Organizing and Using National Security and Review Directives



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Studies regarding the scope of presidential power have mainly been focused on the role of the president as enforcer or implementer, but more work in the field needs to be done to understand the president as a planner or policy developer. The method used to define the scope of the president’s role as implementer in chief is the executive order, but they do not provide insight into the president as the planner in chief nor does this tool of the presidency focus on the president’s high level of agency in foreign and national security policy. Insight into the planner facet of the presidency, especially as it pertains to the roles of the president as Head of State and Commander in Chief, can be gained through the lens of the National Security and Review Directives. National Security and Review Decision directives are an important vehicle available to presidents to steer foreign and national security policy with the help of the National Security Council (NSC) and their National Security Advisor (NSA). The main impediment to growing the field’s understanding of these directives is the lack of organization of the population of these documents. This dissertation has collected, analyzed, scoped, and defined the contents of the declassified population of National Security and Review Directives and organizing these directives into an originally developed dataset, offering a better understanding into how foreign and national security policy formed. NSDs and RDs are key to understanding the priority of the information presidents need, what information they get, who they get it from, and what they do with it and is exemplified in case studies focused on the use of NSDs and RDs in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Allied Forces. Analyses that do not take into account the National Security and Review Directives created throughout an administration leave gaps on comprehensively understanding the role of the president in the intricacies of the foreign policy making process, specifically with respect to foreign policy, as that as an arena where they are minimally constrained by Congress.



National Security Directives, Review Directives, national security policy, American presidency