December 15, 2008
As noted in this column on November 8, Barack Obama’s first two presidential acts were not encouraging for those who believed him during the campaign when he said his administration would bring “Change We Can Believe In”. The appointment of Democratic neo-cons, Joe Biden as vice-president and Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff raised serious questions as to Obama’s commitment to “change” U.S. foreign policy. But, even this writer was willing to give the president-elect the benefit of the doubt until such time as he made more appointments. Well, that time has come. Obama has made three more foreign policy appointments. Each of those appointments indicates no change in direction, but a continuance of failed past policies.
First of all, Robert Gates will stay on as Secretary of Defense. Gates, a career CIA guy has been a vocal critic of Obama’s Iraq withdrawal plan. He supported the invasion of Iraq and bought into the fraudulent excuses for attacking. Additionally, at a time when Russo-American relations need repairing, Obama is keeping a veteran Cold Warrior as head of defense. Lastly, Gates is no Rumsfeld, but he still is connected with the Bush regime and its reign of terror around the world. At the end of the day, Gates is nothing more than an establishment choice for the important position at Defense.
Another Obama appointment was Marine general James Jones as national security advisor. Jones is a good friend of John McCain’s and served as an outside advisor to him on national security issues. As a matter of fact, McCain would have appointed Jones to a similar post in his administration. Clearly the two are like minded, which calls into question why Obama would want Jones around.
Lastly, there is the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. During the campaign, the biggest and perhaps only substantive issue that she and Obama differed on was Iraq policy. She voted to give the president the authority to invade and was slow to call for withdraw. This was not the first time her hawkish inclination reared its ugly head. In a 1999 interview with Talk magazine, the former first lady was quoted as saying she urged her husband to use NATO to bomb Serb targets to halt ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. “I urged him to bomb….What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?” The actions and verbiage of Mrs. Clinton seem more like those of a Bush appointee, which doesn’t bode well for the idea that there will be change in foreign policy from the new administration.
No, it is clear from Obama’s appointments that U.S. foreign policy will not change much from the Bush years. It is telling that not a single top official of Obama’s foreign policy/national security team opposed the war with Iraq–or the fraudulent claims leading up to it. He has chosen establishment figures that have the approval of the ruling elite. Recently, Senator Lieberman, a big supporter of McCain during the campaign was quoted as saying, “Everything that President-elect Obama has done since election night has been just about perfect, both in terms of a tone and also in terms of the strength of the names that have either been announced or are being discussed to fill his administration”. With an endorsement like that we can be assured that on the last Election Day the American people voted to replace one belligerent administration with another.