This Is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in

This Is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in
Obama’s White House

Jeremy Scahill
AlterNet
Friday, Nov 21, 2008

U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith
people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts
will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal
politics and views, the disastrous realities his administration will
inherit, and, of course, unpredictable future crises. But the best
immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like
can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he
appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign
policy, it is not looking good.

Obama has a momentous opportunity to do what he repeatedly promised
over the course of his campaign: bring actual change. But the more we
learn about who Obama is considering for top positions in his
administration, the more his inner circle resembles a staff reunion of
President Bill Clinton’s White House. Although Obama brought some
progressives on board early in his campaign, his foreign policy team
is now dominated by the hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990s.
This has been particularly true since Hillary Clinton conceded defeat
in the Democratic primary, freeing many of her top advisors to join
Obama’s team.

“What happened to all this talk about change?” a member of the Clinton
foreign policy team recently asked the Washington Post. “This isn’t
lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time.”

Amid the euphoria over Obama’s election and the end of the Bush era,
it is critical to recall what 1990s U.S. foreign policy actually
looked like. Bill Clinton’s boiled down to a one-two punch from the
hidden hand of the free market, backed up by the iron fist of U.S.
militarism. Clinton took office and almost immediately bombed Iraq
(ostensibly in retaliation for an alleged plot by Saddam Hussein to
assassinate former President George H.W. Bush). He presided over a
ruthless regime of economic sanctions that killed hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis, and under the guise of the so-called No-Fly Zones
in northern and southern Iraq, authorized the longest sustained U.S.
bombing campaign since Vietnam.

Under Clinton, Yugoslavia was bombed and dismantled as part of what
Noam Chomsky described as the “New Military Humanism.” Sudan and
Afghanistan were attacked, Haiti was destabilized and “free trade”
deals like the North America Free Trade Agreement and the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade radically escalated the spread of
corporate-dominated globalization that hurt U.S. workers and
devastated developing countries. Clinton accelerated the
militarization of the so-called War on Drugs in Central and Latin
America and supported privatization of U.S. military operations,
giving lucrative contracts to Halliburton and other war contractors.
Meanwhile, U.S. weapons sales to countries like Turkey and Indonesia
aided genocidal campaigns against the Kurds and the East Timorese.
The prospect of Obama’s foreign policy being, at least in part, an
extension of the Clinton Doctrine is real. Even more disturbing,
several of the individuals at the center of Obama’s transition and
emerging foreign policy teams were top players in creating and
implementing foreign policies that would pave the way for projects
eventually carried out under the Bush/Cheney administration. With
their assistance, Obama has already charted out several hawkish
stances. Among them:

– His plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan;

– An Iraq plan that could turn into a downsized and rebranded
occupation that keeps U.S. forces in Iraq for the foreseeable future;

– His labeling of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist
organization; ”

– His pledge to use unilateral force inside of Pakistan to defend U.S.
interests;

– His position, presented before the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC), that Jerusalem “must remain undivided” — a remark
that infuriated Palestinian officials and which he later attempted to
reframe;

– His plan to continue the War on Drugs, a backdoor U.S.
counterinsurgency campaign in Central and Latin America;

– His refusal to “rule out” using Blackwater and other armed private
forces in U.S. war zones, despite previously introducing legislation
to regulate these companies and bring them under U.S. law.

Obama did not arrive at these positions in a vacuum. They were
carefully crafted in consultation with his foreign policy team. While
the verdict is still out on a few people, many members of his inner
foreign policy circle — including some who have received or are bound
to receive Cabinet posts — supported the invasion and occupation of
Iraq. Some promoted the myth that Saddam had weapons of mass
destruction. A few have worked with the neoconservative Project for
the New American Century, whose radical agenda was adopted by the
Bush/Cheney administration. And most have proven track records of
supporting or implementing militaristic, offensive U.S. foreign
policy. “After a masterful campaign, Barack Obama seems headed toward
some fateful mistakes as he assembles his administration by heeding
the advice of Washington’s Democratic insider community, a collective
group that represents little `change you can believe in,'” notes
veteran journalist Robert Parry, the former Associated Press and
Newsweek reporter who broke many of the stories in the Iran-Contra
scandal in the 1980s.

As news breaks and speculation abounds about cabinet appointments,
here are 20 people to watch as Obama builds the team who will shape
U.S. foreign policy for at least four years:

Joe Biden

There was no stronger sign that Obama’s foreign policy would follow
the hawkish tradition of the Democratic foreign policy establishment
than his selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate. Much has
been written on Biden’s tenure as head of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, but his role in the invasion and occupation of Iraq stands
out. Biden is not just one more Democratic lawmaker who now calls his
vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq “mistaken;” Biden was
actually an important facilitator of the war.

In the summer of 2002, when the United States was “debating” a
potential attack on Iraq, Biden presided over hearings whose
ostensible purpose was to weigh all existing options. But instead of
calling on experts whose testimony could challenge the case for war —
Iraq’s alleged WMD possession and its supposed ties to al-Qaida —
Biden’s hearings treated the invasion as a foregone conclusion. His
refusal to call on two individuals in particular ensured that
testimony that could have proven invaluable to an actual debate was
never heard: Former Chief United Nations Weapons Inspector Scott
Ritter and Hans von Sponeck, a 32-year veteran diplomat and the former
head of the U.N.’s Iraq program.

Both men say they made it clear to Biden’s office that they were ready
and willing to testify; Ritter knew more about the dismantling of
Iraq’s WMD program than perhaps any other U.S. citizen and would have
been in prime position to debunk the misinformation and outright lies
being peddled by the White House. Meanwhile, von Sponeck had just
returned from Iraq, where he had observed Ansar al Islam rebels in the
north of Iraq — the so-called al-Qaida connection — and could have
testified that, rather than colluding with Saddam’s regime, they were
in a battle against it. Moreover, he would have pointed out that they
were operating in the U.S.-enforced safe haven of Iraqi Kurdistan.
“Evidence of al-Qaida/lraq collaboration does not exist, neither in
the training of operatives nor in support to Ansar-al-Islam, ” von
Sponeck wrote in an Op-Ed published shortly before the July 2002
hearings. “The U.S. Department of Defense and the CIA know perfectly
well that today’s Iraq poses no threat to anyone in the region, let
alone in the United States. To argue otherwise is dishonest.”

With both men barred from testifying, rather than eliciting an array
of informed opinions, Biden’s committee whitewashed Bush’s lies and
helped lead the country to war. Biden himself promoted the
administration’ s false claims that were used to justify the invasion
of Iraq, declaring on the Senate floor, “[Saddam Hussein] possesses
chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons.”

With the war underway, Biden was then the genius who passionately
promoted the ridiculous plan to partition Iraq into three areas based
on religion and ethnicity, attempting to Balkanize one of the
strongest Arab states in the world.

“He’s a part of the old Democratic establishment, ” says retired Army
Col. Ann Wright, the State Department diplomat who reopened the U.S.
embassy in Kabul in 2002. Biden, she says, has “had a long history
with foreign affairs, [but] it’s not the type of foreign affairs that
I want.”

Rahm Emanuel

Obama’s appointment of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel as Chief of
Staff is a clear sign that Clinton-era neoliberal hawks will be
well-represented at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. A former senior Clinton
advisor, Emanuel is a hard-line supporter of Israel’s “targeted
assassination” policy and actually volunteered to work with the
Israeli Army during the 1991 Gulf War. He is close to the right-wing
Democratic Leadership Council and was the only member of the Illinois
Democratic delegation in the Congress to vote for the invasion of
Iraq. Unlike many of his colleagues, Emanuel still defends his vote.
As chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006,
Emanuel promoted the campaigns of 22 candidates, only one of who
supported a swift withdrawal from Iraq, and denied crucial Party
funding to anti-war candidates. “As for Iraq policy, at the right
time, we will have a position,” he said in December 2005. As Philip
Giraldi recently pointed out on Antiwar.com, Emanuel “advocates
increasing the size of the U.S. Army by 100,000 soldiers and creating
a domestic spying organization like Britain’s MI5. More recently, he
has supported mandatory paramilitary national service for all
Americans between the ages of 18 and 25.”

