- By Thomas E. RicksThomas 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 email@example.com.
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.