December 1st, 2008
05:09 PM ET
10 years ago

Gen. Jim Jones talks about achieving consensus

 Jones was named Obama's pick for national security advisor Monday.

Jones was named Obama's pick for national security advisor Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The new National Security advisor, Gen. Jim Jones, says the challenge he will face in working with high-profile Cabinet members - including the new secretary of state, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates - will be to achieve consensus among the disparate members of President-elect Barack Obama's national security team.

In taking the job and in the name of consensus, Jones also had to temper his own opinion on withdrawing from Iraq.

In an interview with CNN on Monday, Jones said he needs to ensure the president-elect's vision is achieved.

"At the end of the day, (on) the major issues, he will make the decision and everyone will salute smartly and carry it out," Jones said in a phone interview soon after the official announcement in Chicago of Obama's national security team. "I think the national security advisor can make certain that the president's priorities are clearly understood and articulated and carried out so that we actually arrive to some conclusion that is well understood and well supported."

Jones himself was in disagreement with Obama about the senator's proposal to withdraw troops from
Iraq within 16 months of taking office as president.

In a 2007 hearing, Jones was asked by Arizona Sen. John McCain about a time frame for withdrawal.

"I think deadlines can work against us. And I think a deadline of this magnitude would be against our national interest," Jones said in testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

But Jones said that the recent Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Iraqi government diminished that difference of opinion.

"We have talked about it privately," Jones said. "The new SOFA agreement, as the president-elect explained this morning, gives us a pathway to work in. So I don't know of anything that would put us at odds."

Jones said his role as national security advisor will be to bring together all the different elements of national security so that the president "can make an informed decision based on the input from all elements that should be involved in the decision."

"I do believe that we are looking at a different sort of national security approach. It is much more comprehensive. ... So we are going to have to be more familiar with not just (Defense Department) issues and state issues, but also with outside energy issues and figure out how you coordinate this thing," he said.

"If it takes some articulation, I am certainly happy to do it. But my role, my goal, is to be as supportive as I can and see how that works out."

Jones' decision to once again enter public service came after talking it over with his family over the long holiday weekend.

"I think it is really important to be able to respond in the affirmative if you are asked to serve," he said. "Once I got my family organized and talked about it over Thanksgiving. ... I received their encouragement and support."

- CNN's Adam Levine contributed to this report

Filed under: Obama transition
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Gobama

    Whining Americans should recognize that it was Obama's call for a 'time table' out of Iraq that has gotten us the present Status of Force Agreement which signals ultimate closure to a wild bush McCaint 'war without end'.

    Only fools engage in an enterprise without plan and time line!

    Imagine building Empire State Building without plan and time line; there would have been no end in sight, including no end to the cost overrun!

    Bush is a fool; anything contrary to 'stay the stupid course' is success.

    December 1, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  2. keekers

    He wouldn't work for the Bush Admin...saw the writing on the wall. He's an independent thinker, another great brain in the cabinet.

    December 1, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. michael

    The team of rivals theory i think will actually work during this important time in our nations history. Brilliant minds do wonders when a good leader isn't afraid of their opinions. The last analogy that i'll use is "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer". I've witnessed a leader who has grabbed the bull by the horn who's ready to lead us back into the prosperous times that we've enjoyed in times past let's say the 90's era. Keep up the good work President-Obama, we're behind you all the way.


    December 1, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  4. Blue in FL

    For those Ron Paul fanatics who supported Obama .. stop your BS .. wait till Obama get into office before criticizing him ... you jump to all kind of conclusions by the appointments he has made so far ..

    And If you want another Ron Paul it's time to reform your Party (GOP) the party Ron Paul ran on ... you forgot Obama ran on the (DEM) Party ..

    The Powers that be in the GOP .. shunned him ... because he wanted to change the party ... i guess .. those folks hate change ...

    I'll give Obama some breather before i go holding him accountable for the promises he made ... I see him spending the 1st year focusing on turning around this failing economy .. before he goes focusing on Iraq & Domestic issues ..

    December 1, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  5. TyWebb

    Gotta be better than Condi Rice and Hadley!

    December 1, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  6. godzmainman

    People........this is change we voted for....pragmatism....I believe Obama is a smooth operator. He his making his cabinet picks to douse the fright of people who have been worrying about what change will look like. Now that people are comfortable with him, he has enoumous political capital to enact whatever policies he might wish......and I know the health care reform is not going to resemble a right wing reform, it may be centrist but it's sure gonna lean 16months or by the end of 2011, the tropps are comming home.....whatever happens to the economy, regulations will be thightened on wall we win.....

    December 1, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  7. alan j.

    As a registered Democrat who voted for McCain, I LOVE Obama's cabinet picks. I am laughing out loud at my oh-so-smug-lefty-friends who berated me for voting McCain.

    Gee, not so smug anymore, are we?

    December 1, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  8. James

    Obama is doing this exactly the way I hoped, choosing the best person for the job, not the most qualified person willing to be a yes man. If you don't like his picks, take a long look at the people surrounding the current president, intelligent, experienced and spineless.

    To the guy eating pintos from the can, cold, why is that relevant?

    December 1, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  9. Greg Hodges

    It says alot about both Barack Obama and Gen. Jim Jones that dispite their ideological differences; both these leaders of men want to do what is truely in the best interest of their nation. I believe that despite the enormous challenges facing the U.S. and the World these days; the American peple and the entire planet are in very good hands now that the 'Best and Brightest" are taking over from"Dumb &Dumber." I also believe that this is a return to the Democratic Party that once upon a time went eyeball to eyeball with the U.S.S.R. over missles in Cuba in1962; when the Russians blinked. It is as if the spirit of the New Frontier is returning. Jack and Bobby Kennedy would approve!!

    December 1, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  10. Rick

    Obama's plan for Iraq is the same as Bush's and McCain's and is summed up by the phrase "listen to the generals". Obama strung along the left wing by promising (lying) to withdraw quickly from Iraq. And now that's he's been elected, his plan is no different than McCain's. The left wing has been screwed over again.

    December 1, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Hey Rick,

    December 2, 2008 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
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