General Jim Jones Likely NSA Pick

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 13:39

CNN is reporting that retired General Jim Jones is the leading candidate to become Obama's national security advisor. There is good reason to believe this reporting, given that Jones was one of sixteen names on the "semi-short list" for Obama's Vice-President. While Jones was taken out of contention when it was revealed he supported John McCain, in the third debate Obama still mentioned him as an advisor he would "surround" himself with when elected President. So yeah, this report is probably accurate.

Although not as bad as keeping Gates as Secretary of Defense (I'm not sure any cabinet appointment could be that bad), it would still be a very disappointing selection. Jones, as already noted, supported McCain, and was also offered the deputy Secretary of State job in the Bush administration. He turned the offer down, but turning down an offer like that from the Bush administration in mid-2007 isn't exactly a progressive master stroke. Not many people are keen to jump on board an administration with a sub-30% approval rating and only twenty months left in office.

Let's say that all of the leading contenders for Obama's national security team end up in his administration. This would give him a core foreign policy team of Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano, Jim Jones, and Robert Gates. That is, overall, a center-right foreign policy team lacking any clear progressives (at least, foreign policy and national security progressives). All of them, with the possible exception of Jones, supported the Iraq war from the outset. At least two of them, Gates and Napolitano, opposed withdrawing troops as recently as 2007 (although the new agreement with Iraq has rendered that debate moot). Also, two members of this group, Gates and Jones, supported McCain. This team would oversee roughly 60% of discretionary federal budget spending, military operations, and all diplomatic relations.

I know everyone is obsessed with the "team of rivals" idea right now, but I feel incredibly frustrated. Even after two landslide elections in a row, are our only governing options as a nation either all right-wing Republicans, or a centrist mixture of Democrats and Republicans? Isn't there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration? Also, why isn't there a single member of Obama's cabinet who will be advising him from the left? It seems to me as though there is a team of rivals, except for the left, which is left off the team entirely.

It is just so very frustrating. It seems like the only place progressives are making any gains is in the House. We are being entirely left out of Obama's major appointments so far. I guess everyone gets to play in Obama's administration, except progressives. Adam B and I talked about this subject for an hour today on Radio Times, and you can listen to it here.

Chris Bowers :: General Jim Jones Likely NSA Pick

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I think it's an excellent team! (4.00 / 1)
It's a strong one and Obama doesn't need to be vulnerable on the lack of strength.  

Progressives necessarily lack strength? (4.00 / 9)
What kind of gibberish is that? How about having a single person on your team who got the biggest foreign policy question of the last decade correct? Wouldn't that show some strength?  

[ Parent ]
Wouldn't that (4.00 / 2)
person be Obama?

If Obama has the leadership skills to keep his crew in check, then there's not a lot to worry about.  If he doesn't, well, we'll get to listen to Chris whine about how he all told us so.  

[ Parent ]
So, Obama doesn't need anyone.. (4.00 / 8)
in his administration who agrees with him or is more progressive than him? That doesn't make any sense. How can a chief executive have a team of lieutenants who all disagree with him and his general vision?

[ Parent ]
Either he's substantially to the left of all of them (4.00 / 1)
or he is just appointing like-minded people and the whole "team of rivals" thing is a steaming pile.

[ Parent ]
Agreed, but more importantly, Obama should NOT pick any Republicans for (4.00 / 1)
top level National Security, Defense, or Economics positions because:

a:) There are perfectly qualified Democrats for all of those positions.

b:) A huge portion of the public believes a myth that Republicans are better on the economy and defense. (yes they screwed it up, but a lot of that was blamed on incompetence and corruption - NOT ideology).

c:) it is important for the public to FEEL that Democrats are the party that will protect the nation better from threats and will protect and fuel the economy better.

The whole lexicon must be to reinforce that Democrats are better on National Security and the Economy to the point where the belief shifts, and then Republicans are left with one and only one thing to run on - Right wing social issues.

Help support "CRASHING THE STATES"--a Netroots Film!

[ Parent ]
Disagree strongly. (4.00 / 6)
Obama doesn't lack strength on national security at all.  On every key national security question of the last several years, he's been right (or closer to right) while people like Jim Jones have been wrong.

Lousy pick.  Where's Samantha Power or Susan Rice?

[ Parent ]
two good questions (4.00 / 1)
i guess Power is a definite no-go in a Clinton State Dept, because of that whole stupid "monster" flap, but does that mean she's frozen out entirely? that's kind of dumb, isn't it?

and what about Susan Rice? she's chopped liver all of a sudden?

