James Jones as National Security Advisor?

General James Jones, chairman of the Atlantic Council, is the leading candidate for National Security Advisor in the Obama cabinet, CNN and Politico are both reporting.

Two sources close to the Obama transition team tell CNN retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones has emerged as President-elect’s leading choice to become national security adviser in the White House.

The sources said Jones has been given the impression by the President-elect that the job is his if he wants it. But the officials said there are still private discussions underway and no final decision has been made. The discussions are focused on precisely how much power Jones will have in the staff job since he is used to being in a command role. Among his many posts, Jones served for several years as the operational commander for NATO.

In the third and final presidential debate, Obama noted that he deeply values advice from Jones, who has four decades of military service.

One person close to the transition noted Jones is a bipartisan figure who has warm relationships with both current Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who may stay on the job for at least a brief period, as well as Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is now on track to be nominated as Secretary of State after Thanksgiving.

I’ll demur on commenting on the merits of my boss’ boss for the job.   I will, however, note that the chatter thus far on Memeorandum is quite positive.

Joe Klein (TIME): “General Jones is universally respected. He refused a series of major positions offered by the Bush Administration, presumably because he opposed the policies he would have been expected to implement. He did agree to study the security situations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the Bush Administration, and came back with reports that were embarrassingly candid. If appointed, he–not David Petraeus–will be the most important (former) general in the Obama Administration, which will help tilt power back toward the President.”

Spencer Ackerman (Washington Independent): “If so, it would be a good choice. […] 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.”

Steve Benen (Washington Monthly) and Adam Serwer (American Prospect) seem favorably disposed as well.

I’ll be interested to see the reaction from the Right; thus far, there’s been none. [UPDATE:  Tom Maguire‘s on board.]

As an aside, I’m always amused by the use of obviously outdated file photos.  Jones retired from the Marine Corps two years ago and Michael Hayden retired from the Air Force over the summer.  Yet virtually every story about them shows them in uniform.

Aside #2:  So long as I can recall, the informal title of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs has been National Security Advisor.  Over the last couple of days, however, I’m mostly seeing it spelled Adviser.   Odd.

Aside #3:  There have been several jokes about the name “Jim Jones” and “James Jones,” noting other famous people with those names, but none that I’m seen invoking the Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown fame.  This is truly disappointing, given all the “drinking the Kool Aid” jokes we’ve heard about Obama.

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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 and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    So long as I can recall, the informal title of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs has been National Security Advisor. Over the last couple of days, however, I’ve mostly seeing it spelled Adviser.

    The internet is degrading spelling and grammar standards, that’s why.

    If I read one more article that tries to explain the relevancy of a certain issue, I swear I will strangle the author.

  2. Houston says:

    One person close to the transition noted Jones is a bipartisan figure…..General Jones is universally respected….

    Obama-speak for “this guy didn’t like Bush, so he must be all right…”

  3. sam says:

    Well, it might be that he’s alright because of his qualifications. Got anything substantive to say on those, Houston? Or is lame snark the best you can do?

  4. anjin-san says:

    “this guy didn’t like Bush, so he must be all right”

    Well, given the not-so-rosy state of the nation in the waning days of the Bush administration, the facts on the ground would tend to support the logic of that statement.

  5. Anderson says:

    Look for JJ to suspend blogging during his 4 or 8 years in the Obama Administration!

    If you need an Assistant Deputy Under-Undersecretary for Snark, well, you have my e-mail.

  6. Houston says:

    Got anything substantive to say on those, Houston? Or is lame snark the best you can do?

    My “lame snark” has no reflection on GEN Jones, who may very well be qualified for the job.

    It is, however, reflecting on the “one person close to the transition” who called him bipartisan, and the quote from Joe Kline (of all people). Are we supposed to trust these sources? I don’t quite think so.

  7. sam says:

    It is, however, reflecting on the “one person close to the transition” who called him bipartisan

    According to you, we should be distrustful of that source. So, can you point us to some evidence that he’s not bipartisan?

  8. davod says:

    Blackhawk has this about General Jones:

    “General James L. Jones is widely rumored to be Obama’s preferred candidate to be White House National Security Adviser… Jones prepared a report on Israel’s policies in the territories… The World Tribune said it “blasted Israel’s role” for “hampering the movement of PA forces, blocking plans for weapons shipments and technology to the Palestinians and resisting coordination.” … Obama said this about Jones: “Let me tell you who I associate with… If I’m interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden or with Dick Lugar…or General Jim Jones, the former supreme allied commander of NATO.”

  9. davod says:

    Blackhawk also comments on Jhn Brennan:

    “John Brennan… is rumored to be Obama’s pick to head the CIA. Brennan published a long article on Iran in July 2008… “… U.S. national security would be best served if Washington publicly acknowledged and explored the roots of this shift in Iranian state support for terrorist activities … the new U.S. administration must be willing to exercise strategic patience….It would not be foolhardy, however, for the United States to tolerate, and even to encourage, greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon’s political system.”

    Hezbollah will be happy.

  10. […] (HT: James Joyner) […]

  11. Warrior 20 says:

    With this pick Obama’s stock will go up significantly with this McCain supporter – Jones will bring adult perspective to a circle of amateurs.

  12. Matt says:

    Maybe I’m confusing him with someone else, but didn’t Woodward rip Jones six ways from Sunday in his book for being a toady who wouldn’t stand up to Rumsfeld?

  13. anne says:

    The AP style book calls for adviser to be spelled with an “e” not an “o”. That’s probably why you see it like that.

  14. davod says:

    “Maybe I’m confusing him with someone else, but didn’t Woodward rip Jones six ways from Sunday in his book for being a toady who wouldn’t stand up to Rumsfeld?”

    Obviously Jones wouldn’t speak to Woodward.