The National Security Advisor and Staff: Transition Challenges


John P. Burke is Professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont. This article draws on his recent book, Honest Broker? The National Security Advisor and Presidential Decision Making.


The role of the National Security Council (NSC) advisor has become increasingly consequential in its impact on the president's national security and foreign policy decision making. This article explores the development of the NSC advisor's role and its expansion over time. Particular attention is paid to how the NSC advisor and staff can positively contribute to effective presidential decision making, especially in serving as an “honest broker” of the deliberative process. Most notable, the article argues, attention should focus on establishing the foundations for brokerage, sound decision making, and positive policy outcomes during the president's transition to office.