Saturday, November 22, 2008

This Is Change? Obama's Hawks, Neo-Cons and Clintonites

This Is Change? Twenty Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in
Obama's White House

A who's who guide to the people poised to shape Obama's foreign policy.

by Jeremy Scahill

U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith
people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will
be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and
views, the disastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of
course, unpredictable future crises. But the best immediate indicator of
what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he
surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly,
when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good.

Obama has a momentous opportunity to do what he repeatedly promised over
the course of his campaign: bring actual change. But the more we learn
about who Obama is considering for top positions in his administration,
the more his inner circle resembles a staff reunion of President Bill
Clinton's White House. Although Obama brought some progressives on board
early in his campaign, his foreign policy team is now dominated by the
hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990s. This has been particularly true
since Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the Democratic primary, freeing
many of her top advisors to join Obama's team.

"What happened to all this talk about change?" a member of the Clinton
foreign policy team recently asked the Washington Post. "This isn't
lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time."

Amid the euphoria over Obama's election and the end of the Bush era, it is
critical to recall what 1990s U.S. foreign policy actually looked like.
Bill Clinton's boiled down to a one-two punch from the hidden hand of the
free market, backed up by the iron fist of U.S. militarism. Clinton took
office and almost immediately bombed Iraq (ostensibly in retaliation for
an alleged plot by Saddam Hussein to assassinate former President George
H.W. Bush). He presided over a ruthless regime of economic sanctions that
killed hundreds of thousa nds of Iraqis, and under the guise of the
so-called No-Fly Zones in northern and southern Iraq, authorized the
longest sustained U.S. bombing campaign since Vietnam.

Under Clinton, Yugoslavia was bombed and dismantled as part of what Noam
Chomsky described as the "New Military Humanism." Sudan and Afghanistan
were attacked, Haiti was destabilized and "free trade" deals like the
North America Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade radically escalated the spread of corporate-dominated
globalization that hurt U.S. workers and devastated developing countries.
Clinton accelerated the militarization of the so-called War on Drugs in
Central and Latin America and supported privatization of U.S. military
operations, giving lucrative contracts to Halliburton and other war
contractors. Meanwhile, U.S. weapons sales to countries like Turkey and
Indonesia aided genocidal campaigns against the Kurds and the East

The prospect of Obama's foreign policy being, at least in part, an
extension of the Clinton Doctrine is real. Even more disturbing, several
of the individuals at the center of Obama's transition and emerging
foreign policy teams were top players in creating and implementing foreign
policies that would pave the way for projects eventually carried out under
the Bush/Cheney administration. With their assistance, Obama has already
charted out several hawkish stances. Among them:

--His plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan;

--An Iraq plan that could turn into a downsized and rebranded occupation
that keeps U.S. forces in Iraq for the foreseeable future;

--His labeling of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist organization;"

--His pledge to use unilateral force inside of Pakistan to defend U.S.

--His position, presented before the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC), that Jerusalem "must remain undivided" -- a remark that
infuriated Palestinian officials and which he later attempted to reframe;

--His plan to continue the War on Drugs, a backdoor U.S. counterinsurgency
campaign in Central and Latin America;

--His refusal to "rule out" using Blackwater and other armed private
forces in U.S. war zones, despite previously introducing legislation to
regulate these companies and bring them under U.S. law.

Obama did not arrive at these positions in a vacuum. They were carefully
crafted in consultation with his foreign policy team. While the verdict is
still out on a few people, many members of his inner foreign policy
circle--including some who have received or are bound to receive Cabinet
posts--supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Some promoted the
myth that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. A few have worked with
the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, whose radical
agenda was adopted by the Bush/Cheney administration. And most have proven
track records of supporting or implementing militaristic, offensive U.S.
foreig n policy. "After a masterful campaign, Barack Obama seems headed
toward some fateful mistakes as he assembles his administration by heeding
the advice of Washington's Democratic insider community, a collective
group that represents little 'change you can believe in,'" notes veteran
journalist Robert Parry, the former Associated Press and Newsweek reporter
who broke many of the stories in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.

As news breaks and speculation abounds about cabinet appointments, here
are 20 people to watch as Obama builds the team who will shape U.S.
foreign policy for at least four years:

Joe Biden

There was no stronger sign that Obama's foreign policy would follow the
hawkish tradition of the Democratic foreign policy establishment than his
selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate. Much has been written on
Biden's tenure as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but his
role in the invasion and occupation of Iraq stands out. Biden is not just
one more Democratic lawmaker who now calls his vote to authorize the use
of force in Iraq "mistaken;" Biden was actually an important facilitator
of the war.

In the summer of 2002, when the United States was "debating" a potential
attack on Iraq, Biden presided over hearings whose ostensible purpose was
to weigh all existing options. But instead of calling on experts whose
testimony could challenge the case for war--Iraq's alleged WMD possession
and its supposed ties to al-Qaida--Biden's hearings treated the invasion
as a foregone conclusion. His refusal to call on two individuals in
particular ensured that testimony that could have proven invaluable to an
actual debate was never heard: Former Chief United Nations Weapons
Inspector Scott Ritter and Hans von Sponeck, a 32-year veteran diplomat
and the former head of the U.N.'s Iraq program.

