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Fateful Decisions

Inside the National Security Council

Edited by Karl F. Inderfurth and Loch K. Johnson

Publication Date - 29 January 2004

ISBN: 9780195159660

400 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock


The National Security Council (NSC) is the most important formal institution in the U.S. government for the creation and implementation of foreign and defense policy. The Council's four principal members--the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense--are responsible for incredibly far-reaching decisions regarding war and peace, diplomacy, international trade, and covert operations. Despite its obvious importance, the NSC has been subject to relatively little scholarly scrutiny, and therefore remains misunderstood by most international relations students. Fateful Decisions: Inside the National Security Council provides students with valuable insights into the origins, workings, strengths, and weaknesses of the NSC.
Covering the period from 1947 to 2003, Fateful Decisions features seminal articles, essays, and documents drawn from a variety of sources. The book presents and illuminates several obscure documents regarding the beginning of the NSC and its early years. It then examines the transformation of the NSC from a newly established, and initially ignored, advisory committee to the nation's premier forum for national security deliberations. The selections--written by prominent scholars, journalists, and practitioners--offer revealing coverage of major topics, such as key challenges to the NSC and the role of the NSC in a post-Cold War environment. The articles also discuss the rise of the National Security Adviser to a position of prominence and provide profiles of those who have held the position, including McGeorge Bundy, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Samuel Berger, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice. Chronicling the performance of the NSC over the years, Fateful Decisions dissects both its successes and its failures--from the Cuban Missile Crisis through the Iran-contra affair, to the current war against global terrorism--and offers reform proposals to improve the Council's performance. It is ideal for courses on the NSC, national security decision-making, and U.S. foreign policy.

Table of Contents

    Each section begins with an Introduction.
    I. Origins
    1. The Development of Political-Military Consultation in the United States, Earnest R. May
    2. Postwar Organization for National Security, Ferdinand Eberstadt
    3. Legislative Debate on the National Security Act of 1947, U. S. Congress
    4. The National Security Act of 1947, U. S. Congress
    II. Early Years
    5. The NSC Under Truman and Eisenhower, Stanley L. Falk
    6. Effective National Security Advising: Recovering the Eisenhower Legacy, Fred I. Greenstein and Richard H. Immerman
    7. Forging a Strategy For Survival, Henry M. Jackson
    8. Organizing for National Security, Jackson Subcommittee
    III. Transformation
    9. Letter to Jackson Subcommittee, McGeorge Bundy
    10. Kissinger's Apparat, John P. Leacacos
    11. Presidential Directive/NSC-2, Jimmy Carter
    IV. The Modern NSC
    12. The National Security Council System After the Cold War, Vincent A. Auger
    13. National Security Presidential Directive 1, George W. Bush
    V. National Security Advisers: Roles
    14. Forum on the Role of the National Security Adviser, Woodrow Wilson International Center and Baker Institute
    15. The NSC Adviser: Process Manager and More, Colin L. Powell
    16. The Lessons of the Iran-Contra Affair for National Security Policy Making, Cecil V. Crabb, Jr. and Kevin V. Mulcahy
    VI. National Security Advisers: Profiles
    17. McGeorge Bundy, Kai Bird
    18. Henry Kissinger, Marvin Kalb and Bernard Kalb
    19. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Dom Bonafede
    20. Brent Scowcroft, David Lauter
    21. Samuel R. Berger, R.W. Apple, Jr.
    22. Condoleezza Rice, Elaine Sciolino
    VII. Performance
    23. The Cuban Missile Crisis
    24. The Transition from the Cold War, George H. W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft
    25. Conflict in the Balkans, Eric Moskowitz and Jeffrey S. Lantis
    26. The War Against Terrorism, Dan Balz and Bob Woodward
    Editors' Introduction
    27. America's Departments of State, Bert A. Rockman
    28. The NSC Staff as Rogue Elephant, Tower Commission
    29. Congress and the NSC, Inouye-Hamilton Committee
    IX. Reforms
    30. Recommendations on Organizing for National Security, Tower Commission
    31. The President and the Secretary of State, Theodore C. Sorensen
    32. A New NSC for a New Administration, Ivo H. Daalder and I. M. Destler
    33. Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change, Hart-Rudman Report
    For Further Reading