Publication Date

January 2017

Class Year





Professor Paul Kennedy and Professor R. Joseph Parrott


This two-semester senior essay submitted in completion of the History major at Yale University focuses broadly on the formation of U.S. long-term foreign policy in the Cold War period. More specifically, it analyzes the influence of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff (S/P) and its Director Winston Lord (YC ’59) from 1973 to 1977 on the decision-making and policy formulation of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. In this period, the S/P took the lead on cross-agency issues, linked operational policy decisions with established long-term U.S. strategic principles, and in some issue areas directly defined U.S. policy on behalf of Secretary Kissinger. The essay concludes that the S/P had a greater influence on Secretary Kissinger and the formulation of long term U.S. principles than most existing scholars attribute to the unique forward-looking policy group formed in 1947, thus providing evidence for its continued primacy in modern policymaking. In this sense, the essay contributes broadly to the study of decision-making, particularly long-term strategic decision-making, which can be extended beyond the auspices of government or foreign policymaking to business, advocacy, philanthropy, or any field where planning is critical.

This essay augments existing analyses of state planning by offering a comprehensive discussion of two case studies in U.S. long-term foreign policy planning from the perspective of Lord’s S/P: the United Nations Law of Sea Treaty negotiations from 1973 to 1976 and the shift in U.S. policy towards human rights in southern Africa. Through the use of event-specific methodology not previously applied to study of the S/P, this essay chronologically traces the efforts of Lord and his S/P using extensive archival material from the Files of Director Lord and Secretary Kissinger accessed at the National Archives II in College Park, MD as well as the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) collection. Analysis of S/P memorandums and conversation transcripts is complimented by Lord’s oral history conducted by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project as well as primary phone interviews conducted throughout the summer and fall of 2017 by the author. In conclusion, the essay highlights the individual contributions of Lord and his S/P to the advancement of long-term U.S. foreign policy principles as well as elucidating the effect of outside influences on the thought process of Secretary Kissinger.