Monday, Dec 01, 2008
Barack Obama will announce his national security team today to approval from the military establishment and Republicans, distant cries of dissent from liberals and head-scratching from others.
The President-elect is expected to confirm the nomination of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, ask Robert Gates to remain at the Pentagon, and make General Jim Jones his National Security Adviser.
All three are heavyweight figures with whom Mr Obama has policy disagreements of varying intensity, and these choices are intended to emphasise his policy of reaching out to former rivals and opponents.
“You don’t just put the people who were on your side in the campaign,” said Claire McCaskill, a Democratic senator, yesterday. “He wants the best and the brightest and he does not care about their political stripes.”
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
Yesterday Republicans were showering praise on these selections. Senator Lindsey Graham said that Mr Gates, President Bush’s Defence Secretary, had “led us through difficult times in Iraq” and that Mrs Clinton had a “little harder line” than Mr Obama on foreign policy.
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is said to have formed a “very positive” early impression of Mr Obama and been similarly heartened by his appointments. Mr Gates differs from Mr Obama on nuclear policy. General Jones has served the Bush Administration as an envoy in the Middle East, where he was critical of Israel, and, though supportive of redeploying troops to Afghanistan, has previously suggested that a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq would be against the national interest.