Many Israeli commentators are strategically beginning to express anxiety — which the Americans will no doubt rush to assuage — that Retired Marine Corps General James Logan Jones has been appointed as the Arbiter of the Annapolis Joint Understanding in order to pressure Israel to make “security concessions” to the Palestinians. But, the fact that Gen. Jones is a former Surpreme Allied Commander at NATO should please the Israeli military, which is has been very flattered at all the (mostly self-generated) talk of Israel being asked to join NATO. Already, Israel has participated in more than one joint maneuver at sea with NATO. (The Palestinians, by contrast, have no naval force, but Hamas has started a Naval police unit…)
Gen. Jones, the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, has said that the Marines were created as a landing force for the U.S. Navy, and that the Marines have an “expeditionary mindset”. As Marine commandant, he was also a member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Then, he was named head of the U.S. European Command at NATO’s Brussels headquarters in January 2003. He relinquished command as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe on 7 December 2006, and retired from the Marine Corps on 1 February 2007, ending a 40 year career of active military service.
Wikipedia claims that “He also was asked twice by Condoleezza Rice to be Deputy Secretary of State after the resignation of Robert Zoelick. He declined”. The Wikipedia entry for Gen. Jones is here.
On 28 November, the famously-predicted “day after” the Annapolis conference that has launched direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the U.S. Secretary of State announced that she was appointing Gen. Jones as her “new Special Envoy for Middle East Security“.
In her remarks at the announcement of the appointment, Rice said that “General Jones will report directly to me and I will look to him for candid, independent advice and assessments of our efforts.”
Rice said:”I look forward to his getting to work as soon as possible”.
Unlike the present U.S. advisor in the Israel, Gen. Dayton, who is dealing only with the Palestinians, Gen. Jones is to oversee the work of both Palestinians and Israelis.
Rice said: “General Jones will advance our objective of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He will work with Israelis and Palestinians on the full range of security issues and he will work to strengthen security for both sides. General Jones will work with Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, who will continue his mission of helping the Palestinian Authority to build and rationalize its security forces. General Jones will also engage with key countries to support Middle East security [n.b., the significance of this is not clear]. He will design and implement a new U.S. Government plan for our security assistance to the Palestinian Authority and our security cooperation with the Israeli and Palestinian governments … It is clear that we will have a superior commander, a seasoned diplomat, a brilliant strategist, experienced leader who understands the security challenges of the Middle East and how to meet those challenges successfully. As we work to help the Palestinians and the Israelis design their future, we hope that the work that General Jones will do will help them to better design a security concept that can make that future one that is clearly one of better security and peace for both sides”.
Rice also said that Gen. Jones would “address the regional security challenge comprehensively and at the highest levels”. Is this a reference to Iran???
Gen. Jones said: “I look forward to forming a team and working with both the State Department and Defense Department as the need arises to complete our task”. The full U.S. State Department transcript of this announcement is posted here.
Gen. Jones headed the recently-delivered Report of the Independent Commission about Security Forces of Iraq, which can be consulted in its entirety here.
On 6 September, the day of the report’s publication, the evidently spruced-up Gen. Jones (better haircut and color, bronzer, and well-cut suits) testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Washington Post has reported that Gen. Jones is highly regarded not only in the military, but also by members of the U.S. Congress.
Gen. Jones was born 19 December 1943 in Kansas City, Missouri, and then moved to Europe with his family in 1947, when he was 3 years old — and would have seen some of the how the post-war Marshall Plan worked to rehabilitate European countries devastated by the Second World War.
His NATO biography says that Gen. Jones “attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and was commissioned into the Marine Corps in January 1967, served in Vietnam as a platoon and company commander and was promoted to First Lieutenant … General Jones has a Batchelor of Science degree, and an Honorary Doctorate from Georgetown University. His personal decorations include: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit with four gold stars, Bronze Star Medal with Combat ‘V, and the Combat Action Ribbon”. The NATO bio is posted here.
Wikipedia reveals that he played basketball at Georgetown University (the team is known as the “Hoyas”, and the school colors were navy blue and grey). He was at Georgetown at the same time as former U.S. President Bill Clinton (who was in the College, not in the School of Foreign Service) — and me (my first year — in the School of Languages and Linguistics, majoring in Arabic, overlapped with Gen. Jones’ last year at Georgetown, and he graduated in June 1966). Another distinguished Alumni from that period was Turki bin Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who was enrolled, like Clinton, in the College. Turki, who was known at Georgetown as “double oh seven” or “007”, a play on the code name for James Bond, who also had a fondness for splashy sports cars, and because of Turki’s grade point average — he attended class faithfully, but had no interest in school at the time. Turki later became Saudi intelligence minister, then Saudi Ambassador to London and then to Washington — resigning recently in a dispute, apparently, with the previous Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Bandar bin Sultan, and others, about the nature of contacts with Israeli officials.
Georgetown’s student body, at that time, was composed mainly of the sons and daughters of American professionals (doctors and lawyers), plus about 25% from families of the wealthy and well-connected Latin American oligarchies, and a very few Arab students from newly-independent countries like Kuwait and Libya who were studying English before enrolling in University degree programs. During a time of nation-wide student activism against the U.S. involvement in the war in Viet Nam, Georgetown was a notably quite campus. Just a lonely handful of pacifist students, with one activist clergyman, would maintail a vigil on Fridays at lunchtime just inside the main gate — part of their protest ritual was to eat only a bowl of rice on Fridays, in sympathy with the South-East Asian population.
