Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Judgments and an Apology

The judging part of the title has its genesis in a Washington Post article dated November 30 in which a spokesperson for Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that the Chairman “felt very good, very positive” after his 45 minute meeting with president-elect Barack Obama. Elaborating, the spokesperson noted Mullen’s belief that the next commander-in-chief is a “non-ideological pragmatist” who has great respect for the military-- implying that these are rare figures in the current administration.

I would have been more sanguine had the reporter noted what Obama’s evaluation of Mullen is. Obviously, the president-elect “respects” Mullen – otherwise, by now the Pentagon would be abuzz with gossip about the new chairman. And Obama expects Mullen and the other chiefs , over-watched by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who will stay on (I estimate) until this milestone is reached, to get the combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months as he pledged to do many times during the campaign and thereafter.

In all, the “national security team – which I am glad to note included not only the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Attorney General – are centrists, maybe even a bit right-wing. We still hear “dominance,” although less so. We still hear “force” and “power,” but now in the phraseology of soft power along with military force.

The next appointments in “national security” that might give more definition to the new administration’s stand on many security issues will be the intelligence community positions.

The Apology

In my last Blog entry I mentioned that the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) would be closed from the end of the business day on Wednesday, November 26 until Monday, December 1, to allow the staff to observe the Thanksgiving holiday.

What I did not mention in that Blog was my particular schedule for December. I had intended to write December 1 and provide that information, but in trying to finish the first rough draft of this year’s snapshot look at “The World at War January 1, 2009” the minute hand slipped by 2400 (12:00 pm) and into Tuesday. That day was taken up with packing and getting papers etc. set so that when I came back I would be able to quickly get back into the flow.

And where was I going? Into the National Naval Medical Center for surgery. I anticipated “The Quakers’ Colonel” would be offline until December 15. But mid-day Tuesday the hospital called to inform me that the surgery had been can celled and that I should come in tomorrow (December 4) for further consultation with the surgeon.

So that’s the story to now. My apologies to all who looked in vain for a December1 entry. More to come on Friday.

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