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The National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State in the Obama Administration: Thomas Donilon and Hillary Clinton

Mikael Blomdahl


Pages 65 - 83

DOI https://doi.org/10.33675/AMST/2020/1/7


open-access

This publication is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0. (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)



This article analyzes the relative influence of National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Obama administration. Specifically, using national security advisor typologies and the bureaucratic politics model, the article argues that although Donilon entered the president’s inner circle, Clinton turned out to be a relatively powerful actor, not least in the 2011 Libya intervention. Examining how advisors interact with one another, their status in the advisory group, and the manner in which presidents solicit information from advisors will further our understanding of how, when, and under what conditions national security-level leaders make decisions.

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