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White House warriors : how the National Security Council transformed the American way of war  Cover Image Book Book

White House warriors : how the National Security Council transformed the American way of war / John Gans.


"This revelatory history of the elusive National Security Council shows how staffers operating in the shadows have driven foreign policy clandestinely for decades. When Michael Flynn resigned in disgrace as the Trump administration's national security advisor the New York Times referred to the National Security Council as "the traditional center of management for a president's dealings with an uncertain world." Indeed, no institution or individual in the last seventy years has exerted more influence on the Oval Office or on the nation's wars than the NSC, yet until the explosive Trump presidency, few Americans could even name a member. With key analysis, John Gans traces the NSC's rise from a collection of administrative clerks in 1947 to what one recent commander-in-chief called the president's "personal band of warriors." A former Obama administration speechwriter, Gans weaves extensive archival research with dozens of news-making interviews to reveal the NSC's unmatched power, which has resulted in an escalation of hawkishness and polarization, both in Washington and the nation at large." -- Provided by publisher.
"Since its founding more than seventy years ago, the National Security Council has exerted more influence on the president's foreign policy decisions--and on the nation's conflicts abroad--than any other institution or individual. And yet, until the explosive Trump presidency, few Americans could even name a member. 'A must-read for anyone interested in how Washington really works' (Ivo H. Daalder), [this book] finally reveals how the NSC evolved from a handful of administrative clerks to, as one recent commander-in-chief called them, the president's 'personal band of warriors.' When Congress originally created the National Security Council in 1947, it was intended to better coordinate foreign policy after World War II. Nearly an afterthought, a small administrative staff was established to help keep its papers moving. President Kennedy was, as John Gans documents, the first to make what became known as the NSC staff his own, selectively hiring bright young aides to do his bidding during the disastrous Bay of Pigs operation, the fraught Cuban Missile Crisis, and the deepening Vietnam War. Despite Kennedy's death and the tragic outcome of some of his decisions, the NSC staff endured. President Richard Nixon handed the staff's reigns solely to Henry Kissinger, who, given his controlling instincts, micromanaged its work on Vietnam. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan's NSC was cast into turmoil by overreaching staff members who, led by Oliver North, nearly brought down a presidency in the Iran-Contra scandal. Later, when President George W. Bush's administration was bitterly divided by the Iraq War, his NSC staff stepped forward to write a plan for the surge in Iraq. Juxtaposing extensive archival research with new interviews, Gans demonstrates that knowing the NSC staff's history and its war stories is the only way to truly understand American foreign policy. As this essential account builds to the swift removals of advisors General Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon in 2017, we see the staff's influence in President Donald Trump's still chaotic administration and come to understand the role it might play in its aftermath. A revelatory history written with riveting DC-insider detail, White House Warriors traces the path that has led us to an era of American aggression abroad, debilitating fights within the government, and whispers about a deep state conspiring against the public."--Dust jacket.

Item details

  • ISBN: 9781631494567
  • ISBN: 1631494562
  • Physical Description: 301 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
  • Edition: First edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W. W. Norton & Company, [2019]

Contents / Notes

Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references (pages [269]-284) and index.
Formatted Contents Note:
Introduction: The President's "personal band of warriors" -- The "bright young men" on the NSC -- The "center of the foreign policy universe in America" -- "Reckless cowboys off on their own wild ride" -- "What no other part of the government did" -- A "policy person first and foremost" -- A "wartime" staff -- "When you work for the President, you work for the President" -- Epilogue: What the NSC's warriors have won.
Subject: National Security Council (U.S.) > History.
National security > United States > Decision making.
United States > Military policy > Decision making.
Strategic culture > United States.
Civil-military relations > United States.
United States > Foreign relations > 1945-
United States.
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Security (National & International).
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy.

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