Honest Broker?
The National Security Advisor and Presidential Decision Making
6 x 9, 504 pp.
Pub Date: 04/20/2009
Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership
  cloth
Price:        $60.00 x

978-1-60344-098-1
  paper
Price:        $29.95 s

978-1-60344-102-5

Published by Texas A&M University Press
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2009 Outstanding Academic Title, presented by Choice

Honest Broker?

The National Security Advisor and Presidential Decision Making

By John P. Burke

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” “Who will be guarding the guardians?”—Juvenal

The U.S. president’s decisions on national security and foreign policy reverberate around the world. The National Security Council (NSC) and the national security advisor are central to the decision making process. But how was the role of the national security advisor originally understood, and how has that understanding changed over time? Above all, how has the changing role of the national security advisor affected executive decisions and the implementation of policy?

Now, presidential scholar John P. Burke systematically and thoroughly addresses these questions. In Honest Broker?, he reviews the office of national security advisor from its inception during the Eisenhower presidency to its latest iteration in the White House of George W. Bush. He explores the ways in which the original conception of the national security advisor—as an “honest broker” who, rather than directly advocate for any certain policy direction, was instead charged with overseeing the fairness, completeness, and accuracy of the policymaking process—has evolved over time. In six case studies he then analyzes the implications of certain pivotal changes in the advisor’s role, providing thoughtful and sometimes critical reflections on how these changes square with the role of “honest broker.”

Finally, Burke offers some prescriptive consideration of how the definition of the national security advisor’s role relates to effective presidential decision making and the crucial issues of American national security. Honest Broker? will be an important resource for scholars, students, political leaders, and general readers interested in the U.S. presidency, foreign policy, and national security

John P. Burke is a professor of political science at the University of Vermont in Burlington. He has written seven books and is a former winner of the American Political Science Association’s Richard Neustadt Award for the best book on the American Presidency. His Ph.D. is from Princeton University.









 

What Readers Are Saying:

"John Burke has written a book that all students of the presidency will want to absorb. It also should be high on the reading lists of new presidents and their national security teams."  --Fred I. Greenstein, professor of politics, emeritus at Princeton University

". . . . a major contribution to the literature of presidential decision making . . . ."  --Karl F. Inderfurth, professor, Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University, former Assistant Secretary of State, and coeditor of Fateful Decisions: Inside the National Security Council

"A significant contribution to research on the American presidency, American foreign policy, and American politics generally. It is the first systematic and comparative analysis of the evolution of the position of special assistant for national security affairs, popularly known as the national security adviser (NSA). Through its historical study, the manuscript evaluates a central question about the position: Can the NSA function effectively as an "honest broker" for the president in foreign policy making, and does that responsibility preclude a policy advocacy role for the NSA? In addressing this question with a series of case studies demonstrating the different ways in which the NSA has operated, the manuscript presents a thoughtful and informed evaluation. The case studies are well-documented, with careful attention to the scholarly literature, declassified records, and interviews.” --Meena Bose, Peter S. Kalikow Chair in Presidential Studies; Director, Kalikow


“The old expression, “the devil is in the details,” applies to the work of one of the most critical positions in the U.S. government, the president and national security advisor. As John Burke makes clear in his meticulously researched book, “Honest Broker‚” it is the advisor’s role to pay closest attention to the “details” of the national security policy making process and to do so as an “honest broker.” Nineteen individuals have been given this responsibility since the advisors position was created in 1953, including Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice. Some have succeeded; others have not. Professor Burke explains who and why and, in doing so, makes a major contribution to the literature of presidential decision making “Honest Broker” one that the next U.S. president and national security advisor would be well advised to read and heed.” --Karl Inderfurth, Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Elliott

“John Burke has written a book that all students of the presidency will want to absorb. It also should be high on the reading lists of new presidents and their national security teams.”

“John Burke solidifies his standing as one of the top scholars of the institutional presidency with his extraordinarily well-researched book. Burke’s discussion of the Iraq war decision making is, in its own right, enough reason to read the book. Honest Broker is an excellent book, and a major contribution to our study of the institutional presidency. This book is a must read for presidential scholars. It presents a highly readable and insightful discussion and analysis.” –Phillip G. Henderson, Congress and the Presidency


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