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

[ Parent ]
Doubtful. (0.00 / 0)
If Power is a no-go with a Clinton State Dept, then they should find another SecState with something more than the professional abilities of a teenager.

[ Parent ]
Where is the evidence that Jones has been wrong? (4.00 / 2)
He wrote two harshly critical reports about Iraq and Afghanistan and is a member of the Campaign to Ban Torture.

He's an advocate of diplomacy with Iran and a vigorous Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process.

Of course he didn't publicly oppose the Iraq War -- he was in uniform.

People are simply assuming that because Jones is a general and has establishment ties that he's damaged goods.

He could turn out to be awful. But people here seem to be jumping to a lot of premature conclusions.  

[ Parent ]
A comment entirely composed of buzz words (4.00 / 2)
Excellent! Strong! = center-right & establishmentarian

Vulnerable, lack of strength = progressive

Is that all you've got? Thanks for combining idol worship with boilerplate media liberal-bashing and RW-praising in two sentences. Fred Hiatt would be proud.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
Starting to look that way (4.00 / 13)
I've been among the most patient here, and even I'm starting to get frustrated now. Among the major appointments, there really has been very little for progressives to get excited about. Peter Orszag at OMB is very good, but that's about it.

The thing is, there aren't that many individual picks where I'd go "oh, well, that one's no good at all." In isolation, I can justify Jones, or Clinton or even Gates (given that it's likely he'll only be kept on for a little while.) But when taken together, it's like "WTF?"

There's still a lot of seats still up for grabs though, so I'm going to try to stay optimistic.

Hey, is there any web site that's keeping a comprehensive list of appointments made or "pretty much" made?

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

Yep (4.00 / 3)
In my more optimistic moments, I can see a predominately centrist cabinet giving Obama a great deal of cover.  If he's got people like Gates and Jones publicly supporting progressive policies, it makes criticism of the policies largely revolve around personal attacks on his more conservative backers to discredit them, i.e. "How could Gates back this?  He's totally sold out to Obama".  There's a certain jiu-jitsu aspect to this that jives with some of Obama's best moments from the primaries.

On the other hand, while I love the idea of making sure that dissenting opinions from a variety of perspectives are heard, there becomes a certain point at which it becomes clear that they're no longer dissenting opinions and are, in fact, just the administration opinions.

Honestly, though, I think it's still just too early to tell with a lot of this stuff.  He could be stacking the deck with more centrist types in the beginning to defuse criticism, then start stacking things more to the left as we go farther along.

Although the most powerful and important positions are the ones we're hearing about first (State, SecDef), so who the hell knows?  I never had any illusions about him being too much of a leftie, but what's just as important is that people think of him as one.

If he does indeed become a Democratic version of Reagan, he'll primarily be the one to lay down the rhetorical framework that later leaders can pick up and run with, only in a much more sane and productive direction than the Republicans did with Reagan's legacy.

[ Parent ]
This just occured to me (4.00 / 3)
That by having non-wingnut Republicans, and fairly conservative Dems, in his cabinet, it provides some cover for pushing more progressive policies--if that's what he intends to do, of course, and we won't know that for two months or more--which could fool the Village into thinking that they're more hawkish than they actually are, and if they fail, or are seen as failing, having them as the front fall people could similarly provide cover. Kind of a Nixon goes to China thing, at the cabinet level.

I'm also hoping that if Gates is kept on, it'll be just for a year or two, to oversee the Iraq and Afghanistan drawdowns, and not to steer whatever major overhauls Obama has in mind for DoD, which I'm hoping he'll assign to Gates' deputy and intended replacement (any word on who that might be?), and which are obviously sorely needed. Although, having a conservative like Gates at the helm when that effort is begun could certainly help to deflect some criticism. Gingrich and the like are going to absolutely pounce on such a restructuring, if and when it happens, and it might be less damaging with someone like Gates in charge.

Plus, Wes Clark becomes eligible for DoD in '10.

I'm hoping, and guessing, that Obama realizes that given that the country has been taken to the far right in recent years, the path towards the left--even the soft left, which is probably as far to the left as he'd be likely to ever go--runs through the center, and that moving left right away might not work politically. If so, then this Team of Centrists might be smart. But only if this is his long-term plan, and only if he sticks to it, and implements it well.

We'll see.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
I mostly agree (4.00 / 2)
I actually think the appointments on the domestic side have been pretty good. I don't know why everybody is so down on Eric Holder, he seems like a reasonably progressive pick for AG. And as you say, Peter Orszag appt is good, and I think Daschle is a great pick for HHS. Politico is reporting that Rep. Raul M. Grijalva might be Sec of Interior (he is a co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus). Yes, the White House staff is a bit of a mixed bag, but there are some good names for progressives there as well (for example, I think two of Waxman's former staffers have key WH roles).

