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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 15, May 1997

US Reorganises Foreign Policy Structure

On 18 April, the Clinton administration announced plans to reorganise its foreign policy agencies. The plans, which will be submitted for Congressional approval, will see the presently independent Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) and United States Information Agency (USIA) incorporated into the State Department. See last issue for further details and documentation.

Such an incorporation has long been demanded by a number of members of Congress, prominently Jesse Helms (Republican - North Carolina). There had been some speculation that, as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Helms had been linking ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC - see above) to an agency restructuring. Both Helms and the administration, however, denied any connection. According to President Clinton (18 April): "there was no linkage between these two issues."

Also speaking on 18 April, Dr. Elaine Kamarck, senior policy adviser to Vice-President Al Gore, defended the rationale of the proposed changes: "Basically the ACDA and USIA consolidations are being done in order to strengthen the State Department's capacity to do public affairs and arms control." Kamarck also dismissed suggestions that the Administration was reacting to a Republican agenda, describing the proximity of the announcement with the Senate's decision on the CWC on 24 April as "only coincidence":

"We looked at this seriously beginning in January 1995... [However,] there was a certain amount of reinvention that had to go in the State Department itself before it was ready to absorb other agencies... When we got re-elected...this was one of the pieces of unfinished business in the reinventing government agenda that the Vice President wanted to go back to..."

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry also sought to put the 'linkage' controversy in perspective:

"We do not draw that linkage directly. Secretary Albright much earlier this year committed to Chairman Helms that we would move forward on State Department reorganization. And she and the Vice President have worked very hard on this plan. Obviously this plan does create a different environment in which the Senate considers other issues."

Report: Clinton Administration announces foreign affairs reorganization, United States Information Agency, 18 April.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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