What’s Wrong with Obama’s National Security Council?
Is President Obama’s National Security Council decision-making process broken? If you listen to the stinging assessments of influential outsiders and the grumbling of former inside officials, it is easy to conclude so.
Consider these complaints: A group of Washington wise men criticize the NSC staff for assuming “direct operational control” of key issues and “largely ignoring” the State and Defense Departments. A high-profile Assistant Secretary of State publicly denounces the NSC process as a “gigantic stalemate machine” that produces a “watered-down policy.” And a Defense Secretary sends an unsolicited memo to the National Security Advisor pointing out that in one month he spent nearly 42 hours in NSC meetings (including 14 hours of travel time), and offers ideas to “make the process more manageable,” including suggestions about everything from the length and style of background papers (“bulletized – and few, if any, 63-word sentences”) to changing protocols that forbid “Principals” to bring a “plus-one” to meetings while numerous junior White House officials attend.
Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls