James L. Jones, a retired four-star general, was among a mostly Republican crowd watching a presidential debate in October when Barack Obama casually mentioned that he got a lot of his advice on foreign policy from General Jones.
By Helene Cooper
The New York Times
“Explain yourself!” some of the Republicans demanded, as General Jones later recalled it.
He did not. A 6-foot-5 Marine Corps commandant with the looks of John Wayne, General Jones is not given to talking about his political bent, be it Republican or Democrat. And yet, he is Mr. Obama’s choice for national security adviser, a job that will make him the main foreign policy sounding board and sage to a president with relatively little foreign policy experience.
The selection of General Jones will elevate another foreign policy moderate to a team that will include Robert M. Gates, a carry-over from the Bush administration, as defense secretary and Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. By bringing a military man to the White House, Mr. Obama may be trying to cement an early bond with military leaders who regard him with some uneasiness, particularly over his call for rapid troop reductions in Iraq.
But General Jones will also be expected to mediate between rivals, particularly in dealing with Mr. Gates, who has his own power base at the Pentagon, and with Mrs. Clinton, who has told friends that she does not expect the national security adviser to stand between her and the president.
In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, chairman of the Iraqi Security Forces Independent Assessment Commission, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Jones, 64, is expected to be announced by Obama next week as part of the president-elect’s national security team, along with Robert Gates as secretary of defense and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.(AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)