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In the Shadow of the Oval Office by Ivo H. Daalder and I.M. Destler

- Abstract

Barack Obama’s eyebrow-raising selection of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, coupled with the appointment of the low-profile General James L. Jones as his national-security adviser, set the stage for one of Washington’s favorite quadrennial parlor games: guessing which adviser will ultimately have the President’s ear. Indeed, the relationship between the two power centers has been a steady and irresistible topic of palace gossip in the capital. With few exceptions, the rivalry between them has been rife with intrigue, backstabbing, strategic leaking, and bureaucratic runarounds, forcing successive administrations to struggle with the issue of how national-security policy is developed—and who is responsible for developing it.

Such questions are central to Ivo H. Daalder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and I.M. Destler, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland. Their new book is the first formal study of a topic that is itself relatively modern. All told, there have been only fourteen people to occupy the office of national-security adviser, starting with McGeorge Bundy under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Yet some of these figures—Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski—have been among the best known and most consequential in American public life.

About the Author

Daniel Casse is a senior director of the White House Writers Group, a Washington, D.C. communications firm.