Games Advisors Play: Foreign Policy in the Nixon and Carter Administrations

By Jean A. Garrison | Go to book overview

I
Politics within the Inner Circle
The Theoretical Framework

More than any other single factor, senior personnel determine the character and course of an administration, yet often selections are made without sufficient thought as to what kind of a team is being assembled or how people will get along with each other.

-- CLARK CLIFFORD

Modern national security advisors are the consummate political advocates. For various reasons to be elaborated in this chapter, presidents have come to rely heavily upon them (or other advisors) in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Once presidents have confidence in their advisors, these actors are in a position to be very influential advocates in the inner circle. Within the Nixon and Carter administrations, Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, to varying degrees, came to dominate the foreign policy-making process. National Security Advisor Brzezinski, for example, exemplified the strong policy advocate when he admitted, "I am very achievement oriented and I have this peculiarity in my personality that I have come to accept: by a very large margin, I prefer winning over losing--and, although I do not say this immodestly, I'm pretty good at winning. I win a great deal. I seldom lose, very seldom."1 This description provides an appropriate beginning to this study. The national security advisor is shown to be an active participant in the advisory situation and interested in winning the policy "game." This realization challenges us systematically to bring the study of political gamesmanship into the study of advisory systems.

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