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.

">

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

The Story of Charlotte, Part 7: Bills of Rights

The mills bring growth and the city expands, giving Charlotteans the freedom to live in such faraway places as the new neighborhood of Dilworth. But after a series of political fights, many residents will soon feel the full grip of oppression

Split Tickets: Charlotte's Cultural Sector

Many large local arts organizations and shows are setting records. Big money is pouring into a major fundraising campaign led by Hugh McColl. But the news isn’t good everywhere. Smaller companies are struggling, with some even shutting down. Can Charlotte sustain both?

Dr. J. Michael Bitzer: The Professor on Speed Dial

When reporters need analysis of the Tillis-Hagan race—or any other political matter, really—they call him. So how did this bow tie-wearing, statistics-loving, Southern politics-following academic from Clemson become everybody’s go-to source?

What's for Breakfast?

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

Add your comment:

Newsletters

Stay up-to-date on all things Charlotte by signing up for our newsletters. Learn more by clicking here.

Newsletter Sign Up
Email*
 

Blogs »


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Try This: Scallops at Nan & Byron's

Scallops are tricky, but Nan & Byron's new-ish head chef Kyle Rhodes has come up with a way to fuse the shellfish with classic fall flavors

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

A Cheese Plate for the Tailgate

We consult the experts for a casual game-day assortment

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

The Group That's Taking On 'Citizens United'

A national group with a Charlotte chapter is trying to drum up support for the abolition of corporate personhood. Are they dreamers, realists, or both?

Comments


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

This Weekend in Charlotte: Bachtoberfest, GUTS CLT, Halloween at the Haven

Comments


Dusk Till Dawn

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

Buzz Fest, Celebrity DJs and Parties, Dogtoberfest, Grave Diggers Ball, Seahawks vs. Panthers Viewing Parties, and More - Oct. 23-26

The 20 social events and parties you should know about this Thursday through Sunday.

Comments