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Sat Dec 29, 2012, 06:18 PM

Michele Flournoy Secretary of Defense? Why She Should Replace Leon Panetta

With the coming departure of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, President Obama has a unique opportunity. Unless Chuck Hagel’s apparent nomination stalls in Congress, the president may not be able to take advantage of this opportunity. Nonetheless, there has probably never been a better female candidate for the position than Michele Flournoy— the former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and co-founder of the Center for New American Security that the Washington Post is touting for Secretary of Defense.

She is not a perfect candidate. Unlike previous secretaries, she has not moved between numerous government organizations in Washington, and has probably not built as many relationships with key decision-makers in the same way that Panetta, Gates or Rumsfeld did. Most of her career has been spent in the Department of Defense (aside from stints in academia and at non-profits).

The larger block that’s missing on the resume is the military service itself. While the Secretary of Defense is — and should always be — a civilian, his or her responsibility as an advocate for soldiers and chief strategist in the government’s second most expensive department makes a background in uniform helpful. This is especially true during the next few years: the Department of Defense will need a secretary who understands military life if the department is going to confront the suicide epidemic that is particularly prevalent among junior enlisted soldiers — in the past year killing more soldiers than died in Afghanistan.

Nonetheless, Flournoy has compelling characteristics lacking in other candidates; first and foremost, an uncanny understanding of the capabilities that the military will need to confront potential challenges. It’s easy to think that America’s commitments abroad are receding; the Obama administration has made this line standard, but its actions have tended in the opposite direction. Not only has the administration increased commitments in Afghanistan, but it has expanded into regions like Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, and opened the door for the possibility of conflicts in Syria and Mali.


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Reply Michele Flournoy Secretary of Defense? Why She Should Replace Leon Panetta (Original post)
oberliner Dec 2012 OP
TwilightGardener Dec 2012 #1
elleng Dec 2012 #2
TwilightGardener Dec 2012 #3
oberliner Dec 2012 #4
TwilightGardener Dec 2012 #5
oberliner Dec 2012 #6
TwilightGardener Dec 2012 #7

Response to oberliner (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 06:22 PM

1. Yeah, the author of this writes for The Weekly Standard, the same neocon rag

that is trying to accuse Hagel of anti-Semitism. I don't want this woman anywhere near the top. She is terrible.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 06:52 PM

2. 'She is terrible' why?

Because the author writes for Weekly Standard?

She is a former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy of the United States. She was confirmed in the position by the U.S. Senate on February 9, 2009 and was at the time the highest-ranking woman to hold a post at the Pentagon in the facility's history. . .

Flournoy was a distinguished research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University (NDU), where she founded and led the university’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) working group, which was chartered by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop intellectual capital in preparation for the Department of Defense’s 2001 QDR. On December 12, 2011, Flournoy announced that she would step down in February 2012 to return to private life and contribute to President Barack Obama's re-election bid.

Prior to joining NDU, Flournoy served as a senior-level political appointee in the Department of Defense during the Presidency of Bill Clinton, working at the Pentagon where she occupied the dual roles of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy. In those capacities, she oversaw three policy offices in the Office of the United States Secretary of Defense: Strategy; Requirements, Plans, and Counterproliferation; and Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasian Affairs. Flournoy was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service in 1996, the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 1998, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 2000. Following the November 2008 presidential election, she was selected as one of the Department of Defense Review Team Leads for the Obama transition. On 8 January 2009, President-elect Obama announced that he was nominating Flournoy as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, serving under Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

In addition to several edited volumes and reports, Flournoy has authored dozens of articles on international security issues

"The Inheritance and the Way Forward", with Kurt M. Campbell (date unknown)

The Future of the National Guard and Reserves, with Christine Wormuth, Clark Murdock, Patrick Henry, (Washington, D.C.: CSIS Press, July 2006)

European Defense Integration: Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Capabilities, with Julianne Smith, Guy Ben-Ari, David Scruggs, and Kathleen McInnis, (Washington D.C.: CSIS Press, October 2005)

Beyond Goldwater-Nichols: Phase II Report, with Clark Murdock, (Washington, D.C.: CSIS Press, July 2005)

Beyond Goldwater-Nichols: Defense Reform for a New Strategic Era: Phase I Report, with Clark Murdock, Christopher Williams, and Kurt Campbell, (Washington, D.C.: CSIS Press, March 2004)

Nuclear Weapons After the Cold War (Harpercollins College Div, August 1992)


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Response to elleng (Reply #2)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 07:00 PM

3. No. Here's why:



She's a "Democratic Hawk" who believes that military commanders and defense policymakers who have lived through and learned the lessons of Vietnam have what she calls "Vietnam Syndrome" and are thus too timid and cautious in using counterinsurgency. I don't even want her advising Obama, frankly. Edit to add: There is a reason why all the Republicans want her.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 08:05 PM

4. Still would be groundbreaking

Never been a female Sec of Defense.

And, she is a Democrat.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 08:21 PM

5. I guess, as a woman, I just don't care that she's a woman. It's neither here nor

there for me. I liked Susan Rice for SoS, but because she's a tough smart no-nonsense person, not because she's black or female. I also equally liked Kerry, though--BUT both are similar in their foreign policy views, the only big difference between them was their backgrounds and stature. The same cannot be said for Fluornoy and Hagel. Not only very different backgrounds, but divergent views on war. As for being a Democrat--hell, you'd think she was the Repub of the two candidates in matters of foreign policy and defense. I almost always side with the Democrat, but I make an exception here. There is a reason why William Kristol and other Repubs are pushing her. It's not because she holds a Senate seat they want. It's because they are afraid of Chuck Hagel.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 08:48 PM

6. What do you like about Chuck Hagel?

Not sure I understand the appeal.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #6)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 10:27 PM

7. He was right about a lot of stuff. It's that simple.

He doesn't see war as a big moneymaking or oil-securing game. And he gave up any future in the Repub party in saying what he thought, still never backed down. He didn't get any support locally, either. He was my Senator, and I will never forget the extreme bashing in the local media (especially letters in the Omaha World Herald) when he spoke out against Iraq and Bush/Cheney's management of it. And then when he helped out Obama in 2008--good Lord. Aside from that, he served in combat--and he was always supportive of the troops. My son is going to college on the GI Bill (my husband's benefit) that Hagel and Jim Webb and Frank Lautenberg wrote and sponsored, in fact. So compared to a person that spent her life as a bureaucrat, safe behind a desk, doing the MIC's bidding and coming up with policies she would never have to implement or answer for, I think he's a better choice--at least for those who serve and their families.

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