Tom Donilon, President Obama’s National Security Adviser, once told me that the thing he most needed but rarely had was “time to think.”
Donilon has almost single-handedly recrafted the national security decision making process from one in the George W. Bush administration in which Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld controlled “the flow” to one where not only more voices from the traditional defense and intelligence communities are heard in a decision but which now includes many dozens if not hundreds of others from the avant-garde national security arenas like climate, the economy, development, agriculture, and more. Donilon is the master of meetings, lots of them, and he is now in a constant whirl.
This brings me to this weekend of IDEAS I’m taking part in at the Aspen Institute‘s idyllic retreat in the Rocky Mountains. Co-sponsored and jointly organized by Aspen and The Atlantic, the Aspen Ideas Festival is a collage of smart thinking on a hundred different fronts with an intergenerational collision of experiences and priorities achieved through the Festival’s expansive scholarship outreach.
I am taking some time to think in the next few days and will be reporting my reactions and provocations here at the new 2.0 incarnation of The Washington Note at TheAtlantic.com. I wish Tom Donilon could join me here this round – but I’ll work hard to get him here another year because he does need time and space to think. It’s vital for his White House team and him to hear what’s going on outside the situation room.
I’m an ideas guy, sometimes called an ideas entrepreneur, and through the years have helped push along a provocative notion or two that got some policy traction through the New America Foundation, where I continue as Senior Fellow and Founder of the American Strategy Program.
But my new responsibilities at The Atlantic include serving as Washington Editor at Large as well as Editor in Chief of Atlantic LIVE, the global events division of the group.
Lots of stuff to chew on in this new role – and I look forward to thinking out loud in the years ahead with not only my past readers but a whole new crowd of thinkers and writers who make The Atlantic, National Journal, and Government Executive part of their ideas habits.