While Obama has at times been critical of Clinton-era free trade
agreements, Emanuel was one of the key people in the Clinton White
House who brokered the successful passage of NAFTA.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

For all the buzz and speculation about the possibility that Sen.
Clinton may be named Secretary of State, most media coverage has
focused on her rivalry with Obama during the primary, along with the
prospect of her husband having to face the intense personal, financial
and political vetting process required to secure a job in the new
administration. But the question of how Clinton would lead the
operations at Foggy Bottom calls for scrutiny of her positions
vis-a-vis Obama’s stated foreign-policy goals.

Clinton was an ardent defender of her husband’s economic and military
war against Iraq throughout the 1990s, including the Iraq Liberation
Act of 1998, which ultimately laid the path for President George W.
Bush’s invasion. Later, as a U.S. senator, she not only voted to
authorize the war, but aided the Bush administration’ s propaganda
campaign in the lead-up to the invasion. “Saddam Hussein has worked to
rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his
missile-delivery capability and his nuclear program,” Clinton said
when rising to support the measure in October 2002. “He has also given
aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members …
I want to insure that Saddam Hussein makes no mistake about our
national unity and for our support for the president’s efforts to wage
America’s war against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. ”

“The man who vowed to deliver us from 28 years of Bushes and Clintons
has been stocking up on Clintonites, ” New York Times columnist Maureen
Dowd recently wrote. “How, one may ask, can he put Hillary — who voted
to authorize the Iraq war without even reading the intelligence
assessment — in charge of patching up a foreign policy and a world
riven by that war?”

Beyond Iraq, Clinton shocked many and sparked official protests by
Tehran at the United Nations when asked during the presidential
campaign what she would do as president if Iran attacked Israel with
nuclear weapons. “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the
president, we will attack Iran,” she declared. “In the next 10 years,
during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on
Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

Clinton has not shied away from supporting offensive foreign policy
tactics in the past. Recalling her husband’s weighing the decision of
whether to attack Yugoslavia, she said in 1999, “I urged him to bomb.
… You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the
major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend
our way of life?”

Madeleine Albright

While Obama’s house is flush with Clintonian officials like former
Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Defense Secretary William
Perry, Director of the State Department Office of Policy Planning Greg
Craig (who was officially named Obama’s White House Counsel) and Navy
Secretary Richard Danzig, perhaps most influential is Madeleine
Albright, Bill Clinton’s former Secretary of State and U.N.
ambassador. Albright recently served as a proxy for Obama,
representing him at the G-20 summit earlier this month. Whether or not
she is awarded an official role in the administration, Albright will
be a major force in shaping Obama’s foreign policy.

“It will take time to convince skeptics that the promotion of
democracy is not a mask for imperialism or a recipe for the kind of
chaos we have seen in the Persian Gulf,” Albright recently wrote. “And
it will take time to establish the right identity for America in a
world that has grown suspicious of all who claim a monopoly on virtue
and that has become reluctant to follow the lead of any one country.”

Albright should know. She was one of the key architects in the
dismantling of Yugoslavia during the 1990s. In the lead-up to the 1999
“Kosovo war,” she oversaw the U.S. attempt to coerce the Yugoslav
government to deny its own sovereignty in return for not being bombed.
Albright demanded that the Yugoslav government sign a document that
would have been unacceptable to any sovereign nation. Known as the
Rambouillet Accord, it included a provision that would have guaranteed
U.S. and NATO forces “free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded
access throughout” all of Yugoslavia — not just Kosovo — while also
seeking to immunize those occupation forces “from any form of arrest,
investigation or detention by the authorities in [Yugoslavia] .”
Moreover, it would have granted the occupiers “the use of airports,
roads, rails and ports without payment.” Similar to Bush’s Iraq plan
years later, the Rambouillet Accord mandated that the economy of
Kosovo “shall function in accordance with free-market principles.”

