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The President's Man

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McGeorge Bundy invented the position of presidential national security advisor. In the service of John F. Kennedy, he converted a job established by Dwight D. Eisenhower to coordinate formal interagency planning into one providing day-to-day staff service to the chief executive on the most urgent current international issues. He continued in this role for over two years under jfk’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. Supported by a small staff of action intellectuals recruited specifically to serve the current president, and aided by a system they established to monitor the foreign affairs agencies’ cable communications to and from overseas posts, Bundy provided intimate, informed staff support no prior president had ever received and no subsequent president would want to do without. In The War Council, historian Andrew Preston summarizes its historic importance: “Perhaps no other bureaucratic change of the past forty years has had such momentous consequences for the conduct of America’s foreign relations.”

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