Tom Donilon was the Right Move: Initial Reaction

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Tom Donilon.jpg
In Beijing today I woke up to the news that Deputy National Secrurity Adviser Thomas Donilon will succeed General Jim Jones as President Obama’s National Security Adviser. This is really tremendous news — and a very smart choice by the President.
Donilon has become the Wizard of Oz of the national security decision making process — engineering an highly inclusive process of meetings and discussion dramatically different than the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations.
I’m a fan of Donilon’s realism and pragmatism — and will write more later today about Donilon’s views and possible direction after I land back in the United States.
The other bit of news I heard of course is the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese peace activist Liu Xiabo. Very dramatic choice — and all the more interesting as I’m in Beijing this very moment and there is no word of this on Chinese television news or in the papers.
More when I land in San Francisco Saturday morning.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

38 comments on “Tom Donilon was the Right Move: Initial Reaction

  1. samuelburke says:

    Chas Freeman has this over at mondoweiss.
    . . . there’s a broader issue with the appointment of Tom
    Donilon, a creature of Congress whose professional formation
    has taken place entirely within the Washington bubble. Nothing
    in his background as a lawyer or aide to elected officials and
    political appointees hints at any skill at strategic thinking,
    foreign policy formulation, or diplomatic maneuver that is
    directed at anyone other than domestic constituencies. He gives
    every sign of faithfully reflecting the political risk aversion, venal
    deference to campaign contributors, and constipated strategic
    imagination of the Washington establishment. We Americans
    have spawned our own version of the eunuchs of old, who
    flourished inside the walls of the Forbidden City or
    Topkapi/Dolmabah

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  2. nadine says:

    “George W. Bush destroyed the Republican “brand” and now Barack Obama, in a display of political incompetence so extraordinary that it’s hard to fathom, is destroying the democratic “brand.”
    Yep. The democratic brand is going to need to be hauled back to the center and rebranded, like Clinton did in 1992. America won’t vote in another progressive for a long while.
    “Obama’s lame brained supporters bought into the hype; the reality is that so called progressives are no smarter or astute than the tea party supporters that they love to insult.”
    The tea partiers are arguing for limited government and lower taxes; the progressives wants a government that runs half the economy (and crushes the other half). Which approach has a better chance of actually working?
    “The November 2010 election may very well be unusually predictive of what will happen in November, 2012”
    Remains to be seen, I think. Obama, if he decides to run again, will run against a do-nothing Republican Congress and talk about what he might have achieved without it.
    “Obama’s best hope might be that the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot (like they did this year in Delaware) and nominate a candidate who can’t win like Palin, Huckabee or Gingrich. Remember, the Republicans are every bit as capable of doing something stupid as Democrats are.”
    For sure, one need only look at what Republicans have done the past. But don’t be so sure any of these candidates are unelectable. Remember how the Dems rejoiced in 1980 when Reagan was nominated? Too old, too conservative, a dumb Holywood B move actor. They thought it would be a cakewalk.
    “By the way, whatever anyone thinks of George W. Bush, he’s been a classy ex-president and refrained from sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. And it showed alot of integrity on his part to have his memoirs published after, not before the election.”
    Yes, George W Bush is a class act, who took an enormous amount of really vile and dishonest abuse while in office without returning it in kind. Did you know that during the transition Bush called in the leading conservative talk show hosts and asked them to go easy on Obama til he had a chance to grow into the job? “This job is harder than you’ll ever know.” Bush said.

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  3. WigWag says:

    “Yes, I saw the CNN poll showing Bush almost even with Obama in popularity. It will be interesting to see what effect Bush’s memoir will have…” (Nadine)
    Actually it’s interesting, Nadine. George W. Bush destroyed the Republican “brand” and now Barack Obama, in a display of political incompetence so extraordinary that it’s hard to fathom, is destroying the democratic “brand.” All of this was entirely predictable at the time (in fact, I predicted it at the Washington Note). Obama’s lame brained supporters bought into the hype; the reality is that so called progressives are no smarter or astute than the tea party supporters that they love to insult. My guess is that both Obama and the tea party will end up as footnotes in the history books; they will be little more than media driven flashes in the pan with only a minor impact especially on the foreign policy front.
    The November 2010 election may very well be unusually predictive of what will happen in November, 2012. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida all have both senatorial and gubernatorial races that will be decided next month.
    If current polls are to be believed, in Ohio, Kasich (R) is slightly ahead of Strickland (D) (Kasich + 2) and Portman (R) is way ahead of Fisher (D) (Portman +10)
    In Pennsylvania, Republican Tom Corbett is trouncing Democrat Dan Onorato (Corbett +12) and Republican Pat Toomey is comfortably ahead of Democrat Joe Sestak (Toomey +7). At least so far, Sestak is being abandoned by traditionally Democratic pro-Israel voters in an around Philadelphia and the strong Christian Zionist movement in western Pennsylvania is polling for Toomey over Sestak by over 20 percentage points.
    In Florida, Republican Marco Rubio is ahead of Republican-Independent Charlie Crist by anywhere from 5-7 percent). Unfortunately my candidate, the Democrat, Kendrick Meek is way behind at around 25 percent of the total vote. In the Governor

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  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Nadine still avoids the big question–is there any Israeli behavior too abominable for even her to condone? If so, what would it be?”
    Undercooking Palestinians. She likes her meat well done.

