WASHINGTON -- “I don’t recall the president ever saying anything was off the table,” Brennan said when pressed about the possibility of the U.S. sending arms to the rebels.
Brennan’s nomination, analysts said, was Obama signaling his approval of the accelerated drone program and hinting at plans to continue the tactic, which was intended as an alternative to costly ground wars but has come under scrutiny for causing civilian casualties and breeding even more animosity toward the United States in volatile countries such as Pakistan and Yemen.
“Kill lists and the war from above seems to be the way the Obama administration handles the war on terror,” said Jones, the Rutgers professor. “But they’ve not made clear what the strategic end game is to the drone project.”
Lawrence Korb, who served as an assistant defense secretary in the Reagan administration, said that he expected that Hagel and Brennan would oversee a greater reliance on counterterrorism strategy involving U.S. special forces operations and pilotless drone strikes than the kind of counterinsurgency operations that the marked the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“What’s going to happen is no more counterinsurgency. It will be counterterrorism,” said Korb, a senior fellow at the left-of-center Center for American Progress policy institute.
Korb said that Obama selected a team with whom he is comfortable.
“Obama is his own national security adviser,” Korb said. “He wants people in the room who he likes, who he gets along with and who can be honest with him.”
McClatchy special correspondent Adam Baron contributed from Sanaa, Yemen.