What annoys and disappoints me is the fact that this pattern is definitively not repeated among foreign policy appointments. The relatively progressive foreign policy advisors Obama had during the campaign aren't showing up in his administration, even though a lot of them are part of the transition. Instead he is turning to a bunch of center-right establishment types. It is frustrating.

[ Parent ]
I agree with you about Holder (4.00 / 1)
I don't think he's a bad pick. Some people are down on him for a few things he said in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, but everybody said some crazy shit back then, and he seems to be among those who've learned their lessons since then.

I also don't agree with those who seem down on anybody who ever worked for the Clintons (and I am not a Clinton fan by any stretch). Just because people worked under the Clintons, doesn't per se make them Clintonites in terms of temperament or ideology.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
They're down on him over Marc Rich (0.00 / 0)
He is the one the pushed the pardon, and his defense of union busters.

People wouldn't be down on the Clinton appointments if there were some progressives.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Mark Rich (0.00 / 0)
He hardly "pushed" the pardon. He just was among the people that gave it the OK, and he's recanted on that.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
where did he recant? (0.00 / 0)

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Frustrated, maybe ... (4.00 / 3)
But are you surprised?

This is who Obama was all along. I distinctly remember, oh, a dozen posts on OpenLeft about this very thing: that's he's basically a centrist. And sure enough, he's basically a centrist.

I had the insight to support John Edwards, which just prove how wise _I_ am, in the primary, but ... I dunno. This is the guy I finally worked to elect. I'm a little frustrated, too, but absolutely unsurprised.

The defining feature of Democratic presidents of my lifetime seems to be that they imagine that they themselves embody the leftmost possible point in reasonable American politics. They are as left as any intelligent person can be. So of course they look rightward for feedback.

The right never believes this. Even 'center' rightists tend to see those farther to the right as 'more pure' not 'off the chart.'

[ Parent ]
Well said (0.00 / 0)

I live in a true blue state--I will have a choice in November

[ Parent ]
The assumption is... (4.00 / 3)
that Obama is already naive and far left, so he needs conservatives to set him straight. The House moving to the left is a great sign, though. If we can get progressive legislation to his desk, I doubt he'll oppose it. The problem will be in the senate. From Ted Steven's standing ovation, it's clear that body cares more about maintaining the respect of fellow senators than anything else. They also consider themselves to be "very serious people" who buy into the usual beltway media garbage.  

Yes and it's a major, self-defeating (4.00 / 4)
assumption at that. What worries me most is Obama seems to believe it as well. He buys into beltway conventional wisdom far too quickly.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
don't 20 percent of Americans (4.00 / 8)
identify as liberals?

Among those who voted for Obama, probably one-third are liberals.

But we get nothing in the cabinet.

That bothers me as much as the fact that Obama's defense and NSA appointments reinforce GOP talking points about Democrats being unable to handle national security.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

All serious people.... (4.00 / 7)
supported the war from the outset. That is the CW that shows no sign of letting up. Even though a majority of Americans have thought the war was a mistake for years now, it is still accepted that it was naive to be against it at the time.

[ Parent ]
What appointments? (4.00 / 1)
I don't mean to pick on you personally as it seems everyone one Open Left is doing it but you can't complain about an Obama appointment until he actually makes the appointment.

What defense or NSA appointments has he made?

[ Parent ]
this is the time to speak up (4.00 / 3)
Before announcements are made.  Once he nominates, it is next to impossible to derail and much more harmful to Obama to do so.  Look what happened to Bush with Miers.  

If these are baseless rumours, fine, no harm done.  If they are serious trial-balloons and Obama is persuaded to go with someone else because of criticism from the left, all the better and no face really lost since he never actually nominated the bad person.

[ Parent ]
Summers apparently won't be nominated (0.00 / 0)
We'll probably never know whether there was a nomination for the strong opposition among Dem activists to stop, but it certainly looked like a trial balloon. Seems we can make a difference.

[ Parent ]
There's a difference (0.00 / 0)
I have no problem with discussing the pros and cons of people that have been floated as "potential" or "possible" appointments. You're correct in that this is the time to complain about someone or push someone else. What ticks me off are the posts that complain about Obama's picks when he hasn't made them. You can't (or at least shouldn't) whine about his appointments when he hasn't made them!

That bothers me as much as the fact that Obama's defense and NSA appointments reinforce GOP talking points about Democrats being unable to handle national security.

What is factual about this statement? Nothing as he hasn't made any.