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  5. JohnH says:

    Nadine still avoids the big question–is there any Israeli behavior too abominable for even her to condone? If so, what would it be?

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  6. nadine says:

    “That may be true, Nadine, but it’s pretty clear that the “political operatives” he’s chosen to surround himself with are completely incompetent.” (Wigwag)
    Yes, no argument there. Obama’s inner circle, except for Rahm who has now left (there are probably skid marks on the White House floor somewhere, he left so fast) seems to consist of true believers in the magic of Barack Obama. If any of them have a Plan B, now would be a good time to try it out.
    “Politically, Obama’s collapse is an amazing thing to watch. Clearly, if he has any hope of resurrecting his chances in time for 2012 he’s going to need to make some serious policy changes. Whether his egotism will allow him to modify his approach is a big question. After all, President Obama’s role model (Jesus Christ) didn’t modify either his core beliefs or strategies when he became unpopular and was abandoned even by the disciples; Obama probably figures, why should he.”
    (Wigwag)
    Yes, it is an amazing thing to watch, just as his candidacy was amazing, not in a good way. Fouad Ajami said it reminded him of Nasser’s charismatic campaigns in Egypt: “Save us, oh Great One! You are our mother and our father!” Well, maybe Obama’s campaign didn’t go quite that far but the grandiose messianic overtones were definitely there.
    The Obama administration has also been spoiled by far too much uncritical adulation from the press. Now they are starting to get critical reviews for the first time ever, and Obama is not taking it well. Petulance and lectures will not regain him his disappointed followers. Yes, I saw the CNN poll showing Bush almost even with Obama in popularity. It will be interesting to see what effect Bush’s memoir will have. It will be published the week after the election.

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  7. nadine says:

    “He has abandoned the middle class time and again for compromises with Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the big banks, DADT, adequate financial stimulus etc. Or, he has appeared to give with one hand and take with other.” (DonS)
    Don, you can’t abandon what you never supported in the first place. If you look at what Obama actually did in his career, you’ll notice that he was a Chicago machine politician who never reformed anything and supported “the Combine” loyally. Thinking he would suddenly change once in the White House was the self-delusion of “hope and change”. Maybe next time somebody tries to sell you a used car like that, you will look under the hood a little more carefully before buying.
    That said, the wonder of the Obama presidency is that he is so incompetent that he is simultaneously governing so far to the left that he frightens and enrages the whole center and right-wing, while pissing off his left-wing base! Who still likes him? Black people? Even they eventually become “exhausted of defending him,” like Ms. Velma Hart.

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  8. JohnH says:

    Is there anything Israel could do that Nadine would oppose? She has never said what her red lines are, if any. Today I specifically suggested that she might support genocide or a Palestinian holocaust. Nadine refused to comment, suggesting that even the most abhorrent crimes are perfectly acceptable to her, except when it happens to her own…
    At least we now know what we’re dealing with.

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  9. JohnH says:

    One place Obama is ALSO going to need to start, if he wants to resurrect his own and his party

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  10. DonS says:

    “One place Obama is clearly going to need to start, if he wants to resurrect his own and his party

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  11. WigWag says:

    “It’s also clear Donilon has zero credibility with the military. I thought the Clinton administration was political, they were pikers compared to this administration. Now Obama is totally surrounded by political operatives.” (Nadine)
    That may be true, Nadine, but it’s pretty clear that the “political operatives” he’s chosen to surround himself with are completely incompetent. I don’t know if you saw the recent CNN poll asking Americans who they thought was a better President, Barack Obama or George W. Bush. Amazingly 47 percent they preferred President Obama while 45 percent preferred President Bush. Considering how despised Bush was and considering how popular Obama was, Obama’s fall from grace has been extraordinary. While the same poll has a little bad news for John McCain and Sarah Palin (the country still thinks Obama is a far better President than either of them would have been), it has excellent news for Republican Senatorial and House candidates.
    Here

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  12. DonS says:

    “Regarding Obama, the dems and repubs, I am going back to praying night and day that Hagel, Wes Clark, Chaffee or some bi partisan combination will run in the next election on an independent ticket.
    I think the public is ready for it.” (carroll)
    Now could we also get a guarantee that they would put a muzzle on the MI complex, and return the US to some semblance of a nation on planet Earth instead of an ATM for the rich and well connected?

