NSC participants agreed with almost everything that was said in NSC 5424. Neither Eisenhower nor anyone else on the NSC opposed an eventual U.S. claim in Antarctica. The disagreements on this point involved the timing of the announcement. Everyone was willing to agree that until a formal claim was made the U.S. should do whatever was necessary in the near future to maintain and strengthen U.S. rights and unofficial claims to Antarctica. Indeed, Eisenhower, at the end of the July 15th NSC meeting, ordered the State Department to determine the best and most cost-efficient means of achieving this objective.14
On July 16, 1954 President Eisenhower formally approved NSC 5424/1 as the U.S.’s official policy on Antarctica. NSC 5424/1 acknowledged that Antarctica had “little or no present economic value and only remote strategic significance.”15 It stressed Antarctica’s current importance as a place to acquire valuable scientific data on “the physical structure of the world and its atmosphere.”16 NSC 5424/1, most importantly, recognized that “Antarctica may have other potential values not now determined, so that its importance could conceivably increase greatly with additional knowledge and new technical developments.”17 This final point became the driving force of U.S. Antarctic policy. NSC 5424/1, as a result, stressed the need to “reassert” U.S. rights in all of Antarctica, support scientific activities, expeditions, and possibly permanent science stations in Antarctica, and pursue channels in an effort
to reach an agreement among the U.S. and free world claimants to Antarctic territory which will (1) reserve their respective rights pending future solution of the territorial problems (2) reduce international friction among them and (3) permit freedom of exploration and scientific investigation in the Antarctic by free world nationals and maximum interchange of Antarctic mapping and scientific data.18
All in all, NSC 5424/1 was a detailed and concise policy statement that articulated clearly the
context and importance of the Antarctic issue, U.S. interests and objectives, and the means to achieve the U.S.’s objectives in the best manner possible. It recognized the difficulties that lay ahead but conveyed a sense of confidence that the U.S. could achieve its objectives in the long term. NSC 5424/1 designated the Operations Coordinating Board (OCB) as the administration’s central agency for Antarctic policy and it ordered the Defense Department to “act as the Executive Agency for operations in the Antarctic by or on behalf of the U.S. in cooperation with private interests and other interested Government Agencies.”19
The Operations Coordinating Board
Following the approval of NSC 5424/1, many progress reports on the implementation of NSC 5424/1 were made. The OCB was responsible for delivering official progress reports to the NSC. The first progress report was sent on February 10, 1955. This progress report was not printed in the FRUS series. A memorandum from Elmer Staats, the Executive Officer of the OCB, to James Lay (the Executive Secretary of the NSC), however, was attached to the progress report and it was printed in the FRUS series. In this memo, Staats summarized the OCB progress report. He stated concisely the current U.S. policy of reserving its Antarctic rights, U.S. policy objectives, the advantages and disadvantages of maintaining the current U.S. policy, and the need to prevent the Soviet Union from establishing a claim to any part of Antarctica.20
The OCB finished a staff study on the location of U.S. interests in Antarctica on March 29, 1955. Although NSC 5424/1 did not order explicitly a study on the location of U.S. interests in Antarctica, it could be reasoned that the Eisenhower Administration could not pursue successfully its objectives unless it knew where the U.S.’s specific interests were in Antarctica. The administration, it must be remembered, intended eventually to make a territorial claim on Antarctica. The OCB’s study demonstrated foresight and the realization that the administration must be prepared for unforeseen circumstances which might force it to take a firm position on territorial claims.
The OCB study declared that U.S. interests in Antarctica were being threatened by increased activities by other countries in Antarctica. The study suggested that the upcoming International Geophysical Year was largely responsible. The study advised that the U.S. must increase its own activities in Antarctica in order to compete successfully with other countries in maintaining and expanding territorial claims. The study notes that the
strength of U.S. rights in the Antarctic can be gauged only by comparing them with the rights of other countries, according to rules which are by no means yet agreed upon. It is fairly certain, however, that any legal settlement would give weight to both the formal acts by which nations indicate their intention to claim sovereignty and the priority, intensity and continuity of national activities in the region.21
The study recognized that the U.S. would have to incur greater financial and political costs if it sought to keep up with other countries in Antarctica. It insisted that the
general situation commends an early resolution of conflicts between U.S. rights and those of friendly countries. Such a resolution is essential if the U.S. is to frame a coherent program of Antarctic exploration and observations geared to a reliable estimate of long-term interests and capacity.22
The OCB report was followed on April 25, 1955 by two memoranda that presented opposing views on the issue of reserving U.S. Antarctic rights or making U.S. claims on the Antarctic. The memoranda were made respectively by the State Department and the Defense Department. The two memoranda were delivered to the NSC Planning Board by the Acting Executive Officer of the Operations Coordinating Board (Satterthwaite). The State Department made its case for shifting U.S. policy from reserving U.S. rights to making a territorial claim and entering bilateral negotiations to resolve the remaining territorial disputes. The Defense Department presented its case for maintaining the U.S.’s current Antarctic poliy.23 The contrasting views in the staff study were the first indication that there was a significant disagreement within the Eisenhower Administration about the implementation of Antarctic policy among the two major departments involved in the formulation process. It should be noted that the disagreement was about the timing of U.S. claims and bilateral negotiations. The State Department, with its diplomatic perspective, wanted to resolve or reduce the diplomatic tension that the Antarctic issue produced between the U.S. and its friends and allies. The Defense Department, with its military-strategic perspective, wanted more time to acquire information on Antarctica, in order to determine what parts of Antarctica could be of military and economic value to the U.S.
