Best Defense

Pungent footnote of the week, plus a bizarre footnote that I just can’t figure out

I saw this on page 389 of Jean Edward Smith’s new biography of Eisenhower: "Army Group B had three wartime commanders: Rommel, von Kluge, and Model. All three committed suicide." (In the photo, that’s von Kluge with Vichy France troops in Russia.) That’s quite a track record. But on page 568, though, Smith has a ...

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I saw this on page 389 of Jean Edward Smith’s new biography of Eisenhower: "Army Group B had three wartime commanders: Rommel, von Kluge, and Model. All three committed suicide." (In the photo, that’s von Kluge with Vichy France troops in Russia.) That’s quite a track record.

But on page 568, though, Smith has a footnote I just don’t understand. He writes that "President Obama initially chose Marine Corps general James L. Jones [as national security adviser], the first nonacademic to hold the post since the Eisenhower years." What? How could the following people be considered "academics"? Brent Scowcroft, Richard Allen, William Clark, Robert McFarlane, John Poindexter, Frank Carlucci, Colin Powell, Sandy Berger, and Stephen Hadley. In fact, by my count, the majority of national security advisors have not been academics. 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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