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History of the United States National Security Council 1989-1992

Bush Administration, 1989-1992

After serving 8 years as Vice President and participating in the momentous foreign affairs events of the Reagan administration, President George Bush made many changes in the NSC machinery reformed by Carlucci and Powell. On the date of his inauguration, January 20, 1989, President Bush issued NSD(1 providing the charter for NSC administration. A Policy Review Group was enlarged to a Committee, the Deputy National Security Adviser managed the Deputies Committee, and a Principals Committee screened matters for the NSC to consider. Eight Policy Coordinating Committees assumed regional and functional responsibilities in place of the multiple interagency groups from the Reagan era. NSC policy papers were named National Security Review papers (NSRs) and National Security Directives (NSDs) to distinguish them from the Reagan era documentation.

President Bush brought deep experience to the NSC leadership with his appointment of General Brent Scowcroft as National Security Adviser. Scowcroft had served in the Kissinger NSC, had been National Security Adviser in the last years of the Ford administration, and had chaired the President's Board examining the Iran-Contra scandal. Robert Gates served as Deputy National Security Adviser under Scowcroft until his appointment as Director of Central Intelligence in 1991. Scowcroft's direction of the NSC was distinguished by the informality but intensity of the relationship with the President. The NSC also maintained good relationships with the other agencies, and Secretary of State Baker and Scowcroft appear to have maintained the most comradely working terms. Through the collapse of the USSR and the unification of Germany, Operation Just Cause which sent American troops into Panama in December 1989, and Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the NSC worked effectively in facilitating a series of American foreign policy successes. Nor did Scowcroft fail to involve in key operations Deputy Secretary of State Eagleburger, such as when he visited China in July 1989 to try to improve U.S. relations with China in the aftermath of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

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