Summers is another example of this. Posting that he would be a horrible pick is okay. Posting that Obama is selling out to Wall Street because Summers is his Treasury Sec. doesn't make a lot of sense, now does it?

[ Parent ]
What possible value is there (4.00 / 1)
in objecting to a decision that's already been made?  Why is waiting a positive value?  Either people object when it's floated, or they concede.  Those are the choices.  Obviously, suggesting that a name that is floated is proof that anyone sold out is ridiculous, but discussing pros and cons (rather than objecting) is better left for things that don't matter.

You are accusing skeptics of being cynics and demanding that they become idealists.  But an angry, hopeful skepticism is the only stance that allows for any possibility of applying pressure.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

[ Parent ]
It's clear how Obama plans to deal with progressives (4.00 / 3)
He'll (try to) deliver a big stimulus package, health care reform, and big action of  climate change.

He suspects that all that, plus 60 percent approval ratings, will be enough to make us STFU. Or least enough to drown us out.

[ Parent ]
ok (4.00 / 5)
Well, if his plan to "make us STFU" is to accede to our wishes on all the biggest policy issues of our time, then I guess I'm OK with that.

But if your point is that it looks like he'll be a progressive on domestic stuff while hewing to the same old center-right course on defense and foreign policy, then yeah, that would be a disappointment.

[ Parent ]
Yeah but (4.00 / 1)
are they really that separable? How can we have a stimulus plan, for example, if we continue to flush billions of dollars into the money hole of occupation?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
The occupation will end (0.00 / 0)
Even if Obama doesn't end it, the Iraqis are kicking us out. The deadline is set and he hasn't even taken office yet.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
That's what it's starting to look like to me. (4.00 / 2)
I wouldn't even be that disappointed by a "centrist" foreign policy, to be honest, as long as it's a highly engaged and coherent foreign policy, rather than just putting people in key posts to appease various domestic constituencies and then letting them muck around as they see fit. I wouldn't be as upset by a foreign policy Bush I's but minus the Gulf War. He was actively engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he did a good job building up alliances around the world. But if Obama has sold out people like Palestinians, various Africans, Pakistanis and Egyptians that are or could be victims of a disengaged, distracted foreign policy that thinks the status quo ante of supporting friendly dictators, and sending prisoners to Egypt to be tortured, well, I would rather go without affordable medical care than have those things done in my name.

[ Parent ]
The left is left out, except (4.00 / 1)
when it's time to raise money, volunteer for candidates, etc.  Then we get rhetoric.  

[ Parent ]
Source? (4.00 / 1)
Chris- do you have a source for Jones "supporting McCain"?

From a quick look around, I saw mention that he was an old friend of McCain and was an adviser. But he was evidently also and adviser of Obama.  I didn't see any indication that he endorsed McCain.  

I was thinking the same thing (0.00 / 0)
Where's the evidence that Jones supported McCain?

[ Parent ]
He appeared with McCain during the primary (4.00 / 4)
That shut down the Jones-as-Obama-VP rumors.

That doesn't necessarily mean that he supported McCain.

[ Parent ]
I think he appeared alongside McCain (4.00 / 2)
at a rally over the summer--maybe in Missouri?

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
Substantive Criticism? (4.00 / 1)
I feel Chris' frustration with not having from the left-of-center advising on foreign policy, but I have a simple question: what substantive criticisms can be leveled against Jim Jones?

What I mean to say is what policy positions has he taken or does he seem to support that is reason enough for him to be taken out of consideration?  While support for McCain isn't the greatest thing (and implies something about his policy views, but little more), it doesn't mean the guy is going to be a problematic pick.

Compare that to complaints over Brennan at the CIA - the criticism is strong and makes sense because he has made clear policy statements regarding torture, etc that the left directly disagrees with.

I actually don't know much about him myself, so please don't take this as too critical - I'd just like something to hang my hat on other than "center-right" and "McCain supporter."

As fwiffo state above... (4.00 / 3)
each one of these picks can be rationalized individually. But, the lump sum says that Obama has no interest in listening to progressives on issues of national security and foreign policy.

[ Parent ]
I'm not trying to rationalize (0.00 / 0)
and I think that's a fair criticism in of itself.  However, I just want some policy-based evidence that Jim Jones is indeed not consistent with foreign policy goals of progressives.

The fact that he leans (or is) republican might be proof enough on domestic policy, but it doesn't fly as far on foreign policy.  Not every republican is a crazy neo-con, and in fact some have very sober and intelligent foreign policy views that might track what you consider "progressive."  Indeed, beyond the obvious (close GTMO, no torture, out of Iraq) I'd be curious to hear where we strongly differ on foreign policy with non-neocon conservatives.

