Review of “White House Warriors”

White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War

White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War by John Gans

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


First, I have taught a course on national security organizations for the last twenty years; so much of this is not news, and my opinion may be biased.

Second, if you are not familiar with the national security council and its staff, this is probably a good introduction. It is a decent survey of national security and American foreign policy since World War II.

The biggest problem is the absence of focus. The book focuses on personalities and not on how the organization works (or doesn’t). As an example, there are only four pages on the Iran-Contra scandal, although it is the most significant example of the failure of the system.

One interesting note was the discussion of the Obama national security council after the inclusion of the homeland security council to create a single entity (the National Security Staff). The combined staff not only brought the staff numbers to almost 500 individuals; it sacrificed homeland security to the international arena. With so many people, they extended their power from staff to direct actions and operations. As a result, the then-Secretary of Defense Gates refusing to deal with them (something noted in his biography, DUTY).

The bottom line for me – if you are interested in how the national security apparatus works, I would recommend THE NATIONAL SECURITY ENTERPRISE or IN THE SHADOW OF THE OVAL OFFICE instead.



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