- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
Over the weekend, two writers coming from very different backgrounds expressed concerns about the tone and makeup of the Obama national security team.
Mackubin Owens is a Marine veteran (with a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts from Vietnam) and an expert in civil-military relations. On Saturday he wrote in the Wall Street Journal that, "A president has every right to choose the generals he wants, but it is also the case that he usually gets the generals he deserves. By pushing Gen. Mattis overboard, the administration sent a message that it doesn’t want smart, independent-minded generals who speak candidly to their civilian leaders."
Administration insiders may dismiss Owens as a hostile witness using a hostile platform. It is harder to dismiss the concerns of David Ignatius, a veteran reporter in the Middle East (and author of some terrific novels about it), who wrote in the Washington Post on Sunday that, President Obama, " by assembling a team where all the top players are going in the same direction…is perilously close to groupthink."
I suspect one reason that beat reporters aren’t writing about this is that they fear alienating valuable sources in the administration, such as Tom Donilon, the national security advisor. Yep, I am looking at you, New York Times.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |