The contemporary presidency: the administrator as outsider: James Jones as National Security Advisor.

Author:Marsh, Kevin
 
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I'm the national security adviser. When you come down there, come see me.

--James Jones (Woodward 2010, 138)

The relationship between U.S. President Barack Obama and his departing national security adviser, James Jones, was doomed from the start.

--Destler (2010, 1)

On October 8, 2010, James Jones resigned as national security advisor (NSA) to President Barack Obama. Jones's resignation came as no surprise to many in the media as speculation over the NSA's standing and future within the administration had reached a fever pitch with the release of Bob Woodward's Obama's Wars (2010) earlier that fall. Jones had intended to serve no more than two years, but his resignation came early amidst a growing sense that he had lost favor within the administration. Jones's brief tenure as NSA began with great promise and ended with barely a whimper.

The former Marine commandant assumed the position of NSA in January 2009 and received significant acclaim. Indeed, the retired general was seen by many as providing essential foreign policy experience, knowledge, and gravitas to the Obama administration. Commentators were also quick to predict that Jones would effectively coordinate the interagency process and be able to manage any personality conflicts between incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Jones possessed a reputation as a strong-willed, effective, intelligent, and organized manager. The general also was lauded for his willingness to provide his opinions when solicited (Barry 2008).

Yet, for all of the initial promise, James Jones would become one of the weakest and most isolated NSAs since the creation of the National Security Council (NSC) in 1947. "The harshest and most telling critique of Gen. James Jones' tenure as national security adviser is that his absence will barely be noticed" (Kaplan 2010, 1). Jones, while praised by President Obama upon his resignation in October 2010, had all but disappeared from public view. Jones was replaced by his deputy, Tom Donilon, who by all accounts was much more of an administration insider and confidant of the president.

Jones's short and unhappy stint as NSA provides scholars of U.S. foreign policy with a valuable opportunity to continue the study of one of the more prominent and influential positions within the U.S. foreign policy-making community. Scholars have examined the role of the NSA and NSC in order to develop a greater understanding of the U.S. foreign policy decision-making process (see Best 2001; Bock 1987; Brzezinski 1987; Crabb and Mulcahy 1991; Destler 1977, 1980; Inderfurth and Johnson 2004; Menges 1988; Mulcahy 1986; Prados 1991; Rodman 2009; Rothkopf 2005; Shoemaker 1992; Zegart 1999). Ivo Daadler and I. M. Destler's 2009 book In the Shadow of the Oval Office: Profiles of the National Security Advisers and the Presidents They Served--From ffFK to George W. Bush and John Burke's research (2005a, 2005b, 2009a, 2009b) on honest brokerage at the NSC each attempted to categorize national security advisors and determine what role they played in their respective administrations. Various case studies have also applied typologies and models of NSC advisor roles to individual NSAs as well (e.g., Burke 2005a, 2005b; Mulcahy 1995). However, James Jones's role as NSA remains largely unexamined from a formal political science framework. Scholars of U.S. foreign policy making are thus confronted with a basic research question. What role did James Jones play as NSA?

My central argument is that James Jones performed in the administrator role as NSA. Jones managed the day-to-day operations of the NSC, delegated the coordination of the interagency process to his deputy, Tom Donilon, and did not generate policy options. Furthermore, Jones never developed a close advisory relationship with the president and also failed to enter Obama's circle of trusted political aides. Jones was an outsider among insiders, and his power and influence were accordingly restricted. Jones neither coordinated the interagency process nor served as a foreign policy counselor to President Obama.

The structure of this article is as follows. First, l discuss the elements of the Mulcahy-Crabb-Kendrick model of NSA roles and establish how the typology will be applied to General Jones. I then analyze Jones's role according to the elements and variables of the Mulcahy-Crabb-Kendrick model. I examine four important aspects of Jones's tenure as NSA: how he managed the NSC, his "outsider" status within the administration, the rise of Deputy NSA Tom Donilon, and finally, Jones's role in the administration's fall 2009 Afghanistan strategy review. The article then concludes with a summary of findings and presentation of areas for future research.