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  13. DonS says:

    “It’s also clear Donilon has zero credibility with the military” . . . who we all know must be kept happy or they’ll take their weapons and go home.

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  14. nadine says:

    “I guess the answer is that Donilon is about as qualified for his new job as Obama was for his.” (Wigwag)
    It’s also clear Donilon has zero credibility with the military. I thought the Clinton administration was political, they were pikers compared to this administration. Now Obama is totally surrounded by political operatives.

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  15. nadine says:

    “I think we all knew that if the Dems took the presidency in 2008 that I/P would tilt even more toward Israel because the Dems, particularly with their New York financial base, are even closer to The Lobby than the Repubs are.” (Don Bacon)
    Then you obviously ‘knew’ something that wasn’t true since Obama tried to tilt away from Israel, following Rashid Khalidi’s teaching that the US had to distance itself from Israel in order to show it was an honest broker. Obama really thought that once he did that, the Arabs would be eager to step up to encourage him and help him broker a Mideast peace deal. After all, they said over and over that it was the most important thing in the world, didn’t they?
    So Obama distanced himself from Israel and got nothing from the Arabs. Less than nothing! No encouragement, no change in tone, no pressure on Abu Mazen to talk, nothing. From Israel he got a 10 month moratorium and a complete loss of trust.
    This is what happens when you operate on a bad model. If you are open to evidence, this should be evidence that we evil neocons who said the I/P conflict is the Arab League’s Great Excuse for Everything which they have no intention of giving up, have a better comprehension of the situation than you do.

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  16. Carroll says:

    Regarding Obama, the dems and repubs, I am going back to praying night and day that Hagel, Wes Clark, Chaffee or some bi partisan combination will run in the next election on an independent ticket.
    I think the public is ready for it.

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  17. Don Bacon says:

    I think we all knew that if the Dems took the presidency in 2008 that I/P would tilt even more toward Israel because the Dems, particularly with their New York financial base, are even closer to The Lobby than the Repubs are.
    Obama made that crystal clear when under Emanuel’s watchful tutelage he addressed AIPAC on June 4, 2008:
    “These voices blame the Middle East’s only democracy for the region’s extremism. They offer the false promise that abandoning a stalwart ally is somehow the path to strength. It is not, it never has been, and it never will be. . .I will implement a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade . .Let me be clear. Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them to prosper

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  18. Don Bacon says:

    It’s fitting (and unique in the developed world) in a National Security State which the US has been since the publication of NSC-68 in 1950, with the US on a permanent war footing, that a National Security Advisor should be a key position.
    The “threat” then was the Soviet Union and one of the “security” functions in NSC-68 was “Conducting offensive operations to destroy vital elements of the Soviet war-making capacity, and to keep the enemy off balance until the full offensive strength of the United States and its allies can be brought to bear.” The US never fought the Soviets, thankfully, only its surrogates in Korea and Vietnam.
    The latest National Security Strategy has a new “threat” presaged by 9/11. “The dark side of this globalized world came to the forefront for the American people on September 11, 2001. The immediate threat demonstrated by the deadliest attacks ever launched upon American soil demanded strong and durable approaches to defend our homeland. “In the years since, we have launched a war against al-Qa

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    Posted by Don Bacon, Oct 09 2010, 12:04PM – Link
    Donilon apparently is a process-oriented technocrat w/o strong policy positions. “I don

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  20. The Pessimist says:

    Question: What qualifies anyone for a cabinet position?
    Answer: Obedience to the masters.

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  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, Jon, don’t be so judgemental. After all, the guy engineered some truly EPIC electoral defeats. (For HIS side).

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  22. Don Bacon says:

    China strikes back.
    (Reuters) – China’s central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan hit out at rich countries on Saturday, telling the International Monetary Fund that high debts, low interest rates and unconventional stimulus policies were a fundamental global problem and a headache for emerging nations.
    “The continuation of extremely low interest rates and unconventional monetary policies by major reserve currency issuers have created stark challenges for emerging market countries in the conduct of monetary policy,” said Zhou’s statement to the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee, obtained by Reuters.
    Turning the tables on rich countries whose control of the IMF is expected to be diluted under reforms aimed at giving emerging economies more power, Zhou called on the IMF to shift to monitoring advanced countries’ policies, which he said were “more damaging to global economic growth.”//end reuters
    This is right up Donilon’s alley, given his experience with Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and FannieMae. (snark)

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  23. jonst says:

    Really, one could title this move, Obama’s rush into parody. A former ex of a failed and corrupt institution. A guy who made 3.9 mil as partner in a major law firm, working for the blood sucker Goldman Sachs. Et al.
    You can’t make this stuff up. THIS is the best we can hope for?

