Yes, Obama is a centrist on foreign affairs
by Jerome Armstrong, Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 06:23:03 PM EST
I got some interesting feedback from Obama supporters in the primary, earlier this year, over why they were supporting Obama over Clinton. My opinion, blogged much throughout the year, was that they were basically the same, as far as policy goes, and my only reason for choosing Clinton was because I was pretty sure she'd win, and Obama, not so much. Of course, when the markets melted down in September, and 90% of Americans said the nation was heading in the wrong direction by October, there was really very little that Obama could have done to lose the election, or for McCain to win the election.
Now, throughout the year, I was told that I didn't understand how Obama was different-- that he was really progressive and would change our foreign policy radically... and so on. It amazed me that, despite every indication from how Obama had voted and said about Iraq, Afghanistan and the mid-east, anti-war progressives believed differently. Well, reality is emerging:
Mr Obama has moved quickly in the last 48 hours to get his cabinet team in place, unveiling a raft of heavyweight appointments, in addition to Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.
But his preference for General James Jones, a former Nato commander who backed John McCain, as his National Security Adviser and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a supporter of the war, to run the Homeland Security department has dismayed many of his earliest supporters.
The likelihood that Mr Obama will retain George W Bush's Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, has reinforced the notion that he will not aggressively pursue the radical withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq over the next 16 months and engagement with rogue states that he has pledged.
Chris Bowers of the influential OpenLeft.com blog complained: "That is, over all, a centre-right foreign policy team. I feel incredibly frustrated. Progressives are being entirely left out of Obama's major appointments so far."
Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos site, the in-house talking shop for the anti-war Left, warned that Democrats risk sounding "tone deaf" to the views of "the American electorate that voted in overwhelming numbers for change from the discredited Bush policies."
Mrs Clinton is expected to appoint her own top team at the State Department, drawn from more conservative thinkers.
A Democratic foreign policy expert told one Washington website: "They were the ones courageous enough to stand up early against Iraq, which is why many supported Obama in the first place." Their fear, he added, is that they will not now secure the mid-level posts which will enable them to reach the top of the Washington career ladder in future.
Suspicion of Mr Obama's moves has been compounded, for some liberals, by the revelation that Mr Obama has for several months been taking advice from Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to the first President Bush.
All that said, I think the strongest progressive hope for Obama remains with more domestic concerns: universal healthcare, new energy priorities, fairer taxation, liberal judges. That's reason enough for Obama as President. But as far as foreign policy goes in the mid-east, expect more of the same in the short term, with the long term change still a possibility.
Update [2008-11-22 23:35:33 by Jerome Armstrong]: More of those hated Clintonites getting appointments:
The selection of two veterans of the Clinton administration, both widely respected on Wall Street, may calm frazzled financial markets. Obama plans to formally announce the picks at a news conference on Monday.
Update [2008-11-23 0:51:13 by Jerome Armstrong]:Jane Hamsher has more thoughts on this, and her answer to it is spot on: