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. KG

    Oh, so now the liberals are loving the selection of a military officer. It seemed during the election all I heard from the libs was how military personnel were war-mongers. Are you sure now you can support a war-monger??

    December 1, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Thank God Obama is picking people our country can respect for their educational achievements as well as their proven successes. The GOP still picks from the bottom which includes such uneducated people as Palin and her crew. Palin and her crew are no more than welfare receipients supported by the state of Alaska.

    December 1, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  3. Larry

    I knew it !! Obama is going to make a lot of mistakes,get us in deep trouble,and the have Jim Jones step in and make us all drink Kool Aid.
    Oh... My... God... !!! Run– LOL

    December 1, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  4. Ohio for Obama- Suburbs

    President Obama gets my 2012 vote. I see that a lot of people don't want to see Obama succeed, that's why we are seeing a lot of people complain about "What Change". I see the change and the world outside of the United Stated see it. The united states is on the right path. I'll like to see some poster on here tell us there picks????

    December 1, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  5. Mike Dallas

    The beauty of Obama is he wants folks on the team to argue their point, but make no mistake, he will always be the final voice and then win or lose, your job is to the facilitate the decision.

    December 1, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. bethnva

    I'm glad General Jones is on board, but he really has to get over his Carbon fix. Wind, tide-energy, hydrogen, solar, whatever, just get off the carbon fuels so happily promoted in your Chamber of Commerce days!

    December 1, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  7. Don

    All of these Cabinet selections seem enlightened, and I for one hope that they will work out for our country and for our President. But before we celebrate, let's try to remember when another President was very highly praised during his transition for his Cabinet picks. To wit, he chose a highly regarded former Secretary of Defense to have a key role in his Administration; a highly regarded former member of Congress to serve in a key post in his Administration, and a brilliant former General (stop when any of this sounds familiar) to be a key member of his Administration. That's right, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell were no less well thought of (arguably they were considered better even) when G.W. chose them prior to his inauguration. I'm not saying that Gates, Clinton, and Jones will fail us, I'm simply pointing out that they haven't performed yet, let's watch what they can do before anointing this team the best ever.

    December 1, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. Joshua Maye

    I've watched Gen. Jones at work when he was NATO Allied Supreme Commander, & I know he will serve the nation while as National Security Advisor.

    December 1, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  9. Frank

    Gen. Jim Jones is an outstanding pick by President Elect Obama! Anyone who had any doubts about how well President Elect Obama would or could run our great country is finding out. Brilliantly! Our country is in excellent hands.

    December 1, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  10. arlene, CA

    Frankly I am disappointed in the way his cabinet is being staffed. I can not see how Clinton can be SOS. She ran a failed campaign, her lies now are being brushed off as just a tuff campaigner. She has no foreign affairs experience other than in her dreams of landing in Bosnia under sniper fire, lieing & exaggering thru the whole campaign, that is a serious deficiency for a SOS. The way she tried everything possible to destroy Obama & kept all the dirt alive & well to the very bitter end. Now we have a cabinet all re-treads of Clinton, and SOS is a Clinton herself, & getting high praise from Obama. This is not change I voted for. If I wanted Clintons I would have voted for one. For me, I worked very hard against the Clinton Machine & I will not be giving one cent to any prez campaign ever again. I have no confidence in our politics that the voters will win anything. even when you win, you lose. (the voters). This must be the change we can believe in – None !

    December 1, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  11. FreeNLovIt

    to "This is not what i voted For"

    Friend, think LONG TERM... we must execute this correctly or we WILL all be going to Iraq to STAY there permanently. It's good to dream like Obama and reach and try for that dream and plan for that dream of complete withdrawal. This is the first step toward pulling out. (Better than staying there 100 years.)

    December 1, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  12. FreeNLovIt

    We need persistency, vision and patience. The most important recipe for success: STAY TOGETHER AS ONE!!!

    December 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  13. FreeNLovIt

    I dont think J Jones will have a problem with Hillary. She's STRONG but she knows when to back down. (You can always have multiple opinions from outside groups. It will help with the decisions. Majority RULES..)

    December 1, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. FreeNLovIt

    From watching her, she's a strong woman, but by popular demand, she will bow for the good of America. She did it for Bill. She did it for Obama. She'll do it for America.

    December 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  15. FreeNLovIt

    Learn from Hillary. In that deep dark hole, when Bill messed up, she fought through – vision, patience.....

    December 1, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  16. Jaye

    This man will be incredible help in the Obama Administration.

    December 1, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  17. clifford

    Semper Fi Sir!!!

    December 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  18. bill for barack

    Good. This is the spirit that should move the whole country.

    December 1, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  19. ChicagoSuz

    Memo to Gen. Jones:
    DON'T temper your opinions. President-elect Obama picked you so he could hear ALL sides of an argument - that way he'll be able to make a more informed decision. He's not looking for 'yes' men/women...

    December 1, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  20. lee

    obama's national security team create an aura of a ' bullet-proof ' political security and high calibered political power

    December 1, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  21. ZipWizard

    Obama is showing every step of the way that he will do a great job as president. Yes, he is balencing out his cabinet with strong personalities...but running a good gov't is like a fine orchestra. You find the most brilliant instrumentalists, but it is the conductor who decides what songs are played, and how the audience sees the performance. If you get a smart president, his party is in power, plus a brilliant cabinet...what you get is a stunning success for moving the country back towards health, and a gov't that can effect change for the common good of the entire country.

    December 1, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  22. Phoney Express

    All I can say is there will be plenty of qualified, brilliant and intelligent personnel to take that 3AM call.

    December 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  23. Staff Sergeant of Marines

    General Jones didn't get to wear 4 stars on his collar and become Commandant of The Marine Corps because he was well liked. he was choosen because of his leadership skills and way of thinking for our beloved Corps. He will bring all that and more to President Obama's team. I have two wrods; "Semper Fi" Sir.

    December 1, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  24. breeze

    Gen. Jim jones and president elect Barack Obama I hope, they pull the soldiers out of Iraq ASAP.

    December 1, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  25. Mike

    To all of those who post comments similar to "This is not the change I voted for":

    The change will come from Obama himself. If he proves to be a good President, he will set the tone and direction of his administration. It is both wise and pragmatic on his part to surround himself with smart, experienced people to help get the job done. It should come as no surprise that many of these people worked in the last Democratic administration (i.e., under Clinton). Who else were you expecting? A cabinet full of inexperienced newcomers?

    In the case of Hillary herself, I do agree that she pulled a few stunts in the primary campaign that turned me off to her and while I'm not one who is willing to write it off as just tough campaigning, I do have to acknowledge that she is still a smart, competent and committed public servant. I hope she will serve President Obama well.

    December 1, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
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