Barack Obama Foreign Policy National Security

What’s Next: Secretaries of State and Defense

It seems as if Hillary Clinton is going to be the next Secretary of State. And it seems like a done deal at this point – with the coy public statements and influentials lining up behind it.

I’m not thrilled. I think she’s a better choice than John Kerry or Bill Richardson, whose names were also being bandied about. 

But the candidate I think would be truly brilliant for Secretary of State would be Chuck Hagel. Obama is certainly going to do some controversial things in foreign policy – common sense things really that became political fodder for attacks – such as engaging in direct diplomacy with Iran, being more aggressive with regards to Pakistan, etcetera. A Republican as Secretary of State would help help provide political cover for these controversial decisions; but more importantly, it would make it clear that Obama is not taking “liberal” positions – but common sense ones. It would serve as notice to the world that Obama’s foreign policy is bipartisan, reflecting not just this president but a broad consensus across political parties. In fact, Chuck Hagel is perfect for this role as defended Obama’s foreign policy positions against both Hillary Clinton and John McCain. 

The position I would reccomend for Hillary would be Secretary of Defense. Obama could come to some agreement with Robert Gates that allows him to stay for a year or so – and offer to put Hillary in after that. She’s tough enough; it would give her important credentials for a later run for president; it would be breaking yet another glass ceiling.

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