Barack Obama’s security team is in place and once January 20 rolls around, it should be full steam ahead on his promises about getting us out of Iraq, right?
Some are questioning Obama’s true dedication to his campaign promises in light of his choices to join him in his administration, including VP-elect Joe Biden, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton, and U.N. Ambassador-designate Susan Rice, all of whom originally supported the decision to invade Iraq.
Is the selection of those who disagreed with him on the war evidence that Barack Obama didn’t really mean what he said about putting the mess in Iraq behind us or will it mean that he’s been able to bring these folks around?
Many people voted for Obama in the primaries over Hillary Clinton specifically because he had opposed the war in Iraq, while Clinton, along with so many others, voted for the authorization. And while some are worried that putting Clinton at the State Department will mean trouble for Obama’s policies, others, like Debra Saunders at Real Clear Politics aren’t buying that:
Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state? A smart political move. For Obama’s foreign policy to succeed abroad, he needs support at home. Clinton in the Senate would have a stake in Obama failure, but Clinton at the helm of the State Department will have a stake in Obama’s success, and no incentive to undermine it.
No matter how Obama’s Iraq policy turns out, I have to believe it will be better and more well-thought out that what we’ve had under George Bush’s watch, especially after the current president, who was so anxious to declare war on the country who ‘tried to kill his daddy,’ now tells just as he’s set to depart for all the brush clearing he can stand, that he wasn’t prepared to be a wartime president.
Joan Walsh’s thoughts over at Salon?
What an odd, self-pitying outbreak of candor for this strange president. I’m not sure how anyone could run for president and be “unprepared” for war. The job includes the title of commander in chief of the armed forces. It’s true, though, that Bush didn’t campaign as someone who would quickly start two wars, and commit the U.S. to a belligerent and reckless policy of unilateral preemptive attacks on our enemies based on perceived threats, not hostile actions (that’s the “Bush doctrine,” in case you’re reading, Sarah Palin).
Whether members of the new Obama team originally disagreed on what we ought to be doing in Iraq, I’m really not worried that they’ll get behind Obama. Nothing is it in for them — not even Hillary — for him to fail. Whether Obama’s GOP opponents will make it easy for him to stay the course (in the immortal words of Bush 41) of his original Iraq plan is one for the Magic Eight Ball since there’s no way to know what’s going to happen between now and his swearing in, let alone in his first year or so in office.
As Susan Page of USA Today reminds us, though, Obama’s foreign policy plan needs to be about more than just Iraq:
Obama is choosing for his most prestigious Cabinet post an independent-minded policymaker whose world view has been shaped by eight years as a globe-trotting first lady and eight years as a senator with time on the Armed Services Committee. She combines a focus on “soft” issues such as maternal health with rhetoric more hawkish than Obama’s on containing Iran’s nuclear program and protecting Israel.
She will be taking the lead on a crushing set of global challenges, including repercussions from last week’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, which threaten a conflagration on the nuclear-armed subcontinent.
In collaboration with other administration officials, the incoming secretary of State will deal with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, efforts to turn around the war in Afghanistan, nuclear programs in such rogue nations as North Korea and Iran, the challenge from a resurgent Russia and growing concerns about global climate change.
In any event, at least we can probably agree on one thing — our next President knows that he has to take the reins of Commander in Chief, even if Number 43 didn’t. And that is most definitely a step in the right direction.