“Washington is a tough town”, remarked a friend of mine, as we surveyed the make-up of Obama’s new national-security team. What he meant was that the Obama loyalists, who had slaved away on the campaign, have got none of the top jobs.
I realise that the fate of the Obama campaign team may not be the primary concern of foreigners, trying to figure out the future of American foreign policy. But I think the way Obama has handled his inner circle still says something interesting about the man.
Advisers who sign up for a presidential campaign are basically buying a lottery ticket. The idea is that if their candidate wins, they get to share in some of the spoils. But look at who Obama has appointed to the three biggest foreign policy jobs: Hillary Clinton, his arch-rival, gets the State Department; James Jones, a marine general who was close to John McCain, gets National Security; Robert Gates is held over from the Bush administration at Defence. And Obama’s intimates: Samantha Power, Tony Lake, Richard Danzig – so far, nothing. Only Susan Rice has made the cut as ambassador to the UN. And although she made a brave face of it, at the press conference that has just finished, Rice will probably be disappointed not to be in the White House – and right next to Obama, as she was throughout the campaign. Read more