A New Structure for National Security Policy Planning

Article excerpt


Cambone, Stephen A. A New Structure for National Security Policy Planning. Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1998. 262pp. $23.95

Stephen Cambone is the director of research at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. A former senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Cambone is obviously well qualified to undertake work that focuses on a proposed reorganization of the National Security Council (NSC). Cambone approaches his work with vigor and an insider's knowledge of the workings of the U.S. government's highest nationalsecurity entity. He also extensively uses the knowledge and expertise of two colleagues, Patrick J. Garrity of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Alistair J. K. Shepard of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. They have included valuable appendices for students of national security affairs on the major interests and issues that surround national security policy development, as well as a historical synopsis of the various national security councils used by past presidents and how the institution has evolved. Cambone has included a compendium of important presidential directives. Cambone's principal argument is that it is time-now that the end of the Cold War is nearly a decade in the past-to reevaluate the National Security Act of 1947 and the institutions created by that watershed law. Moreover, Cambone asks his readers to consider what, if any, institutional changes should be implemented to ensure that the United States is properly prepared for national security policy planning in the post-Cold War era. He is attempting, by his own admission, to conduct an organization-and-process approach to the question of revising the 1947 National Security Act; he is largely successful.

Cambone boils down the present-day debate over national security policy making to two essential features. He identifies one side as the issues faction and the other as the interests faction. "Issues" advocates emphasize such things as religion, ethnicity, and human rights. These national security analysts focus on the need for countries to conform to international laws and norms. They emphasize the protection of the rights of individuals against the power of the state. They rely heavily on international agreement to settle problems. The "interest" faction, on the other hand, is less concerned with the legal authority of the international community and more interested in the construction of a system that manages risk to the United States as a sovereign state.

However, Cambone argues that the real problem is that neither "issues" nor "interests" elements within national-security policy-making circles can agree on an overarching concept for, or definition of, the nation's security. The author's answer is to suggest a new model for national security decision making that eschews the Cold War mentality and methodology for policy making and takes into account the new paradigms of the post-Cold War era.

Cambone reviews how past national security policy was developed. He then proposes a reorganization of the NSC into five directorates: crisis management, regional affairs, home defense affairs, finance and trade, and science and technology. A "dual-hatted" cabinet secretary would head these directorates. In this way, the president's control over national security policy development would be strengthened. …