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NYT: Obama to Get New War Policy Team


BRAVEONAWARPATH

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Click on the link to read the rest.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/world/07team.html?_r=1

When President Obama assembled his first national security team, it was quickly dubbed, not always accurately, the “Team of Rivals.” Now that some of its key members are heading for the exits, the question is whether his next war council could be named the “Corps of Consensus.”

The departure this summer of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, arguably the most powerful voice in the cabinet, leaves more than an empty seat in the Situation Room. It is a chance for President Obama, at a critical moment in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and amid the Arab uprisings, to rethink the dynamic of the group making some of the most critical decisions in his presidency.

Not long after Mr. Gates settles into his house in Washington State, the term will expire for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, who, like the defense secretary, was appointed by President George W. Bush. And a week ago, Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg announced that he was leaving for an academic job — removing one of the crucial players in Mr. Obama’s efforts to manage China’s rise.

But Mr. Gates’s role is the most critical. He often allied with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — who has said that she intends to leave the administration when this term ends — including persuading Mr. Obama to launch the military buildup in Afghanistan in 2009. Together they won many other battles, but they visibly split last month on the military intervention in Libya.

In filling Mr. Gates’s chair, Mr. Obama will have to choose among a close new partner for Mrs. Clinton, a budget cutter, someone willing to take on the military or perhaps a dissenter who might challenge the course that is already set.

White House officials, not surprisingly, will not say. But they acknowledge that Mr. Gates, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency who first worked in the White House when Mr. Obama was in junior high school, is an unusual figure. Outsiders say that finding someone who replicates each of Mr. Gates’s strengths — or his willingness to disagree with the emerging policy on Libya, as he did in private discussions before Mr. Obama’s final decision will be next to impossible.

“Gates has played a unique role,” said Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser under the first President George Bush and a close friend of the secretary of defense. “And it will be very hard to replace him, not only for his stewardship at defense, but for the balanced approach he was able to bring to the foreign policy debates, the fact that he is a Republican and the fact that he worked so closely with Hillary.”

From the White House to the Pentagon, names of leading candidates are emerging, but it is unclear if any have deep support in the Oval Office.

The front-runner is clearly the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, which could open his job for Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the commander in Afghanistan. (An argument for appointing the general, who has had a sometimes strained relationship with the president, is that it could occupy a potential outside critic with an important government job.)

An oft-discussed alternative would be moving Ray Mabus, now the secretary of the Navy, to Mr. Gates’s job; his unusual résumé ranges from the Gulf of Mexico to the Persian Gulf. (He was governor of Mississippi and ambassador to Saudi Arabia.)

A more mainstream choice would be John J. Hamre, who was deputy defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, or even Colin L. Powell or Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat and a former Army paratrooper.

And there is also discussion about whether Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and one of President Obama’s favorite strategists, might be promoted to chairman despite concerns among fellow senior officers about his command and decision-making style.

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I wonder why the NYT thinks this is a "critical time in the war in Iraq"? Don't they know the "war" is over? That bit aside....I am not sure how this point in time in Iraq is really all that critical. We can give credit, or blame, to whomever we want but it seems like the "glide path" in Iraq has been set for quite some time.

H_H...I don't think the President has much choice in whether or not to change things up. Chairman has to be replaced. Gates has already stayed longer than he likely intended. And it is about time for Petraeus to find something new also. I do agree with you(I think) that anyone who was a fan of the previous President's policies should not have major differences with the what the current President is doing. Those that thought Bush was $%^&*$*U all over the Consitution...well not sure how they agree with what is going on now.

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President Obama's foreign policy appears so far to me to be on above Clinton and Bush's attempts.

Bush1 isn't even in the picture, and I'm biased towards Reagan's speeches.

He finished off Iraq.

He corrected Afghanistan's mess and may be sliding down the same path as Bush2.

He correctly fixed Pakistan

He correctly fixed the genocidetobe in Lybia (we are allowed to second guess it now, isn't that nice).

He correctly stayed out of Israel and the 1000yr quagmire that has been.

He had been continuing the African Aids rescue mission.

He has been deporting more illegal felons than ever before.

He had trials back in Gitmo.

I wouldn't interrupt this with someone new.

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