Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution identifies the President of the United States as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, granting the President the power (with the advice and consent of the Senate) to negotiate treaties, appoint ambassadors, and generally run American foreign policy. In order to fill those few sentences with practical meaning, presidents have created offices with officials who can help him make and execute foreign policy.
The Secretary of State is the senior member of the Cabinet responsible for managing American foreign relations, but Presidents have also wanted groups of advisers who are more tightly bound to the office of the President. The most important of these special circles of advisers is the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC was created by the National Security Act of 1947 in response to the expansion of U.S. global engagement as a result of the emerging Cold War. In addition to the NSC, the National Security Act created the Department of Defense (by merging the existing Departments of War and the Navy and establishing the Air Force as a distinct branch of the armed forces) and the Central Intelligence Agency. Each of these changes aimed to strengthen the President’s ability to manage the foreign affairs of a superpower…Read More