Home Publications Publications Archive


The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC) regularly publishes books, reports, and newsletters concerning the Presidency that are of interest to policymakers, scholars and the general public. Many of these items are available for download free from our website. They can also be ordered by calling CSPC at 202-872-9800.


Presidential and Transition Studies


A Call to Greatness: Challenging Our Next President

"In his four decades in Washington, David Abshire has seen a lot of history made from the White House. Here he deftly plucks pertinent lessons from history for whomever the voters send to the White House to make more history."
—George F. Will, Columnist, The Washington Post 



Constructing the Presidency for the 21st Century: Learning from Past Triumphs and Tragedies

In a speech given in May 1999 at Fordham University, Dr. David Abshire argues that Presidents need sage counsel to transform their campaigns - and their inevitable policy or personal mistakes - into effective governance. Using the examples of Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton, Dr. Abshire provides three recommendations to incoming Presidents: beware of hubris when entering office; remember that Congress must be a partner; and, if things go wrong, get objective outside advice and "get it all out." 



Dialogues on Presidential Leadership: The President, Congress and the Media

During the 1999 Spring Symposium and Awards Dinner, CSPC hosted a dialogue on Presidential leadership that produced several messages for the 2000 President-Elect. The event included a discussion between Senators John Breaux and Chuck Hagel, as well as panel presentations by David Gergen, James Schlesinger, Eleanor Clift, Michael Barone and William Brock, among others. Selected remarks from that event are included in Dialogues on Presidential Leadership.



Saving the Reagan Presidency: Trust is the Coin of the Realm

In this first-hand account of a Presidential scandal, Center President David M. Abshire describes the events behind the investigation into the Iran-Contra affair. Revealing details about behind-the-scenes meetings and private discussions, Abshire offers a unique perspective into this critial time in U.S. history. His recollections give the reader valuable insight into how he and his team worked tirelessly to restore the trust in both the president and the Presidency. Abshire’s story not only informs us about the past, but offers important lessons on how future leaders can restore their reputations and re-gain the confidence of the people after a public scandal.



Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Presidency: Seventy-Six Case Studies in Presidential Leadership

In Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Presidency, more than 50 of the nation’s leading Presidential historians and journalists describe the most notable successes—and failures—of American presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Bill Clinton. This kaleidoscope of many of the most dramatic events of the twentieth century is presented in 76 case histories told by observers, practitioners, scholars and top advisors to the Presidents whose decisions resulted in success or failure, triumph or tragedy. 



Presidential Leadership To Ensure Science And Technology In The Service Of National Needs: A Report To The 2008 Candidates

Senior leaders from the public and private sectors affirm that the success of the next administration will likely be determined by the President’s effectiveness in dealing with an array of policy challenges all of which have essential ingredients of science and technology. They outline steps to ensure that the President and the Executive Branch have at hand the expertise and analytical assets required to marshal the best science and technology capabilities within the Federal government and throughout the nation to address major global and domestic challenges – the renewal of prosperity for Americans in a changed world, environmental protection, climate change, food and water scarcity, energy, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. 



Foreign Policy and National Security


Advancing Trust And Reconciliation Among Palestinians And Israelis Program Brochure

During 2007-2008 the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress led a two-pronged effort to foster trust and reconciliation in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Conceived by Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) and endorsed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, this informal diplomatic effort was supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Ambassador Dennis Ross led an endeavor to foster socio-economic development, including cooperation on health, medicine and science projects in collaboration with Dr. Susan Blumenthal, Center Director of Health and Medicine, and Maxmillian Angerholzer, Executive Director of the Lounsbery Foundation. In a parallel effort, Ambassador Tony Hall and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, with assistance from the Interdisciplinary Program in Law and Religion at the Catholic University of America, promoted interfaith cooperation in the region.



