History of the United States National Security Council 1993–2003

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This article is about the history of the United States National Security Council, 1993 to the present.


Clinton Administration

President William J. Clinton on January 20, 1993, the day of his inauguration, issued Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 1 to departments and agencies concerned with national security affairs. PDD l revised and renamed the framework governing the work of the National Security Council. A Presidential Review Directive (PRD) series would be the mechanism used by the new administration to direct that specific reviews and analyses be undertaken by the departments and agencies. A Presidential Decision Directive series would now be used to promulgate Presidential decisions on national security matters. The Bush administration's National Security Review (NSR) series and National Security Directive (NSD) series were abolished.

On January 21, 1993, in PDD 2, President Clinton approved an NSC decision-making system that enlarged the membership of the National Security Council and included a much greater emphasis on economic issues in the formulation of national security policy. The President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense were members of the NSC as prescribed by statute. The Director of Central Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as statutory advisers to the NSC, attended its meetings. The new membership of the National Security Council included the following officials: the Secretary of the Treasury, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and the Chief of Staff to the President. Although not a member, the Attorney General would be invited to attend meetings pertaining to his jurisdiction..

The new position of Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, which had been promised by Clinton during the election campaign, was intended to serve as a senior economic adviser to coordinate foreign and domestic economic policy through a newly-created National Economic Council (NEC). Robert E. Rubin was the first to be appointed to this position. The NEC was to deal with foreign and domestic economic issues in much the same way as the NSC coordinated diplomatic and security issues, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy was to be included in meetings involving international economic issues.

In January 1993, Clinton appointed W. Anthony Lake as his National Security Adviser. Lake, a former Foreign Service officer, served under Henry Kissinger, President Nixon's National Security Adviser, and as director of the Department of State Policy Planning Staff during the Carter administration. During the Carter years, Lake had witnessed the negative effects of bureaucratic infighting and squabbling between then Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. As Clinton's National Security Adviser, Lake was effective in maintaining cordial relations with Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher and in developing an atmosphere of cooperation and collegiality. Lake initially maintained a low public profile, avoiding public appearances and television interviews, so as not to upstage the Secretary of State as Kissinger had done in the Nixon administration. In September 1993, however, in response to criticism that the Clinton administration had not adequately explained its foreign policy, Lake began to appear as a public speaker.

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