Lost amid the national and international fanfare accompanying the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States is attention to the person who is slated to be the next major foreign policy architect and executor, retired US Marine General James Jones.
In nearly identical phraseology that cannot be construed as either fortuitous or without foundation, the Washington Post of November 22, 2008 referred to the then pending selection of Jones as US National Security Adviser in these terms:
"Sources familiar with the discussions said Obama is considering expanding the scope of the job to give the adviser the kind of authority once wielded by powerful figures such as Henry A. Kissinger."
And the following day's Israeli Ha'aretz wrote:
"Jones is expected to play a key role in the Obama administration. According to U.S. press reports, he will be as strong as Henry Kissinger, the all-powerful national security adviser to President Richard Nixon."
The analogy is with the role of Henry Kissinger as National Security Adviser to the first and second Nixon administrations (1969-1977, continuing into the Ford White House) and as both National Security Adviser and Secretary of State during the second term; that is, as a then unprecedentedly influential player in determining US foreign policy.
A similar comparison can be made with the Carter administration's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the true power behind the foreign policy throne from 1977-1981, with Secretaries of State Cyrus Vance and, briefly, Edmund Muskie, largely figureheads in relation to him.
James Jones is now the first career military officer to hold the post as head of the National Security Council since retired general Colin Powell did so in the second Reagan Administration and is the first former NATO Supreme Allied Commander to do so.
Jones was appointed to the NATO post of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the overlapping, essentially co-terminous one of Commander, United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM) in the first Bush term and is part of the two-thirds of the Obama administration's foreign policy triumvirate – National Security Adviser, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense - inherited from the preceding administration. The other is, of course, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who like Jones is a graduate of Georgetown University, with a doctorate degree in Sovietology and Russian studies.
As commander of the Pentagon's European Command (EUCOM) Jones was in charge of the largest area of military responsibility in world history, one that encompassed anywhere from 13-21 million square miles and included 92 of the world's 192 nations. And as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander he was the chief military commander of an expanding military bloc of twenty six full members, two new candidates and twenty three Partnership for Peace, six Mediterranean Dialogue, six Gulf Cooperation Council and assorted other military partners in South and Far East Asia and the South Pacific, altogether on five continents.
While wearing both the above braided hats, Jones was the major architect of what last October 1st was officially launched as the first new US military command in over half a century, Africa Command (AFRICOM), whose chartered area of operations includes fifty-three nations.
AFRICOM's historical precedents were commented upon by a Ghanian news source almost three years ago:
"Marine General James L. Jones, Head of the US European Command...said the Pentagon was seeking to acquire access to two kinds of bases in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Kenya and other African countries.
"The new US strategy based on the conclusions of May 2001 report of the President's National Energy Policy Development group chaired by Vice President Richard Cheney and known as the Cheney report." (Ghana Web, February 23, 2006)
And by a Nigerian commentator the following year:
"[In January of 2002 the African Oil Policy Initiative Group] recommended that African oil be treated as a priority for the national security of the US after 9/11, that the US government declares the Gulf of Guinea an "area of vital interest" and that it set up a sub-command structure for US forces in the region. In September 2002, the then US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, put forward a proposal to establish a NATO Rapid Response Force (NRF) which was approved by the defence ministers of NATO in Brussels in June 2003 and was inaugurated in October 2003." (Leadership, November 22, 2007)