Will Michèle Flournoy Be the First Female Secretary of Defense?

Now that Susan Rice is out of the picture, Senator John Kerry will probably be our next Secretary of State. That's kind of a bummer, because three of the past four Secretaries of State have been women who helped promote women's rights initiatives all over the world. To make matters more boys-clubby, Chief of Staff Jack Lew will probably replace Tim Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury. Uh, Obama, hi, remember when we all voted for you because we wanted women to have more political agency? Can't we get some estrogen in the house? Maybe: Michèle Flournoy, the former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, might be our country's first female Secretary of Defense.


Both Republican and Democrat sources told Buzzfeed that Flournoy would be an excellent choice. Why?

1. She could handle the job.

Flournoy has the resume: she was the highest-ranking woman at the Pentagon until she stepped down from the post in January, co-founded the Center for a New American Security, and served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy during the Clinton administration.


"There is no doubt that the woman knows her business," said Marie Wilson, the founder of the White House Project, a woman's advocacy group.

2. She could potentially make everyone pretty happy.

Flournoy's a "liberal realist" when it comes to foreign policy, meaning that the GOP would strongly prefer her to the other leading contender for the position, once-upon-a-time Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, who has openly criticized the "Israel lobby," much to his former party's chagrin. "If the President wants a messy fight, send us Hagel; if he wants smooth sailing, send us Flournoy," a Senate Republican aide said. How poetic. But after the Susan Rice debacle, smooth sailing doesn't sound so bad, especially since Flournoy is a great choice for the job.


3. Obama kinda owes us.

Again: remember when women voters helped Obama get reelected? Okay, it goes beyond "owing," too; basically, women know what's up.


"All the research we have right now shows that if you want to get a better decision, you want a diverse group," said Wilson. She also said she's worked with Flournoy on a bunch of projects "designed to help women take on national security leadership roles." Awesome.

The Buzzfeed article doesn't mention the myriad of sex abuse scandals in the military this year, or the controversy over whether women should be allowed to serve in ground combat units. Very few women hold top Defense positions; it would be revolutionary if Obama appointed Flournoy.



Share This Story

Get our newsletter