Yesterday, the Obama administration announced that Daniel B. Poneman has been nominated to be a deputy secretary for the DOE. Poneman isn’t a scientist, and his background is decidedly policy oriented, especially in the areas of arms control, nuclear proliferation and export controls. I really don’t know much about him. At first glance, he seems very much an insider, someone well entrenched within traditional thinktanks such as the Scowcroft Group, the Aspen Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations.
I have some anxieties about this kind of appointment given that – speaking in general now – these insider groups and the individuals that populated them tend to have been more of the “problem” than the “solution” in recent years. Poneman also has unusual quirk. He is/was also a would-be guitarist, see above, in a band (with a least one member, Skunk Baxter, who should have stuck with music instead of conservo-technocracy) that goes by the insipidly un-ironic and insulting name, “Coalition of the Willing.”
So, we will have to wait and see about the wisdom of this nomination.
Here is Poneman’s official capsule bio:
Since 2001, Daniel B. Poneman has been a Principal of The Scowcroft Group, an international business advisory firm based in Washington, D.C. Prior to that he was a partner in the law firm of Hogan & Hartson. From 1993 through 1996, Poneman served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Nonproliferation and Export Controls at the National Security Council. He joined the NSC staff in 1990 as Director of Defense Policy and Arms Control, after serving as a White House Fellow in the Department of Energy. Poneman has served on several federal commissions and advisory panels, and has authored books on nuclear energy policy and on Argentina. He coauthored Going Critical: The First North Korean Nuclear Crisis, which received the 2005 Douglas Dillon Award for Distinguished Writing on American Diplomacy. Poneman received A.B. and J.D. degrees with honors from Harvard, and an M.Litt. in politics from Oxford University. He is an Adjunct Senior Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Aspen Strategy Group.