A collective NSC has to replace Biden as a singular commander in chief


By Stephen Bryen

Some of President Joe Biden’s much-touted interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos was edited away, apparently because Biden was obstreperous and refused to answer questions. Even without the missing bits, the interview was a disaster for Biden. The bizarre presidency of Joe Biden has entered a truly lethal and dangerous phase.

Question: What does the country do with a President who is failing, self-contradictory, mentally confused, irritable, and angry when he is uncomfortable? Or when the President is guided by note cards written by White House staff – if he reads them out loud, he often appears not to grasp their meaning, and sometimes he forgets to read them and becomes incoherent.

Members of Congress and those in the administration have been trying to cover for Biden’s “shortcomings.”  But now they are starting to turn on each other, as the disastrous performance in Afghanistan is taking a big human toll and has irretrievably damaged the reputation of the United States.  It has particularly dire repercussions for the US military which did a lousy job leaving Afghanistan and is now back there trying to execute a rescue mission, already a partial failure.

American allies, especially the British and Germans, are extraordinarily angry.  But they were also covering for Biden, pretending he was really in charge and competent.  Now they too are reaping the harvest of a failed man. Poor Boris Johnson has been taking a beating in Parliament, even from his own party, over the Afghan disaster.

The real fly in the ointment is how to deal with the Biden “problem.”  Everyone knows, especially leaders in the Democratic party, that putting Kamala Harris in charge instead of Joe is a worst-case outcome, because she has not acquitted herself well or shown even the dimmest example of acceptable leadership.

This is one of the few times that the U.S. Constitution and the 25th Amendment fall short. No one can have confidence that either Biden or Kamala are capable of protecting the United States, even from nuclear annihilation.

The Chinese are licking their chops.  They believe they can squeeze the United States out of the region, and scare Taiwan’s government into collapsing, meaning they believe they can take over Taiwan without firing a shot.  China regards Biden as a big failure, which works very much in favor of their expansionist aims.  Certainly, they have seen how Biden and the Pentagon have weakened critical U.S. forces in the Pacific, pulling out the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (ostensibly to support the Afghan evacuation), pulling American bombers out of Guam, and only weakly responding (by ignoring) cries of alarm from Japan and Taiwan.

They are dancing in Beijing.  Not only do they get East Asia, but they also get Afghanistan. If they weren’t communists, they’d be saying, “God bless decrepitude.”

Russia’s Vladimir Putin tried to protect Biden when he met with him in the Spring, declaring him fit and capable. In return, he got American permission to finish the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Europe that had been under U.S. sanction.  Now, figuring Biden has lost credibility as well as capability, does Putin believe he is free to act in Ukraine?  There is already upheaval in Kiev, and where it leads no one can be sure.

These are reasons that not only the current presidency, but also the United States, not to mention peace and stability, are now at extreme risk.

One way to help would be to make the National Security Council a full time, permanent operation.

Remember that the NSC is a body authorized by law only in 1947. It includes, along with the President and Vice President, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Energy and Secretary of Treasury.  It also includes the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Homeland Security, and the CIA, plus the NSC staff.

For Joe Biden to stay in office, Congress should demand, as should the Biden cabinet, that the NSC manage all foreign policy matters, not the President by himself nor the President with only his NSC staff advisor. Moreover, “manage” means that all statements involving national security must be authorized by the NSC and can’t be issued by the President alone. And nuclear weapons decisions and policy must be vested in the NSC, not the President only.

In short, a permanent NSC would change the role of the President as Commander in Chief and make it a Collective Commander in Chief.  It is the only way to ensure rational decisions in this perilous time.


Originally published by the Center for Security Policy.