MVP of Obama's security team: Hillary 'the hammer' Rodham Clinton
Even the right wing applauds Secretary of State Clinton's performance.
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In the Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and second Bush administrations, infighting between State and the Pentagon, and the National Security Council and State, was at times poisonous.Skip to next paragraph
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Today, there seems to be less clamoring for celebrity status amid an overpowering realization the president is the celebrity.
Sure, there is some difference in tone between this White House and Foggy Bottom, but totally similar views between the commander in chief and the secretary of State would smack of redundancy or lack of imagination. Where all people think alike, no one thinks very much.
The Clinton aide says it was Obama who set the harmonious tone for his national security team, insisting he wanted a team without internal rivalries. That’s a welcome change from the contentious relations between President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates reportedly “see the world through the same glasses.” Each has a huge number of items on their plate, so there is no time for argument over the grand ideological disputes – the kind that hobbled previous administrations.
On the face of it, Obama’s team is an odd mix: Defense Secretary Gates is a former CIA director; National Security Adviser James Jones Jr. is a highly decorated retired US Marine Corps four-star general. And Clinton is a Midwestern lawyer turned first lady turned New York Senator.
Clinton’s experience as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee no doubt helps the chemistry. As a member of that committee she became quite close to senior military officials. “She also came to understand the workings of the military and the way it fits into the broader national security fabric,” says the aide.
Is she in the same league as James Baker, the most recent “great” secretary of State? Not yet, perhaps. But then the simpler bipolar world that Mr. Baker had to manage no longer exists. We no longer live even in a multipolar world. As Clinton put it recently, we now belong to a “multipartner world.” Still, she notes, there is no major global problem that can be solved without US involvement.
Ironically Clinton’s greatest diplomatic challenge now may be convincing Israel, an American ally, that Obama is no less a friend of the Jewish State than was her husband. It is not proving easy.