White House strategist Steve Bannon. Screen capture via YouTube

The Bannon Effect and a Brief History of the National Security Council

Podcast — what the NSC does and why it’s important


U.S. President Donald Trump’s first month in office has ushered in a whirlwind of change. One bit of procedural change raised eyebrows among the national security crowd. At the end of January 2017, Trump reshuffled the National Security Council by elevating chief strategist Stephen Bannon and demoting both the Director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Critics crowed over the elevation of Bannon, a civilian, since the move could allow domestic politics to influence national security and puts a political adviser at the same level as other Cabinet officials. David Axelrod — president Barack Obama’s chief strategist — said that he’d sat in the room but never participated as a full member of the NSC.

To better understand the significance of this move, we sat down with retired Army colonel and historian Andrew Bacevich to give us the history of the National Security Council and the consequences of its recent changes.