FEW TOOLS of U.S. foreign policy are as vitally important and as consistently overlooked as law enforcement. Terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, sanctions busting and foreign corruption are serious challenges confronting American policymakers, and law enforcement has an important-- sometimes central--role in combating each of these threats. That role suffers, however, from two fatal flaws. First, differences in bureaucratic culture and viewpoints between the law enforcement and national security communities make coordination difficult. Law enforcement agencies generally refuse to see themselves as components of U.S. foreign policy. Nor does the traditional foreign policy establishment adequately appreciate the distinct culture, capabilities and constraints that characterize U.S. law enforcement agencies. Second, there are structural impediments to effective coordination, both among the various law enforcement agencies and between such bodies and the traditional national security agen cies. Federal law enforcement agencies, themselves riven by turf battles, lack proper civilian oversight and are organizationally ill-suited for integration into the wider foreign policy community.
Previous administrations have tried, but failed, to solve these problems. Too many important actors prefer things as they are, most significantly the various Federal law enforcement agencies themselves. In the past, the need to fix the systematic inefficiencies bedeviling Federal law enforcement seemed less pressing. But the world has changed, and U.S. law enforcement must change with it. Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, law enforcement reform is too important to be left to FBI directors and Customs commissioners.
International Crime: A Threat to U.S. National Security