David Rothkopf wins the house pool. Leon Panetta will be the next SecDef.
Months ago Rothkopf and I met to discuss who might succeed Bob Gates as Secretary of Defense. We made an extensive list on which some of the names were former Senator Chuck Hagel, current Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Flournoy, CSIS President and Defense Policy Review Board Chairman John Hamre, and General Electric Chairman & CEO Jeffrey Immelt.
Leon Panetta was top of Rothkopf’s list — and I conceded at the time that there was not a better bureaucratic player who could re-engineer the Pentagon, solve still brewing intel sector battles with the CIA and Director of National Intelligence from a DoD perch, and have the capacity to muscle back the power of some tough generals and admirals.
We also thought that Jeffrey Immelt would have been an interesting choice given the fact that the overall manufacturing and technological competitiveness of the US are in jeopardy. Former Secretaries of Defense Harold Brown and William Perry had strong science and technological backgrounds — and Immelt’s nomination might have resurrected that tradition.
But Leon Panetta will be at the helm — and interestingly, General David Petraeus will succeed him.
Watch for Petraeus to focus on modifying the CIA’s role in supporting counter-insurgency challenges and drone-heavy terrorist disruption campaigns.
– Steve Clemons