Graham Allison's Essence of Decision offered alternative conceptual models on foreign policy decision making and a specific discussion on the Cuban missile crisis; and has been one of the influential book in history of foreign policy analysis. It offers a significant contribution to political science study, as it's been heavily cited generally in most international relations textbook and also discussed by foreign policy analysts. However, despite the model's strong influence in foreign policy study, it has been heavily criticised by foreign policy analysts about its utility and value in decision making analysis.
In Essence of Decision, Allison proposes three different 'lenses' that offers a multi-level analysis rather than a regular solely system-level to analyse foreign policy decision making. His first model, Unitary Government Model or Rational Actor Model (RAM) describe government as a 'black box', thus the internal actors have the same goals and opinion on how to achieve the goal. Alternatively, model II and model III will open 'the black box' and discuss at two different things inside the box and later known as bureaucratic politics model. Model II or Organizational Process Model looks at the key organizational or agencies with the own function, mission and structure. Lastly, Model III or Governmental Politics Model will focus on key individual decision makers and the political bargaining process included in this. Nonetheless, Allison's conceptual framework has been not only highly praised by foreign policy analysts, but also offers been much criticised since its first edition.
Number of criticism has risen regarding Allison's conceptual framework, ranging from its originality until the situation of evidences which may have been utilized by Allison in explaining the Cuban Missile Crises. Conford and Horelick, for example, argue that Allison's model is not wholly original work, rather than it is developed from previous study. Moreover, another group of criticism have questioned the account of the Cuban Missile Crises that explained by Allison. Despite these two criticisms, there are range of criticism which will be discussed in the next section. By looking at amount of criticism about Allison's model, there exists a big question about the usefulness of the model in foreign policy decision making process analysis.
This essay aims to evaluate the utility of Allison's conceptual policy in foreign policy decision making. This essay will also critically discuss each of the three models by looking from some perspectives. Moreover, taking into account that this essay depends on Allison's "Essence of Decision", this essay will also go through the decision making process regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Model I: The Rational Actor (RAM)
Model I is the essential yet critical conceptual framework that mostly utilized in foreign policy decision making analysis. RAM is the best model in explaining and predicting of a person behaviour, as well as purpose generalization in state's action. The model "reduces the organizational and governmental political complications" by looking at government as unified actor. Thus, a complete-informed government -regarded as 'black box'- will process information to optimize rational action. The inner structure within decision making process will calculate the actual pro and con and later rank all the options by their chance to achieve success.
Its feature to be easy to make use of, RAM could be useful when a state has limited or even no available information about the enemy. Therefore, since it generally does not require information to analyse a case, RAM would be very suits in an emergency situation. It would safe more time since a state will not necessary do a complex evaluation about their enemy. Lastly, RAM that stresses interaction among states, will immediately produce prudent decision after taking into consideration the pro and con. Its simplicity in analysing an instance makes RAM about the most methods in foreign policy decision making process.
On the other side, some foreign policy analysts argue that in the true foreign policy formation, range of external and individual interest factor will eventually give a huge impact. Moreover, RAM tends to ignore a huge state with complex bureaucratic nature that has various sorts of departments with their own different political and ideological perspectives. Therefore, along with the argument that intra-national factors are "very importantyet critical when one is concerned with planning policy", Allison has proposed so-called, Bureaucratic Politics Model.
Model II: Organizational Process
Difficulties will arise when the truth that will be examined is not the behaviour of a person or circumstances with simple bureaucracy model, but the behaviour of 1 organization or government with complex structure inside. Therefore, Allison provides two alternative conceptual frameworks that will start the black box to judge internal structure inside the federal government, which is later known as Model II and Model III.
Model II or Organizational Process Model targets the existing organization and their standard operating procedures (SOP) for gaining information, defining possible option and implementing programme. Each organization comes with an agreement for both its mission and function. Afterward, series of program are developed to handle those missions. In defining feasible option, Model II argues that it is restricted based on SOP that will enhance performance and efficiency. Moreover, Model II is not optimizing rational actor, as model I does, but instead, it is satisfying decision making actors.
Its account that foreign policy outcomes are are based on bureaucratic programs, routines and SOP, makes range of advantage from this model. It emphasizes the key domestic political influences on process of foreign policy decision making that sometimes missed out from RAM. Therefore, model II reminds the analysts that the policy was formed not only by a higher level decision-maker, but it is sometimes formed by organization.
Nevertheless, a couple of criticism has arisen in the utility of model II. Its emphasis on organisational culture may ill-serve more impressive range officials and finally can result in impair the analyst's knowledge of organizations and their behaviour. Despite the fact that this kind of problem will not occur for the majority of enough time, but we can take it as a consideration of the potency of the model.
Model III: Governmental Politics
Governmental politics model or government bargaining model focuses on key individual decision makers using their great influence in choosing organizational actor. Moreover, the model assumes that decision makers have different perceptions, priorities, commitments and also organizational positions ("predicament depends upon where you sit"). Therefore, model III assumes that governmental actions are the result of a political bargaining process among key players. Furthermore, bargaining and negotiation processes will cause satisfying rather than optimizing decision making result. It obviously explained because personal ambition of key actor may diverge from public policy position and could lead to personal power considerations when making decision.
