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The growing autonomy and self-assurance of the "permanent government" is one of the most striking developments in American politics in recent years. Increasingly, it seems, administrative agencies are able and willing to pursue their own policies and to co-opt, circumvent, or sabotage the decisions of political officials. The development raises serious issues of constitutional legitimacy, democratic accountability, and policy coherence and effectiveness.

In Presidential Command: Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush (Knopf, 2009), the late Peter W. Rodman provides a highly instructive account of the efforts of seven presidents (five of whom he served in senior posts) to harness, and where necessary outwit, the diplomatic, military, and intelligence bureaucracies. The work, completed shortly before Mr. Rodman’s untimely death last August, combines vivid first-hand detail with subtle analysis and forthright advice to presidents for seeing that their policies are faithfully executed.

At this AEI forum, four of Mr. Rodman's government and academic colleagues and friends will assess the arguments and counsel of Presidential Command and the problems it addresses.

Official Website: http://www.aei.org/events/type.upcoming,eventID.1874,filter.all/event_detail.asp

Added by insideronline on January 22, 2009

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