As new school and fresh as President-elect Obama portrays himself, he is ultimately a rather predictable kat. Not predictable in the sense that we can easily deduce what he'll be up to next, but predictable in the sense that this is how he'll govern post-Jan. 20th. His nature, the essence of his "calm seas" approach attempts to scoff at the unpredictable -- judging from his Cabinet picks, he doesn't like surprises. It's the surprises which manage to catch him somewhat off-guard. The unpredictable offends his supreme sense of "cool pose" that he spent years crafting.
It also disrupts the meticulous planning pieced together in that very complex, elected mind many of us are still fawning over. It appears as if he's visualized every move after the move that follows the move... and so on and so forth. He's the habitual chess master in the family room by the fireplace. You won't find him hustling over game boards at the local park tournament for a few dollars because he takes his time. Scenarios are molded, hypotheses conjectured and tested, "what-ifs" bounced about in a thousand different ways.
We'll witness much of this as he unveils the foreign policy. It will lean on the pragmatic, no bold strokes, but much finesse and style. More importantly, it will seek to diminish any chance of the unpredictable in favor of managing the predictable. Choosing Sen. Biden as running mate was an early indication that he desired consultation from among the best in applied foreign affairs. The choice of Sen. Clinton for State more so reflects a desire to know what is perceived as the hidden: something about former President Clinton's travels throughout philanthro-topia, the collection of foundation-bound money from numerous non-American and very Middle Eastern sources bothers the President-elect. What better way to keep an eye on the former President than to hire his wife; preempt the blindside as much as possible. Bill Clinton knows more than told -- of course, being a former President with access to loads of information makes that obvious. But what else is there that the President-elect doesn't know about?
Hence, you transform old enemies into friends. Current friends become greater friends. Old friends get re-acquainted. Why ostracize or alienate Sen. McCain when he can not only help pacify Republican agitation, but maybe tap into his own contact list of global friends? Recent travels to Pakistan and India bring more than just calm to a post-Mumbai region, but could be used to establish new Administration signals through familiar faces. There is also the argument that forgiving Sen. Lieberman of campaign-trail transgressions helps the incoming President maneuver the diplomatic mine field of renewed Israeli-Hamas hostilities.
Emphasis on talking or rekindling ties with Iran is one major sample demonstrating the new approach towards American dominance. While the first decade of the 21st century could very well be described as American chest-thumping and re-assertion, the second decade under Obama will offer pragmatic diplomatic haggling. Still, the militarization of US foreign policy from 2001 to 2008 served one key purpose: flexing military muscle clearly exhibits the consequence of failed diplomacy. A "don't mess with us or... else." It won't be, simply, about us making nice, as many of the Prez-elect's detractor's are quick to assess. Instead, it's about setting dominant tones rather than imposing demands through "preemptive strike." In a way, ventures into Afghanistan and the current Iraq "fiasco," plus countless covert or proxy moves worldwide, translate into a long-term preemptive strategy that future presidents will use to full advantage.
In a growing, over-populated world faced with a fragile eco-system and scarce resources, the smarter strategy is to outsmart. Outsmarting also maintains a level of predictability in the world. And, maybe, it's not so much a matter of predictability as a way of existence as it is a management tool. Keeping the air of predictability is about as important as its actualization. We see how Obama is easy to discuss all things domestic (such as bailouts, market forces, and more bailouts), but mum on how he poses to work it out abroad. This is merely a method of manipulation, keeping his eye on the prize of a second term which is, simply put, easing the burden on the American wallet/purse. Managing predictability keeps the markets stabilized and money flowing. On the flip side, one should expect more risky or valiant foreign policy positions in the second term if won.
In the case of Iran, the new Administration keeps it real: Shia controls Iraq, with Iran, arguably, the master political and future military pipeline. Talking with them buys time and helps the incoming President figure out how to withdraw troops while making regional deals with Tehran. Yet, don't think this new President won't use the military option when predictability vanishes. He, clearly, disdains the element of surprise from any angle other than his own.