Does it matter whether Hillary Clinton is Barack Obama’s secretary of state?
Who is the secretary of state is far less important than the question of Obama’s foreign policy — and I’m not sure that I know what that is, even in general, at this point.
As far I as I can figure, Obama isn’t very far from Bush on most foreign policy issues (without, hopefully, the stupidity) and that concerns me far more than whether Hillary Clinton should be secretary of state.
During the course of the campaign, as the economy became the focus of debate, questions about foreign policy receded. Even so, Obama seemed to me to move closer to Bush on a wide range of foreign policy issues, from the war in Afghanistan to support for the territorial claims of the current regime in Georgia.
Overall, Obama maintained a fuzzy “feel good” foreign policy stand with vague bromides such as “secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists” (who is in favor of loose nukes?), “direct diplomacy without preconditions to end the threat from Iran” (who doesn’t want to end the threat from Iran?) “rebuild our alliances” (anyone against that?) and “renew American diplomacy” (okay, but how?).
Aside from the still unresolved question of what Obama will do to end the war in Iraq, these questions concern me:
Will Obama continue the Bush policy of deploying missiles in Eastern Europe despite the threat such missiles pose to the Russians?
Will Obama put teeth in the U.S. opposition to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory?
How will Obama work with Mexico and other countries to reduce illegal immigration and reduce drug traffic into the U.S.?
How will Obama seek to change NAFTA and CAFTA?
What countries should be admitted in NATO?
What should the U.S. or the U.N. do about the ongoing genocide in Darfur?
What should the U.S. do about the many other disasters now taking place in Africa (Somalia, Congo, Zimbabwe)?
The list, of course, could (and should) be expanded.
The fact is that we don’t know the answers to these questions.
When we’re talking about Obama’s foreign policy, these are the questions we should be discussing, not whether Hillary Clinton (or anyone else) should get the corner office in the state department.