1st Edition

US National Security Reform Reassessing the National Security Act of 1947

Edited By Heidi B. Demarest, Erica D. Borghard Copyright 2019
    224 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    224 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This collection of essays considers the evolution of American institutions and processes for forming and implementing US national security policy, and offers diverse policy prescriptions for reform to confront an evolving and uncertain security environment.

    Twelve renowned scholars and practitioners of US national security policy take up the question of whether the national security institutions we have are the ones we need to confront an uncertain future. Topics include a characterization of future threats to national security, organizational structure and leadership of national security bureaucracies, the role of the US Congress in national security policy making and oversight, and the importance of strategic planning within the national security enterprise. The book concludes with concrete recommendations for policy makers, most of which can be accomplished under the existing and enduring National Security Act.

    This book will be of much interest to students of US national security, US foreign policy, Cold War studies, public policy and Internationl Relations in general.

    Introduction: How should we think about national security reform? Heidi B. Demarest

    1. The durable National Security Act Richard K. Betts

    2. Improving strategic assessment in the executive branch: Lessons from the scholarly literature Risa A. Brooks

    3. Bent but not broken? Inter-branch politics, checks and balances, and the contemporary national security state Douglas L. Kriner

    4. Contradictions in U.S. security planning for a global environment and a process approach to solving them Deborah Avant

    5. What have we learned about how presidents organize for national security decision making, 1947-2017? Meena Bose

    6. Toward a smaller white house national security staff: A look at the present in historical perspective I.M. (Mac) Destler

    7. How we decide what we need: Planning the future force David S.C. Chu, with the assistance of Allison F. Taylor

    8. Global challenges and American grand strategy for the 21st century Walter Russell Mead

    9. Security challenges in the post-unipolar era Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.

    10. Global challenges, U.S. national security strategy, and defense organization Thomas G. Mahnken

    11. The Diffusion of Power and the Organization of the U.S. National Security Establishment Barry R. Posen

    Conclusion Erica D. Borghard

    Afterword: National security reform for a new Era – An agenda for policymakers


    Heidi B. Demarest is an Officer in the US Army and Director of the American Politics program in the Department of Social Sciences at the US Military Academy.

    Erica D. Borghard is an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, placed at JPMorgan Chase and US Cyber Command.


    ‘Seventy years after America's national security institutions were formed in the wake of the Second World War, this book assesses their evolution and how they are holding up under today’s challenges. The contributors’ views will inform scholars and policy-makers alike and provoke debate on how best to retain our strategic advantage.’-- Ambassador Douglas Lute, US

    ‘The disruptions of the early 21st Century are proving at least as challenging as those that led to the creation of the National Security Act over seventy years ago. This impressive volume is a must-read for any practitioner or scholar seeking to assess the durability of our current national security system, the conditions that might give rise to further change, and the prospects for successful reform.’ - - Dr Kathleen Hicks, Senior Vice President, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and Director, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, USA

    'West Point's Senior Conference pulled together some of the most deeply thoughtful scholars and practitioners of American national security to kick the tires on the 1947 National Security Act and determine whether it's still road-worthy for the nation's needs. As a participant in the conversations, what struck me most was how the gravity of West Point's culture depoliticized debates, a rarity on these important issues in our polarized time. This terrific book conveys the most important intellectual contributions from those debates about the structure and processes of American national security -- it deserves a wide audience in classrooms, among policy practitioners, and our concerned citizens.'-- Dr Kori Schake, Deputy Director-General, International Institute for Strategic Studies, UK