THE BLOG
12/24/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

On Clinton at State

by Taylor Marsh

With Clinton "on track" for State, the choice of Gen. Jim Jones for national security advisor adds more strength, but one that will likely cause caterwauling. The pieces of the national security puzzle are fitting slowly into place revealing that President-elect Obama is not only shoring up perceptions, but also triangulating to strengthen his ability to walk in and make the final push on any national security issue easier. I'm getting more confident about our foreign policy by the day. Others, not so much. But what many do not understand is that in order to change the workings, Obama will still be going through the same old channels, some ancient, that don't move swiftly, by utilizing people who can grease the path for Obama's brand new way of dealing and negotiating on national security. By building a team of trusted and known names that show a picture of stability beside the new guy, Obama is free to be as bold as he wants. He's in no way compromising on his own vision. He's got cover, if you will, as well as schooled hands, like Jones (former Marine Corps commandant and supreme commander of NATO, with a Joe Biden lean on foreign policy, by his own admission), whose presence sends multiple signals, to watch his back. Obama knows how smart this is to build into his national security team in a world that moves slower than we'd all like, even if others do not.

Spencer Ackerman writes that "Some foreign-policy experts in the Obama orbit are expressing frustration." Spencer's account talks a lot about people's "fears." No doubt they have them, but it's hilarious that so called "foreign-policy experts," the people to whom Spencer is speaking, don't get what Obama seems obviously to be doing.

Of course, it's all about the people with whom President-elect Obama's potential Madame Secretary might surround herself.

But the real frustration underlying all the hand wringing? Iraq. After all these years, regardless of HRC's innumerable statements on that war in the shadow of the vote, "some foreign-policy experts" can't get over HRC's stance on the Iraq war, circa 2002. Never mind Biden was for the war, as was John Kerry, their statements of change regarding their votes accepted, while HRC's is not. It's remarkable how stuck in the past "some people" are on matters of national security where Clinton is concerned, especially "some foreign-policy experts in the Obama orbit."

HRC, circa July 2007:

"We cannot effectively address any of these challenges if we continue our military engagement in Iraq. As long as we stay there, our military strength will continue to erode. Our standing in the world will continue to decline. Our enemies in the region will continue to exploit our failures. Our occupation will continue to serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists. Our support for Afghan democracy, our conflict with the Taliban, and our hunt for al Qaeda will continue to be compromised. And our brave men and women will continue to lose their lives and suffer grievous wounds."

[...] "This will be a first step towards restoring Americans moral and strategic leadership in the world-- one that draws on the strength of our alliances and the power of our diplomacy, and uses military force as a last -- not a first -- resort. .... .." - Hillary Clinton

Anyone not fully aware of Clinton's complete transformation on Iraq is not paying attention and even more worth watching that HRC herself.

The other issue is the outright disrespect, lack of confidence and complete disregard for President-elect Obama's force and power as president. After getting Obama elected, now he's being questioned for not knowing what he's doing in the one area that made more people gravitate to him than any experience he did or did not have. His intuitive judgment, as well as his ability to see forward, but also surround himself with the absolute best, while plotting how relationships will play out in his head. The man is not exactly an idiot, so I wish his own most ardent fans would quit reacting to his decisions like he is.

Obama's likely got many dreams for his foreign policy, one likely being progress in the Middle East. There is no one with stronger credentials than the senator from New York, Hillary Clinton. Coupled with Barack Hussein Obama, where his middle name works, the two are a formidable team, in perception alone.

Additionally, Obama's anti war credentials, along with his strong stance on diplomacy first, made "some foreign-policy" experts in the traditional realm of U.S. national security nervous. Clinton, known as "hawkish," presents not only a perfect balance to the perceived impression of the 21st century new tract foreign policy ideas of Obama, but allows a Nixon in China moment for him (as I've written before) in the Middle East. With HRC representing him, Obama's reach out to Palestinians could provide a path to breakthrough we haven't seen since WJC was in office. Same goes for Iran. Clinton's "hawk" to Obama's new approach combines a balanced signal, with HRC's tough language and approach complimented by Obama's equally tough, but wholly new persona as someone who was anti war on Iraq from the jump.

President-elect Obama and the potential of Clinton as Madame Secretary offers the widest ranging strengths and game plans we've seen on foreign policy in decades, with Jones adding more depth, especially on the NATO side as Obama plans to focus on Afghanistan. Hillary has shown she's a team player, beyond question, and knows first hand through watching her husband how the secretary of state and the president must work together and that only one person sets policy. That will be President Obama. The good news for him is while she obviously respects him, she is not afraid to give her opinions and good advice, including on world leaders whom she has met or knows personally, though they certainly know her, as she's beloved around the world.

But what HRC at State offers to the oppressed women of the world is a human rights issue that could catapult President Obama into shining light that will once and for put in the global glare the abuse, oppression and horrors women around the world face everyday. It's the stuff of which presidential legacies are made, people freed, and countries stabilized.

Click here to read more developments and analysis on Obama's cabinet picks