Meet Obama’s Cabinet: 7 Things to Know About National Security Advisor James Jones

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His bio :  Jones “knows pressure at the top from a lifetime’s service that took him to the pinnacle of NATO.  Jones, 64, has remained in the public eye since standing down as the US-led alliance’s supreme commander in late 2006 and retiring from the military in February 2007, after 40 years in the Marines.”  (AFP)

He will be called on to mediate:  “Jones will also be expected to mediate between rivals, particularly in dealing with Mr. Gates, who has his own power base at the Pentagon, and with Mrs. Clinton, who has told friends that she does not expect the national security adviser to stand between her and the president…But what is unclear…is how quickly General Jones can develop a close relationship with Mr. Obama and how successfully he, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Gates can define their roles on issues like Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia and terrorism.  Because of his physical proximity — the national security adviser works in the West Wing of the White House and consults with the president several times a day — General Jones will automatically serve as a counter to the State Department. But a State Department that is at war with the White House is the last thing that General Jones wants, his friends and associates say…General Jones approaches things in a ‘get it done’ fashion, associates say, with a propensity to think tactically. Sometimes, that can rub people the wrong way.”  (New York Times)

His first-hand knowledge of training foreign security forces:  “Recently, as a special envoy for Congress and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Jones has specialized in the difficulties of training effective indigenous security forces in Iraq and on the West Bank. He conducted an assessment of the Iraqi forces for Congress and has been travelling extensively, if quietly, to Israel during the last year to try to position the Palestinian security forces so that they can deliver in the West Bank on any prospective peace accord. What Jones has learned from this work would be vital to his role as national-security adviser. His knowledge will be constructive in any push on Israeli-Palestinian peace. Even more important, U.S. exit strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan are dependent upon the U.S.-funded drive to build capable Iraqi and Afghan armies and national police services. In Iraq this project has traction; in Afghanistan, it is underfunded and far from complete. In Jones, Obama would have a national-security adviser who knows the challenge in granular specificity, who is realistic about it, and who knows what funding and personnel levers to pull to make it go forward as fast and effectively as possible.” (The New Yorker)

His independent streak:  “Like Obama, Jones—a military liaison to the Senate in the 1970s, a friend of John McCain, and later a close friend and aide to Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen, a Republican—has called the Iraq war ‘a debacle.’  In August 2002, as commandant of the Marine Corps, Jones blasted the Iraq war plans of the neoconservatives around Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon as ‘foolish.’ He added, ‘You better have a Plan B in your hip pocket…’  Like Obama, Jones, as NATO commander in 2006, warned that the Bush preoccupation with Iraq had caused the U.S. ‘to take its eye off the ball’ in Afghanistan. A year later, he declared, ‘Make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan.’ Also like Obama, he warned that Afghanistan was ‘the epicenter of terrorism’ and that the consequences of failure for the United States and Europe were ‘serious.’  Jones now strongly backs a phased withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq and emphasizes increasing U.S. and NATO troop strength and political and economic development aid in Afghanistan to defeat a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda.” (The Daily Beast)

No surge without building in Afghanistan:  Jones “said a U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan will work only if other changes take hold there, including a strengthening of the judiciary and national police force…The retired Marine Corps general said Mr. Obama’s campaign pledge to move as many as 10,000 U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan must mesh with a concentrated international effort to bolster government and eradicate the vast heroin trade.  ‘You can always put more troops into Afghanistan,’ he said. ‘But if that’s all you do, you will just be prolonging the problem.'” (WSJ)

Suspicions about his energy policy:  “Some environmental groups and global warming activists view Jones’ environmental record with suspicion.  Jones will not be responsible for environmental policy, but he has said energy is a vital national security issue. It affects domestic economic stability and international geopolitical relationships, particularly in the oil-rich Middle East.  Jones sits on the board of Chevron Corp., and since March 2007 has been president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, which has been criticized by environmental groups.  ‘They have a reprehensible record,’ said Frank O’Donnell, the outspoken leader of Clean Air Watch, of the institute led by Jones.  The institute calls for the immediate expansion of domestic oil and gas production, nuclear energy and clean-coal technology, in addition to investment in renewable and alternative energy sources.  O’Donnell criticized institute reports under Jones that challenged the use of the Clean Air Act to combat global warming and the right of states, such as California, to impose environmental standards that go beyond those set by the federal government.” (Los Angeles Times)

He’s part of Obama’s hoops Dream Team:  “The president-elect is surrounding himself with advisors who might come from different backgrounds but share a common bond: basketball. This should not be much of a surprise seeing it is well known that Obama enjoys picking up a basketball and running the court.  So far, roughly a quarter of Obama’s cabinet choices have a history in the sport:–Retired Marine Gen. James Jones, Obama’s designee for national security adviser, played for Georgetown University.”  (CNN)

Posted by: Mariela

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