After National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned there is no doubt that the President Donald Trump’s administration is surrounded by various accusation about what might be an inappropriate contacts with Russia. So what’s next for the White House?
1. From your point of view what does the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn says us about the current state of national security apparatus in the US?
2. What qualities should the White House look for in searching for a new national security advisor?
David Barrett, Professor, Department of Political Science, Villanova University
1. The National Security Council system (including the so-called national security adviser, the members of the Council itself (people like the Sec State, Sec Defense, etc.), and the Council staff have been in a rather chaotic time. Information has not been properly shared with key figures. Decisions are made and carried out without proper consultation and actual debate/deliberation. Flynn cannot escape responsibility for this; nor can the President, who should have asked Flynn to run the NSC properly. It’s not clear that Trump has cared; maybe now he does. Ideally, the nat sec advisor is the President’s key person to manage the whole process, in close consultation with the Sec State and Sec Defense. For now, it’s chaotic. Flynn was too much an advocate and, in my opinion, not a steady hand at the wheel on behalf of the President.
2. Experience, wisdom, toughness, but a willingness to see that the President gets good, diverse kinds of advice and information. After a decision is made, it needs to be monitored as to implementation. This requires bureaucratic skill on the part of the nat sec adviser.
Joshua Rovner, Distinguished Chair in International Politics and National Security, Director, Security and Strategy Program, Southern Methodist University
1. The National Security Council is clearly unsettled. In addition to Gen. Flynn’s departure, the administration has been slow to fill many NSC staff positions. That said, this probably will not immediately affect the broader national security establishment. The Department of Defense, the State Department, the Intelligence Community, and other agencies will continue to operate more or less as usual.
2. It all depends on what the president wants. The national security advisor was originally envisioned as a cabinet coordinator, and the idea of an “honest broker” is still appealing to those who believe that the cabinet secretaries should play a the key role in advising the president and executing policy. Other NSA’s have gone beyond the honest broker model and have taken a much more direct role in policy implementation.
If the president sees the NSA as someone to establish a smooth process then he is likely to replace Gen. Flynn with a seasoned Washington professional. This would be the best way to streamline the process of policy formulation and ensure that all the relevant parties get a chance to make their case. It would also probably mollify at least some within the Republican national security community, who have been troubled by Trump’s actions.
But if the president wants an NSA to act as a policy enforcer, then he is likely to pick someone who is much more aggressive.