Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Clinton, Holder, Napolitano, Rice, Jones, Gates (and Biden)

Yesterday Barack Obama announced his national security team.

It goes without saying that this is a strong team, with broad and deep knowledge of America's foreign and domestic challenges and robust experience across government in helping to solve, and avert, crises. A few noteworthy points from my perspective:

  • Susan Rice, who has been an impressive foreign policy thinker, and who we heard from a lot during the campaign as an early Obama supporter, will not only serve as UN Ambassador but will take over the post as it is returned to its earlier status as a Cabinet level appointment. This is not only a smart personnel decision - Rice is expert on Africa policy, and the UN spends much of its energy on resolving issues in that troubled continent - but also great symbolism since the restoration of respect for key international institutions is going to be key to improving America's relations with the rest of the world.
  • Eric Holder, not only is a strong nominee for Attorney General but made it clear in his statement that he sees preserving our civil liberties as PART of a national security mandate and not in conflict with those goals. Hurray for that!
  • Janet Napolitano is just an outstanding public servant, full stop.
  • Joe Biden, with his appearance amongst this team, clearly sees himself having an important role in our foreign policy and national security efforts. This is great news, as Biden has for years been the most knowledgeable and respecte foreign policy thinkers in the US Senate (aided by his chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs committee). So go, Joe!
  • And last but by no means least, I am singularly impressed with the maturity of Hillary Clinton's decision to accept the position of Secretary of State. Her new role is a great honor and responsibility, but also requires her to surrender her hard won seat in the New York Senate, and to absent herself from playing a role in domestic policy issues that she obviously cares about very deeply. It's not surprising that (according to reports) she had mixed feelings about taking the post. That she ultimately accepted is indicative of a truly pulic-spirited leader. She brings to the position existing relationships with world leaders across the globe, a massive political brand that is internationally admired, and or course her legendary intelligence and determination.

    Good luck to them all. I'm audaciously hopeful.

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