In a memorandum a month later on May 25, 1955, a number of high-level State Department officials dealing with the Antarctic issue revealed that the Defense Department had recommended a one-year delay in carrying out the State Department’s proposal for U.S. Antarctic policy. These officials conceded the strength of the Defense Department’s argument. They pointed out that there was no urgent need to initiate a claim and bilateral negotiations. They acknowledged, moreover, that the one-year delay would probably be increased to a three- or four-year delay, since almost everyone in the administration wanted to avoid disrupting the International Geophysical Year from 1957-1958.24
Soviet Polarization and NSC 5528
Several months passed as the Eisenhower Administration implemented its Antarctic policy. The tranquility of the situation changed suddenly in early September 1955. The NSC met on September 8th and it was informed that the Soviet Union had announced its intention to launch an expedition to Antarctica in connection with the IGY. The NSC also was informed that its Planning Board had recommended an immediate review of U.S. Antarctica policy in light of this recent development. All the NSC participants who spoke at the meeting supported a policy review. They recognized that the Soviet Union’s action inserted a new and very important variable into the Antarctic policy equation. They developed a sense of urgency and expressed concern about the wisdom of postponing U.S. territorial claims and negotiations on Antarctica. Harold Stassen, the Special Assistant to the President for Disarmament, warned that once the Soviets set foot on Antarctica, they would never leave. He urged the announcement of a U.S. claim before the Soviets reached Antarctica.25 Charles Cabell, the Deputy Director of the CIA, agreed with Stassen. He declared that recent Soviet behavior towards Antarctica was “by no means a mere passing interest or one solely in relation to the Geophysical Year.”26 Herbert Hoover, Jr., the Under Secretary of State and Chairman of the OCB, cautioned that “if the U.S. staked out formal claims, the situation in Antarctica might become more confused and worse than it was at present, with so many other friendly governments also making claims in the region.”27 Vice President Richard Nixon concluded the discussion on the Antarctic issue by stating that a review of U.S. Antarctic policy was clearly necessary. The NSC then ordered the NSC Planning Board to review the existing policy statements and objectives in NSC 5424/1.
During the policy review process, the Eisenhower Administration increased its communications with other countries interested in Antarctica and concerned about Soviet encroachment on Antarctica. The administration wanted to hear opinions and recommendations from friends and allies on U.S. Antarctic policy and possible international cooperation and negotiations on Antarctica. Australia was one of those countries. Australia was very concerned about the upcoming Soviet expedition, as the Soviets intended to carry out their expedition within territory claimed by Australia. Sir Percy Spender, Australia’s Ambassador to the U.S., and Richard Casey, Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with State Department officials on September 14th and explained to them Australia’s concerns. Spender told U.S. officials that Australia “could not afford to have a place which was within aircraft range of Australia in hostile hands.”28 He also stated that Australia had discovered some mineral resources in their Antarctic section and was planning to establish a number of scientific bases there. Casey asked U.S. officials about rumors of a U.S. policy review on Antarctica. Robert Murphy, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, gave Casey just a short restatement of existing U.S. policy. In response to another question, Murphy admitted that the U.S. did not have a clear position regarding international negotiations on Antarctica, but he agreed to consult the Australian government in the future if the U.S. had any specific ideas on the issue.29 At another meeting between Casey and high-level State Department officials on September 24th, Casey expressed Australia’s desire for talks between his country, the U.S., Britain, and New Zealand, in order to develop a common policy position on Antarctica. Murphy stated that the U.S. did not have any specific plans for negotiations at the present time. Murphy agreed to contact the Australian government when the U.S. had come to a clearer position on Australia’s request. Herbert Hoover, Jr., who was also at this meeting, reiterated the U.S.’s current Antarctic policy and informed Casey that “the U.S. was now gathering material for a reassessment of its policy but was not yet in a position to discuss the matter authoritatively.”30
The NSC Planning Board finished its policy review and incorporated its findings in NSC 5528, the proposed draft policy to supersede NSC 5424/1, and it delivered its report to the NSC on December 12, 1955. NSC 5528 described the present and historical context of the Antarctic issue, and it gave three alternative courses of action for the U.S. Alternative A called for continuing the current policy of reserving U.S. rights and refusing to recognize the claims of other states. Alternative B called for claiming only the unclaimed part of Antarctica (90’ to 150’ W longitude) at the present time. Alternative C called for claiming the unclaimed part of Antarctica and “all other areas which can appropriately be claimed by the U.S. on the basis of its activity therein.”31 NSC 5528 then provided detailed, concise, and objective arguments for and against each of the three alternatives. NSC 5528 concluded that, from “the standpoint of countering Soviet activities and future claims, either of the two courses of action involving U.S. claims (Alternative B or C) would be superior to the continued reservation of U.S. ‘rights’ (Alternative A).”32 NSC 5528 stated that, “as between Alternative B and Alternative C, B would be slightly superior, in that U.S. claims in conflict with the existing claims of others would tend to weaken our opposition to later Soviet claims likewise conflicting and likewise based on activity.”33
NSC 5528 was distributed to the interested departments and agencies within the Eisenhower Administration. The only intra-government response to NSC 5528 that was printed in the FRUS were the comments of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson. The JCS declared they “…are of the opinion that, on balance and for the present, the course of action under Alternative ‘A’ best serves United States military interests.”34 The JCS asserted that Alternative B “could be misinterpreted as tacit approval of other nations’ claims to the remainder of Antarctica, to the detriment of possible future United States action.”35 The JCS contended that Alternative C “could lead to international disputes with respect to areas of little or no value to the United States….”36 The JCS recommended to the Secretary of Defense that the Defense Department adopt Alternative A as the department’s official position. Regarding the State Department’s position on NSC 5528, it can be inferred from other documents that the State Department supported the recommendations of NSC 5528 and, thus, disagreed with the JCS’s opinion.