[ Parent ]
Not being a "crazy neo-con"... (4.00 / 3)
does not make you progressive. It makes you not crazy. Being appointed by Condoleeza Rice as a special envoy for Middle East Security means that you probably aren't progressive. But, I have not heard about specific policy recommendations that he has made that are not progressive.  

[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 1)
and fwiw, I'm a bigger Susan Rice fan.

[ Parent ]
Agreed (0.00 / 0)
I think we need to know more about Jones' views (about which not much is publicly known, it seems) before we start complaining about him.  

There's no doubt that if you want to have a 4-star military officer as national security advisor, the choice that would be most trustworthy for us (certainly for myself) is Clark.  But it doesn't automatically follow that Jones is a bad choice.  

[ Parent ]
torture (0.00 / 0)
doesn't sound like Obama wants any accountability for torture.

I agree (4.00 / 1)
What is the most annoying thing to me is that seems like the transition people involved with foreign policy include some reasonably progressive voices (Susan Rice, Sarah Sewall, Michèle Flournoy) that counterbalance the more problematic voices (John Brennan, Jami Miscik). But the people being rumored for appointments are entirely from the more problematic end of the spectrum.

It could turn out okay, I guess, but it is disappointing.

Obama is not a progressive on most issues (4.00 / 3)
Except for climate change, which he made a strong, fairly unambigiously liberal statement on the other day, and possibly universal healtcare, Obama is a centrist. So, why are people surprised that he is making centrist choices for his cabinet? To me, centrist is just another word for "moderate Republican/conservative Democrat" and that is what we are going to get, if most of the rumored cabinet picks prove to be true.

I agree with Chris that it is frustrating that the only two political choices we have are radical right, or center right, and that center left or left don't seem to be options. I think that the ultimate goal of the netroots has to be creation of the left option as part of the viable political dynamic.  

[ Parent ]
Who said they were surprised? (4.00 / 1)
Everyone here has used words like disappointing and frustrating that you appear to agree with. We hoped that Obama would govern more progressively. That doesn't mean we are surprised that he isn't.

[ Parent ]
He's pretty progressive on several issues (0.00 / 0)
In addition to climate change/environment issues, he's as unapologetically pro-choice as any Democratic candidate in memory. He's pretty progressive on taxes. All his positions with respect to technology/telecommunications/science are outstanding.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
LBJ wasn't a neocon either (4.00 / 1)
Wait and see, fwiffo, how many of our 700+ overseas bases Obama manages to close, how many aircraft carrier battle groups he manages to retire, how much he interferes with what the Israelis are doing in Gaza, or whether or not he asks Congress to make continued military aid to Tel-Aviv conditional on a credible plan to remove Jewish settlements from the West Bank. Let's see if he endorses our offer to Georgia to join NATO, or supports extending it to the Ukraine. Let's see where the missiles currently destined for Poland and the Czech Republic end up.

Then tell me it's not that bad.

[ Parent ]
on israel/palestine, see the scowcroft brzezinski editorial in todays wapo. nt. (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Well that is the fear I guess, that he will make the US into a more efficient (0.00 / 0)
plunderer of the world. Highly progressive on domestic issues, but with a foreign policy that is mainly designed to appease conservatives so he can focus on domestic issues. That should be a non-starter for progressives.

[ Parent ]
centrist (4.00 / 3)
Right, Obama is, but the complaint is that progressives are being shut out.  It's at least supposed to be a "center-left" administration.  Lots of "center" so far, but where is the "left"?

Bush gave the theocons John Ashcroft.  I'm not sure who the progressive equivalent of that is, but s/he hasn't been named yet.

[ Parent ]
well (0.00 / 0)
David Axlerod (senior adviser, higher post that state), Janet Napolitano, The new Treasury sec, Bill Richardson. they all are center left in my opinion. might have missed some. ass for far leftists like denis kusinich or finegold, you will not see them and i am glade for that.

[ Parent ]
Obama's hawkishness during the primary is genuine (4.00 / 3)
At least genuine enough to survive an election victory.

During the primary he said he admired the foreign policy of Bush Senior, he initially opposed a timetable for Iraq and voted against cutting off funding until primary politics made him do so, he stressed his support for expanding the military, he touted his belief that the "war on terror" permitted the US to bomb inside Pakistan, etc, etc, etc.

Maybe he moved right to get elected, but now he's staying right to try to guard against the soft-on-security charge (and to protect his domestic agenda.)

Is it possible to be both disappointed and unsurprised?  

