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The ‘Bowl of Jelly’: The us Department of State during the Kennedy and Johnson Years, 1961-1968

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This article explores efforts to reform the us State Department under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, with the intention of making the Department better able to lead and coordinate the sprawling foreign policy apparatus. When Kennedy soon gave up on what he described as the ‘bowl of jelly’, the reform effort was left to his successor Johnson. Under Johnson, there were attempts to boost the State Department’s internal efficiency and its ability to support counterinsurgency efforts. Yet there was a justified perception by the end of 1968 that the State Department was unredeemed managerially and in terms of its standing in the foreign policy nexus. The reasons for the lack of progress include sporadic presidential engagement, and Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s limited aptitude for managerial affairs.

Affiliations: 1: School of Education and Social Science, Livesey House, University of Central LancashirePreston, LancashireUnited


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