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Evan ThomasDavid J. Rothkopf has written an enlightening insider's history of what he calls ''the committee in charge of running the world.'' Formally, the N.S.C. comprises the president, the vice president, the secretaries of state and defense and other cabinet secretaries as designated by the president; but as a practical matter, it consists of the president's inner circle of foreign policy advisers, served by up to 200 staff members writing papers and proposals. The N.S.C. tends to work well when the president uses it to think through problems, and to fall apart when it becomes either too much like a debating society or too ''operational'' (think of Lt. Col. Oliver North's escapades during the Reagan administration).
— The New York Times