Thomas Donilon

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Named on 8 October 2010 to replace James L. Jones, in the Obama Administration, as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Thomas Donilon has been Deputy Assistant since January 2009. Donilon enjoyed a closer rapport with the President than Jones, and had been running the National Security Council staff wile Jones acted more as a foreign emissary. [1] He had been a member of the Obama Administration transition team, dealing with national security officials.

Donilon has long been a specialist in the interaction of politics and national security. In the 2008 campaign, he was Barack Obama's briefer on national security. He was Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and chief of staff to the Secretary of State, Clinton Administration. His career began with working on the Democratic National Convention at age 24, and as an assistant to Jimmy Carter.[2] He has also campaigned for Joe Biden, to whom he is personally and professionally close. The Washington Post reports that Donilon argued for Biden's approach emphasizing counterterrorism in the Afghanistan War (2001-), as opposed to the counterinsurgency strategy argued by many senior military leaders.[3]

Obama Administration

Bloomberg News has reported that he was a candidate to replace either the departing White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, or Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs James L. Jones.[4]

According to the Washington Post, he designed much of the Obama Administration's national security apparatus, and has been especially influential with the powerful but little-known Deputies Committee.[3]

The New York Times reports
As deputy national security adviser, Mr. Donilon has urged what he calls a “rebalancing” of American foreign policy to rapidly disengage American forces in Iraq and to focus more on China, Iran and other emerging challenges. In the Afghanistan-Pakistan review, he argued that the United States could not engage in what he termed “endless war,” and has strongly defended Mr. Obama’s decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan next summer.[2]


He is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group of the Aspen Institute.


  • Catholic University, B.A., 1977
  • University of Virginia, J.D., 1985


  1. David E. Sanger and Helene Cooper (8 October 2010), National Security Adviser Resigns
  2. 2.0 2.1 David E. Sanger (8 October 2010), Donilon to Replace Jones as National Security Adviser
  3. 3.0 3.1 Scott Wilson (8 October 2010), "Jones to step down as national security adviser", Washington Post
  4. Julianna Goldman and John McCormick (23 September 2010), "Donilon Among Leading Candidates for Obama Chief After Emanuel", Bloomberg Business News/Business Week