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USSC appoints former Bush administration security adviser as CEO

Having sat in the Bush administration’s National Security Council during early years of the Iraq War, Green’s appointment is regarded as controversial.

The United States Studies Centre (USSC) announced yesterday that Dr Michael Green has been selected as the organisation’s next CEO starting in May 2022. 

Green is currently the Henry A. Kissinger Chair at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) at Washington’s Georgetown University. He also served as former US President George W. Bush’s Special Assistant as Senior Director for Asian Affairs and was a member of the National Security Council under the Bush administration between 2004 and 2006. 

A noted ‘Never Trumper’, Green remained politically active during the lead-up to the 2016 and 2020 U.S Presidential election, having co-signed a letter from 50 Republicans endorsing Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

The appointment signals a significant divergence from previous CEO Simon Jackman, who has not held a political role. Green is also an American citizen, which makes him the first non-Australian academic to become a USSC CEO.     

In a press release, Green referenced Australia’s poor perception of the United States, particularly “among young people” following the Iraq War. One of his priorities as CEO will be to advocate for the importance of the U.S-Australian alliance “for this generation”. 

“We will be more focused on agenda-shaping, not just analysis and understanding. The Centre has an advantage in this because we have comprehensive coverage in trade, economics and defence, which all relate to each other,” Green said. 

According to The Australian, Green’s appointment is regarded as “controversial” due to internal questions over the strategic direction and identity that the USSC will take on under Green’s leadership. It is expected that the Centre will “pivot towards a closer relationship with the federal government” under Green’s leadership. 

Two weeks ago, the SRC Education Action group staged a protest against the presence of Federal Defence Minister Peter Dutton at a publication launch ceremony by the USSC, with SRC Education Officer Lia Perkins describing the event as “absolutely shameful”. 

In a statement today, USyd SRC President Lauren Lancaster said that the USSC’s decision represents “a grave day” for the student community, considering Green’s record as “a Republican bureaucrat of the warmongering US National Security Council under George [W.] Bush, and longtime conservative”. 

“[The USSC] should be required to justify the cognitive dissonance of their selection of someone involved in the American military intervention in the Iraq War. There seems to be very little leadership for good in that,” Lancaster said. 

Similarly, SRC Education Officers Lia Perkins and Deaglan Godwin condemned Green’s elevation as CEO due to his ties to “conservative politics, militarism and war”, particularly the “bloodshed” of the Iraq War. 

“We must be opposed to the US Studies Centre as a whole, and opposed more broadly to the project of them and our political establishment, of convincing students to back Australian imperialism and militarism,” Perkins and Godwin said.