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History of the United States National Security Council 1974-1977

Ford Administration, 1974-1977

President Ford, who assumed office in August 1974, was relatively inexperienced in foreign affairs. He therefore relied almost exclusively on Henry Kissinger's expertise and advice. During 1975, however, there developed strong public and congressional disapproval of the accretion of so much power over foreign policy in the hands of one man. As part of a Cabinet shakeup on November 3, 1975, Ford named Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft[?], Kissinger's deputy at the NSC, as National Security Adviser.

Kissinger was at first resentful of the loss of his unique, dual position. He soon discovered, however, as he wrote in his memoirs, that Scowcroft's appointment in no way diminished his real power within the administration because he kept Ford's confidence and unlimited access, and Scowcroft in no way sought to advocate policies in competition with the Secretary of State. Kissinger continued to have a cordial relationship with Scowcroft, and both men exchanged ideas constantly. In turn, Scowcroft was content to operate in a quiet, unobtrusive way. He took seriously the NSC obligation to present the President with clear analyses and options for decision. He managed a toned-down version of the Kissinger NSC system that was compatible with the Secretary of State's role as the President's chief foreign policy adviser. Many of the most aggressive members of Kissinger's NSC team also made the move to State, allowing Scowcroft to fashion a staff that reflected the new relationships.

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