The NSC met on January 12, 1956 to discuss NSC 5528. President Eisenhower figured prominently in this meeting. He asked a variety of questions and was involved in a number of discussions with individual participants at the meeting. Eisenhower concentrated on the financial costs of future U.S. operations in Antarctica and the uncertain returns on its investment. Eisenhower, first, asked who the geophysical expert on Antarctica was. After being told that Dr. Alan Waterman, the head of the National Science Foundation, was the geophysical expert, Eisenhower asked Waterman what the U.S. could gain from making a claim in Antarctica. Waterman admitted that very little was known about Antarctica, particularly with respect to its economic resources. He pointed out that important scientific information could be obtained in Antarctica. Eisenhower stated that the costs of extracting any potential mineral resources in Antarctica could be very high. Waterman responded that “it was hard to say, but that in any case it would be difficult to establish the value of such resources in the short period of activity which we would be engaged in during the International Geophysical Year.”37 Eisenhower then turned to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles for his opinion on the value of making a claim in Antarctica. Dulles noted that there would be a number of problems that would result from a U.S. claim. Eisenhower then asked Admiral Donald Duncan, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, “whether the costs of carrying out our policy in Antarctica for FY 1957 were in fact the minimum costs.”38 Duncan said yes. Eisenhower asked Duncan whether the program and the figures had been examined by the Secretary of Defense. Duncan said yes. Eisenhower concluded the meeting by declaring
we should first continue to reserve our rights in the area; second, achieve what the scientist wishes to achieve in connection with the International Geophysical Year program; and, third, ask the Secretary of State to initiate exploratory conversations with other interested free world countries regarding the possibility of creating a condominium in the area.39
In sum, the recommendations of NSC 5528 were rejected and NSC 5424/1 remained the U.S.’s official Antarctic policy.
The Expansion of Antarctic Policy: NSC 5715/1
U.S. Antarctic policy was called into question again in March 1957. Australia began a highly publicized campaign to persuade the U.S. to make a territorial claim in Antarctica and to recognize the claims of the seven formal claimants. The State Department received positively Australia’s demands, since the demands were consistent with the department’s position. The department declared that Australia’s concerns necessitated another review of U.S. Antarctic policy, and it suggested that the U.S. should claim the unclaimed area of Antarctica and enter into negotiations with the seven claimants to resolve the rest of the territorial disputes. State argued that any delay in making such a claim, “which is not likely to be challenged by any other Antarctic claimant, will weaken our position and is an open invitation for others to step in and establish ‘squatters’ rights.’”40 After a Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) meeting in Australia from March 13-14, Secretary of State Dulles recommended that the NSC carry out a review of U.S. Antarctic policy, particularly with regards to territorial claims.41
Inter-agency meetings on the Antarctic issue were held on March 25 and April 3, 1957. Officials from the State Department, Defense Department, and CIA discussed the Antarctic issue and attempted to prepare a position paper that would be considered at the NSC Planning Board’s meeting on April 5th. At the first meeting, different organizations were assigned a specific area to study and prepare a paper on. The State Department focused on the positions of other claimants to Antarctica and United Nations considerations. The Defense Department focused on strategic considerations. The CIA concentrated on probable Soviet reactions to alternative U.S. policies.42
At the second meeting, State Department and CIA officials presented their papers for discussion. The Defense Department official (Ernst), however, requested more time to complete his department’s paper. The State Department officials at the meeting reiterated their support for announcing a U.S. claim and the initiation of negotiations with the other claimants. The CIA officials warned that the likely Soviet reaction to a U.S. claim would outweigh any gains achieved by “pleasing the Australians.”43 On April 19th the Defense Department announced its position on the possibility of a U.S. claim. In a letter from Mansfield Sprague, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, to the State Department’s Robert Murphy, Sprague told Murphy that the Defense Department believed
some form of international control may be useful. We are also in substantial agreement that the assertion of a claim by the United States is now timely. It is our belief, however, that there are valid reasons for considering assertion of a claim broader than that outlined in your letter.44
The Defense Department, without elaboration, changed its previous position on the timing of U.S. claims. It can be reasoned that the Defense Department expected the State Department to obtain through diplomatic negotiations an agreement that would allow the U.S. to move relatively freely throughout all or most of Antarctica. The Defense Department continued to demand U.S. access to any significant mineral resources discovered in Antarctica. The department’s growing fear of a Soviet military or non-military presence in Antarctica, as the date of the first Soviet expedition to Antarctica came nearer, was probably a major factor in the department’s change of position.
