Who will help shape McCain, Obama foreign policy?
Both candidates would likely draw from previous administrations to build their teams.
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Advisers with no Clinton administration connection included Samantha Power, the Harvard human rights scholar who resigned from Obama’s team in March after suggesting Obama would readjust his Iraq withdrawal date after taking office; and Obama’s national security coordinator, Denis McDonough, a foreign-policy adviser to former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and a staunch advocate of the US taking a leadership role in global warming and energy issues.Skip to next paragraph
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But Obama appears to have shifted his foreign-policy outlook over recent months as he has expanded his advisory team to include high-profile Democrats and Republicans.
“The more interventionist advisers, like Susan Rice and that group, those people have really dropped off as prominent pragmatists have risen,” says Douglas Foyle, an associate professor of government at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Citing a meeting Obama held last week to showcase his foreign-policy and national security team, Mr. Foyle notes that former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn and Republican Sen. Richard Lugar were featured prominently. “It was a striking show of the rise of the realists in the Obama camp,” he says.
During the primaries, Obama often mocked traditional foreign-policy experience while aides, including Ms. Rice, insisted foreign-policy experience comes in different forms, including living or studying abroad.
Hillary Clinton advisers involved
But as he secured the nomination – and, coincidentally or not, as he absorbed some of the top foreign-policy advisers of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign – Obama began to speak more in the vein of traditional realist American foreign policy.
In June, Obama announced a national security working group including former secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher, former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Lee Hamilton, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Deputy National Security Adviser Jim Steinberg.
Yet despite the grumblings of some Obama supporters who say those names suggest a Clinton foreign-policy redux, other observers say that’s unlikely to happen if for no other reason than that the world has changed. “It’s hard to see how the template of the Clinton years would fit. We’ve had 9/11 since then and have two wars going on,” says Hoover’s Mr. Henriksen.
Obama’s advisory pool also suggests that even an otherwise cautious foreign-policy vision would by tested by pressure for a more interventionist approach on high-profile humanitarian and human rights crises.