I Have 'Concerns' about Austin as Defense Secretary

I Have ‘Concerns’ about Austin as Defense Secretary

On Friday’s “PBS NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks expressed concern over Joe Biden’s Defense Secretary pick, retired General Lloyd Austin, and said that there’s no need to risk contradicting the principle that the secretary of defense should “have distance from the current military brass.”

Brooks said, “I also share some of the concerns with Lloyd Austin, not for anything having to do with Lloyd Austin and his performance. But there’s a reason we have this rule, this tradition, and also a rule, that you don’t have generals switching right over to the defense secretary. It’s about civilian control. It’s about picking people who have distance from the current military brass. And that is a very solid and sensible rule. And in the Jim Mattis case, where we also had to get an exemption, that struck me as an extreme circumstance where getting Jim Mattis in there was so important, it was worth breaking the rule. Now there must be a lot of very qualified people, like Michele Flournoy, who could be secretary of defense. I don’t quite see why we run this risk of traversing what is a sensible principle.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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