Afghanistan Study Group Report: Revitalizing Our Efforts, Rethinking Our Strategies

On Wednesday, January 30, 2008, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress released the Afghanistan Study Group Report in a special event on Capitol Hill. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, hosted a joint release of this report, a report by the Atlantic Council and a report by Dr. Harlan Ullman et al.



An Initiative: Strengthening U.S.-Muslim Communications

In response to the tragedies of 9/11, CSPC began an initiative to identify means of strengthening U.S. communications with Muslim communities worldwide. This initiative culminated in our June 2003 conference “U.S. Communications with Muslim Communities” and our subsequent conference report Strengthening U.S.-Muslim Communications.

Forward Strategic Empowerment: Synergies Between Cincs, The State Department, And Other Agencies

Regional security challenges of the 21st Century are often multifaceted and interrelated, and therefore demand a new joint response. To this end, the State Department requires accurate and firsthand knowledge to pool a wide variety of resources. But diplomatic planning and preventive capabilities have suffered during the last decade, as State Department staff and resources have been reduced and the agency's functional capability has been eroded. At the same time, the role of the regional Commander-in-Chief (CINC) in foreign affairs has grown significantly.



In Harm’s Way: Intervention And Prevention

Wide oceans and prudent diplomacy have insulated America from enemies and potential adversaries for more than two centuries. Today, failing Third World states, proliferating weapons of mass destruction, and the increase in—and changing nature of—terrorism increase the number and complexity of threats to U.S. security as do the growing number of ethnic and humanitarian tragedies around the world.



Lessons for the 21st Century: Vulnerability and Surprise, December 7,1941, and September 11, 2001

In September 2002, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and the U.S. Institute of Peace convened a colloquium, chaired by Ambassador Richard Solomon, on lessons learned from December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001. It is now is apparent that the same rigid mindset that kept U.S. officials from anticipating Pearl Harbor and the Twin Towers also blocks our innovation in science and technology and inhibits our anticipation of financial crises at home and abroad. While we clearly need to cultivate the art of agile thinking, we also need to foster the creation of the structures and cultures that encourage us to think beyond the horizon.



Marshalling Science, Bridging The Gap: How To Win The War Against Terrorism And Build A Better Peace

Insights and recommendations on winning the war against terrorism by Senate majority leader Bill Frist, Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg, Presidential Advisor John Marburger, Defense Science Board Chairmen William Schneider and University of Michigan Distinguished Professor Homer A. Neal.



Maximizing NATO For The War On Terror: Presidential Leadership Can Strengthen The Transatlantic Relationship And Define And Pursue Shared Homeland Security Interests

America and its Allies have confronted the perilous and unconventional threat of terrorism before. Twenty years ago Presidential leadership and creative use of NATO’s consultative mechanisms enabled the Alliance to respond effectively to a new threat environment. Today’s world—shaped by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the forward leaning policies of the Department of Homeland Security—demands the same leadership. This CSPC report identifies five very specific policy options available to the President and the U.S. foreign policy leadership that would help America and its Allies win the global war on terror while strengthening transatlantic unity.



Mobilizing NATO For Afghanistan And Pakistan

In anticipation of the January 28, 2010 international conference on Afghanistan in London (sponsored by the United Nations), the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress’ new initiative, Mobilizing NATO for Afghanistan and Pakistan: Ensuring the Alliance’s Future, released its first report on how the Alliance can maximize its contributions and more effectively and efficiently conduct the Afghan and Pakistan effort. This report identifies areas of immediate reform that would strengthen the international coalition while also examining key capacities NATO allies have yet to deploy to Afghanistan that would turn the tide against the extremist insurgency.



Mobilizing NATO For Afghanistan And Pakistan: An Assessment Of The Extremist Threat

On August 1, 2009, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress launched an initiative to strengthen the transatlantic alliance.  Our first priority was to encourage NATO member nations to share more equitably in the Alliance’s involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We also sought to convince NATO to adopt a broader political and economic strategy that  encompasses not only Afghanistan, but also its neighbor, Pakistan, and the wider South-Central Asian region.

