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National Security Policy: Before And After September 11, 2001

1900 words - 8 pages


From the fledgling beginnings in the history of the United States, the populace of the newly formed republic were concerned with protecting into perpetuity their hard-won independence. To ensure that democracy would rein unchallenged, a formalized guarantee, the Constitution, spelled out whom would comprise the actors and what processes were to be made available for governance. Distinct roles were drafted for both the president and Congress for the purposes of evenly distributing power and preventing any single entity from wielding their power arbitrarily (Jordan et al, 2009, p. 103). Though these roles are complementary, they have also at times been conflicting. This push and pull has also been sewn into the historical narrative of national security policy-making. As the national security needs of the nation have evolved, so too have the ways, means, and agents of the national security policy-making process.

An “Invitation to Struggle”

The constitution granted powers in such as manner as to prevent any one branch from dominating in the policy-making process. Within the executive branch, the president serves as commander-in-chief of the armed forces (Snow, 2014, p. 135). To balance this, Congress is charged with raising and supporting the military forces, as well as with making the rules that govern and regulate those forces. The president has authority to negotiate treaties and make influential appointments such as ambassadors, secretaries of state and defense, and members of his national security team. However, all of these are subject to the “advise and consent” of the Senate (Jordan et al, 2014, p. 73). Though substantial power is granted to the president under the Constitution in making and executing national security policy, Congress has the power to declare war (Jordan et at, 2014, p. 74). Effectively, the executive branch is charged with faithfully executing the laws that Congress is responsible for enacting. The result has been an “invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American foreign policy” (Jordan et al, 2014, p. 74).

Increasing Presidential Prerogative

Creation of the National Security Council

The framework provided by the Constitution was quickly augmented as was deemed necessary. In 1793, George Washington asserted a presidential prerogative to act without congressional consultation in order to be able to act swiftly in responding to foreign crises and preserve the state (Jordan et al, 2009, p. 74). By the time of Abraham Lincoln’s administration, war power as a derivative of being commander-in-chief had become an accepted justification for acting unilaterally. The relationship between national emergency as presidential prerogative was firmly established. This presidential prerogative eventually expanded to include confronting the crises of a global war, that of World War II (Jordan et al, 2009, p. 74).

With the Allied victory of World War II emerged a new world order. The...

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