James Jones Appointed Middle East Special Envoy

General James Jones Atlantic Council Photo Former Marine Commandant and Supreme Allied Commander James Jones will be appointed as Special Envoy for Middle East Security, AP reports.

A former NATO commander is expected to accept a role as adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on security issues related to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on a peace accord, officials close to the discussions said Wednesday.

Rice was scheduled to announce later in the day that the advisory post with the title “special envoy for Middle East security” would be taken by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, who was the alliance’s top commander in Europe.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the job involves monitoring the development of Palestinian security services. One focus would be how those forces interact with neighboring security services, including Israeli authorities. McCormack would not say who Rice had tapped for the position.

“There is in her mind a need for someone to take a look internally at not only the efforts of the Palestinians to build up their security forces, but how those efforts relate to the Israeli government and Israeli security efforts and how those efforts also relate through the region,” he said.

Since Jones is Chairman of the Atlantic Council of the United States, and thus my boss’ boss, I’m not in a position to comment with objectivity. It would be hard to find someone with more experience, however. From his ACUS bio:

After graduating from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, he was commissioned in 1967 and distinguished himself in a variety of assignments. Most notably, he served as an operational commander at every level including a combat tour as platoon and company commander in Vietnam; Company Command in Okinawa, Japan; battalion command in Camp Pendleton, California; and Commanding Officer of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, where he served as a Colonel and led humanitarian operations in Northern Iraq and Turkey on Operation Provide Comfort. After rising to the rank of General Officer in April 1992, his career path continued its operational focus with service as the Chief of Staff, Joint Task Force Provide Promise for operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia followed by a tour as Commanding General of Second Marine Division, Marine Forces Atlantic.

Between command tours, he gained unique insight and perspective serving in a number of distinctive billets throughout the National Capital Region including Marine Corps Liaison Officer to the United States Senate, Senior Aide and Military Secretary to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Director of the Expeditionary Warfare Division for the Chief of Naval Operations, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Marine Corps’ Plans, Policies and Operations. After serving as the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense from 1997 to 1999, his final two assignments called on him to return to command, at the strategic level, when he served successively as 32nd Commandant of the Marine Corps, followed by a tour of duty as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and Commander, U.S. European Command.

His task is, to say the least, rather daunting.

UPDATE: More from Steven Myers and Helene Cooper, who have a slightly different take on Jones’ role:

A day after the Israelis and Palestinians agreed to negotiate a peace treaty, the Bush administration appointed a former NATO commander to act as a liaison between the two sides, an administration official said today. James L. Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, will report to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as part of what the administration hopes will be an intensified negotiating track following the international meeting at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

UPDATE: For more background on Jones, see Neil King’s April WSJ profile, “The Courting of General Jones – Candidates From Both Parties Woo Policy-Savvy Ex-Marine.”

Stories via OTB News [AP/USAT, NYT]. Photo credit: Atlantic Council.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    Obviously, the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to invade their country/ies, kill their leaders, and convert their peoples to Christianity.

    But we would need an active-duty Marine Commandant for that.

  2. Triumph says:

    Of course, since Hamas isn’t involved in the peace talks, Jim Jones isn’t going to be able to accomplish anything substantive.

    Likely, Jim Jones will suffer the fate of the other “special envoys” from the Bush administration like Jay Lefkowitz, Andrew Natsios, Mitchell Reiss, Joseph Ralston: he will be ultimately ineffective and subsequently fade into obscurity.

    I would encourage your Atlantic COuncil development team to send out a fundrasing plea ASAP and you may be able to leverage Jim’s appointment. Waiting even a week will be an opportunity lost, as no one will even remember his appointment.