The NSC Planning Board held a meeting on April 23, 1957, at which opposing views on the Antarctic claims issue were aired. The meeting was notable in that the representatives from the Interior Department and the National Science Foundation took prominent roles in opposing a U.S. claim in Antarctica at the present time. Strong opposition to a U.S. claim, in fact, was articulated verbally for the first time at a high-level meeting.45 This opposition seems to have persuaded Robert Cutler, the Chairman of the NSC Planning Board and the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, and Robert Bowie, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for Policy Planning, to conclude that maintaining current U.S. policy would be more advantageous than making a claim. Cutler’s position on Antarctica was very influential in the interim report on Antarctica that he wrote for the NSC Planning Board to the NSC on April 26th. In the report, Cutler recognized that there was a lack of consensus within the NSC Planning Board as to whether or not the U.S. should maintain its current Antarctic policy. He, nevertheless, stressed the disadvantages of making a formal claim at the present time. He noted that the U.S. had inadequate information to determine which parts of Antarctica were or could be of value. He pointed out that a U.S. claim could reduce important Soviet cooperation in IGY activities in Antarctica and throughout the world. He warned that a U.S. claim could encourage the Soviet Union to make its own claim in Antarctica. And, most importantly, he declared that
the assertion of a U.S. claim will not prevent, and at best will only render more difficult, the acquisition and strengthening by the Soviet Union of legal claims to any part of Antarctica. In the final analysis, the Soviets can be denied access to the Antarctic continent only by force.46
Cutler recommended that the administration formulate a long-term Antarctic policy before the end of the IGY in 1958.
In May 1957 the State Department took the initiative and drafted another statement of policy for Antarctica. The department’s draft, later to be known as NSC 5715/1, was the most detailed and comprehensive government paper on Antarctica to date. One of the primary issues the State Department dealt with was when, as opposed to whether, to assert a U.S. claim in Antarctica. The department recommended that January 1, 1959 be the target date for announcing a claim. The department provided a detailed set of alternatives regarding specific U.S. claims and negotiations with the seven formal claimants. For the first time the State Department gave an in-depth analysis (nature, implications, advantages and disadvantages) of establishing a condominium or U.S. trusteeship over Antarctica in order to resolve the disputes and demands of the Antarctic claimants. The State Department recognized that the U.S. had to be fully prepared for the proposed diplomatic negotiations on Antarctica, and it acknowledged that difficulties and foreign opposition would exist over any suggested agreement to settle the territorial disputes and create some form of administration for Antarctica. The department, nevertheless, argued that the Antarctic issue had to be resolved as soon as possible, even if the settlement was opposed by the Soviet Union and was not the best settlement for the seven formal claimants.47
After the State Department’s draft of NSC 5715 was circulated to the NSC Planning Board (no declassified documents were published on the NSC Planning Board’s examination of the draft), it was considered at an NSC meeting on June 26, 1957. There was little discussion on the matter. President Eisenhower and all other members of the NSC agreed with the recommendations and objectives that were set forth in NSC 5715. They were willing to wait until the IGY ended on December 31, 1958 and then review U.S. Antarctic policy, determine a specific territorial claim in Antarctica, initiate secret negotiations with the existing claimants, and thereafter announce publicly a final resolution to the Antarctic problem.48 Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles, it should be noted, recommended that the U.S. reduce significantly the costs of scientific activities in the Antarctic once the IGY was over. Dulles declared that the U.S. had already achieved a “sufficiently good basis for U.S. claims in the Antarctic.”49 On June 29, 1957 President Eisenhower approved a slightly amended policy paper as NSC 5715/1. U.S. objectives continued to be the same, although in a more precise form.50 NSC 5715/1 was implemented to 1958.
The Effects of the IGY and the New Antarctica Policy: NCS 5804/1
The beginning of 1958 put in motion an entirely new set of policy factors and frame of mind. The IGY, which began on July 1, 1957, had created a major expansion of international activities in Antarctica, especially by the Soviet Union. The U.S., however, was not much closer to learning about Antarctica and its strategic resources. There was increasing fear that a territorial claim would be made by the Soviet Union and/or others at any moment. Up until the last part of 1957, the Eisenhower Administration started making a number of references regarding an “international regime” for Antarctica. This regime was seen as a temporary solution to delay any immediate territorial claims and subsequent diplomatic backlash. The administration realized that it could not stop the Soviet Union and others from laying down claims or becoming increasingly active in Antarctica. Thus, the Eisenhower Administration started hinting at the possibility of an Antarctic regime that would include the U.S. and seven formal claimants, as well as the Soviet Union and a number of other interested but non-territorial claimants as verbal participants but not as acting-sovereigns.
