Kissinger on Obama’s Foreign Policy Team
This morning in the Washington Post former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has words of praise for President-Elect Barack Obama’s recently announced foreign policy team.
Of Hillary Clinton he writes:
No one can question the secretary-designate’s leadership potential for breaking through encrusted patterns or her formidable presence in a negotiation. Her most immediate challenges are to provide strategic guidance and to reorganize the department so that its implementing capacity matches its extraordinary reporting skill. This role of the secretary is all the more important because, organizationally, the State Department is geared more toward the secretary than the White House.
He has fulsome praise for James Jones whom Mr. Obama has named as National Security Advisor:
No one has ever been appointed national security adviser who had the command experience of retired Gen. James L. Jones, the former head of the Marine Corps and NATO commander. Inevitably, the facilitating function of the security adviser will be accompanied by a role in policymaking based on a vast, almost unique, experience.
And he voices support for the retention of Robert Gates at Defense:
The continuation in office of Robert Gates as secretary of defense is an important balancing element in that process. Alone among the key players, he is at the end, not the beginning, of his policy contribution. Having agreed to stay on in a transitional role, he cannot be interested in the jockeying that accompanies all new administrations. The incoming administration must have appointed him with the awareness that he would not reverse his previous convictions. He must make the difficult adjustment from one administration to another — a tribute to the nonpartisan nature of the conduct of his office in the Bush administration. He is a guarantor of continuity but also the shepherd of necessary innovation.
Dr. Kissinger’s insights into the nature of these roles and their relationship to the office of President is interesting, too.