Big promotion for a representative of Croatian diaspora.
US National security adviser John Bolton has named Croatian American Mira Ricardel, the current undersecretary of commerce, as his deputy at the National Security Council, the White House announced, reports Politico on April 24, 2018.
“I selected her as deputy national security adviser because her expertise is broad-based and includes national security matters related to our alliances, defense posture, technology security, foreign security assistance and arms control,” Bolton said in a statement. “Her policy-making and interagency experience will make her a great addition to the National Security Council.”
Bolton himself was just recently appointed as national security adviser, following the ouster of his predecessor, H.R. McMaster, whom President Donald Trump pushed out earlier this month. Within days of Bolton’s appointment, several deputies and senior officials announced they would leave the administration.
Ricardel was raised in Pasadena, California, in a Croatian-speaking household and spent Sundays in a Croatian Catholic church in nearby Arcadia. Her father Petar Radielovic was born in Breza in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A survivor of the Bleiburg massacre, he attended Zagreb University until he fled Yugoslavia in 1954. Petar met his future wife Brigitta in Heidelberg and later emigrated to the United States in 1956, where they wed. He was a self-less husband and father, a loyal friend, patriot and defender of freedom. He died in 2005 in Los Angeles and the funeral mass was held at St. Anthony’s Croatian Catholic Church.
Ricardel served at the State Department from 1986 to 1989, after which she became legislative assistant to Sen. Bob Dole. In 2001, she became deputy assistant secretary of defense for Eurasia and acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 2003 to 2005. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Ricardel served as a member of President Donald Trump’s transition team. In 2017, she was nominated to be undersecretary of commerce for export administration.
According to Foreign Policy, her appointment could create friction with US Defence Secretary James Mattis. Sources say the Pentagon chief came into conflict with Ricardel early in the administration. Bolton and CIA Director Mike Pompeo — who has been nominated to become secretary of state — have more hawkish views than Mattis, and Ricardel is reportedly more ideologically aligned with Bolton than Mattis.
After Trump’s election victory, when Ricardel oversaw Pentagon personnel during the transition, she clashed with Mattis and his aides over who should be named to senior civilian jobs, former officials and other sources close to the White House say, according to Foreign Policy. She helped shoot down Mattis’s initial picks for top jobs at the Pentagon. The discord between Ricardel and Mattis held up nominations for key policy positions for months and derailed prospects for Ricardel to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy. In the end, she took a job at the Commerce Department.