Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs: The Development of the Role of This Executive Office in the Decision-Making Process and Its Impact on Governmental Operation Public Deposited

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  • As the executive bureaucracy expanded and the departments grew larger and larger, the members of the Cabinet had to be appointed on the basis of two distinct capabilities -- the ability to competently advise the President and help mold responsible policy positions and also the ability to efficiently manage and control a myriad of sub-departmental offices and functions. It became increasingly evident that department heads were finding it difficult to give proper consideration and energy to both roles simultaneously, and the President had to turn to new channels to insure that the decision-making process was not neglected, and the Executive Office of the President was created in 1939.

    In the realm of foreign policy formulation, World War II precipitated a candid analysis of the disorganized and haphazard conduct of foreign relations at all levels of government, and an attempt was made to consolidate the foreign policy process under the aegis of a newly created presidential instrument, the National Security Council. The mere location of this policy council in the Executive Office presented the President with the necessity to provide adequate staffing to allow him to effectively utilize the resources of this high-level advisory body. The Executive Secretary of this staff evolved into a potentially powerful Special Assistant, as he was situated in a key position at the highest level of the decision making process.

    When President Kennedy assumed office, the potential power of this Special Assistant became a reality, as the new President desired to direct foreign policy personally from the White House and exhibited disdain for the traditional role of the Secretary of State. By examining the expansion of the Special Assistant's role during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, it was relatively simple to understand the further delegation of authority to the Special Assistant by President Nixon, both in and out of the NSC apparatus.

    In Chapter Five attention is directed to the second question of this thesis. The changing relationship between the Special Assistant and the Secretary of State is analyzed in an effort to make a determination concerning any usurpation of the power traditionally enjoyed by the Secretary of State, as the Special Assistant and his staff have, at the President's request, been providing more and more services usually required of the Secretary and his department.

    Of course, the extent of influence or role usurpation can not be precisely measured, but by scrutinizing the development of the operational role of the Special Assistant, both institutionally and informally, a well-substantiated conclusion can be drawn. The evidence presented in the first five chapters of this study clearly leads to the conclusion that Presidents have been relying to a greater degree on the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs and his staff in order to operate efficaciously in the sphere of foreign relations with a minimum of bureaucratic (and public) resistance.

Date Issued
  • 1972-05-02
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Last Modified
  • 2021-07-20
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