Reuters reports: As a teenager in the early 1970s retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward played football and basketball, was popular with classmates and, like many American high school students, was known for partying.
But Harward, to whom President Donald Trump has offered the post of U.S. national security adviser, to succeed Michael Flynn, spent his teenage years not in his native Rhode Island, but in pre-revolutionary Iran, where his father, a Navy captain, advised the Iranian military.
During his teenage years, Harward lived in an Iranian neighborhood, attended school with Iranian-American students and played sports against Iranian teams. Those experiences gave him an unusual familiarity with Iran’s culture and people in the years before the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the pro-American Shah.
“During very formative years of his life, he was exposed to everything that was Iran,” said Joseph Condrill, who knew Harward, known by his classmates as Bobby, when they were students at the Tehran American School. “Iran was one of our homes, and we got to know the Iranian people very well, in a very intimate way.”
The Trump administration has offered Harward the job of national security adviser, two U.S. officials familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if Harward had accepted, the sources said. [Continue reading…]
Thomas Ricks writes: Harward is, like the ousted Michael Flynn, a retired military flag officer. But I think he would be very different from Flynn.
Most importantly, he is not an ideologue, as Flynn seemed to have become in the last few years. Harward thinks of himself as a national security professional — and indeed once served on the NSC staff, during the Bush Administration. Before that, early in the Afghan war, he headed the Special Operations task force in Kandahar.
Harward also would work well with Defense Secretary James Mattis. When Mattis was chief of Central Command, Harward was his deputy. Mattis trusted him enough to put him in charge of planning for war with Iran. Mattis has urged Harward to take the NSA job.
If Harward becomes NSA, Mattis would emerge from the Flynn mess in a uniquely powerful position: He would have two of his former deputies at the table in some meetings. The other one is John Kelly, now secretary for Homeland Security, who was his number two when Mattis commanded a Marine division early in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
At this point, Mattis has far greater influence over former military officers than the president does. His presence at the Pentagon is the sole reason some are considering climbing aboard Trump’s sinking ship. [Continue reading…]