The Energetic General James L. Jones
by Charles Lemos, Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 02:49:21 PM EST
It's official. Obama's choice for National Security Adviser is General James L. Jones. I must admit that of all of Obama's choices, I find this one the most compelling because of General Jones' breadth of experience. During his military career service, General Jones served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and Commander of the U.S. European Command from January 2003 to February 2007. Previously, General Jones served as the 32nd Commandant of the United States Marine Corps from July 1999 to January 2003. All this is well known. Less widely known is that since March 2007, General Jones has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. General Jones selection as the NSA thus bridges two key components of US national security that must be included in our national security debate going forward -- military and energy. As the Institute's website notes:
Energy underpins America's economic prosperity, national security, and global competitiveness. Yet our nation lacks a comprehensive energy strategy. Policies are often based on short-sighted objectives, complacency, or contradictory rules and objectives. The Institute is committed to putting the best ideas forward for an all-encompassing, long-term plan that can put the United States on a path to a secure, prosperous, diverse, and clean energy future.
The Institute has just unveiled its Transition Plan for Securing America's Energy Future, an energy policy roadmap with 88 concrete recommendations and detailed timelines for President-elect Barack Obama and the 111th Congress. From the preamble Solutions for Securing America's Energy Future:
Global demand (for energy) will increase by more than 50% between now and 2030 - and perhaps by as much as 30% here in the United States. We must develop new, affordable, diverse, and clean sources of energy that will underpin our nation's economy and keep us strong both at home and abroad. Our energy future must address growing shortfalls in infrastructure capacity and emerging environmental issues. And looking ahead, even the most optimistic among us must conclude that we are not well positioned to anticipate nor prepared to meet tomorrow's energy needs.
The report outlines thirteen pillars which are:
1. Aggressively Promote Energy Efficiency
2. Reduce the Environmental Impact of Energy Consumption and Production
3. Invest in Climate Science to Guide Energy, Economic and Environmental Policy
4. Significantly Increase Research, Development Demonstration and Deployment of Advanced Clean Energy Technologies
5. Significantly Expand Domestic Oil and Gas Exploration and Production
6. Commit to and Expand Nuclear Energy Use
7. Commit to the Use of Clean Coal
8. Increase Renewable Sources of Energy
9. Transform our Transportation Sector
10. Modernize and Protect U.S. Energy Infrastructure
11. Address Critical Shortages of Qualified Energy Professionals
12. Reduce Overly Burdensome Regulations and Opportunities for Frivolous Legislation
13. Demonstrate Global Leadership on Energy Security and Climate Change.
Furthermore to ensure that the program is given the importance it deserves, the plan recommended the creation of a new office within the Executive Office of the President, to coordinate energy policy. The report also argues that the holder of this post should sit on the National Economic and National Security Councils. I'm guessing the President-elect has read the report. I haven't but I hope to over the next week. The importance of an energy debate within the parameters of a large national security framework bodes well for the success of the incoming Administration.
In the interest of full disclosure, General Jones also serves on the Board of Directors of Invacare Corporation, which "sells home and long-term medical products" and has served on the Boeing Corporation. The Boeing connection makes me uncomfortable because it is part of that revolving door between government and corporations. It is, at times, hard to see where government ends and corporations begin. Still on balance, I am hopeful that the energetic General James L. Jones brings to White House a wider perspective on what constitutes national security.
Author's Note: I want to thank Jerome for inviting me to contribute here at MyDD. It's an honor and privilege to be a part of this team of bloggers. My interests are more in the realm of international politics and economics and I expect my posts will be largely on those topics relating them back to US policies. In terms of domestic issues, my big issue is that of widening income inequality and correlated issues of social justice. I take the view the zenith of fairness in the US was back during the LBJ Administration and that the past 40 years has been largely a continuous assault by the GOP on the social safety net created between 1933 and 1969. I am hopeful that the incoming Obama Administration will reverse the widening divide between rich and poor.
I am also an avid student of energy issues thus Jones' appointment pleases me even if I don't wholeheartedly agree with the entire basket of proposals that Institute for 21st Century Energy is recommending.
Lastly, I take the view that blogging is best when it is a conversation. Dissent is always welcome for I find that I am sometimes wrong in my assumptions (less often on facts but it does happen), so please push the envelope.