In January 2010, we released a report outlining a proposed strategy for NATO military operations in Afghanistan.  This report identifies unused or mal-deployed NATO resources that could be deployed or used more effectively in the region.  It also links the threat of widespread regional fallout and international terrorism with failure in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Following the release of this initial report, the Center’s NATO Expert Advisory Group undertook an assessment of the danger to Europe and the transatlantic community posed by extremist groups based in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This assessment highlights the critical nature of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, and the costs of failure in the region. Our goal is to convince NATO member states and publics of the need to adequately resource the Afghan mission and remove operational hindrances covered in the Center’s first report.



The U.S.-Canada Strategic Partnership In The War On Terrorism

This report seeks to distill in a readable fashion the most critical aspects of the post 9/11 U.S.-Canada relationship and is part of an on-going series of CSPC conferences, seminars, and white papers aimed at strengthening U.S. Presidential leadership. This brief examination served as a preliminary report in advance of the September 2002 conference (co-hosted by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress) in Ottawa on "Canadian Defense and the Canada-U.S. Strategic Partnership."




Character-Based Leadership and Civility


Civility: The Martial Art of Political Heroism

With the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Dr. David M. Abshire and Christopher O. Howard examine how civility was used as a political tool which shaped Presidential decision-making, and ultimately American History. Their analysis begins with George Washington, and traces the art of political civility and compromise as they were practiced by Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Senator Henry Clay and how they can be used as a model for future government leaders. 

Crises of Character in Leadership

In a speech at Loyola University Chicago in 2002, Dr. David Abshire looked at character in action during periods of crisis. Through a series of case studies of political, business and academic crises, he examines the importance of academic, government and business leadership, in the context of flawed leaders who failed to acknowledge their mistakes.



Declaration on Civility and Inclusive Leadership

The United States faces extraordinary opportunities as well as a series of formidable challenges that threaten our national security and well-being at home and abroad. From terrorist threats to the homeland, ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and the over-extension of our Armed Forces and Reserves, to the potential insolvency of Social Security and our rising "twin deficits," these challenges grow increasingly complex and interconnected each day. Yet even as they steadily restrict our freedom of action, we remain a deeply polarized nation unable to reach a strategic consensus on the way forward. However, the opportunities for the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world are increasing daily.



Facing the Character Crisis in America

"Upon recieving a Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, from his alma mater Georgetown University in February 2006, Ambassador David Abshire spoke on the crises of character in American leadership - a topic of crucial importance today. In view of Dr. Abshire's astounding career as an institution builder, a public servant, and a mentor to young people, few American leaders are better suited to reflect upon this topic."



The Character of George Washington and the Challenges of the Modern Presidency
"The current Presidential crisis has presented our country with an opportunity. A debate about the nature of leadership - usually the purview of think tanks like the one that gathers us here tonight - is taking place on a national level. Abstract questions are rarely considered so publicly as has been the well-trod debate over private versus public character, and the relative importance of each. All of America, from corridors of power to main street cafes, has, during the last eleven months, been considering the issue of the President as moral leader: the importance of what he is versus what he does; the degree to which a leader's personal standards of morality and its closely related (but somewhat different) cousin - character - make a difference. The kindling of this debate may be a lasting legacy of this Presidency."


The Character of George Marshall

David M. Abshire begins his reflection on George C. Marshall with an interesting question: Why would FDR and Churchill, arguably two of the greatest men of the twentieth century, select Marshall as the greatest man they ever knew? The answer lies in his commitment to service, duty and honor in leadership. The lessons from the life of George Marshall reinforce the importance of character-based leadership in America today.



The Grace and Power of Civility: Lessons from the American Experience for the Coming Four Years

On September 11, 2001, we were a people united by our common beliefs. It is a tragedy that those few months of national, moral, and spiritual unity were too soon lost. Still, we remain bound, whether we show it or not, by certain principles that are elusive but powerful. In the great historical accomplishments of America, these apparent opposites of commitment and tolerance are bridged by civility. In its deepest sense, civility means respect, listening, and dialogue. Yet, in the American experience, civility has not always prevailed, and its role in our political culture cannot be taken for granted.