It may be political or (0.00 / 0)
it may be real.  Time will tell about foreign affairs.  People misread the 2002 speech to see him as anti-imperialist, as you know.

Every appointment (rumored) so far has been centrist.

No progressives; no Left.  Look, we are half of the Democratic Party, but we're shut out.

There is a message here.

We suspected it during the primaries.  

For me, EFCA is a deal breaker.  Not just support by Obama, but he needs to deliver it.  

[ Parent ]
EFCA lives or dies in the Senate (0.00 / 0)
Jim Martin or Al Fraken wins, and EFCA can pass. If neither does, it will fail. Nothing Obama can do about that. It'll be a party-line vote plus Specter.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
This isn't Obama jiu-jitsu (4.00 / 4)
This is exactly what it seems. Obama, as far as I can tell, has never shown any intention of fundamentally rethinking America's place in the world. If you believe otherwise, prepare to be disappointed.

On the other hand, let's see if he and his gang of retreads can actually manage to make Imperialism-with-Better-Managers work in the face of a bankrupt national economy. Gorbachev couldn't manage it, and I have serious doubts whether Obama can either.

It's not THAT bad (4.00 / 2)
It's not like he's appointing neo-cons. It's hardly reasonable to call him an imperialist.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
The US was imperialist before neocons, just more effectively so. eom (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Our only hope for a progressive (4.00 / 3)
is probably going to be Obama himself. I've never really considered him all that progressive, but compared to the people he's surrounding himself with, he's Darcy Burner. Either way, the climate has changed, so maybe these centrists and right-wingers will actually govern like progressives, considering Obama's alleged agenda, and despite their history.  

Jim Jones? (4.00 / 1)
I guess Obama wanted someone who had really drunk the Kool-Ade.

oh man, tasteless. ;-) (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
sdf (4.00 / 1)
Obama ran as a centrist on foreign policy, in the mold on Bush 41 (he actually said that he admired his foreign policy), and ran as a progressive on domestic issues. That's what you're getting. I'm not sure what the beef is.

His foreign policy seems to be a humble approach, with direct diplomacy. What's your beef with that? And who do you want in there?

Now, if he puts centrists at the EPA or something, then I can see a gripe. But his foreign policy people seems fine with me.

If he's like Bush I but carries through the promise to talk with Iran... (4.00 / 1)
I would consider that a reasonably decent outcome.

[ Parent ]
yeah, all in all this is getting to be disappointing, especially (4.00 / 1)
if gates remains at DoD.  

at this point, biden may be the most progressive advisor obama will have when it comes to foreign policy, and that isn't saying much.  

all that said, i got a bit excited last night when i read scowcroft and brzezinski's editorial in the post about the mideast peace process. firstly, the editorial expressed a vision for israel and palestine that is on what i would consider to be the center-left side of the spectrum, at least with respect to what could conceivably be published in the post on this subject.  moreover, the fact that it was coauthored suggested that brzezinski is still in the mix of obama's fopo world, as scowcroft is apparently emerging as a close advisor of obama.  if obama's appointments are read through the prism of this editorial, i think it becomes more possible to understand his actions as an attempt (perhaps overdone) to cover his right flank as he moves forward w/ mideast peace negotiations (with clinton as his primary representative).  

still, i second the sentiments expressed throughout this thread.      

I think it's time for some pushback (4.00 / 4)
The outcry over Larry Summers seemed to work. It's possible that a similar effort could work (or at least raise some eyebrows). Obama advisors Susan Rice and Sarah Sewell - for example - seem like the type of foreign policy experts the left can unite behind. Of course, Summers and his various missteps are more well-known than Jones. But, it's worth a shot.

Silver Lining (4.00 / 3)
Jones seems to be reasonable on the Israel-Palestine issue (an issue on which even the best progressives in government are decidedly not at all progressive) and the folks over at LGF really seem to hate and fear the guy for this reason.

i think this really is the underlying, easy to miss, message of obama's (4.00 / 2)
fopo team.  he is serious about making progress on mideast peace, and he is bringing on board the conservative realists in order to get it done.  

[ Parent ]
Hmm (4.00 / 2)
Well, if LGF hates him, maybe he can't be all bad... on the other hand it doesn't take a lot to inspire hate from LGF.

[ Parent ]
I was thinking... (0.00 / 0)
...exactly the same thing!

[ Parent ]
That is promising, where did you read about that (I/P issue, not LGF)? eom (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
I love it! (4.00 / 1)
He was on Obama's short list for V.P. ...until Obama discovered that he supported the other guy ...the other guy having a foreign policy that was diametrically opposed to what Obama was talking about on the campaign trail.