When Yugoslavia refused to sign the document, Albright and others in
the Clinton administration unleashed the 78-day NATO bombing of
Serbia, which targeted civilian infrastructure. (Prior to the attack,
Albright said the U.S. government felt “the Serbs need a little
bombing.”) She and the Clinton administration also supported the rise
to power in Kosovo of a terrorist mafia that carried out its own
ethnic-cleansing campaign against the province’s minorities.

Perhaps Albright’s most notorious moment came with her enthusiastic
support of the economic war against the civilian population of Iraq.
When confronted by Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” that the sanctions
were responsible for the deaths of “a half-million children … more
children than died in Hiroshima,” Albright responded, “I think this is
a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”
(While defending the policy, Albright later called her choice of words
“a terrible mistake, hasty, clumsy, and wrong.”)

Richard Holbrooke

Like Albright, Holbrooke will have major sway over U.S. policy,
whether or not he gets an official job. A career diplomat since the
Vietnam War, Holbrooke’s most recent government post was as President
Clinton’s ambassador to the U.N. Among the many violent policies he
helped implement and enforce was the U.S.-backed Indonesian genocide
in East Timor. Holbrooke was an Assistant Secretary of State in the
late 1970s at the height of the slaughter and was the point man on
East Timor for the Carter Administration.

According to Brad Simpson, director of the Indonesia and East Timor
Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George
Washington University, “It was Holbrooke and Zbigniew Brzezinski
[another top Obama advisor], both now leading lights in the Democratic
Party, who played point in trying to frustrate the efforts of
congressional human-rights activists to try and condition or stop U.S.
military assistance to Indonesia, and in fact accelerated the flow of
weapons to Indonesia at the height of the genocide.”

Holbrooke, too, was a major player in the dismantling of Yugoslavia
and praised the bombing of Serb Television, which killed 16 media
workers, as a significant victory. (The man who ordered that bombing,
now-retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, is another Obama foreign policy
insider who could end up in his cabinet. While Clark is known for
being relatively progressive on social issues, as Supreme Allied
Commander of NATO, he ordered bombings and attacks that Amnesty
International labeled war crimes.)

Like many in Obama’s foreign policy circle, Holbrooke also supported
the Iraq war. In early 2003, shortly after then-Secretary of State
Colin Powell’s speech to the UN, where he presented the
administration’ s fraud-laden case for war to the UN (a speech Powell
has since called a “blot” on his reputation), Holbrooke said: “It was
a masterful job of diplomacy by Colin Powell and his colleagues, and
it does not require a second vote to go to war. … Saddam is the most
dangerous government leader in the world today, he poses a threat to
the region, he could pose a larger threat if he got weapons of mass
destruction deployed, and we have a legitimate right to take action.”

Dennis Ross

Middle East envoy for both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Ross was
one of the primary authors of Obama’s aforementioned speech before
AIPAC this summer. He cut his teeth working under famed
neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon in the 1970s and worked
closely with the Project for the New American Century. Ross has been a
staunch supporter of Israel and has fanned the flames for a more
hostile stance toward Iran. As the lead U.S. negotiator between Israel
and numerous Arab nations under Clinton, Ross’ team acted, in the
words of one U.S. official who worked under him, as “Israel’s lawyer.”

“The `no surprises’ policy, under which we had to run everything by
Israel first, stripped our policy of the independence and flexibility
required for serious peacemaking, ” wrote U.S. diplomat Aaron David
Miller in 2005. “If we couldn’t put proposals on the table without
checking with the Israelis first, and refused to push back when they
said no, how effective could our mediation be? Far too often,
particularly when it came to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, our
departure point was not what was needed to reach an agreement
acceptable to both sides but what would pass with only one — Israel.”
After the Clinton White House, Ross worked for the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, a hawkish pro-Israel think tank, and
for FOX News, where he repeatedly pressed for war against Iraq.

Martin Indyk

Founder of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Indyk spent
years working for AIPAC and served as Clinton’s ambassador to Israel
and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, while also
playing a major role in developing U.S. policy toward Iraq and Iran.
In addition to his work for the U.S. government, he has worked for the
Israeli government and with PNAC.

