Op-Ed: One reason for Trump’s foreign policy fiascoes — his National Security Council is broken

The Los Angeles Times, March 8, 2019 —

National security fiascoes are piling up around President Trump. His summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un collapsed last week. In December, he announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, only to have his national security advisor publicly revise the plan. Last July, he endorsed Vladimir Putin’s assertion that Russia didn’t interfere in our presidential election — a stunning rebuke to the findings of U.S. intelligence services.

These are all signs that the National Security Council is malfunctioning. The NSC — the nerve center for creating U.S. security policy over the last seven decades — is intended to advise the president on strategies to prevent war, terrorism and economic disruption. The evident weaknesses of Trump’s NSC are increasing the risk that security threats or intelligence will fall through the cracks, leaving the nation vulnerable.

Since its earliest years, the NSC’s secret meetings in the White House have been the principal forum for presidents to discuss security and policy with military, intelligence and diplomatic officials. Chaired by the president, the council includes the vice president, the secretaries of State, Defense, Energy and Treasury — but the president can add other federal officials as well. The council’s staff can rise to as many as 200 employees.

The NSC is an advisory group, however, and it’s up to the president to make good use of it. Trump doesn’t seem interested. Instead, he keeps belittling and contradicting the work of U.S. intelligence agencies. On Jan. 30, for instance, he tweeted: “The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naïve when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! … Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” This hostility significantly undermines the NSC’s ability to serve its historic function.

Read the full article at latimes.com