Between Allison's three conceptual frameworks, model III adds important detail about domestic politics that obviously, can't be within model I. In addition, model III not only explains the roles of key individuals, but it also explains why individuals are working at contrary purposes to the eye of the government as a whole. Lastly, model III gives us the reason why policy sometimes is apparently irrational if we look it from a unitary government perspective.
Nevertheless, model III also received many critics, especially on the complexity of the model. It is focus on individual key actor that means it is difficult to study and analyse. Moreover, it needs way too many variables, some variable are unknown and it is hard to apply for other countries with unclear bureaucratic politics inside.
Allison's conceptual framework has been attacked by amount of criticism, varying from the originality of the model, different interpretation of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the US political system, and also methodological criticism. As Stephen D. Krasner has argued that Allison's model "is misleading, dangerous, and compelling". Therefore, in this section, volume of criticism of Allison's model will be critically discussed and assessed.
Some foreign policy analysts, such as, Cornford, Horelick, Ball and Art claimed that Allison did not present a pure brand new approach to analysing foreign policy process; but rather it just development from previous theories. Conford has claimed that organisational process mode is previously done by writers such as, Simon, March and Simon, Cyert and March. Furthermore, Conford has claimed that "Model IIIis pure Neustadt. " Horelick et al. supported Conford's argument by suggesting that the bureaucratic model is closely related to previous work done by Kremlinologists. Ball and Art also mentioned names of analyst that actually make the bureaucratic policy model, such as Huntington, Hilsman, Schilling, and Neustadt.
Nevertheless, Allison has dedicated a section in his publication to acknowledge previous scholars that become his foundation in developing his methods. He's fully aware that he utilizes and developed earlier scholars' are he mentioned in his publication, "this encourages much repackaging of existing theories" Therefore, he identifies several writers such as March and Simon, Barnard, Cyert and Simon and so forth for foundation of model II. Furthermore, Allison also acknowledged his intellectual debt to previous scholars that related to model III paradigm, "model III variety have attracted increasing attention since 1960 the publication of Presidential Power by Richard E. Neustadt. " Hence, we're able to argue that Allison's originality does not lie in his model, but rather in his method of apply his models consistently to one particular case study, the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Another criticism can be seen from methodological perspective; numbers of similarities between model II and model III have shaped ambiguity between those two models. In many occasions, some foreign analysts will combine model II and model III to analyse a case study, including Allison himself. In his article with Halperin, Allison combines those two models and be one major model - the bureaucratic politics paradigm- as an alternative model to RAM. As Conford argues that the three models is not totally incommensurable model to analyse foreign policy making process. Therefore, even though Allison distinguishes three kinds of model in foreign policy analysis, those models is not easily separable in their actual application.
In bureaucratic politics model, decision is not arise from one unitary actor, but through some bargaining between organisation structures using their own agenda. Model II and model III have identical characteristics that permit them to be grouped as bureaucratic politics model. Both models are similar in a way that both models give attention to departments and organizations inside the decision maker; however, it is slightly different, in a sense that, if model II will reach a conclusion through Standard Operation Program, model III can make a decision through bargaining between various players within government. Despite the insignificant difference between those models, they're usually combined as the bureaucratic politics model.
However, Caldwell has raised bureaucratic politics model's significant problem about the use of evidence and data. The model requires detailed data that hardly available in term of quantity and quality. Furthermore, Caldwell argued that there surely is huge opportunity for analyst to imposing the model on the evidence rather than testing the model against it. Therefore, bureaucratic politics model has significant problem in analysing the info and evidence, since previous empirical problems show that data was made to fit the model.
Allison's alternative model in addition has been argued that this eliminated decision-makers' responsibility toward the policy. The strong criticism has risen from Steel and Krasner, which argued that no one, even the President, holds responsibility of the policy as the results from bargaining process among bureaucratic groups. As Steel argued that, "where everyone is responsible for a choice, nobody is responsible. " A similar argument also originates from Krusnet who argued that bureaucratic politic eliminates the importance of election: "Elections are a farce not because the people have problems with false consciousness, but because public officials are impotent, enmeshed in a bureaucracy so large that the actions of government aren't responsive to their will. " In contrast, Smith argues that "this criticism is merely valid to the extent to which the President is unable to get his wishes completed. " Therefore, the criticism from Steel and Kranser is not applicable for those cases and need to be modified.
