Clinton Signals Subtle Shift in Foreign Policy

President Clinton's new national security team may well symbolize two things: a continued push for Cabinet diversity, and some subtle shifts in US foreign policy.

The diversity comes from naming US envoy to the UN, Madeleine Albright, as the first female secretary of state and choosing retiring Sen. William Cohen of Maine, a Republican, as secretary of defense. Many women's groups pushed to get Mrs. Albright her new post. Some said it was time to have a woman as the official US liaison with the world and that Albright's promotion might outweigh the loss of other women in the Cabinet.

Mr. Cohen, for his part, would fulfill Mr. Clinton's self-imposed GOP Cabinet quota and provide a symbol of political cooperation. But some experts caution that Cohen is not exactly a central player in his party, and that his independent streak might occasionally irritate a chief executive used to team players.

In general, the new team is likely to continue with policy directions favored by the old. That's because many of them were part of the old team: Besides Albright, national security adviser Tony Lake is set to be named the new CIA director. Mr. Lake's deputy, Sandy Berger, will inherit the top National Security Council job.

But some changes in substance are still likely to result from the moves. Retiring Secretary of State Warren Christopher is measured and lawyer-like. Albright, by contrast, is a forceful personality known as a hawk on such issues as the intervention in Bosnia and the expansion of NATO.

The daughter of a Czech diplomat who fled the communist takeover of his country, Albright has sometimes been criticized for lack of vision.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.