“Barack Obama has painted himself into a corner by appealing to the
most hard-line, pro-Israel elements in this country,” Ali Abunimah,
founder of ElectronicInifada. net, recently told Amy Goodman of
Democracy Now!, describing Indyk and Dennis Ross as “two of the most
pro-Israel officials from the Clinton era, who are totally distrusted
by Palestinians and others across the Middle East, because they’re
seen as lifelong advocates for Israeli positions.”

Anthony Lake

Clinton’s former National Security Advisor was an early supporter of
Obama and one of the few top Clintonites to initially back the
president-elect. Lake began his foreign policy work in the U.S.
Foreign Service during Vietnam, working with Henry Kissinger on the
“September Group,” a secret team tasked with developing a military
strategy to deliver a “savage, decisive blow against North Vietnam.”

Decades later, after working for various administrations, Lake “was
the main force behind the U.S. invasion of Haiti in the mid-Clinton
years,” according to veteran journalist Allan Nairn, whose
groundbreaking reporting revealed U.S. support for Haitian death
squads in the 1990s. “They brought back Aristide essentially in
political chains, pledged to support a World Bank/IMF overhaul of the
economy, which resulted in an increase in malnutrition deaths among
Haitians, and set the stage for the current ongoing political disaster
in Haiti.” Clinton nominated Lake as CIA Director, but he failed to
win Senate confirmation.

Lee Hamilton

Hamilton is a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
and was co-chairman of both the Iraq Study Group and 9/11 Commission.
Robert Parry, who has covered Hamilton’s career extensively, recently
ran a piece on Consortium News that characterized him this way:
“Whenever the Republicans have a touchy national-security scandal to
put to rest, their favorite Democratic investigator is Lee Hamilton. …
Hamilton’s carefully honed skill for balancing truth against political
comity has elevated him to the status of a Washington Wise Man.”

Susan Rice

Former Assistant Secretary of Sate Susan Rice, who served on Bill
Clinton’s National Security Council, is a potential candidate for the
post of ambassador to the U.N. or as a deputy national security
advisor. She, too, promoted the myth that Saddam had WMDs. “It’s clear
that Iraq poses a major threat,” she said in 2002. “It’s clear that
its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and
that’s the path we’re on.” (After the invasion, discussing Saddam’s
alleged possession of WMDs, she said, “I don’t think many informed
people doubted that.”)

Rice has also been a passionate advocate for a U.S. military attack
against Sudan over the Darfur crisis. In an op-ed co-authored with
Anthony Lake, she wrote, “The United States, preferably with NATO
involvement and African political support, would strike Sudanese
airfields, aircraft and other military assets. It could blockade Port
Sudan, through which Sudan’s oil exports flow. Then U.N. troops would
deploy — by force, if necessary, with U.S. and NATO backing.”

John Brennan

A longtime CIA official and former head of the National
Counterterrorism Center, Brennan is one of the coordinators of Obama’s
intelligence transition team and a top contender for either CIA
Director or Director of National Intelligence. He was also recently
described by Glenn Greenwald as “an ardent supporter of torture and
one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansions and telecom
immunity.” While claiming to oppose waterboarding, labeling it
“inconsistent with American values” and “something that should be
prohibited,” Brennan has simultaneously praised the results achieved
by “enhanced interrogation” techniques. “There has been a lot of
information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that
the agency has, in fact, used against the real hard-core terrorists,”
Brennan said in a 2007 interview. “It has saved lives. And let’s not
forget, these are hardened terrorists who have been responsible for
9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the death of 3,000 innocents.”

Brennan has described the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program — the
government-run kidnap-and-torture program enacted under Clinton — as
an absolutely vital tool. “I have been intimately familiar now over
the past decade with the cases of rendition that the U.S. Government
has been involved in,” he said in a December 2005 interview. “And I
can say without a doubt that it has been very successful as far as
producing intelligence that has saved lives.”

Brennan is currently the head of Analysis Corporation, a private
intelligence company that was recently implicated in the breach of
Obama and Sen. John McCain’s passport records. He is also the current
chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a
trade association of private intelligence contractors who have
dramatically increased their role in sensitive U.S. national security
operations. (Current Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell
is former chairman of the INSA.)