Furthermore, following previous criticism, there is certainly criticism about Allison's model utility to other countries. Despite the fact that Allison clearly points out his intention to present two additional frameworks to other countries' foreign policy analysis (not only limited by the united states and Soviet Union's policy making), a group of writers has argued the inability of the model to analyse foreign policy behaviour in other countries, to be precise, un-industrialized countries. As Hill has noted that there surely is "an evergrowing consensusover the inapplicability of the insights of Allison, et al. to foreign policy-making inside less modernised states. " Migdal in addition has argued that the model can't be put on the countries that do not have stability of organizational structure, routine, and even bargaining process. Moreover, Brenner also argues that Allison's model is not a universal model and "more distinctive in the United States than elsewhere. " Despite all criticisms regarding its utility to other countries, Weil has proved, in fact, the model could be utilised in the North Vietnamese foreign policy analysis. As Weil notes that "examining North Vietnamese foreign policy decision making from a governmental politics perspective complements understanding gained from a rational actor analysis. "
Nevertheless, analists argued that the model is not even applicable to the Soviet Union, however the Soviet Union foreign policy has been heavily discussed in Essence of Decision. It is not only because the model requires more specific information than can be obtained, but also as Dawisha has noted that the bureaucracy in a few countries (e. g. the Soviet Union) is fundamentally different from its position in america because the persistent influence of the Communist Party. Therefore, there's a doubt about the utility of Allison's model far away, as Wagner has pointed out, "the extension of Allison's model III abroad may be considered a less straightforward enterprise than he implies".
Singapore's defence posture change in the first 1980s
In the early 1980s, Singapore announces a significant important change in its defence policy, from a defensively deterrent strategy ("poisonous shrimp") to a far more actively deterrent strategy (known as the "porcupine"). In an article done by Pak Shun Ng, he applies Allison's model to analyse Singapore's domestic decision making process. Pak Shun Ng treats Singapore as unitary rational actor to utilizing model I (RAM); the military organisations as the unit of analysis for model II; lastly, the military and political party leadership (including senior military leaders and civilian leaders of Singapore's ruling party, the People's Action Party (PAP)) as units of analysis for model III. The article argues that model II and model III supply the most reasonable explanation of the change in Singapore's defence position in the 1980s; while model I has failed to fully explain the change. Model II first reveals the appropriate development of both Singapore's military capability and military planning ability. Furthermore, model III then prove details the way the Singapore Armed Force (SAF) could announce the change convincingly to boost its stature among Singaporeans and foreigners by persuasive them that Singapore has appropriate capability to defend and survive any potential threat. Despite the fact that the article heavily honours the utility of Allison's model, but it still proposes modification of the models in order to be able to analyse a choice making process in a little and non-western states under absence of crisis condition. Furthermore, the case study of Singapore's policy making shows the evidence of model II and III complete one another and make one alternative model against RAM, namely, the bureaucratic politic model. Therefore, it supports the criticism that previously discussed that Allison's models, especially model II and III, have strong similarities and hardly separate.
The utility of Allison's model also can be tested in the US foreign policy in Iran hostage crisis in 1979. The bureaucratic politics model does apply in analysing your choice making process under President Carter administration. The key group in Carter's government consisted of number person that have important position in the executive branch, and also political outsiders that rarely popular, yet have close personal relations to the President. Within the key group which were known as the "Georgia mafia", there are two closest advisors for the President; the chief of staff, Hamilton Jordan and Carter's press secretary, Jody Powell. Even though both of these advisors are not familiar in politic and foreign policy process, these were loyal and intelligent. When sixty American were taken hostage at the American embassy in Iran on 4 November 1979, the original response from Carter is criticised to be quite slow. On 11 November, the united states gave economy sanction by initiating embargo of Iranian oil. While the economy sanction was undertaken, there have been ongoing debates about the next phase dealing with the crisis. There were two major options; a commando raid to rescue hostages and outright air strikes and military blockades. Here we can plainly observe how each faction in the federal government has their own argument to propose to the President is obviously explained by Allison's bureaucratic politics model.
A strong debate was occurred between Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance; National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzenzinsky and Carter's inner circle, Powell and Jordan. Vance was explicitly being in opposition to any military action after considering that American allies wouldn't normally tolerate such behaviour. Therefore, he believed that the national security of the united states could be maintained without endangering the lives of sixty American citizens. On the other side, Brzezinsky strongly opposed military measure as the best means to protect America's vital interests. Moreover, the argument was supported by the director of the CIA, Stanfield Turner, after considering the CIA's best estimates that 60 percent of the hostages could be killed as a result of very complex rescue process. Both of these faction also argued that they are responsible for the national security, roughly 250 million Americans, and they couldn't simply compromised with regard to sixty hostages. The final faction originated from Carter's inner circle, including Powell and Jordan, who have been concern about the impact of Iran hostage crisis on upcoming election in 1981.
The President concurred Vance's view a negotiated settlement could be the best for maintaining both national interest and national security. As the response of Carter's decision, he received public support, which is very important to the upcoming election. However, after taking into consideration the effectiveness of the program, Powell and Jordan opposed the President for tough action against Iranians, again, in order to win the election.
In the end, with strong pressure from some faction and absence of Vance in decision making process at the time, Carter called for an immediate military rescues on April 11. The military rescue plan ended in failure with crash of volume of helicopters and planes; and killing eight US servicemen. Finally, in 1981's election, Reagan arrived to power and selesai lah sudah
This illustrates the absence of one faction who opposes one specific argument could impact the decision making process as a whole.