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Terrorism and National Security Reform: How Commissions Can Drive Change During Crises Paperback – May 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Quantitatively and qualitatively, Tama shows that many commissions have been effective. Moreover, he develops and verifies propositions that tell us the circumstances under which they are most likely to be effective. The magnitude of Tama's research is impressive, and I believe that this will become the definitive work on the subject of national security commissions."
-I.M. Destler, University of Maryland

"Kudos to Jordan Tama for this terrific study of the role of national security commissions, countering the conventional wisdom that they make some brief noise but are otherwise unimportant. Using statistical analysis, in-depth case studies, and interviews with all the relevant actors, Tama demonstrates the conditions under which these commissions make a difference. It will be of tremendous value to scholars and policymakers alike."
-James Goldgeier, George Washington University

"International crises often give rise to commissions designed to assess and improve American foreign and defense policies. Jordan Tama's exceptional study assesses the impact of the 51 Congressional and Executive commissions established between 1981 and 2006 on issues of national security and terrorism. To supplement an extensive data base, he draws upon more than two hundred interviews with important American policy-makers who also served on these commissions, including James Baker, George Shultz, James Woolsey, Harold Brown, Brent Scowcroft, and many others. This book will be required reading for anyone interested in the extent to which governments confirm the late economist Kenneth Boulding's dictum that we learn more from failures than from successes."
-Ole Holsti, Duke University

"In Terrorism and National Security Reform, Jordan Tama provides an engaging and illuminating account of the usefulness of government commissions. His findings highlight the importance of bipartisan commissions in shaping policy and may surprise those who question their worth. The book's thorough research, careful analysis, and astute suggestions for future commissions will be of interest to anyone interested in how public policy is crafted."
-Lee Hamilton, Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, former Member of Congress (1965-1999), and Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission

"'Everyone knows that commissions are a waste of time and paper. But Jordan Tama brings together newly compiled records, extensive interviews, and creative empirical tests to show us that commissions have often made key contributions to national security policy. His finding that commissions can be tools to overcome polarization in times of crisis is one that today's policymakers would do well to heed."
-Andrew Rudalevige, Dickinson College

"If commissions are maligned, why would Congress and the President routinely turn to these outside groups for advice? In his new book, Terrorism and National Security Reform: How Commissions Can Drive Change During Crises, Jordan Tama answers this question while simultaneously de-stigmatizing and providing one of the few in-depth studies of advisory commissions...By adding in the context provided by the interviews, this book becomes essential reading for all scholars interested in commissions and on how to govern with advice from outside, yet governmentally chartered entities." - Jacob R. Straus, The Johns Hopkins University, Congress & The Presidency

Book Description

Terrorism and National Security Reform demonstrates that blue-ribbon commissions can be powerful vehicles for making public policy. The book overturns the conventional wisdom that views commissions only as tools for passing the buck. Jordan Tama explains how they forge bipartisan consensus, and why they are especially valuable during a crisis. Drawing on more than 200 interviews of policymakers and commission participants, Tama reveals how commissions have shaped Barack Obama's plan for ending the Iraq War, spurred the largest U.S. government and intelligence overhauls since 1947, and catalyzed many other counterterrorism reforms.
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