On the Secretary of State
In the Washington Post, Stephanie McCrummen speculates what Hillary Clinton will do after leaving the Obama administration, and reflects on her time as secretary of state:
From the start, Clinton has explained her agenda as part of a new “21st-century diplomacy” that demands the United States be more attuned to the grass roots of the world and relies on development and civilian power as much as military might, an approach foreign policy gurus will debate for years to come.
Some say that Clinton diluted her energy and failed to achieve any signature triumphs, such as an end to the Syrian crisis. Others argue that through a thousand lesser-known efforts and initiatives, she has achieved nothing less than a transformative shift toward a more effective and modern American diplomacy.
In discussing the Republican opposition over UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s potential nomination to replace Clinton, Stephen M. Walt writes in Foreign Policy that Rice shouldn’t be penalized for her role following the attack in Benghazi. However, Walt has other qualms about her potential nomination, saying she would not act with the same independence that Clinton has:
She obviously has Obama’s confidence, but her current ascendancy depends solely on the president’s backing. Maintaining his personal support will be critical to her effectiveness, which makes her much less likely to tell him things he doesn’t want to hear or that cut against the thrust of existing policy. Although Rice has the reputation of being a forceful advocate with sharp elbows, her relationship to the president runs the risk of making her more of a courtier than a counselor. And if she stumbles, Obama will be blamed for having pushed her appointment in the face of skeptics.
Jonathan Alter writes for Bloomberg that despite the possibility of appearing as though he buckled to Republican pressure, President Obama should choose Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) as his secretary of state nominee:
Kerry would be much better received than Rice not just in the Senate but in the rest of the world, which should be more than a little relevant in this decision. After 27 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he knows every player of consequence. His on-the-job training would be minimal.
Meanwhile, Laura Matthews of the International Business Times gives five reasons why Rice will likely get the nod from the president and be confirmed, noting:
[B]y questioning her credentials because of statements she made on TV shows, the GOP has opened itself up anew to charges that George W. Bush’s secretaries of state repeatedly made dubious statements about terrorists and the Iraqi war — and were not chastised or demoted for them; instead, Republicans in Congress gave them a relatively free pass.
In Politico, former Michigan Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm writes that “immigration reform will determine our economic future.” She argues that in order to remain competitive in a global economy, the United States must leverage its diversity as a competitive advantage:
If you walk into the most innovative companies in the world, those in Silicon Valley, you will see that the workers, the engineers, the designers and the thought leaders come from everywhere on the planet. That’s their competitive advantage. Instead of a homogeneous design team pumping out bland products, their diverse people with the dynamism of different perspectives and experiences make products that are that much richer, more interesting and more thoughtfully crafted, which means they have a greater likelihood of global success.
Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced an immigration bill (Politico) on November 27 that would provide legal status to some undocumented youth who were brought to the United States as children. In the National Journal, Fawn Johnson writes:
[T]he bill’s introduction has sent a signal that some Republicans—even if it’s just retiring ones—want to talk about immigration, a sharp difference from their wariness about the issue before the election. Kyl said Obama made GOP talks on immigration difficult with his administrative action deferring deportation for the so-called “dreamers.” But Kyl also acknowledged that his bill would accomplish basically the same result. “It’s a way to begin the conversation in a calm and reasonable way,” he said.
Second Term Predictions
Jeffrey Laurenti, senior fellow at the Century Foundation, writes in the Huffington Post that after “a defensive crouch against conservative attacks in the campaign that he has ‘subcontracted’ American foreign policy to the United Nations, Obama’s election victory has vindicated his commitment to pursue America’s international goals through the world’s sometimes creaky multilateral machinery.”
Laurenti addresses several foreign policy areas like arms treaties, Syria, and Afghanistan, and says with his second term secured, President Obama now has a rebuttal for critics of his international approach: “How else but multilaterally can Americans succeed in addressing crises of such global scale?”
At Al Jazeera, Mark LeVine discusses five issues that he says progressives should encourage President Obama to address in his second term, and in the Christian Science Monitor, Howard LaFranchi identifies five international hotspots that could shape Obama’s second term.
–Contributing Editor Kirsti Itameri