But now for his NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR, Obama wants someone who preferred McCain (I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that he didn't prefer McCain because of his stance on earmarks).

What a chump!

Spencer Ackerman at Firedoglake likes Jones (4.00 / 1)
for another perspective:


John McCain won't insure children

Or, put another way (4.00 / 2)
"Team of Rivals" is supposed to mean "a team consisting of rivals of each other" not "a team consisting of your rivals".

One thing I do have to wonder about though is which progressives actually were viable options for any of these positions. By which I don't mean "people who we'd like there based on the policy they'd set", I mean "people who have experience and know-how to run something like the NSA or the DHS". People keep complaining about the executive being stuffed with ex-Clintonites, but, well, the only Democrats with executive experience are the people who worked in the Clinton administration.

Although the lack of any obvious progressives anywhere in the cabinet is certainly worrisome, and the most rational interpretation of all this is that progressives won't be setting policy either, another possible interpretation is that they're legitimately trying to address Obama's lack of executive experience by surrounding him with people with executive experience-- and the reason they're not picking progressives is that after 28 years of Republicans and DLCers running the White House, there simply isn't a viable pool of progressives with executive experience to draw from as far as I'm aware. Is there some serious source of such persons that I'm just missing?

It seems like for progressives at the moment, a more viable goal would be not "we should be holding cabinet positions, now" but rather creating that pool of progressives with executive foreign policy experience-- i.e. assuring that even if the top spots go to "center-right" people like the ones listed here, progressives do get enough representation below that level that by the end of the Obama administration we have progressives who are experienced enough to move up and start taking those spots. Is there some way to apply pressure to make sure this happens?

i am a little confused (0.00 / 0)
If in his first term Obama:

1. enacts universal health care

2. gets us out of Iraq

3. passes an energy policy that promotes alternative energy and job growth (reducing demand on mid-east oil)

4. makes peace between israel and palestine (mitigating iran in the process)......

5. and maybe even turns us toward a world economy not completely controlled by the investment class. well then...

what isn't progressive about that?

[ Parent ]
well, for starters, right now it appears that (4.00 / 1)
obama may not actually end the US torture of detainees.  so that isn't progressive.  

and number 5: i'm open to hearing evidence for this one, but i don't really see any.  

[ Parent ]
Well (4.00 / 2)
I think the people who are complaining, the reason they're complaining is that they see Obama's cabinet picks as indicating it is unlikely that 2, 4 and 5 on your list will actually occur.

[ Parent ]
the economy is going to be a tough one but (0.00 / 0)
if you read between the lines it seems likely that clinton's primary task abroad (and legacy) will be to find a way to peace with Israel/Palestine.

and anyone who thinks we will stay in Iraq under obama is high.

4 out of 5 ain't bad.

[ Parent ]
Excellent points, commendable for their sobriety. (0.00 / 0)
I can definitely buy that getting progressives into government service at lower levels should be a top priority right now. Criticizing Obama from the left for not appointing progressives may still be useful strategy, but if progressives only get appointed at lower levels, that is still not a bad outcome.

[ Parent ]
What Would "Progressive" Foreign Policy Look Like? (0.00 / 0)
What would the Progressive party line on foreign policy look like, beyond getting out of Iraq as cleanly as possible and repairing our relations with the world in general?  A shuttering of half or more of our foreign bases (and half of the Navy being confined to port at any one time)?  Unconditional acceptance of ICC jurisdiction?  Repudiation of all free trade agreements?  

Because the only place I see any agreement on what "progressive" means is domestic policy.  Kind of hard to bitch that Obama's cabinet choices don't reflect a "progressive" foreign policy agenda when there isn't one for him to be in accordance with.

That's easy... (0.00 / 0)
I'm hardly an expert on this but I can name a few basic ideas that would be cornerstones of a progressive foreign policy:

1) Stop supporting dictatorial regimes, especially in the Middle East: "he may be a bastard, but he's our bastard" has bitten us in the ass more than once--the Iranian revolution of 1979 for example. In Egypt, like in Iran pre-'79, the US-backed government cracks down on moderate political opposition, leaving parties like the Muslim Brotherhood to carry the standard of opposition to Mubarrak. Pakistan and Indonesia have democratic systems which have not elected fundamentalists, and should be supported as much as possible. The unnecessary bombing of the Afghan-Pakistan border region is way more dangerous than letting Bin Laden run loose.

2) Environmentally safe, worker-friendly free trade, rather than managed trade, which is what NAFTA, CAFTA, &c. are, according to Joseph Stiglitz.