In a memorandum of discussion between the State Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff on January 10, 1958, Ambassador Daniels, the Special Adviser on Antarctica, acknowledged secret communications with Britain, Australia, and New Zealand regarding making a territorial claim or reserving a right to do so in the future. Daniels suggested that an international regime might be able to co-opt the Soviet Union from making a territorial claim, buy the U.S. some time, and guarantee the U.S. access to the whole continent until a claim was ready to be made.51 The State Department’s Murphy pointed out that the Soviets were “moving forward very rapidly in their activities in Antarctica.”52 Admiral Burke of the JCS expressed grave concern over a Soviet claim and the need for the U.S. to move quickly on the matter. Murphy confirmed that the Soviets were expanding their capabilities and were now able and ready to operate extensively in Antarctica. Everyone agreed that the Antarctic issue now “demanded serious and urgent study” in light of the IGY.53
In a memorandum from Daniels to the Secretary of State on January 14, 1958, Daniels informed Dulles that a tentative proposal was made based upon the secret negotiations of January 6-13, 1958 with Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Dulles was updated on the discussions and then told that all parties believed firmly that an international regime without any territorial claims could be made in the near future. In addition, it was noted that the Operations Coordinating Board considered the proposal at a January 8th meeting and instructed the Working Group on Antarctica to analyze the proposal and make recommendations to the OCB by January 29th. Dr. Waterman was pointed out as still being adamantly against making any territorial claims during the IGY, that is to the end of 1958. The general movement towards proposing an international regime without making a formal claim was quickly emerging as a practical policy based upon immediate necessity.54
On January 24, 1958, in a memorandum of discussion between the State Department and JCS, General Twining appeared increasingly apprehensive of a preemptive territorial claim by the Soviet Union. The JCS stated their growing interest in making a territorial claim, which was on the surface a significant change in their previous policy position. Murphy addressed the JCS’s concerns. He stated that the U.S. had no means at all of stopping the Soviet Union from carrying out major operations in Antarctica and that an international regime could at least restrain the Soviets and allow the U.S. to keep a close watch on them. Murphy also declared that any U.S. territorial claims during the IGY would damage the U.S.’s public image and create serious international tension. He concluded by asking the JCS to study more in-depth the idea of demilitarizing the Antarctic. Admiral Burke responded by expressing his distrust of the Soviets and advising on making all legitimate claims before the Soviets could.55
Interestingly at this January 24th meeting, General White wondered if the Monroe Doctrine could be applied to Antarctica. Mr. Daniels told him that most of Antarctica is considered to be in the Eastern Hemisphere. Moreover, Admiral Burke stressed that “demilitarization” should be well defined, since many things including Antarctic airfields could be quickly converted to military purposes. The U.S military, it should be noted, played a significant role in non-military operations in Antarctica and this was another issue that had to be distinguished and defined, i.e. between military personnel operating in Antarctica and militarized behavior on the continent. The JCS agreed to work on the issue and study further any possible strategic claims. Murphy added that the State Department lawyers were supportive of making large general territorial claims and not specific ones. Sprague questioned the JCS on their views regarding the internationalization of Antarctica, and General Twining expressed the JCS’s opposition to internationalization. Daniels noted that many scientists supported internationalization. He also pointed out that Argentina was about to have national elections in February and that it would not be good to insert the Antarctic issue into Argentina’s domestic politics at this time. Sprague suggested that demilitarization and internationalization could go hand in hand and that the “basic issue is to find the arrangement by which the U.S. will come out best vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.”56
On February 15, 1958 the State Department sent out a telegram to diplomatic posts located in countries that were most concerned about the Antarctic issue. The telegram declared that the U.S. had decided on an official position for Antarctica. The U.S. was now calling on all countries directly interested in Antarctica and operating there for the IGY to consider creating an international regime for the continent. The State Department requested its embassies to obtain the views of the local governments on an international agreement that would delay any formal territorial claims to Antarctica, allow complete access to the entire continent, demilitarize the region, require regular inspections, include the Soviet Union and other countries that had not made any territorial claims, promote scientific cooperation beyond the IGY, and be an international regime outside the United Nations. State, however, made it clear in the telegram that this Antarctic regime was not a permanent solution and that the U.S. still reserved the right to make territorial claims at any time in the future.57
March 6, 1958 should be considered the culmination of U.S. Antarctic policy. On this day the National Security Council met to finalize U.S. Antarctic policy. The proposed policy was NSC 5804, which incorporated the key elements that were declared in the February 15th State Department telegram. At the NSC meeting, General Cutler updated the group and described what the OCB, State Department, and others had concluded regarding an Antarctic regime and holding off making any territorial claims. The JCS, notably, opposed the international regime solely on the basis of wanting to exclude the Soviet Union. Secretary of State Dulles strongly supported the proposed NSC 5804. He sympathized with the JCS but said that only force could keep the Soviets out of Antarctica. He believed the U.S. could accomplish its primary objectives with a regime that included and controlled the Soviet Union. He said that once the U.S. had finally established a specific policy towards Antarctica, he and the State Department could negotiate all the details with the claimants and non-claimants. The JCS expressed again their opposition. President Eisenhower challenged them. He asked the JCS what they would suggest be done to keep the Soviets out of Antarctica and from establishing any bases or claims. Admiral Burke had no response.58
Everyone at the NSC meeting agreed that the U.S. should prepare to make territorial claims in Antarctica sometime in the future. They recognized that it could be a long time before Antarctica was fully mapped and most/all of the strategic resources were located. They noted that in the short term the only things left were the exact details of the international regime to administer the Antarctic and how inspections were to be carried out. President Eisenhower recognized the complications of joint administration but decided on going ahead with the regime policy as soon as possible. The final draft was later approved as NSC 5804/1.59 This policy established official U.S. Antarctic policy from 1958 to the present.
