The National Security Advisor of the President of the United States is a really important job – for NATO and the West, not just for America. Whoever holds it has to ensure among many other responsibilities that the efforts of the the Pentagon and the State Department are coordinated towards a strategic end. Of all the posts in government, this one is supposed to be apolitical. Until last week, General Jim Jones, a retired marine with an extensive strategic resume, held the post for Obama.
Now he has been replaced by a pure political hack: Thomas E Donilon. As my colleague Toby Harnden has pointed out, this is worrying news. A major, disastrous shift in US foreign policy could be on the way.Tom Donilon has spent his entire life as a hanger-on to Democratic Party campaigns, working as a strategist for Michael Dukakis and later for Barack Obama. A corporation lawyer by trade, he is associated with the hard liberal wing of the Democratic Party. His brief experience with national security issues was in the Clinton administration, where he was spokesman and chief of staff to the Secretary of State. He has no experience whatsoever in the armed forces.Yet Donilon has not been without a major impact on national policy.
After working for Clinton, he went into corporate law practice in Washington and lobbied for the government-chartered Fannie Mae mortgage company that was at the center of the 2008 financial crisis. Before the market collapse, Donilon successfully lobbied the Congress to prevent increased regulation that might have prevented, or at least limited, the financial catastrophe.However, demonstrated incompetence is no bar to rapid advancement in the Obama administration. Donilon is a highly partisan operative filling a position that ought to be above party politics.
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