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President Trump's brand-new national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, will inherit a National Security Council struggling to attract talent.
The National Security Council has traditionally been one of the most desirable places ambitious and talented people in the US government can work because of their proximity to power. But in the Trump administration, some of the government's brightest minds reject high-level NSC assignments, while others shun the place altogether.
Foreign policy workers increasingly fear that they will join the NSC, which is part of the White House, will spot them as political activists.
"There is a school of thought that it can be risky for your career – sometimes it puts you in a position where you have to say no to ambassadors and other high officials, and they I can remember you on your return, "said a senior foreign official who had rejected an offer for service to the NSC.
It's an amazing reversal for jobs that once had unprecedented qualifications The authorities made two dozen applications, and the requests now met with minimal interest, officials said.
NPR interviewed 12 current and former US officials with knowledge of NSC challenges. Most have served both in Trump administration and in previous administrations. Many refused to be publicly identified because they feared that this could jeopardize their careers and professional relationships.
A high-ranking NSC official dismissed concern that people did not represent the NSC in the same way as before. He said Trump was trying to temper the NPC, so maybe there are not that many options. However, the people he knew were proud of their work and expanded their responsibilities.
While an NSC job in the past was known as a launch pad for high-flying careers, these NPR officials said that US foreign policy has become under Trump's name. So unpredictable, confrontational and politicized that many feel out of place – or worse.
Chuck Park, an Out-of-State official who served in the Trump administration until July, said getting a Nazi job was like a "rocket ship" career for you.
The business specialist Park, 34, had held an NSC position in 2015 after his third service, but did not receive it. He expected to try again after his fourth, but by then, in 2018, Park said he was too "angry and upset" about the policies of the Trump administration, such as family division and the President's rhetoric on immigration. He did not like what he interpreted as Trump's defense of white nationalism, and he announced his resignation in an essay published by The Washington Post last month.
"I would have wholeheartedly thrown my hat under another president in the ring and various national security advisors," Park said, referring to Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, whom Trump repressed on September 10.
A "24/7" Job
The National Security The Council is the President's most important advisory body on issues of national security and foreign affairs. It also coordinates national security priorities with various US government agencies.
The NSC appoints high-level officials from agencies throughout the administration, including the State Department, the Department of Defense, the US Agency for International Development and the CIA, for temporary assignments.
Temporary deployments, which are often renewable, are in high demand, and some of the officials interviewed for this story were surprised at how long the NSC will attract staff. Others told NPR that their officers had prevented them from accepting Nazi positions.
"It is by no means easy to join the NSC," said Fernando Cutz, who until then had served as senior director of the NPC in the Trump administration last year. "They work all sorts of hours, essentially around the clock, on call or in the office and sometimes both, and you're not getting paid anymore." NSC was particularly difficult under the brief tenure of Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who was investigated for his relations with Russia. It improved under Flynn's successor, H. R. McMaster, who directed the NSC more on the model of previous administrations by appealing to the federal government.
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John Gans, author of White House Warriors, a book on the National Security Council, said a pressurized NPC poses risks to foreign policy.
"The staff itself is a really critical piece of it," Gans said. "Because the staff make up a large part of the National Security Advisor's strength, if he does not have such a reputation in public, has no close ties with his cabinetmates, or has no close relations with the president, the staff can give the National Security Advisor a grade." He can get ideas. He can get intelligence. He can get muscle from them to try to enforce his ideas, outsmart Cabinet secretaries, and do all these things.
The Congress Created the NPC by the National Security Act The idea was to create a corporation in the White House to collect and study different positions from the Cabinet and the presidential advisors to be shared with the president However, critics argued that Bolton failed to live up to his role as an "honest broker" by limiting the debates within the government.
"They are really doing this out of love for their country, from the feeling of Patriotism and out of feeling a belief in the system. If this system does not necessarily work as intended, you need to take an extra break, "Cutz said." Are you prepared to devote essentially all your life to a system that does not really respect you? "
Finding a policy that fits Trump's rhetoric
Several current and former officials described the challenge of developing policies that could match the president's words.
