After two weeks’ watching as public uprisings appear to be re-drawing the ideological and political maps of the Middle East, and with virtually no role for the United States, career State Department employees and longtime National Security Council observers point their finger at the decisions made by President Barack Obama to surround himself with yes-men and inexperienced foreign policy hands.
“He has someone with a strong national security background in [Gen.] Jim Jones, and he tosses him over the side for Tom Donilon, who was a former lobbyist for Fannie Mae. What does that say about the President’s interest in foreign policy?” says a long-time State Department staffer who had worked both the European and Middle East portfolios over the past ten years.
General James Jones was Obama’s first national security adviser before abruptly leaving the administration last fall. Donilon was his deputy, but was viewed as someone with closer ties to both Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama team. In fact, Donilon is said to have been the lead voice in prepping Obama on foreign policy matters before presidential debates in 2008.
According to White House sources, Donilon was also a lead voice during foreign policy reviews early in the Obama Administration calling for a “disengagement” from the Middle East and to engage more fully in China and other emerging powers. Donilon reportedly also voiced support for diminishing America’s influence in Pakistan.