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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Obama's Most Hawkish Advisor By Robert Dreyfuss,

In the spring of 1971, a young Marine captain named James L. Jones stood guard as part of a phalanx surrounding the Capitol, with shoot-to-kill orders should antiwar protesters try to storm the building. According to Boys of '67, a recently published biography written by his cousin, Jones, a decorated Vietnam combat officer, brooded about "the Jane Fondas and Jerry Rubins of the world" as he scanned the marchers for any sign of a long-haired Navy lieutenant, John Kerry, whose condemnation of atrocities by U.S. troops rankled him. In Vietnam Jones had served as aide-de-camp to gung-ho Maj. Gen. Raymond Davis, whose plan for defeating North Vietnam included "invading Laos, Cambodia, and the DMZ," said Jones sympathetically.

Today Jones -- a retired general and former Marine commandant who headed the U.S. European Command and was commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- will be at Obama's elbow in the White House as national security adviser. It's hard to imagine a less likely choice to be Obama's go-to guy on foreign policy. Hillary Clinton, Obama's nominee for secretary of state, and Robert Gates, his nominee for defense secretary, are already widely considered to be tough-minded hawks. But Jones is probably the most hawkish of all, and he seems least compatible with Obama.

Some of Jones's supporters point to his 2007-08 role as special envoy on Palestinian security issues as a hopeful sign that he will encourage Obama to confront the Israel lobby. Palestinian negotiators praise Jones's patience and willingness to listen to their complaints, and a report that he prepared after his mission, said to be critical of the Israeli army's role in the West Bank -- it "makes Israel look very bad," said the Israeli daily Ha'aretz -- was suppressed by the Bush administration.

But that's a slim reed for hope. While Jones is deeply familiar with the Middle East and South Asia, and is a fluent French speaker who lived in Paris for fifteen years during his youth, in the end he's the military's guy. He's the proverbial hammer in search of nails. "He's not a strategic thinker," says a prominent military analyst in Washington. But when Obama needs a ha


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