NSC 5804/1 led the Eisenhower Administration to call on May 3, 1958 for an international conference on Antarctica. Consultations followed in the coming months between the U.S., the Soviet Union, the seven formal claimants (Britain, France, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile), as well as Belgium, Japan, and South Africa. The principal negotiators gathered in Washington, D.C. on October 15, 1959, and the final meetings led to the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed on December 1, 1959 and went into force on June 23, 1961. 37 more countries later joined the Antarctic regime. This international regime remains in place to this day and has been a success in terms of its specific and limited objectives of delaying territorial claims, demilitarizing the continent, maintaining proper inspections, and promoting scientific research and exchanges. It should be stressed that this regime has always been premised on when the U.S. would obtain sufficient information on the key strategic locations and resources in Antarctica. Once this was accomplished, the U.S.’s Antarctic policy was expected to change to a possible full-fledged claim on Antarctica. To this day, the time and conditions have not arrived. If and when the U.S. and/or other countries decide to make a claim to any part of Antarctic to obtain its strategic resources, then the Antarctic regime will end or be transformed substantially. Much of Antarctic to this day still remains unmapped. Yet, it is acknowledged that the continent is likely to have large quantities of oil, coal, natural gas, gold, silver, platinum, and many other valuable items. The level of the rest of the world’s resources, combined with the energy and economic needs of the claimants and possibly others, may alter fundamentally the Antarctic situation in the coming years. So far, it has yet to come to this, but the tension and potential conflict remain.
Theoretical Findings and Propositions
The Eisenhower Administration’s formulation of U.S. Antarctic policy was a long-term task that underwent changes and modifications throughout the 1953-1959 period. It is clear by historical evidence that the administration had to find its way by continuously searching, reacting, and obtaining information that affected its overall Antarctic equation. The administration’s objectives were modified as the international situation changed and internal government discussions and reports emerged. One important thing to recognize here is that the successful policy structure and process that were created at the beginning of the Eisenhower Administration’s first term enabled the administration to deal effectively with the changing dynamics of the Antarctic issue. This led eventually to the U.S.’s official policy that remains to this day. If and when the U.S. obtains sufficient research data on Antarctica’s strategic resources and there is a clear demand to initiate a new policy change, the U.S. may implement finally the last policy stage that was set in motion by the Eisenhower Administration during the 1953-1959 period.
Regarding Graham Allison’s government politics model (Model III), it appears to be a very weak and mostly ineffective model for explaining the Eisenhower Administration’s formulation of U.S. Antarctic policy. Bendor and Hammond’s framework, i.e. the five general questions, for examining the Executive Branch’s bargaining process can be used to expose the fundamental flaws in Allison’s Model III. This study’s research findings show, among other things, that:
1) the participants in the decision making process supported the stated policy goals for Antarctica but disagreed over when to announce a U.S. claim to parts of Antarctica and proceed with negotiations with the seven Antarctic claimants;
2) there was very little debate, much discussion, and no bargaining at the high-level meetings on the Antarctic issue;
3) the President did not compromise and was clearly the dominant actor and final decision maker in the formulation process;
4) the decision making process’s relative secrecy prevented a large amount of political conflict, pressure, and emotional and ideological rhetoric, which would have engulfed the formulation process if the Antarctic issue was placed prominently on the Congressional and public agendas during the height of the Cold War; and,
5) informational advantages among the participants were overcome by giving all the participants many of the same detailed and objective reports on the Antarctic issue and, then, framing the group’s discussions according to the details inside the reports and the opinions and additional information communicated at the meetings.
This study’s research findings lead a number of propositions regarding the formulation of foreign policies similar to the Antarctic issue and process.
Proposition One: When the stated policy goals are long term and have a reasonable degree of flexibility in interpretation and appeal, a wider number of supporters can be gathered and potential opponents can be co-opted by the belief that the goals are open for some modification and the details have yet to be fixed.
The Eisenhower Administration’s Antarctic goals were framed in a way that appealed to decision makers’ motivations to promote the national interests and international peace. All participants, furthermore, could incorporate their own conception of personal, organizational, and national interests within these stated goals. And, the extended time frame encouraged many to resist drawing a firm oppositional line and led others to wait it out for future opportunities to make adjustments in policy.
Proposition Two: Disagreement over the present course of action can be minimized if the disagreement falls within the incrementalist sphere and is a matter of policy velocity and not fundamental policy direction.
Participants in the Eisenhower Administration disagreed over when to proceed to the next stage of their Antarctic policy, i.e. when to go from reserving territorial rights to declaring a specific territorial claim. The Antarctic issue’s long-term duration and low priority encouraged participants to avoid “rocking the boat” and generating significant conflict and hostility within the decision making group. This last point leads to the third proposition.
Proposition Three: The President is the final arbiter in the decision making group, but the ease at which he dominates the process and unites the group depends on the importance and duration of the issue.
The Antarctic issue was not important enough for participants to challenge openly and strongly the President and, consequently, risk their overall influence and reputation. Knowledge that a policy decision was not a final decision and the internal discussion would continue encouraged participants to restrain themselves in opposition and implement the existing course of action. Opponents of the present course of action, moreover, understood that a strong territorial claim in the future was dependent upon the successful implementation of the existing policy, so they were unwilling to disrupt the current process.
Proposition Four: The President’s hand is stronger, and the decision making process is more peaceful, substantial, coherent, and manageable, when the formulation of policies is kept within the realm of the Executive Branch.
