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Obama Foreign Policy Heavyweights Emerge

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Hillary Clinton was flanked today by two former Foggy Bottom stars in her husband's administration. George Mitchell was instrumental in helping to put "the troubles" in Northern Ireland to rest since being named U.S. Special Envoy, while Richard Holbrooke made his fame with the Dayton Peace Accords that settled warring factions in Bosnia.

George Mitchell was named special envoy to the Middle East, a gigantic task so daunting that the former Mickey Mouse chairman may wish he'd never left the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Anaheim.

These 1990s foreign policy heavyweights are coming on board as two bookends to the Madam Secretary. Holbrooke is a "quadruple threat" Washington insider, Wall Street financier (having been most recently on the board of the discredited American International Group) US Ambassador to Germany and UN Ambassador, while George Mitchell more recently oversaw the steroids investigation in major league baseball and headed the Walt Disney Company from 2004-2007.

They are are now tasked with trying to, yet again, resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict (Mitchell) and oversee construction of peace over chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Holbrooke). To paraphrase baseball legend Yogi Berra, this is like deja vu all over again.

Just three months ago Holbrooke was blogging on HuffPost about why the nation and the world needed Barack Obama for president. I doubt he was seeking a job at the time but he was clearly laying out his philosophy of a foreign policy imperative for his preferred choice:

Obama offers a different approach to foreign policy. By starting the drawdown of combat troops from Iraq, he would change the image and policies of America immediately. By engaging Iran in talks that would cover not only the nuclear issue but other aspects of Iran's destabilizing role in the region, he would either reach agreements that lowered the dangers from Iran, or he would mobilize a stronger international coalition to isolate Iran. Either way, engaging Iran is the right policy, and it is hard to understand why Bush and McCain have continued to hold out against such an obvious policy change, which, if carried out with firmness, will not compromise America or Israel's national security.

Holbrooke's policy of engagement or what Hillary Clinton is calling a "robust" foreign policy agenda suggests that Foggy Bottom will figure prominently in the early days of the First 100.

Obama signed an executive order to close Gitmo in a year and he's pledged to bring troops home from Iraq by 2011. Waterboarding may now become the preserve of the beaches and not the interrogation chambers.

These are all positive and hopeful signs in the direction of restoring America's moral compass.

The devil is yet to come -- that is, the details of what will happen to those still in Gitmo, how they will be tried, what countries, if any, will accept them, whether or not they will be transported to jails or military bases in the U.S. As Iraq draws down, Afghanistan will be drawn up with more troops. And a ceasefire in Gaza is not peace in the Middle East.