The rumors have been floating around for months–I helped in the floating process, back in February–but it now seems likely that Leon Panetta will be the next Secretary of Defense, David Petraeus will replace him at CIA, General John Allen will replace Petraeus as commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan and Ryan Crocker will come out of retirement to replace Karl Eikenberry as US Ambassador in Kabul. These are all fine appointments and should be non-controversial, with the possible exception of Petraeus–whose appointment is likely to be criticized by civil libertarians on the left, who’d like to see an aggressive shakeup and investigation of the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation history. His confirmation hearing will be interesting.
A few comments:
–Panetta seems the perfect man for Sec Def at this time. He’s been working the major war zones as Director of Central Intelligence the past few years, so he’s familiar with the strategic challenges he’ll be facing. Most important, Panetta has a history as a dedicated budget cutter. He was chair of the House Budget Committee in the late 1980s and Bill Clinton’s budget director (and later chief of staff). And the most important job that the next SecDef will have will be budget-cutting.
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