Some people organize their lives around landing a senior job on the national security council. Pottinger wound up in his more or less by accident. The son of a former Justice Department official turned Wall Street banker, he studied China in college and learned to speak fluent Mandarin before taking a job with Reuters as a China correspondent. Within a few years, not yet 30, he was the Wall Street Journal’s Beijing bureau chief. As a reporter in a country without a free media, Pottinger was harassed, arrested and forced to flush notes down the toilet to prevent their seizure. He was once even punched in the face at a Beijing Starbucks by a government thug who warned him to leave the country.