Gene Lewis Perry

If life were like fairy tales, I'd have been devoured by trolls already.

Nixons to China

Posted on | December 1, 2008 | Comments Off on Nixons to China

Some encouraging reporting from The New York Times:

When President-elect Barack Obama introduces his national security team on Monday, it will include two veteran cold warriors and a political rival whose records are all more hawkish than that of the new president who will face them in the White House Situation Room.

Yet all three of his choices — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the rival turned secretary of state; Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, as national security adviser, and Robert M. Gates, the current and future defense secretary — have embraced a sweeping shift of priorities and resources in the national security arena.

The shift would create a greatly expanded corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the incoming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states. However, it is unclear whether the financing would be shifted from the Pentagon; Mr. Obama has also committed to increasing the number of American combat troops.Whether they can make the change — one that Mr. Obama started talking about in the summer of 2007, when his candidacy was a long shot at best — “will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency,” one of his senior advisers said recently.

I’m still a little skeptical of a Secretary of State Clinton because the personalities and culture of her campaign were so completely dysfunctional. But a new reliance on diplomacy and non-military forms of power of all types can dramatically change the role of America in the world, and it is probably a necessary precursor to releasing the defense industry’s death grip on their billion dollar contracts.  Meaningfully reducing our defense spending is extremely important if we are to return our budget to a sustainable course.  It’s also going to be the most difficult political problem Obama will face.

The “hawks” have done great damage to our country in recent years, but to face down the defense industry, Obama will sadly need the support of people who have more credibility among other hawks.  The key point is, these defectors need to be committed to Obama’s policy, and the policy needs to set a genuinely new direction away from the reckless conventional wisdom of the past.

We will see how that turns out, but this article is a good sign.

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