Tags: Barack Obama | Ebola Outbreak | Emerging Threats | Homeland Security | ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism

Report: Multiple Crises Test Obama Team's Ability to Cope

By    |   Wednesday, 29 October 2014 06:33 PM

With several crises hitting the Obama administration in rapid succession, the president's national security team is facing questions about its ability to control or get ahead of them, The New York Times reports.

The weak early responses to both the Ebola and Islamic State (ISIS) crises have many people wondering whether President Barack Obama will make changes in his staff in the last two years of his presidency.

There is little evidence of a large-scale shakeup, the Times reports, but the naming of Ron Klain as Ebola czar and retired Gen. John R. Allen to lead the response against the Islamic State have brought in new blood.

But Obama is leaning on an inner circle that has been with him since his initial 2008 White House run, with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough taking what some would view as arcane assignments, while two newer Cabinet members, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, are less involved.

Kerry's public statements often are out of sync with the official White House position, officials told the Times, whereas Hagel is often silent during policy meetings.

Then there are the so-called "czars," who aren't Cabinet members but who can create other problems. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey is said to have been bothered by Allen's appointment over fears he would step on the Pentagon's toes in the ISIS fight.

The National Security Council's increased role in policy making has caused its own issues, such as the recent insult to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that forced an NSC spokesman to backtrack.

Obama's staff also faces a common problem of second-term presidents: the early departure of talent. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns retired last week. Tony Blinken, chief deputy to national security adviser Susan Rice, is expected to take his place, but then a replacement will be needed for Blinken.

But the administration's crisis management reflects most on Obama himself, the Times noted.

"Mr. Obama, several officials said, came back from a vacation on Martha's Vineyard frustrated that the White House seemed reactive to events, and instructed his staff to shift its response into a higher gear," the paper wrote.

"Yet he remains deliberative, methodical, and not swayed by outside criticism of his style. His blowup during a meeting on the response to Ebola two weeks ago was the exception rather than the rule, they said."

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With several crises hitting the Obama administration in rapid succession, the president's national security team is facing questions about its ability to control or get ahead of them, The New York Times reports.
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2014-33-29
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 06:33 PM
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