Jami Miscik

Miscik, who works alongside Brennan on Obama’s transitional team, was
the CIA’s Deputy Director for Intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq
war. She was one of the key officials responsible for sidelining intel
that contradicted the official line on WMD, while promoting intel that
backed it up.

“When the administration insisted on an intelligence assessment of
Saddam Hussein’s relationship to al-Qaida, Miscik blocked the skeptics
(who were later vindicated) within the CIA’s Mideast analytical
directorate and instructed the less-skeptical counterterrorism
analysts to ‘stretch to the maximum the evidence you had,’ ”
journalist Spencer Ackerman recently wrote in the Washington
Independent. “It’s hard to think of a more egregious case of
sacrificing sound intelligence analysis in order to accommodate the
strategic fantasies of an administration. … The idea that Miscik is
helping staff Obama’s top intelligence picks is most certainly not
change we can believe in.” What’s more, she went on to a lucrative
post as the Global Head of Sovereign Risk for the now-bankrupt Lehman
Brothers.

John Kerry and Bill Richardson

Both Sen. Kerry and Gov. Richardson have been identified as possible
contenders for Secretary of State. While neither is likely to be as
hawkish as Hillary Clinton, both have taken pro-war positions. Kerry
promoted the WMD lie and voted to invade Iraq. “Why is Saddam Hussein
attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don’t even
try?” Kerry asked on the Senate floor in October 2002. “According to
intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons … Iraq is
developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and
biological warfare agents.”

Richardson, whose Iraq plan during his 2008 presidential campaign was
more progressive and far-reaching than Obama’s, served as Bill
Clinton’s ambassador to the UN. In this capacity, he supported
Clinton’s December 1998 bombing of Baghdad and the U.S.-led sanctions
against Iraq. “We think this man is a threat to the international
community, and he threatens a lot of the neighbors in his region and
future generations there with anthrax and VX,” Richardson told an
interviewer in February 1998.

While Clinton’s Secretary of Energy, Richardson publicly named Wen Ho
Lee, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, as a target in
an espionage investigation. Lee was accused of passing nuclear secrets
to the Chinese government. Lee was later cleared of those charges and
won a settlement against the U.S. government.

Robert Gates

Washington consensus is that Obama will likely keep Robert Gates,
George W. Bush’s Defense Secretary, as his own Secretary of Defense.
While Gates has occasionally proved to be a stark contrast to former
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he would hardly represent a
break from the policies of the Bush administration. Quite the
opposite; according to the Washington Post, in the interest of a
“smooth transition,” Gates “has ordered hundreds of political
appointees at the Pentagon canvassed to see whether they wish to stay
on in the new administration, has streamlined policy briefings and has
set up suites for President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team just
down the hall from his own E-ring office.” The Post reports that Gates
could stay on for a brief period and then be replaced by Richard
Danzig, who was Clinton’s Secretary of the Navy. Other names currently
being tossed around are Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, Republican Sen.
Chuck Hagel (a critic of the Iraq occupation) and Republican Sen.
Richard Lugar, who served alongside Biden on the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee.

Ivo H. Daalder

Daalder was National Security Council Director for European Affairs
under President Clinton. Like other Obama advisors, he has worked with
the Project for the New American Century and signed a 2005 letter from
PNAC to Congressional leaders, calling for an increase in U.S. ground
troops in Iraq and beyond.

Sarah Sewall

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and
Humanitarian Assistance during the Clinton administration, Sewall
served as a top advisor to Obama during the campaign and is almost
certain to be selected for a post in his administration. In 2007,
Sewall worked with the U.S. military and Army Gen. David Petraeus,
writing the introduction to the University of Chicago edition of the
Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. She was criticized
for this collaboration by Tom Hayden, who wrote, “the Petraeus plan
draws intellectual legitimacy from Harvard’s Carr Center for Human
Rights Policy, whose director, Sarah Sewall, proudly embraces an
`unprecedented collaboration [as] a human rights center partnered with
the armed forces.'”

“Humanitarians often avoid wading into the conduct of war for fear of
becoming complicit in its purpose,” she wrote in the introduction.
“`The field manual requires engagement precisely from those who fear
that its words lack meaning.”

