The reaction to the appointment of Gen. James Jones as the new National Security Adviser has been well received (see below article). Even my stalwart GOP friends have made positive comments. I just finished reading his excellent January 2008 report “Saving Afghanistan: An Appeal and Plan for Urgent Action”, which was prepared for the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I would recommend it.
I will miss Steve Hadley, but Jones has the right focus. His work in the West Bank city of Jenin involved the transfer of security to Palestinian officials, and now the suicide bombers are gone. Let us hope Jenin’s success will be a road map for Afghanistan. The price of oil today declined to $48/barrel and this will put energy issues on the back burner. That would be a mistake, and the comprehensive approach outlined by General Jones is admirable. The task force he headed for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recommended immediate expansion of domestic oil and gas production, nuclear energy and clean-coal technology. The General could well be headed for a collision with the Energy Departments new focus on global warming. While my colleagues are enthusiastic about Jones, they have a decidedly different opinion of Susan Rice, the new U.N. Ambassador. She has been given cabinet rank so she will be a significant voice.
Jones not regarded as ‘political general’
By Jim Michaels, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for national security adviser, retired Marine general James Jones, comes to the job with an unusual combination of military and diplomatic skills.
“He was able to move in the political environment without ever getting a reputation of being a political general,” said Paul Van Riper, a retired Marine lieutenant general. Jones, 64, served as Marine Corps commandant and commander of NATO forces before retiring in 2007 after four decades in uniform.
Jones spent the past year at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he headed an institute working on international energy security issues. The backgrounds of previous national security advisers have varied, but presidents have often drawn on people with military backgrounds without strong political affiliations. “The reality is Jones brings more than some of those people did,” because of his background in NATO and other jobs that require diplomatic skills, said David Rothkopf, who wrote a history on the National Security Council.
Jones comes into a job less defined than Defense secretary or secretary of State. The role and authority of the adviser has varied by administration. “The national security adviser is defined by the president,” Rothkopf said. “All of the parameters come from the Oval Office.” Jones talked to Obama and Republican candidate John McCain during the campaign and isn’t associated with any political party or ideology. “I never heard him express any political views associated with a party,” Van Riper said.
However, Jones has been close to some of the key issues he will face in his new job. As NATO commander, he was involved in Afghanistan and has talked about the need to more closely integrate reconstruction and diplomatic efforts there. Jones spent part of his youth in France and is fluent in French. He attended Georgetown University, where he played basketball, and was commissioned as a Marine officer in 1967.
His battlefield experience was first forged in Vietnam, where Jones was awarded a silver star for his actions in helping to repel an intensive attack by North Vietnamese forces. At the time, Jones commanded an infantry company that held a ridgeline near the U.S. fire support base of Khe Sanh. As enemy hand grenades and rockets landed all around him, Jones directed artillery fire on his position and redeployed his forces, according to the citation. His leadership helped repel the attack.