It is hardly a secret that Joe Biden will appoint a woman to head up the Defense Department. And that woman is Michèle Flournoy.
Flournoy was thought to have also been Hillary Clinton’s choice for Secretary of Defense. Back in June of 2016, Biden, speaking at the Center for New American Security (CNAS), a think tank headed by Flournoy, had made the following telling comments about Flournoy:
“Well, madam secretary,” Biden said with a laugh, alluding to her being tapped for the position by Clinton, “I’m writing a recommendation for her, you know.” Under the Trump administration, then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis asked her to be his number two but she declined.
Flournoy has a wealth of experience. She served in President Bill Clinton’s administration as the principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction, and then as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy.
In 2007 she left the government to start CNAS. She returned to serve in the Obama administration as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. She was a major driving force in creating the plans for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is considered a prominent expert in the counterinsurgency strategy.
After the 2016 election, she created WestExec Advisors, a government consultancy group with Anthony Blinken, a former national security adviser to then-Vice President Biden. Blinken was a senior adviser to Biden during his presidential campaign and is expected to be tapped as Biden’s National Security Advisor or perhaps his Secretary of State.
She has advocated for a hard stance in Syria and for Assad’s withdrawal. Back in 2018, she had given an interview with the Jerusalem Post in Israel; her feelings will no doubt be a voice in Biden’s administration.
“[Trump’s administration] hasn’t really engaged on the ground in Syria in terms of showing up at negotiations as a major player or changing any of their activities on the ground to counter Iranian influence or to counter Shi’ite militias,” she had said in the interview.
“Who is looking out for Israeli interests in negotiations about a resolution in Syria? Someone needs to think about what will be on Israel’s borders in the end… Shi’ite militias with [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps] connections? Another Hezbollah? This would be unacceptable. So what will it look like?” she had added. This is certainly a question that concerns the Israelis.
Flournoy also agrees with what is believed to be Biden’s view regarding the Iran nuclear deal. She has said that she would demand real concessions from the Iranians and asked, “How do we go beyond the constraints of the deal, so its constraints do not expire after 15 years and also extend into other areas of concern like ballistic missiles?”
She has been very vocal about the need for the U.S. to invest heavily in what she characterized as “big bets” in future defense technology. Among others, these include command-and-control systems powered by artificial intelligence and the combined use of unmanned and manned systems and capabilities.
She also favors a hard-line approach toward China. “There are a whole set of threats, whether it’s preventing the next pandemic, or dealing with climate change, or dealing with North Korean nuclear proliferation where, like it or not, we have to deal with China as a partner or we cannot solve the problem,” she recently said in an interview with Defense News.
Speaking with NBC News, she left little doubt that she would accept the nomination if it were offered.
“I’ve spent 30 years in some form of public service either in government or in the non-profit sector. That is my calling,” Flournoy had said back in August.
“Who knows, but I have come out and endorsed Joe Biden. I do think he’s the right answer for the country. And I would do anything to support his success and for the sake of the country, frankly.”