Health and Medicine


A 21st Century Roadmap for Advancing America's Health: The Path from Peril to Progress

The Commission on U.S. Federal Leadership in Health and Medicine's second report, A 21st Century Roadmap for Advancing America's Health: The Path from Peril to Progress (May 2010) marks the passage of recent landmark health reform legislation and proposes a series of recommendations to make America the healthiest nation in the world.  The Commission’s recommendations reach beyond health insurance reform to address four pillars of a 21st century health care system for our nation, which include investing in research, strengthening public health and prevention, re-engineering the delivery system, and promoting global health. The report builds on actions proposed in the Commission's first report, New Horizons for A Healthy America.



New Horizons For A Healthy America: Recommendations To The New Administration

In its first report, New Horizons for a Healthy America: Recommendations to the New Administration (April 2009), a component of CSPC’s Strengthening America’s Future Initiative, the Commission on U.S. Federal Leadership in Health and Medicine offers a slate of innovative recommendations for a comprehensive, Federal agency national strategy to advance health in the United States and globally.



Palestine/Israel Health Initiative Program Brochure

The common quest for good health knows no borders. Crossing societies, politics and cultures, the Palestine/Israel Health Initiative (PIHI), a central component of the Advancing Trust and Reconciliation among Palestinians and Israelis initiative, (a project of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC) supported by USAID), explored the potential of using health as a bridge to peace.



Peace Through Health: A Mapping Of Cooperative Health Programs In Israel And Palestine

The goal of CSPC’s Palestine/Israel Health Initiative has been to foster collaboration and facilitate interaction between health and medical experts in Palestine and Israel to improve the health of people in the region as well as to promote increased cooperation and understanding. The report was prepared by Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, MD, Director of CSPC’s Health and Medicine Program and Stephanie Safdi, M.Phil., Project Manager.




Strategic Policy Studies


Advancing Innovation: Improving The S&T Advisory Structure And Policy Process

Co-sponsored with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, this condensation of a one-day conference includes remarks on science policy, Presidential Leadership, the evolutions of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the importance of Congressional support to basic science research. Participants included Presidential Science Advisors, former Cabinet and Office of Science and Technology Policy officials, Congressional staff, and academic leaders in science policy.



Comprehensive Strategic Reform: Panel Report For The President And Congress

Developed in the year prior to the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, this panel report for the President and Congress calls for a new Strategic Advisory Board (similar to the new Homeland Security Advisory Council) to tap into the strengths of the most innovative minds in the private sector; a "contingency planning board" of the NSC to be led by a new deputy national security advisor; and a new Congressional Joint Strategic Committee (much like the new Select Committee on Homeland Security) to work with the Administration in developing anticipatory policies and building consensus for far-reaching national security reforms.



Prosperity Or Decline? Breaking Washington's Deadlock To Save America's Future

The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC) has completed the Strengthening America’s Future Initiative (SAFI), a comprehensive study to identify the critical challenges that face the United States, and to develop a roadmap for regaining our strategic and financial freedom of action, unity at home and standing abroad. At a time of deep division and dysfunction in Washington, our nonpartisan Steering Committee of prominent experts and highly specialized Issue Teams worked together to developed prioritized recommendations within a conceptual framework to address our nation’s most pressing challenges.



Saving America’s Future: A Challenge To The American People

The first report of the Strengthening America's Future Initiative (SAFI) was released on March 27, 2009, and is entitled Saving America's Future: A Challenge to the American People. The release was sponsored by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), and Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) also spoke at the event. The report examines the various challenges facing the country at this time, including providing efficient energy, ensuring quality public education, competing globally for jobs, and extending health care while reducing its cost.