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Best Defense

Foreign policy establishment figure calls for firing the Obama foreign policy team

A former member of Carter administration is calling for a total makeover of Obama's foreign policy team.

US President Barack Obama (C) and US Vice President Joseph Biden (R) greet Ashton Carter after nominating him for Secretary of Defense in the Roosevelt Room of the White House December 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Carter has been nominated to replace Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Secretary Hagel did not attend today's ceremony at the White House. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Leslie Gelb long has had the reputation of being a low-key centrist, so I was surprised to see him come at the Obama foreign policy team with guns blazing. “The failure of Obama or Biden to show up in Paris made clear that most of the president’s team can’t be trusted to conduct U.S national security policy and must be replaced—at once,” he says. And that is just the start of his blast in the Daily Beast. I think this is an important article, as much as for who is saying it as for what it says

The first firings, he says, should be in the White House. “The must-gos include National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, chief speech writer/adviser Ben Rhodes, and foreign policy guru without portfolio Valerie Jarrett.” He also wants Kerry fired. Ash Carter, he says, can be bolstered at the Pentagon with some strong minds.

Gelb also wants to see serious and continuous consultation with congressional leaders.

He notes that he is not known for such alarm. “I’ve never made such extreme and far-reaching proposals in all my years in this business. I’ve never proposed such a drastic overhaul.” This is someone who was an official in the Carter Administration, later was editor of the New York Times op-ed page, and then was president of the Council on Foreign Relations.


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 Twitter: @tomricks1

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