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
It sounds like Flournoy may be the best alternative available.
Labels: Chuck Hagel, Michele Flournoy