Quantcast

Keeping an Eye on the Americas

Someone has to make sure the president doesn't forget about this side of the world. That someone is Russell Crandall

Before moving to Alexandria, Virginia, in June, Russell Crandall taught political science at Davidson. He also served as block captain for his Elizabeth neighborhood association. He also happens to be an expert, maybe the expert, on Colombia and Latin America in general. The latter will come in handy in his new gig as principal director for western hemisphere affairs for the Department of Defense. His job is to help make sure Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has the best possible advice on current security situations and long-term strategy in this part of the world.

"One morning I'm thinking about the northern border with Canada, then it's something down with Brazil or Chile, and then Central America or the Caribbean," he says, describing a typical frenetic day.

He says his job is in some ways similar to his Davidson job -- the collegiality, the tossing around of ideas -- but in other ways "completely antithetical" -- the pace. His days start at 6 a.m. and end around 8 p.m.

Crandall, thirty-seven, had a similar job for a year during the Bush administration, only it was a fellowship (meaning he was not a political appointee) and he worked in the White House for the National Security Council. Before that he was a counterterrorism adviser for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He's been involved with President Obama since the early days of the campaign as a key foreign policy adviser. When the campaign came through North and South Carolina, he even helped out canvassing neighborhoods.

"[Obama] was a candidate who was inherently pragmatic and one who encouraged debate," Crandall says, citing traits that appealed to him. He says that spirit has carried over to the administration. "We work through issues, look at both sides, try to make them become three-dimensional until you really feel that you've got an understanding of them. And then we've got to decide and move on."

Among the most pressing issues Crandall has to deal with are the drug wars in Mexico. But he also has to work to make sure the top brass don't forget about the Americas. "Compared to the dark days in the 1960s and '70s of military dictatorships and revolutions in Central America, it's easier to take Latin America for granted," he says. "Yet this is our hemisphere. And we have to maintain economic relationships and military relationships. There's a lot of need to not take your eye off the Americas just because we've got these other flashpoints."

Crandall, who is married and has twin three-year-olds and a newborn, all sons, says his is an indefinite appointment. "But not forever," he says. "At some point we'll go back to the staid life of a college professor at Davidson." In eight years at Davidson, the gregarious Crandall won two major teaching awards. And you can bet his class will be pretty popular again upon his return.



More »Related Stories

Around Towns: Concord

Where racing lives, shopping happens, The Avett Brothers grew, and the mayor knows everybody

The Knights Come Home

After 10 years of court cases, after a series of complicated land swaps, after two decades floundering away as the South Carolina baseball team with the Charlotte name, the Knights are home. And the pressure is on to make it all worthwhile

Real Estate 2014

Charlotte’s real estate market is coming back to life. Whether you’re starting a family, looking to invest, or retiring, there’s a house out there for you

Anthony Abbott: More Than Words

Five decades ago, poetry saved a Davidson College professor from despair. He’s spent the rest of his life sharing the gift of writing with others

We invite your responses and discussion. Please refrain from personal attacks, profanity, commercial promotion, or non sequiturs.

Add your comment:

Blogs »


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

This Weekend in Charlotte (4/23/14): Gillian Welch, PostSecret, Othello, & Lady Antebellum

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

5 Great DIY Projects

Home renovations, gardening tips, and a backyard bash to inspire your creative side

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Food (Truck) Fights

New rules could hurt the industry

Comments


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

Charlotte Magazine Cover Shoot Featured in Matrimony Video

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

Apply for a Grant from Keep Charlotte Beautiful

The committee will award $5,000 for projects that make lasting impacts

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

The Agenda 21 Derangement

How a wild conspiracy theory lassoes mainstream Republicans, Pat McCrory included.

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

New Favorite Spring Side

Highlighting spring vegetables should be the highlight of your day, especially when its this

Comments


On Tap

Matt McKenzie on Craft Beer in Charlotte

A busy week in Charlotte craft beer with events by VBGB, JJ's Red Hots/Triple C, Custom Home Pubs/Unknown, Olde Mecklenburg and Birdsong

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

McCrory's Coal Ash Proposal: All Sizes Fit One

Gov. McCrory's proposed coal ash legislation sounds like a strong step toward forcing Duke Energy to clean the stuff up. It's not. Here's why.

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Spring Feasts

Ham, matzah, lamb, potatoes, and eggs, oh my. Passover kicked off Monday and Easter is coming up, so I've got a meal plan ready for you if you've put it off till now.

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Coming This Fall: RockSalt

Owner Travis Croxton on his new space at Park Road Shopping Center, his family's oyster farm, and his love of Price's Chicken Coop

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

Matthews Market Opens for Spring this Saturday

After a snowy winter and early spring cold snap, farmers and customers are eager to return

Comments


Dusk Till Dawn

Jarvis Holliday Chronicles Charlotte's Nightlife and Social Scene, Straight No Chaser

Nightlife News: Sydney’s Martini and Wine Bar Opens, Rebranding Leads to 3 Trade, and Dharma Lounge Prepares to Close

Keep up with the changing landscape in Charlotte’s nightlife scene.

Comments


On Tap

Matt McKenzie on Craft Beer in Charlotte

Charlotte’s first growler fill store to open this summer

Located in SouthEnd, The Beer Growler will have 45 taps

Comments


Dusk Till Dawn

Jarvis Holliday Chronicles Charlotte's Nightlife and Social Scene, Straight No Chaser

Springtime Events, ‘Illmatic’ Tribute Party, Cigars and Stilettos, Oak Room’s First Anniversary, and More April 17-20

The days leading up to Easter are quite eventful in Charlotte. Your social itinerary awaits.

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

Carowinds in Bloom

The springtime festival continues through the weekend with flowers, cooking demos, and craft beer

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Sow Much Good

Providing fresh produce and farm goods to those in urban deserts, Sow Much Good has reopened

Comments


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

This Weekend in Charlotte (4/16/14): Blue Man Group, Springsteen, & Local Natives

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

The 'Republican Civil War'

A Monday afternoon sampler.

Comments


On Tap

Matt McKenzie on Craft Beer in Charlotte

NoDa Brewing takes gold in World Beer Cup

Hop, Drop ‘N Roll lays claim to top American IPA

Comments