- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
Last year, a lot of folks noticed when Col. H.R. McMaster, the by-all-accounts brilliant commander who led counterinsurgency efforts in Tal Afar, got passed over for promotion to one-star general. Commenting on the move, Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly wrote, “it certainly doesn’t inspire confidence that the military has any intention of supporting serious institutional change in response to 9/11.” Desert storm veteran James Joyner called McMaster “just the type of scholar-warrior that the military needs in its flag ranks right now.” The counterinsurgency gurus at the Small Wars Journal saw it as “a type of reverse Peter Principle” at work.
These commentators will be pleased to note that McMaster was not doomed to be a lowly colonel forever. After failing to make the Pentagon’s annual promotion list twice, he’s just been given his first star:
[President Bush nominates] Army Col. Herbert R. McMaster Jr. for promotion to the grade of brigadier general. He is currently enroute to serve as director, concepts development and experimentation, Army Capabilities Integration Center [ARCIC], U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, Va.
The ARCIC is a relatively new center that has the potential to be very influential in setting Army doctrine. As the Washington Post‘s Ann Scott Tyson suggests, the promotion indicates that the counterinsurgency types in the Petraeus mold are gaining the upper hand against the big war crowd.
UPDATE: Via e-mail, retired Lt. Col. John Nagl (now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security) comments:
The selection of my friend and mentor H.R. McMaster for promotion to Brigadier General is another indication that the Army is learning and adapting to the wars of this century–and putting the right people in the right places to drive change. H.R. has had strategic influence on the Army since he was a Major, and he’ll be able to do even more with the power of a star behind him. Although I don’t know many of the other officers selected for promotion to Brigadier, and many great officers didn’t make this list, from all accounts these officers who were picked have the experience, vision, and drive to continue to improve one of America’s best learning organizations.”