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article imageOp-Ed: Obama's National Security Philosophy

By Sadiq Green     Dec 4, 2008 in Politics
Many continue to question, what has Barack Obama done besides; sign up voters, give a speech, run for president? Many question can he be trusted; Who is he really? Those who feel responsible for ascending Obama to the Presidency are questioning him.
Among the questions raised during the campaign and even afterwards dealt with how Barack Obama would handle the world stage. His detractors rated him as the most liberal senator which never really held up. They labeled him a popular world celebrity, something John McCain and George W. Bush could only hope for. They also attempted to portray him as weak on national security.
When his running mate made the very true statement that as President, Barack Obama would likely be tested with a foreign policy crisis early in his administration, his opponents wanted Americans to believe that he would make the country vulnerable and that his possible national security team would be of the pacifist make up. The truth was that besides his speech warning against a invasion of Iraq and a few Senate votes, no one could have ever gotten a real gauge of Barack Obama's foreign policy leanings. In that case, people were wise to wonder; Who is Brarack Obama? That question appears to be answered.
As it has turned out, the President-elect’s national security selections are not at all indicative of any alleged ultra-liberal pacifists that would make our world posture less formidable compared to the current administration. In fact the results will prove they are quite the contrary. Some say that he has undergone a foreign policy shift, but perhaps he's been closer to a hawk than a dove all along.
Barack Obama officially named his National Security team Monday, and it includes two veteran cold warriors, a major political rival and a seasoned national security advisor. It can be argued that the records of three of the four, are all more hawkish than the new president who will be at the head of the table in the White House Situation Room. Yet those three choices – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State, former Marine General James L. Jones as National Security Adviser and Robert Gates, the current and Secretary of Defense – were selected or retained in large part because they have embraced a major shift of resources in national security. Notably, Barack Obama also named one of his more trusted advisors, Dr. Susan Rice as Ambassador to the United Nations.
The President-elect continued his theme of diversity by choosing two female leaders for the countries most crucial diplomatic positions, notably his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton. The former First Lady and New York Senator, is well-respected among world leaders and has a breadth of knowledge of world affairs that will surely make her a force of both diplomacy and defense. It is a remarkable and shrewed political move. He has installed his greatest rival, Hillary Clinton as the US face to the world abroad. However, he installed perhaps his most trusted national security advisor as the face of the US at home. Additionally, in restoring the UN seat to cabinet status, the UN ambassador is not subordinate to that of the head at state meaning they both report to Mr. Obama
Current defense secretary Gates, will remain at that position. As chancellor at Texas A&M University, he was one of a few dissenting voices in the administrations handling of the Iraq invasion and occupation. As President, Barack Obama's will benefit from political cover from Gates, a one-time CIA director and veteran of the Cold War. A year ago, he began giving a series of speeches about the limits of military power in wars in which no military victory is possible. He also denounced America's inability to deploy 'soft power' abroad, which had been so effective during the Cold War years. He blamed both the Clinton and Bush administrations for allowing terrorism to grow, and said later in an interview that "it is almost like we forgot everything we learned in Vietnam." Mr. Obama has looked for the smartest people in their fields for advice and made a wise choice leaving Gates in place.
Mr. Obama's choice for National Security Adviser, General Jones, wrote in a searing report this year about what he called the Bush administration's failed strategy in Afghanistan. General Jones said in the report that NATO was not winning in Afghanistan, then went on to describe why the U.S. and its allies were failing. After nearly seven years of fighting, they had not developed a strategy that could dependably bring reconstruction projects and other assistance into areas from which the Taliban had been routed – making each victory a temporary one, reversed as soon as the forces departed. When he becomes President, Barack Obama has vowed to ramp up the fight as U.S. troops depart from Iraq.
He now has now selected half the members of his Cabinet and at an unusually quick pace in comparison to past transitions. He should be able to ‘hit the ground running’ when he takes the oath of office on January 20. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and the changing world climate concerning Islamic extremism and genocide, the President-elect will indeed be responsible for cautiously ending the Iraq occupation, and for maintaining a keen eye at other potential world developments that could affect the United States at home and abroad.
There are big personalities that could cancel Joe Biden’s influence on Foreign Policy. But if Biden just performs his constitutional duties and nothing else, he still has a seat and voice at the National Security table. He does not need to be Cheney like, and shape foreign policy. Wednesday day Vice President-elect Biden, along with Homeland Security designate Janet Napalotano met with a congressional committee regarding a probable unconventional terrorist attack somewhere in the world in the near future.
It has also been reported that President-elect Obama already receives more PDB’s (Presidential Daily Briefings) than President Bush, 7 days to 6. With Bush appearing to be just itchin’ to get out of town, he’s doing just a bit more damage to the US people before flying off on Air Force One to Crawford or Dallas.
Perhaps it is best with Bush and company more interested in how to rewrite his legacy, he let more interested parties engage on the world stage.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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