3) Cautious liberal interventionism, using military force only in extreme cases like the genocides in Darfur, working through the UN where possible. Rely on proxies or international institutions where possible.

4) Supporting international institutions so that progress in international issues is not too dependent on having progressive US governments, and so that more pressure can be put on governments like China and Russia and India. This will also be important to halting climate change.

[ Parent ]
you guys ready for endless war? (0.00 / 0)
that is what Clinton and Jones picks means.
NAFTA boy Richardson at Commerce and wall street scumbag Geithner at Treasury means working class get fucked as well.

Looks like Team of Rivals means (4.00 / 1)
DLC vs Republican.

It is like the sunday mornin gas bags administration.

My blog  

C'mon, Chris. Haven't you heard? ... (0.00 / 0)
Obama is smarter than all of us put together. We should all just chill. No more need for dissent. Trust but don't verify.

Left Out (4.00 / 2)
So basically the main argument against General James Jones being considered as National Security Advisor is not that he isn't qualified for the position, but rather that he doesn't pass the progressive smell test.  This is becoming an all too familiar argument here at Open Left.

With just a brief browsing through his bio at Wikipedia, I can see valid points that could be raised for and against Jones heading the NSA.  If one chose to oppose the appointment of Jones, serious questions could be raised where serious people would take notice.

The point is, if progressives continue with the same knee-jerk reaction that an individual isn't progressive enough, we become all too predicatable in our arguments.  We are then easily labled as the looney-left or characterized as angry bloggers.  We become marginalized and ignored.


Don't you think you're jumping the gun on Jones? (4.00 / 1)
What exactly are the goals of a progressive foreign policy that you're looking for, Chris? And wouldn't you agree that on several broad foreign policy questions, there has been a great deal of convergence between traditional realists and progressives?

Jones may well be a Republican, but on foreign policy and defense issues the evidence is that he is very much aligned with the foreign policy views that Obama laid out during the campaign. Where are the major policy disagreements that you have with Jones?

If you're argument is that Jones didn't oppose the Iraq War, then you're on very thin grounds. Jones was in uniform at the time. He was publicly skeptical and has since called the war "a debacle." He is universally respected in foreign capitals, and has broad support among the foreign policy community.

The very fact that he turned down offers to serve in the Bush Administration ought to be a positive sign; having issued (in the words of Joe Klein) "embarrassingly candid" reports on Iraq and Afghanistan, the evidence is that he opted not to serve in the Bush Administration because of policy disagreements.

Jones has been an ardent proponent of a more vigorous effort in Afghanistan (if you oppose that, fair enough, but that's not Obama's position, so someone with those views is not a surprise). He is ardently in support of alternative energy. He favors diplomatic engagement with Iran. He favors vigorous diplomacy over Israel/Palestine. And he's an ardent opponent of torture.

Seriously -- from what we know right now, where are the serious disagreements?

Spencer Ackerman, for one, is quite happy:

Gen. Jim Jones is close to getting the job, according to Dave Rogers at Politico. If so, it would be a good choice. With Hillary Clinton very likely to become secretary of state - I'll have a big piece on that shortly - it's important to have a national-security adviser with the stature necessary to impose discipline on a war cabinet filled with outsize personages. (See: Rice, Condoleezza.)

Also, Jones would be reflective of two huge Obama priorities. First, Afghanistan. As NATO Commander, Jones ceaselessly lobbied the European allies for greater assistance in the Afghanistan war. Second, energy security. Jones is widely known to be an advocate of alternative energy sources, and, as Politico notes, chairs an energy task force for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And of course there's the good optics of such a well-respected general being Obama's closest White House aide on foreign policy. (David Ignatius loves Jones!)

As for the rest of Obama's national security team, there will be some more "progressive" voices. Given that she's chairing the FP transition, it would be shocking if Susan Rice doesn't end up with a fairly high-profile role -- likely Deputy NSA or UN Ambassador. Napolitano is not going to be a key voice in setting foreign policy -- her expertise will be immigration and sorting out the bureaucratic mess that is DHS. Gates shares most of the traditional realist goals Obama has laid out and is only staying on in a transitional role for one year (before likely being replaced by Richard Danzig). Greg Craig is going to be White House counsel and will be giving legal advice on all manner of issues relating to international law and prosecution of suspected terrorists.

I'm not thrilled with Clinton at State, mainly because I worry that some of Obama's younger, less hawkish foreign policy campaign advisers are going to be left out. So I'm not entirely happy with everything I've been seeing.

But the idea that this national security team is some kind of capitulation to NeoCons is absurd.


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