Thursday, December 04, 2008

Why I'm More Optimistic than Erik

My piece on Obama's foreign policy team and why I've come around to it is up over at GlobalComment.

For a while, people scoffed at Barack Obama’s run for the presidency, writing him off as a naïve idealist who could never make it halfway through the primaries, let alone into the Oval Office. His rival Hillary Clinton criticized his foreign policy suggestions as simplistic and even dangerous.

Yet over and over again, Obama has overcome obstacles with what seems to be an inner talent for realpolitik that could impress even the likes of Bismarck. Unlike Bismarck though, Obama seems determined to shape the future of the U.S. not through war, but through diplomacy.

So his foreign policy team at first seems to be an odd bunch for Obama to choose to enact his plans. His former rival, the one who chided him on the trail for being inexperienced and naïve, and perhaps lost her bid for the presidency because of her hawkishness on Iraq, is now his Secretary of State. He’s retaining the Defense Secretary of the current administration, the one he so often harshly criticized at rallies. And his national security adviser is a retired general who has worked for both parties.

At first, peaceniks like me had our hackles raised by these choices.

We’d campaigned against Hillary Clinton primarily because of her foreign policy differences with Obama, and as Yglesias noted, there were indeed substantive differences. And keeping Bush’s defense secretary? We’d rather have Sarah Palin in charge of energy policy.

Read the rest.