RI’s Donilon one of two ‘most influential’ with ObamaApril 27th, 2011 at 7:00 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes
Rhode Island native and La Salle Academy grad Tom Donilon became President Obama’s national security adviser last December – just in time to play a key role in formulating the administration’s response to the crises in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Arab world.
But even before he was elevated to Condi Rice’s old job, Donilon had already emerged as one of the president’s most trusted advisers on foreign affairs, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza reports:
After the Inauguration, the realists began to win that debate [between them and the idealists] within the Administration. The two most influential foreign-policy advisers in the White House are Thomas Donilon, the national-security adviser, and Denis McDonough, a deputy national-security adviser. Donilon, who is 55, is a longtime Washington lawyer, lobbyist, and Democratic Party strategist. …
The National Security Council is a bureaucracy that helps the President streamline decision-making, and Donilon seems to have thought extensively about how that system works. Like the President, he values staff discretion. His rule for hiring at the N.S.C. is to find people who are, in his words, “high value, low maintenance.” Obama’s N.S.C. adopted the model of the first Bush Administration. …
One of Donilon’s overriding beliefs, which Obama adopted as his own, was that America needed to rebuild its reputation, extricate itself from the Middle East and Afghanistan, and turn its attention toward Asia and China’s unchecked influence in the region. America was “overweighted” in the former and “underweighted” in the latter, Donilon told me.
Lizza’s lengthy piece is well worth a read for its up-close view of the sometimes chaotic way Obama’s foreign policy has evolved, particularly for its insights into the role Hillary Clinton played, the process that led to Mubarak’s ouster, and the way we backed into military action in Libya.
(photo: Pete Souza/The White House)