- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tall, square-shouldered and square-jawed, James L. Jones looks like central casting’s version of exactly what he is: a straight-talking, straight-shooting Marine.

But the retired four-star general named Monday to be President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to head the National Security Council has a few lines on his resume not normally associated with former Marine Corps commandants or former NATO supreme allied commanders.

For one thing, the 65-year-old Kansas City, Mo. native speaks fluent French, thanks to a childhood spent mainly in Paris where his father worked for International Harvester. For another, he’s one of the few Marines who holds a degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

For a third, he’s been given a prize office in the Obama White House despite serving as a frequent adviser to both New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the president-elect’s Democratic primary rival, and Arizona Sen. John McCain, the president-elect’s Republican opponent in the general election.

While it has been widely praised and respected by much of the foreign policy establishment, the prospect of Gen. Jones as Mr. Obama’s top security adviser has caused consternation and anger on the president-elect’s liberal flank.

Leftist critics say the selection — coupled with the retention of Robert M. Gates, President Bush’s defense secretary, and Mrs. Clinton’s selection as secretary of state — represents a continuation of Mr. Bush’s hawkish foreign policy and of policies such as the decision to invade Iraq that Mr. Obama fiercely opposed.

“I feel incredibly frustrated,” wrote liberal “Open Left” blogger Chris Bowers.

“Even after two landslide elections in a row, are our only governing options as a nation either all right-wing Republicans, or a centrist mixture of Democrats and Republicans? Isn’t there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration?” he wrote.

But Gen. Jones’ supporters predict he will be an honest but forceful broker on national security and foreign policy debates inside the Obama White House.

Mr. Obama, trying to deflect attacks on his relatively brief policy record, invoked the general by name in his final debate with Mr. McCain as someone he could turn to for counsel.

“If I’m interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, [Delaware Sen.] Joe Biden or with [Indiana Sen.] Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or with General Jim Jones, the former supreme allied commander of NATO,” Mr. Obama said.

The general’s reputation for nonpartisan competence attracted both Democratic and Republican admirers.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, compared Gen. Jones in a 2007 Wall Street Journal profile to a previous general who moved to the White House after hanging up his uniform.

“He’s like [Dwight D.] Eisenhower, who belonged to no camp and everyone wanted him,” Mr Hoyer said.

In one early display of his bipartisan credentials, he served in the mid-1990s as a top military aide to Defense Secretary William Cohen, a Republican appointed by President Clinton, a Democrat.

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