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Running the World


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David J. Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, served as deputy under secretary of commerce during the Clinton Administration, as Chairman and CEO of Intellibridge Corporation, a provider of international analysis to the national security community, and as managing director of Kissinger Associates. A well-known commentator for leading newspapers and magazines, he has taught international relations at Columbia University written, co-authored or edited five other books on international and information age themes and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the President's Advisory Council of the U.S. Institute of Peace. He lives in Washington DC.


The NSC is a semi-defined group-the president, vice president, secretaries of defense and state, national security adviser and staff, and other officials as needed-with the open-ended mission of helping the president decide and coordinate military and foreign policy. Its institutional vagueness makes it an ill-chosen framework for this engaging but unfocused study of postwar American policy making. Working from interviews with NSC members, Rothkopf, an academic and Clinton administration commerce official, examines the NSC's history from its 1947 inception onward, reviewing its performance in major foreign policy crises and tracing the rising influence of the NSA post. He delves into bureaucratic minutiae, but focuses on such "Shakespearean" human factors as the character and managerial style of the president and the personal "chemistry" and patronage networks among his cabinet and advisers. Rothkopf prefers a centrist, internationalist security policy, with experienced hands restraining ideologues; he therefore gives high marks to the NSC under Nixon, Carter and Bush 41, while castigating the Reagan and Bush 43 administrations. He presents a wealth of information, but the NSC's ad hoc purview, unstable structure and personality-driven dynamics make it hard to discern a coherent outline of American policy among its wranglings. Agent, Esmond Harmsworth. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Anecdotal, garrulous, even gossipy at times, it is just like school - only with higher stakes." The Economist"

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