This proposition does not suggest that a foreign policy formulated secretly in the Executive Branch will be a good policy or that it will remain hidden permanently from Congress and the public. The Antarctic issue became a Congressional and public issue by 1959 with the proposal for an Antarctic Treaty. The Eisenhower Administration consulted Congress on the Antarctic issue during the 1953-1959 period. The administration’s ability to shield itself temporarily from domestic political conflict was largely the result of Antarctica’s relative unimportance and Congress’s willingness to let the administration proceed quietly in the formulation of U.S. Antarctic policy. The Eisenhower Administration and Congress, it should be noted, recognized that the Antarctic issue was a more important and sensitive issue to the seven formal claimants to the Antarctic, and they feared that a public debate on the Antarctic issue, during the 1953-1959 period, could have increased international tensions and activities in the Antarctic and generated misunderstandings regarding the U.S.’s Antarctic policy, goals, and future intentions.
Finally, Proposition Five: Authority structures combined with detailed, concise, and objective summary reports of a foreign policy’s present and historical context can eliminate significant informational advantages among the participants or, at least, prevent participants with informational advantages from having a significant impact on the decision making process.
The Eisenhower Administration’s National Security Council received periodically and on demand reports concerning the Antarctic issue. The reports on Antarctic policy included arguments for and against the existing policy as well as policy alternatives. Participants at NSC meetings were free to discuss the reports. President Eisenhower asked questions and, at times, encouraged participants to express their views. The only distinguishable authority at these meetings, however, was the President. It was Eisenhower who made the decisions on occasion to reject the recommended courses of action given in the draft reports but accept the general content of the reports. Even though it appeared that many of the NSC participants supported the recommended courses of actions in the original drafts, Eisenhower was able to set aside this opposition and explain in an informative manner why his decisions were the best decisions at the time.
These five proposition offer a more realistic alternative to viewing the formulation of foreign policies similar to the Antarctic issue. They are a response to the fundamental flaws of Model III’s assumptions that were discovered in this research project. The propositions are not completely new when it comes to analyzing decision making processes. Other scholars have talked about certain elements within these propositions. The propositions, altogether, establish a more comprehensive and precise structure than what scholars now have for viewing the formulation of foreign policies similar to the Antarctic issue. The propositions are open for testing and modification. The propositions, it should be remembered, are generalized answers to Bendor and Hammond’s five questions, based upon the findings of this research paper. Although Bendor and Hammond probably never intended these five questions to be more than discussion question on Allison’s Model III, this study demonstrates the feasibility in applying these five questions to foreign policy issues similar to the Antarctic issue and coming up with propositions based upon the research findings.
All in all, it should be recognized that Presidential administrations before and, especially, after the Eisenhower Administration have taken similar approaches to the formulation of foreign policies on issues like Antarctica. Scholars, however, have tended to ignore these rather undramatic and little publicized issues. The large majority of foreign policy issues are similar to Antarctica, in terms of time, priority, and other factors. It is important that more scholars investigate these types of foreign policy issues, since they will reveal an interesting combination of complexity, structure, and detail within the policymaking process. Scholars, of course, will be constrained by the number and types of documents available. In this study, for example, the internal dynamics that produced many of the declassified documents could not be viewed because only the end products were printed and they were labeled organizational documents (such as, a State Department policy position paper). This issue demonstrates another weakness that can emerge when assessing the strength and usefulness of Allison’s governmental politics model in explaining the formulation of a foreign policy. Nevertheless, new insights may be gained into the group decision making process. Existing theories and models on group decision making can be improved. As the academic investigation proceeds and the formulation of similar foreign policies are examined, a whole new set of foreign policies can be presented for comparison with each other, as well as with issues involving foreign policy crises and high priorities and with the external policies of foreign governments. In the end, the scholarly concentration on the formulation of foreign policies similar to this paper’s topic will broaden and deepen the boundaries of group decision making studies, enlighten old and new scholars alike, and, possibly, assist present and future policymakers in formulating long-term policies which are not crises and high priorities. There is much to gain and nothing to lose by researching this area of policy formulation. A lot remains to be learned, so let the research activities proceed vigorously and with a mission. The Antarctic story is yet to be written fully. A whole new chapter and possible ending could emerge in the near future, as a result of intense international competition for wealth and resources. Thus, Antarctica may arise again to the forefront of the policy making agenda. And, it will begin where this paper ended, with NSC 5804/1.
1 . Jonathan Bendor and Thomas H. Hammond, “Rethinking Allison’s Models,” American
Political Science Review 86 (June 1992): 314-316. Bendor and Hammond, actually, present
six questions and the first five are listed and used in this paper. The sixth question, “Was
U.S. Policy in the Cuban Missile Crisis Determined by Bargaining?” is case-specific and
irrelevant to this paper and, thus, not included.
2. Graham T. Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Glenview,
IL: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1971), chapter five.
3. These books and articles include Jeffrey Myhre, The Antarctic Treaty System: Politics, Law,
and Diplomacy (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986), M. J. Peterson, Managing the Frozen
South: The Creation and Evolution of the Antarctic Geopolitics (Berkeley, CA: University
of California Press, 1988), Jack Child, Antarctica and South American Geopolitics (New
York: Praeger, 1988), Bruce Parker and Mary C. Holliman, Environmental Impact in
Antarctica (Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1978), and
Barney Brewster, Antarctica: Wilderness at Risk (San Francisco, CA: Friends of the Earth,
1982). See also Congressional hearings regarding a treaty protocol on environmental
protection for the Antarctic, 1990-1992.
