American National Security Policy

Authorities, Institutions, and Cases

By (author) John T. Fishel

Publication date:

15 February 2017

Length of book:

284 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442248373

Security policy is a key factor not only of domestic politics in the U.S., but also of foreign relations and global security. This text sets to explain the process of security policy making in the United States by looking at all the elements that shape it, from institutions and legislation to policymakers themselves and historical precedents.

To understand national security policy, the book first needs to address the way national security policy makers see the world. It shows that they generally see it in realist terms where the state is a single rational actor pursuing its national interest. It then focuses on how legislative authorities enable and constrain these policy makers before looking at the organizational context in which policies are made and implemented. This means examining the legal authorities that govern how the system functions, such as the Constitution and the National Security Act of 1947, as well as the various governmental institutions whose capabilities either limit or allow execution, such as the CIA, NSA, etc. Next, the text analyzes the processes and products of national security policy making, such as reports, showing how they differ from administration to administration. Lastly, a series of case studies illustrate the challenges of implementing and developing policy. These span the post-Cold war period to the present, and include the Panama crisis, Somalia, the Balkans Haiti, the Iraq wars, and Afghanistan. By combining both the theory and process, this textbook reveals all aspects of the making of national security policy in United States from agenda setting to the successes and failures of implementation.
American National Security Policy should be read by anyone wanting to be a United States national security professional, by anyone who wants to understand how United States national security policy is formulated, and especially by public policy faculty charged with teaching future national security practitioners. These faculty should use this book in their classes. Superbly organized and clearly written, American National Security Policy is a practitioners’ guide to the subject. It explains succinctly how ideas shape policy makers’ world views and then proceeds to describe clearly each of the elements of the United States national security policy-making process. It also contains a varied and fascinating set of cases, in some of which the author was a direct participant, to illustrate points in a manner useful for future practitioners. Readers seeking fiction or fantasy about United States national security policy should avoid this book. Those compelled by facts should give it their full attention.