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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Michele Flournoy for Defense?

A piece in Foreign Policy by Rosa Brooks touts Michele Flournoy for Secretary of Defense.
Michèle Flournoy would make a great secretary of defense. I worked for her for more than two years at the beginning of the Obama administration's first term, and seeing her in action convinced me of it.
Am I biased in her favor? You bet. I've worked with and for many people over the years, and I've had colleagues I wouldn't trust as secretary of the local dogcatchers' association. But I'd trust Flournoy with any job in the nation. And, for the record, I don't want another administration job. I already have a job that I like, and tenure is a beautiful thing. But as a citizen, I'd sure like to see Flournoy back at DoD.  
Here are 10 reasons she'd be a terrific choice for defense secretary:
Very little in that list has anything to do with policy. But this one was perhaps the most interesting. 
10. She's not lobbying for the job. Flournoy's got plenty of great alternatives: She can walk into any think tank job, any defense industry job, and most academic jobs as it is. She's already an enormous success, and odds are she'll be SecDef eventually. But right now, she has three kids at home and she knows just how tough it is to balance family life with an all-consuming job. If President Obama wants her as secretary of defense, he may have to work to convince her to take the job this time around. That's a good thing: The desperate make lousy public officials.
Want someone who will be a great secretary of defense? Find someone who's not sure she really wants the job.
That's one of the worries on the mind of Haviv Rettig Gur. 
Would she return to the Pentagon so soon after leaving in order to focus on her family [in February 2012]?
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, a cofounder of CNAS with Flournoy and a family friend, told Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift in late November that balancing work and family “is a real concern to her,” but Flournoy “believes deeply in public service and if the call comes she will serve.”
Supporters of Israel may view Flournoy more positively than Hagel.
Hagel’s critical views on Israel and reported homophobia have made him somewhat radioactive as a candidate, but Flournoy’s emergence has been welcomed by conservative and pro-Israel groups, among others.
A senior Republican Senate aide told Politico that Flournoy was well versed in Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, which is partially funded by the US, as well as regional arms sales and the importance of Israel’s military edge over its neighbors.
On Iran, her views seemingly fall in line with the pentagon’s official position, that a military strike against Tehran’s nuclear facilities must be kept on the table, though the option is not an effective one.
“It is something that would buy us time, but it would not by itself solve the problem in any enduring way,” Flournoy told a Tel Aviv conference in May.


With the idea of a Hagel appointment being savaged by Republican senators, security hawks, gay advocacy groups, mainstream newspapers including the Washington Post, advocates for stronger sanctions on Iran and Cuba, and pro-Israel campaigners from both sides of the aisle, Obama would have to be unusually committed to Chuck Hagel’s nomination for it to go forward.
In case he is not – as the failure to announce the nomination last week alongside that of Senator John Kerry for secretary of state indicated – most observers agree that the president could do far worse than the competent, learned hand of Flournoy in the Pentagon.
 It sounds like Flournoy may be the best alternative available.

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