Featuring the works and commentary of Andrew Bruss

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tom Donilon: Right guy for the job?

Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon is slated to replace his boss, General James Jones, when he steps down as President Obama's right hand man on all things threatening. Donilon has plenty of credentials to support his hiring, but according to Bob Woodward's "Obama's Wars," there are plenty of reasons this news will not be welcomed by defense insiders.

Jones was quoted telling Donilon, "You have no credibility with the military. The book also quotes Secretary of Defense Rober Gates as saying Donilon would be a "disaster" as a Jones' replacement. During an Afghanistan strategy pow-wow, Jones was said to be displeased with his deputy's conduct and asked to speak with him after the meeting. Jones' concern was that Donilon made far-reaching comments about Iraq and Afghanistan without having visited either country. He advised his deputy to see these places for themselves, telling him, "The White House, Situation Room, interagency byplay, as important as they are, are not everything."

Although there is cause for concern, his lack of street-cred does not necessarily rule him out as a competent advisor. After all, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush's first National Security Advisor/second Secretary of State, had little practical experience in defense issues. At Stanford University she was an assistant professor who specialized in Soviet Russia, which no longer existed when she served in the White House. That worked out in the end... didn't it?

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