National Security Council

Through 1990s

Andrianopoulos, Gerry Argyris. Kissinger and Brezinski: The NSC and the Struggle for Control of U.S. National Security Policy. New York: St. Martin's, 1991.

Auger, Vincent A. "The National Security Council System after the Cold War." In U.S. Foreign Policy after the Cold War, eds. Randall B. Ripley and James M. Lindsay. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997.

Bock, Joseph G., and Duncan L. Clarke. "The National Security Assistant and the White House Staff: National Security Policy Decisionmaking and Domestic Political Considerations, 1947-84." Presidential Studies Quarterly 16 (Spring 1986).

Clark, Keith C., and Lawrence L. Legere, eds. The President and the Management of National Security: A Report by the Institute for Defense Analysis. New York: Praeger, 1969.

Pforzheimer sees this as "one of the better analyses of the U.S. national security organization prior to the Nixon Administration."

Crabb, Cecil V., Jr., and Kevin V. Mulcahy. "The National Security Council and the Shaping of U.S. Foreign Policy." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 3, no. 2 (Summer 1989): 153-168.

The authors offer a four-pronged typology for viewing the role of the National Security Adviser in the American national security policymaking process -- administrator, coordinator, counselor, and agent. They also look at "Irangate" and propose some general lessons to be drawn from that complex of events, stressing the role of the President in the process.

Cutler, Robert. "Intelligence as Foundation for Policy." Studies in Intelligence 3, no. 4 (Fall 1959): 59-71.

"Describes, from the viewpoint of President Eisenhower's Special Assistant for National Security, how the National Security Council and its subordinate boards use current and estimative intelligence in the formulation of policy."

Falk, Stanley L. "The National Security Council Under Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy." Political Science Quarterly 79 (Sep. 1964).

Hoxie, R. Gordon, et al. The Presidency and National Security Policy. New York: Center for the Study of the Presidency, 1984.

Inderfurth, Karl F., and Loch K. Johnson, eds.

1. Decisions of the Highest Order: Perspectives on the National Security Council. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1988.

From "Preface": This is a "selection of articles, essays, and documents ... that shed light on the creation, evolution, and current practice of the nation's most important group for the making of American foreign and security policy."

2. Fateful Decisions: Inside the National Security Council. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. [pb]

Robert D. Steele,, says this work updates and improves the 1988 edition. "There is no finer book available for orienting both undergraduate and graduate students -- as well as mid-career adult students -- with respect to the vital role that the [NSC] plays in orchestrating America's foreign and national security policies."

Lord, Carnes. The Presidency and the Management of National Security. New York: Free Press, 1988.

According to Valcourt, IJI&C 3:2, the author argues that political appointees end up being coopted into the agendas of the bureaucrats. He also agrees generally with Menges that the tendency of Schultz and Haig to staff their top jobs with State Department careerists rather than Reagan-style political appointees was a major problem. This is a "valuable treatise on the current status of the" NSC.

May, Ernest R., ed. American Cold War Strategy: Interpreting NSC 68. Boston: Bedford Books, 1993.

Menges, Constantine C. Inside the National Security Council: The True Story of the Making and Unmaking of Reagan's Foreign Policy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.

Valcourt, IJI&C 3.2, identifies Menges is a former NSC staffer and "conservative academic." The concluding chapter "is a vivid look at the major personages with whom he served.... [He] sees George Schultz as his major nemesis." With regard to Iran-Contra, Menges "rejects the notion of Casey 'supporting a dangerous and unnecessary act.'" Clark comment: It is perhaps unfair to note, but some Latin American hands at the CIA were known during Menges' days at the NSC to refer to him as "Constant Menace."

Prados, John. Keepers of the Keys: A History of the National Security Council from Truman to Bush. New York: Morrow, 1991. 1991. [pb]

According to Surveillant 1.5, Prados "[a]rgues that the national security apparatus is used by presidents to avoid oversight." The reviewer in AIJ 16.1 calls the work "interesting, informative and recommended reading." On the other hand, Beisner, WPNWE, 20-26 May 1991, faults Prados for "malapropisms..., wobbly comprehension of Kissinger's pre-Washington writings ... [and] misinterpretation of such key events as the 1972 China summit.... And though diligent in probing primary sources, he neglects scholarly contributions." The author's "conclusions nonetheless demand attention," including his recommendation that Congress overhaul the NSC's legislative underpinnings.

Sander, Alfred Dick. A Staff for the President: The Executive Office, 1921-1952. Contributions in Political Science, No. 229. Boulder, CO: Greenwood, 1989.

Surveillant 1.5 says this book has "several chapters on the development of the National Security Council from 1947-1952."

Shoemaker, Christopher. The NSC Staff: Counseling the Council. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1991.

Weiss, Gus W. "The Life and Death of Cosmos 954." Intelligencer 13, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2002): 66-71.

The former Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Space Policy (1975-1980) tells the story of the NSC-directed Operation MORNING LIGHT. The issue that the group formed up in late 1997 to deal with was the decay in the orbit of Cosmos 954 and the presence of a live nuclear reactor on the Soviet satellite. This is a nicely capsulated article on a high-level problem-solving exercise.

Zegart, Amy B. Flawed By Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Robert David Steele provides the following comments: "This is a very worthy and thoughtful book. It breaks new ground in understanding the bureaucratic and political realities that surrounded the emergence of the National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA was weak by design, strongly opposed by the military services from the beginning. Its covert activities emerged as a Presidential prerogative, unopposed by others in part because it kept CIA from being effective at coordinated analysis, for which it had neither the power nor the talent. Most usefully, the book presents a new institutionalist theory of bureaucracy that gives full weight to the original design, the political players including the bureaucrats themselves, and external events. Unlike domestic agencies that have strong interest groups, open information, legislative domain, and unconnected bureaucracies, the author finds that national security agencies, being characterized by weak interest groups, secrecy, executive domain, and connected bureaucracies, evolve differently from other bureaucracies, and are much harder to reform."

For Richelson, IJI&C 13.4, "Zegart frequently oversimplifies the history and issues involved in ways that lead to questionable judgments on her part.... Oversimplification and a lack of understanding of the issues involved are particularly evident in Dr. Zegart's treatment of the CIA.... Flawed By Design is itself flawed. One [flaw] is inadequate research." Steele (positive) and Richelson (negative) exchange barbs over their conflicting assessments of Zegart's work in "Reader's Forum," IJI&C 14.2.

To Warner, Studies 11 (Fall-Winter 2001), Zegart's "narrative has a shaky grasp of the historical facts of the Agency's origins. Flawed By Design thus builds some worthy insights on a wobbly foundation."

Ratnesar, Washington Monthly, Jan.-Feb. 2000, finds Flawed By Design to be "incisive and revealing." The author "is particularly thorough in describing the bureaucratic horse-trading that preceded the drafting of 1947's National Security Act.... Zegart reserves her harshest judgments for the design of the JCS and the CIA.... The CIA ... was created without the authority to coordinate 'intelligence from the rest of the community....' It was only after ... the Goldwater-Nicholson [sic] Act of 1986 that the JCS evolved into anything other than an ineffective and ultimately dangerous forum for interservice rivalry." The author argues "convincingly ... that U.S. interests have been compromised ... by the institutional design of national security agencies."

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