The Role of the NSA: Administrator, Coordinator, Counselor, Agent

I assess the role of Jones as NSA through employing the typology developed by Kevin Mulcahy, Cecil Crabb, and Harold Kendrick (Crabb and Mulcahy 1991; Mulcahy and Kendrick 1991) to classify NSAs. The Mulcahy-Crabb-Kendrick typology (to be referred to as "MCK" in the remainder of this article) presents four roles that NSAs can play. These roles are determined by analysis of two central variables. The first variable associated with the typology is policy-making responsibility (Mulcahy and Kendrick 1991). The authors define policy-making responsibility as "the formulation of new initiatives in foreign affairs that results from a close association with the president" (Mulcahy and Kendrick 1991,264). The second variable is implementation responsibility. Implementation responsibility "refers to the NSA's involvement in hands-on direction of departmental programs as presidential surrogate" (Mulcahy and Kendrick 1991, 264). These two variables are employed to develop a typology of four roles that an NSA can perform within an administration. The first role, administrator, involves both low policy-making and implementation responsibility. Administrators are effectively the day-to-day manager of the NSC and assist in briefing the president on the international situation (Mulcahy and Kendrick 1991). Administrators are little more than managers and do not enjoy a close personal advisory relationship with the president, nor are they responsible for developing and pursuing foreign policy initiatives. MCK categorize Souers, Lay, Powell, Carlucci, and Scowcroft (while in the Ford administration) as administrators.

Coordinators have high implementation responsibility and low policy-making responsibility. This combination of responsibility levels results in coordinators focusing largely on managing the interagency process. These advisors are more powerful and involved than administrators, but they do not rise to the level of a personal foreign policy advisor to the president or initiator of particular policies. "The NSA as coordinator facilitates policy-making but is not an initiator of policy. He is, instead, responsible for defining policy options for NSC consideration. He manages the flow of ideas, information, policies, and programs involved in the national security process" (Mulcahy and Kendrick 1991, 267). Cutler, Anderson, Gray, and McFarlane are characterized as coordinators according to the MCK model.

The third role, counselor, builds upon the previous two roles in its much higher degree of policy-making responsibility. Counselors essentially serve as the personal foreign policy advisor to the president. These NSAs attain the highest level of personal interaction, access, and comfort with the president and are often seen as indispensable. Counselors also depart from administrators and coordinators in that they often are personal advocates for a particular policy option. "He or she presents personal views on the issues to the president, and helps the administration project its policy initiatives to the public" (Inderfurth and Johnson 2004, 274). Counselors also serve as a presidential surrogate at NSC meetings and seek to ensure that the president's views are transmitted and that the president's preferences are translated into policy. MCK include Bundy, Rostow, and Brzezinski among other NSAs as counselors.

The fourth and final role of a NSA is as agent. Agents are extraordinarily powerful and influential foreign policy actors who position themselves at the center of foreign policy making. Agents dominate the interagency process and incorporate the administrator, coordinator, and counselor roles. Agents enjoy close personal advisory relationships with the president, control the interagency process, advocate their individual policy views and initiatives, and centralize foreign policy making in the White House. Secretaries of state and defense and other senior actors in the foreign policy-making community are excluded from private access to the president and will have additional restrictions imposed on their roles and influence by an NSA acting as an agent. "As agent, the NSA dominates the process for formulating national security policy--making many decisions himself, advocating others--and acts as the primary presidential spokesman for foreign affairs" (Mulcahy and Kendrick 1991, 270). Only Henry Kissinger achieved the lofty status of an agent (see Table 1).

The MCK typology, then, provides scholars with a highly applicable model with which to analyze the role of specific NSAs. This study employs the two central variables of policy-making and implementation responsibilities in order to determine what role Jones played as NSA. The variables are operationalized according to their definitions in the MCK typology. Policy-making responsibility is measured through examining the type of personal advisory relationship Jones established with Obama and whether the president directed Jones to oversee the development of policy initiatives. Implementation responsibility, conversely, is assessed through examining whether Jones served as a presidential surrogate and...

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