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08 June, 2010

Pentagon Tightens Grip on the Obama Administration and Intelligence Community

President Barack Obama’s appointment of retired Gen. James Clapper as the director of national intelligence demonstrates the Pentagon's enormous influence over the president and indicates that there is little likelihood of genuine reform of the intelligence community. Once again, the president has appointed a general officer to an important strategic position that should be in the hands of an experienced civilian who understands the need for change.

President Obama has given retired generals the key positions of national security adviser, ambassadors to Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and DNI (on two occasions in a 17-month period) to career military officers. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is about to name a retired general who was responsible for special operations in Afghanistan as the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism. These career military officers are not known for strategic thinking, having been trained to focus on worst-case assessments of geopolitical problems. It is no wonder that there have few diplomatic successes during the Obama administration, that the State Department remains underused and without influence and that the humongous Pentagon budget remains largely untouchable.

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