Commentary: Obama picks a solid foreign policy team

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

Less than a month after his election as president, Barack Obama has moved to fill key appointments to a team that will wrestle with the nation's economic crisis, and that's as it should be. But this president also will deal with urgent foreign policy and security matters, and toward the end of reassuring the nation that he's on top of those fronts as well, he now has announced the appointment of top officials with responsibility in those areas.

It's encouraging that Obama is standing by his campaign vow not to surround himself with political allies who will tell him only what he wants to hear. His secretary of state is to be Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who was Obama's chief and often hard-hitting opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination. The choice will be regarded as curious by some and will be greeted with skepticism by a few of Obama's political foes.

Clinton, after all, was more hawkish on the war in Iraq than candidate Obama. But both agree that the United States must engage other nations in the world when it comes to the prevention of bloody, violent confrontation. Diplomacy and communication must be employed. In contrast, President Bush's unfortunate tendency to engage in chest-pounding helped lead to miscalculations about the cost and necessity of invading Iraq.

The New York senator and former first lady has served eight years in the Senate, and has shown herself to be well-informed on foreign affairs. Given her high international profile and her own quest for the presidency, it's natural to wonder whether she might be tempted to carve out some sort of independent foreign policy apart from the president's or be influenced to an undue extent by her husband, former President Clinton.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

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