(29) Yet the key decision that the president and his APNSA must make is how to define the NSC's role: What it is, what it does, and whom does it serve.
McMaster, the current APNSA, knows these risks intimately.
According to this view, presidents and their teams have adapted these models over time, successfully and not, to the challenges of national security decision-making in the White House, and the closer presidents and, in particular, assistants to the president for national security affairs (APNSAs, or national security advisors) stick to the right path as opposed to the wrong one, the better off they will be.
Further, this framework ignores that some presidents who ended up with operational APNSAs chose their personnel in a way that made that situation possible, even likely.
For an institution designed to respond to the president's needs for information, advice, and coordination, it is not enough to say that APNSAs should emulate Brent Scowcroft and deplore Kissinger or Bundy.
The golden-mean framework, then, encompasses three meanings: a mean between the two frameworks discussed above, a description of the proper personnel outlook and temperament of a chief executive, and a road map for the APNSAs of the future.
As Robert Cutler, one of President Eisenhower's APNSAs, said, "You have to have a mechanism provided to each president which he finds useful and attractive." (21) If the president finds that the NSC process is not serving his decision-making needs well and if he is not invested in fixing the situation, he is apt to go elsewhere for advice, depriving himself of the considerable resources of his own staff and the departments and agencies that are led by his appointees.
Vice President Walter Mondale, APNSA Brzezinski and Deputy APNSA Aaron, and Secretary of Defense Harold Brown were also disappointed with the Vladivostok-based options, though Brzezinski's and Brown's motivations for deep cuts were based on rolling back the Soviet nuclear buildup that increasingly threatened the U.S.
Hyland of the NSC staff was charged with producing a formal proposal under the supervision of Deputy APNSA Aaron.
APNSA Clark and Deputy APNSA Robert McFarlane began to get involved in the decision-making process.
In the days immediately following the coup of August 20 to 23, Bush and APNSA Brent Scowcroft began to discuss a follow-up to START.
This was followed up by a meeting of Bush's informal small group of senior advisers on September 5 that included Bush, Secretary of State James Baker, Cheney, Scowcroft, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Colin Powell, Deputy APNSA Gates, Chief of Staff John Sununu, and Vice President Dan Quayle.