Flournoy to defense?


Last night, we posted my story on some (some) pro-Israel objections to President Obama’s rumored choice for defense secretary, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

No one in the administration has formally touted Hagel, mind you — not in the way that Obama himself made clear he was considering Susan Rice for the job at State, when he defended her against her attackers.

And one of the odd things about the emphasis on Hagel as a frontrunner is that another name kept cropping up, with not much less frequency — Michele Flournoy, the current deputy defense secretary former undersecretary of defense.

So now, the Hagel-dislikers (Hagel Haters works better phonically, but is inaccurate) are flooding my Inbox with cheers for Flournoy, who under Obama has been at the nexus of the U.S.-Israel defense realtionship — the area of the relationship where close working relationships have flourished (as opposed to the diplomatic arena, where there have been tensions).

Naturally, one’s conspiratorial mind begins to diagram jiu-jitsu plays — Was Hagel an Obamatron decoy to make sure Flournoy gets a clear run? Are the neoconservatives on to this and preemptively embracing Flournoy so it looks like a win for their side?

Who knows? Or, no one will know until the nomination is made, and no one will really know until Bob Woodward hits the red button on his recorder.

Meantime, below the jump, are the links.


Here’s Obama disliker Jennifer Rubin at Washington Post’s Right Turn making the conservative feminist case for Flournoy:

Ironically conservative critics of the president are also conceding she’d be an easy shoe-in. One such analyst tells me, “Where are the women?  Michele Flournoy is a terrific choice, well respected by the administration, military, Congress, Republicans and Democrats.  And no one has done more to strengthen the US-Israel military relationship than she has while leading the effort for a robust US military strategy in Afghanistan.  Just ask the Israelis about the former and top military analysts about the latter.

Here’s Zeke Miller at BuzzFeed quoting Republicans as liking Flournoy:

The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol wrote Friday that the selection of Flournoy or Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter would be far more amenable to Republicans.

“The Weekly Standard would expect to differ with such nominees on many issues,” he wrote. “But they wouldn’t be out on the fringes like Chuck Hagel.”

“If the president wants a messy fight, send us Hagel; if he wants smooth sailing, send us Flournoy,” the Senate Republican aide said.

And here’s Michael Hirsh at The Atlantic explaining how Flournoy is a defense policy type who is haunted by defense policy types (like Hagel) who are haunted by Vietnam:

Michele Flournoy, the former under secretary of Defense who is also a leading candidate to replace Panetta, is also somewhat haunted by the ghosts of Vietnam, by her own account, but in a very different way. Though far too young (she turned 52 on Friday) to have served there with the 66-year-old Hagel, Flournoy warned in a speech this week that military planners might still be too "risk-averse" because of the Vietnam experience. She said the military was endangered by a new "Vietnam syndrome" in which planners might seek to avoid the lessons of counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare simply because the last decade of this kind of conflict has been so costly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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