Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Vali of the Donilons

In the hot new issue of Foreign Policy, Vali Nasr, now dean at Johns Hopkins SAIS, but formerly at the State Department, offers a scathing portrayal of President Obama’s national security team. The villain of the piece appears as "the White House," which is referred to 63 times, most of them negative. Readers of this ...

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

In the hot new issue of Foreign Policy, Vali Nasr, now dean at Johns Hopkins SAIS, but formerly at the State Department, offers a scathing portrayal of President Obama's national security team. The villain of the piece appears as "the White House," which is referred to 63 times, most of them negative. Readers of this blog will not be surprised by Nasr's conclusion that "the president had a truly disturbing habit of funneling major foreign-policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisors whose turf was strictly politics."

Every administration has turf fights, but this article makes me thinks Obama's have been memorably bad. Other examples:

"At times it appeared the White House was more interested in bringing Holbrooke down than getting the policy right." The White House "jealously guarded all foreign policymaking." "Turf battles are a staple of every administration, but the Obama White House has been particularly ravenous." "Had it not been for Clinton's tenacity and the respect she commanded, the State Department would have had no influence on policymaking whatsoever. The White House had taken over most policy areas: Iran and the Arab-Israeli issue were for all practical purposes managed from the White House."

In the hot new issue of Foreign Policy, Vali Nasr, now dean at Johns Hopkins SAIS, but formerly at the State Department, offers a scathing portrayal of President Obama’s national security team. The villain of the piece appears as "the White House," which is referred to 63 times, most of them negative. Readers of this blog will not be surprised by Nasr’s conclusion that "the president had a truly disturbing habit of funneling major foreign-policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisors whose turf was strictly politics."

Every administration has turf fights, but this article makes me thinks Obama’s have been memorably bad. Other examples:

  • "At times it appeared the White House was more interested in bringing Holbrooke down than getting the policy right."
  • The White House "jealously guarded all foreign policymaking."
  • "Turf battles are a staple of every administration, but the Obama White House has been particularly ravenous."
  • "Had it not been for Clinton’s tenacity and the respect she commanded, the State Department would have had no influence on policymaking whatsoever. The White House had taken over most policy areas: Iran and the Arab-Israeli issue were for all practical purposes managed from the White House."
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. Twitter: @tomricks1

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