Monday, December 01, 2008

The Face of Competence: What a joy it is to see the face of competence. The teams of advisers President-Elect Obama has formed have been, I think, extraordinary. Their composition proves this fact. Clearly he is changing the tone of the national music and so far I love the sounds.

The introduction of his National Security team is a line up of quality. His chosen advisers are pragmatic, thoughtful and inclusive. Some such as Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State were even his adversaries. This is both prudent and wise as the President-Elect seeks both affirmation of what he believes and challenges to those beliefs. He wants this time to get US policy right. Clearly though, it will be he who is doing the synthesizing of the sound.

In an always dangerous world the US needs a strong national defense. His team reflects that view. When that defense is used, though, to surreptitiously and aggressively change regimes in other countries, as US policy has done many times, problems arise. It gives our enemies the very excuse they need to vociferously and sometimes violently oppose us. Secretary of Defense Webb has talked about a strong diplomatic effort as a necessity for a strong defense so war does not become the first most expensive option. It becomes the last option. The so-called “Bush Doctrine” of preemptive strikes should be the rarity and not the rule. We cannot police or mold the world for our own aggrandizement any longer. The US does not have the manpower, the economic ability or the popular inclination to do that.

I think and hope President-Elect Obama will change the nature of US foreign policy. He knows our actions have consequences especially in this threatening era of nuclear capability. The risk is too great. He knows, too, we need security. There is so much to do and undo. So far, though, I am greatly impressed by the team he has selected to make the attempt!