ChinaTalk: Is the NSC Unwell?

Jordan Schneider
Friday, February 2, 2024, 3:07 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

Heart attacks, prostate cancer, Jake Sullivan awake for a home invasion attempt at 4 AM because he was just up working on a random Tuesday night?
Is the national security bureaucracy in America unwell?
To discuss, I have on today John Gans, a former Pentagon speechwriter, who’s had many, many other jobs in Washington. He is also the author of the fantastic “White House Warriors,” a history of the National Security Council.  
We get into:
• Why the organizational design of the NSC leads to such crushing burdens for midlevel and senior staffers
• The kinds of high-flyers that are drawn to the national security complex and what keeps them there
• How POTUS’s time constraints impact decision-making
• Why NSC’s historically are excellent at spotting problems but often overeager when crafting solutions
• The NSC’s role in America’s “forever wars.”
• Roosevelt, Kennedy, Nixon, and Trump’s “maverick model” of running the NSC compared to the Eisenhower vision of “regular order”
• How seemingly prosaic technological innovations like track changes and video conferencing have dramatically changed national security policymaking
• How reading Shakespeare can improve the quality of our policy-making
• What a better model could look like

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Jordan Schneider is the host of the ChinaTalk podcast and newsletter. He previously worked at Kwai, Bridgewater and the Eurasia Group. His Chinese landscape paintings "show promise."

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