Michele Flournoy

Flournoy and former Clinton Deputy Defense Secretary John White are
co-heading Obama’s defense transition team. Flournoy was a senior
Clinton appointee at the Pentagon. She currently runs the Center for a
New American Security, a center-right think-tank. There is speculation
that Obama could eventually name her as the first woman to serve as
defense secretary. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported:
“While at CNAS, Flournoy helped to write a report that called for
reducing the open-ended American military commitment in Iraq and
replacing it with a policy of `conditional engagement’ there.
Significantly, the paper rejected the idea of withdrawing troops
according to the sort of a fixed timeline that Obama espoused during
the presidential campaign. Obama has in recent weeks signaled that he
was willing to shelve the idea, bringing him more in line with
Flournoy’s thinking.” Flournoy has also worked with the
neoconservative Project for the New American Century.

Wendy Sherman and Tom Donilon

Currently employed at Madeline Albright’s consulting firm, the
Albright Group, Sherman worked under Albright at the State Department,
coordinating U.S. policy on North Korea. She is now coordinating the
State Department transition team for Obama. Tom Donilon, her
co-coordinator, was Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs
and Chief of Staff at the State Department under Clinton.
Interestingly, Sherman and Donilon both have ties to Fannie Mae that
didn’t make it onto their official bios on Obama’s change.gov website.
“Donilon was Fannie’s general counsel and executive vice president for
law and policy from 1999 until the spring of 2005, a period during
which the company was rocked by accounting problems,” reports the Wall
Street Journal.

***

While many of the figures at the center of Obama’s foreign policy team
are well-known, two of its most important members have never held
national elected office or a high-profile government position. While
they cannot be characterized as Clinton-era hawks, it will be
important to watch Denis McDonough and Mark Lippert, co-coordinators
of the Obama foreign policy team. From 2000 to 2005, McDonough served
as foreign policy advisor to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and
worked extensively on the use-of-force authorizations for the attacks
on Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which Daschle supported. From 1996 to
1999, McDonough was a professional staff member of the House
International Relations Committee during the debate over the bombing
of Yugoslavia. More recently, he was at the Center for American
Progress working under John Podesta, Clinton’s former chief of staff
and the current head of the Obama transition.

Mark Lippert is a close personal friend of Obama’s. He has worked for
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, as well as the Senate Appropriations
Committee and the Democratic Policy Committee. He is a lieutenant in
the Navy Reserve and spent a year in Iraq working intelligence for the
Navy SEALs. “According to those who’ve worked closely with Lippert,”
Robert Dreyfuss recently wrote in The Nation, “he is a conservative,
cautious centrist who often pulled Obama to the right on Iraq, Iran
and the Middle East and who has been a consistent advocate for
increased military spending. `Even before Obama announced for the
presidency, Lippert wanted Obama to be seen as tough on Iran,’ says a
lobbyist who’s worked the Iran issue on Capitol Hill, `He’s clearly
more hawkish than the senator.’ ”

***

Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to bring change to Washington. “I
don’t want to just end the war,” he said early this year. “I want to
end the mindset that got us into war.” That is going to be very
difficult if Obama employs a foreign policy team that was central to
creating that mindset, before and during the presidency of George W. Bush.

“Twenty-three senators and 133 House members who voted against the war
— and countless other notable individuals who spoke out against it and
the dubious claims leading to war — are apparently not even being
considered for these crucial positions,” observes Sam Husseini of the
Institute for Public Accuracy. This includes dozens of former military
and intelligence officials who spoke out forcefully against the war
and continue to oppose militaristic policy, as well as credible
national security experts who have articulated their visions for a
foreign policy based on justice.

Obama does have a chance to change the mindset that got us into war.
More significantly, he has a popular mandate to forcefully challenge
the militaristic, hawkish tradition of modern U.S. foreign policy. But
that work would begin by bringing on board people who would challenge
this tradition, not those who have been complicit in creating it and
are bound to continue advancing it.

(Original article)

http://www.alternet .org/story/ 107666/?page= entire

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