4. The history of U.S. Antarctic policy in the post-WWII period was summarized concisely in
many of the Eisenhower Administration’s National Security documents. The first major
NSC document that presented the historical context of the Antarctic issue was NSC 5424/1,
“Statement of Policy by the National Security Council,” July 16, 1954, in Foreign Relations
of the United States: 1952-1954, I (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1983), 1760.
5. Myhre, chapter two.
6. Ibid., chapter three.
7. Editorial Note, FRUS: 1952-1954, I, 1733.
8. “Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Bonbright)
To the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Matthews),” April 7, 1953, FRUS: 1952-1954, I,
1733-1734, “Paper Prepared in the Bureau of European Affairs,” undated (the document was
located between two documents that had the dates April 7, 1953 and May 20, 1954), FRUS:
1952-1954, I, 1735-1737.
10. NSC 5424, “Draft Statement of Policy Proposed by the National Security Council,” June 28,
1954, FRUS: 1952-1954, I, 1744-1756.
12. “Memorandum of Discussion at the 206th Meeting of the National Security Council on
Thursday, July 15, 1954,” FRUS: 1952-1954, I, 1757-1759.
15. NSC 5424/1, “Statement of Policy by the National Security Council,” July 16, 1954, FRUS:
1952-1954, I, 1760.
18. Ibid, 1761.
20. “Memorandum From the Executive Officer of the Operations Coordinating Board (Staats) to
the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Lay),” February 10, 1955, FRUS:
1955-1957, XI (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1988), 609-610.
21. “Staff Study Prepared by the Operations Coordinating Board,” March 29, 1955, FRUS:
22. Ibid., 613.
23. “Memorandum from the Acting Executive Officer of the Operations Coordinating Board
(Satterthwaite) to the Members of the Board,” April 25, 1955, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 615-
24. “Memorandum for the Files, by the Director of the Office of British Commonwealth and
Northern European Affairs (Raynor),” May 25, 1955, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 618-619.
25. “Memorandum of Discussion at the 258th Meeting of the National Security Council,
Washington, September 8, 1955,” FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 620-621.
26. Ibid., 621.
28. “Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, September 14, 1955,”
FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 624.
29. Ibid., 625.
30. Editorial Note, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 634.
31. NSC 5528, December 12, 1955, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 634.
32. Ibid., 636.
33. Ibid., 637.
34. “Memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (Wilson),”
January 6, 1956, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 639.
37. “Memorandum of Discussion at the 272nd Meeting of the National Security Council,
Washington, January 12, 1956,” FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 640.
38. Ibid., 641.
39. Ibid., 642.
40. “Letter from the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy) to the
Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Sprague), March 11, 1957,”
FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 657.
41. Editorial Note, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 658.
42. “Memorandum for the Files, by the Officer in Charge of River Plate Affairs (Watrous),”
March 25, 1957, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 659-660.
43. “Memorandum for the Files, by the Officer in Charge of Antarctic Affairs (Wilson),”
undated (most likely date is April 3, 1957, the day of the inter-agency meeting), FRUS:
1955-1957, XI, 660-662.
44. “Letter from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Sprague)
to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy),” April 19, 1957,
FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 662.
45. “Memorandum for the Files, by the Officer in Charge of River Plate Affairs (Watrous),”
April 23, 1957, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 663-664.
46. “Memorandum from the President’s Special Assistant for National Security (Cutler) to the
National Security Council,” April 26, 1957, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 666.
47. NSC 5715, “Draft Statement of Policy by the National Security Council on Antarctica,”
May 22, 1957, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 675-689.
48. “Memorandum of Discussion at the 328th Meeting of the National Security Council,
Washington, June 26, 1957,” FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 691-692.
49. Ibid., 691.
50. NSC 5715/1, June 29, 1957, FRUS: 1955-1957, XI, 693-710.
51. “Memorandum of Discussion at a Department of State-Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting,”
January 10, 1958, FRUS: 1958-1960, II, 464-465.
52. Ibid., 464.
53. Ibid., 465.
54. “Memorandum From the Special Adviser on Antarctica (Daniels) to the Secretary of State,”
January 14, 1958, FRUS: 1958-1960, II, 466-467.
55. “Memorandum of Discussion at the Department of State-Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting,”
January 24, 1958, FRUS: 1958-1960, II, 467-470.
56. Ibid., 469-470.
57. “Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Posts,” February 15,
1958, FRUS: 1958-1960, II, 471-472.
58. “Memorandum of Discussion at the 357th Meeting of the National Security Council,”
March 6, 1958, FRUS: 1958-1960, II, 472-479.
59. NSC 5804/1, “Statement of U.S. Policy on Antarctica,” March 8, 1958, FRUS: 1958-1960,
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American Diplomacy is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to American Diplomacy.
Steve Dobransky is an Adjunct Professor at Lake Erie College. He is completing his Ph.D. at Kent State University and is ABD. He has an M.A. from Ohio University and a B.A. from Cleveland State University. He majors in International Relations and Justice Studies.