The National Security Council and the ‘American Way of War’

As the president continues to manipulate the news cycle on Twitter—lobbing racist tropes at progressives in the U.S. House of Representatives—the world and all of its problems continue to spin. In a normal presidency, the National Security Council (NSC) is tasked with keeping the president focused on the nation’s foreign policy priorities—Iran, North Korea, the Russians, etc. This week, Daniella and Ed are joined by two former NSC staffers—John Gans Jr. and CAP’s own Kelly Magsamen—to take a deep dive into “the engine of foreign policy” in Washington, as well as Gans’ new book about the NSC, White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War. Since its inception in 1947, the NSC has seen its fair share of effective and inept characters. Without a coherent vision of his own for how to manage the country’s foreign policy agenda, and with a supporting cast of self-interested actors, President Donald Trump’s NSC may find itself bogged down in the worst of Washington.

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Daniella Gibbs Léger is the executive vice president for Communications and Strategy at the Center for American Progress. Ed Chung is the vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center. Kyle Epstein is the media relations manager at the Center. Chris Ford is the broadcast coordinator at the Center.