They pointed out that they were pressuring Although there were close consensus among senior opposition leaders against military action, they pointed to Trump's lack of interest in intelligence information, especially on Russia, and also talked about Trump's willingness to seek advice from foreign policy experts ignore.
Others quoted the president's braggadocio and said his sp Revenge and style were not instrumental in achieving foreign trade gains or challenging Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Many high-ranking NSC workers are trying to "either go overseas and leave the administration or find jobs in the department listed elsewhere," said Brett Bruen, the director of the White House Global Engagement in Obama acted as administration and remains in contact with NSC and State Department officials. "Basically anything you can do to avoid having to engage in serious political activity, which is close to 180% of the work you have previously considered."
Some of the current and former officials interviewed for this story blame Bolton for using too many political candidates and eliminating much of the coordination with other parts of the government. A request for a comment from Bolton was rejected. Others said that before Bolton became a national security adviser, Trump had already underestimated the relevance of the NPC for shaping political positions and avoided the advice of top officials in favor of his own gut feelings.
Last week, Trump said it was an "easy task" to be a national security adviser.
"It's a great job, it's great because it's a lot. It's fun to work with Donald Trump," Trump said. "And it's actually very easy to work with me, you know why it's easy, because I make all the decisions, you do not have to work."
After announcing on Wednesday that O'Brien would be his new one, Trump, the national security adviser, downplayed his previous comments and said the position is "a very important role." It really does matter, that if the president respects the person who is the adviser, I think that it really plays an important role. "
Senior NSC officials said the NSC continues to attract some of the most talented people in the federal government. The employees try to stay away from politics. He said that they are proud of the work done in the Middle East, reducing tensions with North Korea and bringing US hostages from abroad home.
"People come here because they believe in the policies they work on," the official said. "It is not a highly political place."
Another high-ranking government official who was not authorized to speak publicly dismissed the concerns, saying that the NPC sometimes asks for volunteers and sometimes for candidates.
Other officials who worked with Bolton said that he was unjustly accused of being the main problem with the NSC – and that while Bolton restricted coordination with other parts of the government, this eased the workload and he personally was not difficult.
"He was not an idiot or anything," said a former NSC official. "He was not tough, he was very nice to us all, he was approachable."
Tradition of Service
As is the case in many parts of the Federal Government, a long tradition in the NSC is that high-ranking civil servants and foreign service officials work to fulfill the priorities of the present administration regardless of which party is in power.
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Several officials told NPR they had joined the administration because they were asked to protect US national interests. Some were concerned about controversial figures such as former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, his deputy, K.T. McFarland and the former NSC spokesman Michael Anton, who belonged to the NSC in the first months of the Trump administration.
Flynn pleaded guilty to misrepresenting the FBI. Prior to joining the Trump administration, McFarland most recently worked as an analyst at Fox News on national security. Anton was best known as a conservative polemic with limited experience in foreign affairs.
Several foreign service officials told the NPR that they were struggling with other policies of the Trump administration and had no role in the design.
Children in cages, but you can not get away with it, "said a former White House official who served in the Trump administration until last year." They are literally part of the administration in charge. And if you can not divide it, it's very difficult to endure an emotional cross. "
Some turned to professional counselors for help as they argued about the feelings, whether defending US interests or doing so Allowing Bad Behavior.
An experienced Foreign Service official working under several administrations, including the Trump administration, said there was now an unspoken conviction among some high-ranking officials that it was important to have talent for the future To Keep Administrations Keeping Them Off Too Close to the White House Related Tasks.
"You have a really radiant person with you bushy tail, like someone you know can go far in this business – you will not want them to be mown down, "said the officer of the Auswärti and service. "And you will say," You know that we all live to serve. But it's really important to be here to fight another day. And you will continue the institution. So let's hide you. & # 39;
In the past, Park, the retired foreign service official, said that NSC jobs were so viewed that many ambitious Foreign Ministry officials would make an offer for an opening, even if they knew they would not get it
"This is the kind of position where people take selfies in the Oval Office or hang pictures of themselves in the situation room and proudly exhibit them behind their desks," he said.
But that is not the case, he said.