Gen. Jones said in a December 2001 CNN interview with Larry King that “My baptism under fire was in the 1968 Tet Offensive as a lieutenant, platoon commander then company commander. From my standpoint, the big shift on the ground has been that we have migrated from the war of attrition, if you will, to a much more intelligent way of fighting…”
Gen. Jones was introduced by (former NATO Commander) General George Joulwan, at a May 2006 workshop in Berlin on Global Security, sponsored by the Center for Strategic Decision Research, with these words:”[A]s a brigadier general, he [Gen. Jones] was responsible for airlift operations into Sarajevo, relief for the Kurds in northern Iraq, and humanitarian efforts in Africa. He has held command positions at every level in the Marine Corps and served as Legislative Liaison to the Congress, military assistant to the Secretary of Defense, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He has been a superb Supreme Allied Commander Europe since January 2003. And he has a great asset for being SACEUR [Supreme Allied Command in Europe] — because he was raised in France and Belgium, he speaks fluent French! Most important, he has both moral courage and respect for political control of the military, but is not afraid to stand up and be counted on difficult issues”. General Joulwan’s description of Gen. Jones is posted here.
At the same workshop in Berlin last year, Gen. Jones told other participants that “The term ‘out of area’, which we used not too many years ago, is no longer relevant—not when NATO is involved in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and Iraq. There is no such thing as being out of area in the new NATO because the new NATO has the political will to do more”. He also expressed concern about “the Iranian question and nuclear security”, which, he said, is a matter that affects “our collective security”. Gen. Jones remarks can be seen here.
The Palestinian negotiators seem to be happy that the U.S. will arbitrate between them and Israel in this new peace process. This is despite the fact that, so far, the U.S. has been far more sympathetic to Israeli concerns, and has come down on the side of the Israeli negotiators in nearly every dispute to date. On top of that, what will happen if there is disagreement, or obstinancy? What, exactly, will the Arbiter do then?
On top of this, one immediate focus is going to be on bolstering the Palestinian Authority’s security services. Interestingly, since the mid-June Hamas ouster of Fatah from Gaza, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ formation of a new Palestinian “Emergency Government” — which has been prolonged by decree — Fatah has been sidelined from the PA almost (almost) s neatly as Hamas. Palestinian demonstrations against the Annapolis were banned. Palestinians who tried to demonstrate anyway were brutally repressed, one apparently unarmed demonstrator was shot in the chest in Hebron when the crowd began to throw stones, journalists were severely beaten, tear gas was used to disperse the crowds, and dozens of demonstrators were detained. The PA will have to be very careful from now on about how wisely it trains, disciplines, and deploys its security force(s). Otherwise, the PA — and the role of the American arbiter — could be at risk.
So, with all this, will Gen. Jones be keeping his day jobs? On 26 June 2007, Gen. Jones was elected as the 11th member of the Boeing Corporation’s board of directors. A few months earlier, on 5 March, he was named as President and CEO of the newly-created Institute for 21st Century Energy, which is described as an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C.
The Institute for 21st Century Energy was then officially launched on 12 June — and the impression is given that this Institute of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may have been created specially for Gen. Jones. At the launch event, Gen. Jones told those present that “as Commander of NATO, I worried early in the mornings about how to protect energy facilities and supply chain routes as far away as Africa, the Persian Gulf, and Caspian Sea”. Gen. Jones full remarks at the launch event are here.
At the Institute for 21st Century Energy, interestingly, Gen. Jones met UNSG BAN Ki-Moon, who has appropriated the issue of climate change as one of the main themes during his UN term of office. BAN visited Gen. Jones in the Institute’s offices in Washington D.C. on 11 October.
The Institute for 21st Century Energy says, on its website, that its purpose “is to unify energy stakeholders and policymakers behind a common strategy to ensure that America’s supply of fuel and power is adequate, stable, and affordable, while protecting national security, and improving the environment”. Two of its main goals are also listed: “Protect our national security through the expansion of domestic energy production, while safeguarding our energy assets at home and across the globe”, and “Preserve and improve the environment through greater efficiency, technology-based solutions, and the sound management of global climate change”. The Institute’s Mission statement can be found on the Institute’s website here.
A key indication that Gen. Jones is making an effort to glossily groom his post-military career is that he is now being represented by the Leading Authorites speakers and talent bureau. Their website indicates that Gen. Jones is available to speak for a fee in the $20,001-$50,000 per event range, depending (in part) on location. The Leading Authorities website says that Gen. Jones “may be the most sought-after man in politics today. The top presidential candidates from both major parties are actively courting Jones for his wisdom, guidance, and endorsement … General James L. Jones – sought-after by, and distinguished among, politicians of every stripe – offers a vast wealth of knowledge, and speaks with poise and authority about international politics, energy, and leadership in the 21st century”. Gen. Jones may have even more to talk about after his assignment as Annapolis Arbiter.