With opponents of a potential nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R – NE) as Secretary of Defense now centering on the idea that nominating a “white man” would reflect badly on the administration, former Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy has emerged as a seeming consensus candidate for advocates who see her as less likely to make any real policy changes.
A former appointee under President Clinton, Flournoy founded the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) to advocate a more “pragmatic” national security policy. In practice this has meant a policy that never questions the notion that military action abroad is a “force for good,” while arguing distinctions without a difference, as when Flournoy endorsed “withdrawing’ from Iraq by leaving 60,000 troops there more or less indefinitely.
Appointed the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy by President Obama in 2008, Flournoy rarely made waves, backing the administration’s policy without exception. A lone noteworthy spot in this term was in 2010, when the Pentagon publicly repudiated her for saying it was unlikely that the US would attack Iran in “the near term.”
Flournoy’s general uninterestingness makes her a model choice for lobbyists hoping to keep policy unchanged and the gravy train flowing. The question though, is whether she actually would want the job, as she resigned in late 2011 to spend more time with her family.