One clue as to how President-elect Barack Obama intends to proceed on the world stage will come as he makes his key foreign-policy and national security appointments.
Two Republican senators – Richard Lugar of Indiana and Nebraska’s retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel – are said by advisers and transition-team observers to figure high on Obama’s list of candidates for secretary of State.
But if, as some expect, Obama asks Defense Secretary (and Republican) Robert Gates to stay on for a time to assist with implementation of a new Afghanistan policy and with an Iraq drawdown, then appointment of a Democrat to the helm of the State Department becomes more likely.
In that case, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke are said to be frontrunners. Also on the list is New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, known for delving into tough diplomatic issues like North Korea and Sudan.
Selecting Senator Kerry, who in his unsuccessful 2004 presidential bid emphasized nuclear nonproliferation issues, could signal Obama’s own interest in promoting global security issues to center stage.
Former Navy secretary Richard Danzig, who was a Clinton appointee but who was an early member of Obama’s foreign-policy team and is said to have grown closer to Obama over the course of the campaign, is on the list of candidates for national security adviser.
The idea may be more piquant musing than serious consideration, but it could also be a way for Obama to offer a measure of “change” and new thinking to a foreign-policy lineup that some younger Obama supporters believe to be too heavily-reliant on Clinton alumni and internationalist sages.