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  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.7362/pub_detail.asp
    International trade also affects the balance of power by the transfer of capital, production capacity and technology overseas. China has been the main beneficiary of the U.S. trade deficit. Even in a year when trade was reduced by the global downtown, the Chinese gained $226 billion in the American market. This money not only further swelled their foreign exchange reserve of $2.4rillion, but supported the economic development that is making China a peer competitor to the United States in world politics.
    While Secretary Clinton was speaking at the CFR, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers and Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon were finishing up three days of talks in Beijing. They came back empty handed on all the major issues that divide the two countries, from North Korea and Iran to

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  25. Don Bacon says:

    “The American Way” is tightly bound by conventional wisdom and governing interests. There is very little wriggle room and often no allowance for sensibility.
    Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle;
    For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
    Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
    As black as a tar-barrel;
    Which frightened both the heroes so,
    They quite forgot their quarrel
    — from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass”
    The “black crow” is whatever bogeyman the powers can conjure up to keep us afraid — Iran, terror, drugs, etc.
    Change from this only comes in speeches meant to obscure actual motives.

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  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    If you do an extensive search on Donilon, apparently most of his background is in campaign management, and he is known for his attack ads. He worked closely with Mondale, Carter, Biden, etc, as a “strategist”. Apparently, he began to garner mention in the media around 1980.
    I find NOTHING in his background that would seem to qualify him for a position as “National Security Adviser”. Despite Gates’ slobbering endorsement, Gates PAST comments about Donilon have been less than flattering. In fact, they have been downright disdainful. Donilon, if his past is any indication, is a purely political animal, and can be expected to wander wherever the political winds blow him. (Pun intended) And now we are expected to get sucked into thinking this is a good thing.(Pun intended)

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  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Although we many here would like to believe that the NAF stands for justice, apple pie, and the American way, we have seen far too many examples of the opposite, through endorsements that would seem to draw suspicion on the NAF’s particular “slant”. More and more this President exposes himself as a Trojan Horse, in many ways even more hawkish and anti-Constitution than his predecessor. Certainly, the actions and diplomatic efforts of his SOS telegraph this same slant. And now, we find Donilon may be yet one more stooge for Israel, who favors an even harder line against Iran.
    Sometimes Steve’s endorsements are indeed disheartening, and inexplicably optimistic.

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  28. Don Bacon says:

    Donilon apparently is a process-oriented technocrat w/o strong policy positions. “I don

    Reply

  29. Carroll says:

    I posted this yesterday on Donilon…..
    “But the Pentagon

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  30. JohnH says:

    Interesting that Nadine missed her opportunity to condemn Israeli ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity. The case builds that Nadine would support anything and everything Israeli might do, including genocide, or even a Palestinian holocaust.

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  31. WigWag says:

    “Goodbye and good riddance to General Jones. As he was the one pushing the idea of imposing a peace on the Middle East, maybe we can at least be done with having to fend off that idiocy.” (Nadine)
    There’s very little question that the sacking of Jones and the elevation of Donilon will be greated with smiles in Israel. If for no other reason, Donilon is unlikely to advocate a Middle East policy that the President can’t sustain politically. Obama’s fight with Netanyahu has cost the President far more than its cost the Prime Minister; Donilon is unlikely to encourage the President to repeat the mistake.
    But Nadine, you ask the critical question; does Donilon know anything about foreign policy, military policy or security policy?
    I guess the answer is that Donilon is about as qualified for his new job as Obama was for his.

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  32. nadine says:

    “HOW BOB WOODWARD DROVE THE NAIL IN JIM JONES

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  33. James says:

    HOW BOB WOODWARD DROVE THE NAIL IN JIM JONES

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  34. Don Bacon says:

    As on next week’s “major conference” I await Steve’s exposition of Donilon’s national security views beyond his experience with Citigroup, Goldman Sacks and Fannie Mae.

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  35. James says:

    Exactly John. We can assume that Nadine is fine with the following as well:
    Israeli soldiers ate chocolate while shooting children:
    http://america-hijacked.com/2010/10/07/israeli-soldiers-ate-chocolate-while-shooting-children/

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  36. JohnH says:

    “he was the one pushing the idea of imposing a peace on the Middle East…,” a thought that would never enter Nadine’s mind. No, Nadine’s only interest is to continue Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and to bludgeon any who resist.

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  37. nadine says:

    Goodbye and good riddance to General Jones. As he was the one pushing the idea of imposing a peace on the Middle East, maybe we can at least be done with having to fend off that idiocy.
    “Donilon has become the Wizard of Oz of the national security decision making process — engineering an highly inclusive process of meetings and discussion dramatically different than the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations.
    I’m a fan of Donilon’s realism and pragmatism — and will write more later today about Donilon’s views and possible direction after I land back in the United States.” (Steve Clemons)
    Um, but does Donilon actually know anything about foreign policy? Or will he just be a yes-man for Obama’s ignorant but cocksure ideas?

    Reply

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