Both men say they made it clear to Biden's office that they were ready and
willing to testify; Ritter knew more about the dismantling of Iraq's WMD
program than perhaps any other U.S. citizen and would have been in prime
position to debunk the misinformation and outright lies being peddled by
the White House. Meanwhile, von Sponeck had just returned from Iraq, where
he had observed Ansar al Islam rebels in the north of Iraq--the so-called
al-Qaida connection--and could have testified that, rather than colluding
with Saddam's regime, they were in a battle against it. Moreover, he would
have pointed out that they were operating in the U.S.-enforced safe haven
of Iraqi Kurdistan. "Evidence of al-Qaida/lraq collaboration does not
exist, neither in the training of operatives nor in support to
Ansar-al-Islam," von Sponeck wrote in an Op-Ed published shortly before
the July 2002 hearings. "The U.S. Department of Defense and the CIA know
perfectly well that today's Iraq poses no threat to anyone in the region,
let alone in the United States. To argue otherwise is dishonest."

With both=2 0men barred from testifying, rather than eliciting an array of
informed opinions, Biden's committee whitewashed Bush's lies and helped
lead the country to war. Biden himself promoted the administration's false
claims that were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, declaring on the
Senate floor, "[Saddam Hussein] possesses chemical and biological weapons
and is seeking nuclear weapons."

With the war underway, Biden was then the genius who passionately promoted
the ridiculous plan to partition Iraq into three areas based on religion
and ethnicity, attempting to Balkanize one of the strongest Arab states in
the world.

"He's a part of the old Democratic establishment," says retired Army Col.
Ann Wright, the State Department diplomat who reopened the U.S. embassy in
Kabul in 2002. Biden, she says, has "had a long history with foreign
affairs, [but] it's not the type of foreign affairs that I want."

Rahm Emanuel

Obama's appointment of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff
is a clear sign that Clinton-era neoliberal hawks will be well-represented
at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. A former senior Clinton advisor, Emanuel is a
hard-line supporter of Israel's "targeted assassination" policy and
actually volunteered to work with the Israeli Army during the 1991 Gulf
War. He is close to the right-wing Democratic Leadership Council and was
the only member of the Illinois Democratic delegation in the Congress to
vote for the invasion of Iraq. Unlike man y of his colleagues, Emanuel
still defends his vote. As chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign
Committee in 2006, Emanuel promoted the campaigns of 22 candidates, only
one of who supported a swift withdrawal from Iraq, and denied crucial
Party funding to anti-war candidates. "As for Iraq policy, at the right
time, we will have a position," he said in December 2005. As Philip
Giraldi recently pointed out on, Emanuel "advocates increasing
the size of the U.S. Army by 100,000 soldiers and creating a domestic
spying organization like Britain's MI5. More recently, he has supported
mandatory paramilitary national service for all Americans between the ages
of 18 and 25."

While Obama has at times been critical of Clinton-era free trade
agreements, Emanuel was one of the key people in the Clinton White House
who brokered the successful passage of NAFTA.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

For all the buzz and speculation about the possibility that Sen. Clinton
may be named Secretary of State, most media coverage has focused on her
rivalry with Obama during the primary, along with the prospect of her
husband having to face the intense personal, financial and political
vetting process required to secure a job in the new administration. But
the question of how Clinton would lead the operations at Foggy Bottom
calls for scrutiny of her positions vis-a-vis Obama's stated
foreign-policy goals.

Clinton was an ardent defender of her husband's ec onomic and military war
against Iraq throughout the 1990s, including the Iraq Liberation Act of
1998, which ultimately laid the path for President George W. Bush's
invasion. Later, as a U.S. senator, she not only voted to authorize the
war, but aided the Bush administration's propaganda campaign in the
lead-up to the invasion. "Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his
chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability and
his nuclear program," Clinton said when rising to support the measure in
October 2002. "He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists,
including al-Qaida members...I want to insure that Saddam Hussein makes no
mistake about our national unity and for our support for the president's
efforts to wage America's war against terrorists and weapons of mass

"The man who vowed to deliver us from 28 years of Bushes and Clintons has
been stocking up on Clintonites," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd
recently wrote. "How, one may ask, can he put Hillary--who voted to
authorize the Iraq war without even reading the intelligence
assessment--in charge of patching up a foreign policy and a world riven by
that war?"

Beyond Iraq, Clinton shocked many and sparked official protests by Tehran
at the United Nations when asked during the presidential campaign what she
would do as president if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons. "I
want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will atta ck Iran,"
she declared. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly
consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally
obliterate them."

Clinton has not shied away from supporting offensive foreign policy
tactics in the past. Recalling her husband's weighing the decision of
whether to attack Yugoslavia, she said in 1999, "I urged him to
bomb....You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen
the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend
our way of life?"

Madeleine Albright

While Obama's house is flush with Clintonian officials like former
Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Defense Secretary William Perry,
Director of the State Department Office of Policy Planning Greg Craig (who
was officially named Obama's White House Counsel) and Navy Secretary
Richard Danzig, perhaps most influential is Madeleine Albright, Bill
Clinton's former Secretary of State and U.N. ambassador. Albright recently
served as a proxy for Obama, representing him at the G-20 summit earlier
this month. Whether or not she is awarded an official role in the
administration, Albright will be a major force in shaping Obama's foreign

"It will take time to convince skeptics that the promotion of democracy is
not a mask for imperialism or a recipe for the kind of chaos we have seen
in the Persian Gulf," Albright recently wrote. "And it will take time to
establish the right20identity for America in a world that has grown
suspicious of all who claim a monopoly on virtue and that has become
reluctant to follow the lead of any one country."

Albright should know. She was one of the key architects in the dismantling
of Yugoslavia during the 1990s. In the lead-up to the 1999 "Kosovo war,"
she oversaw the U.S. attempt to coerce the Yugoslav government to deny its
own sovereignty in return for not being bombed. Albright demanded that the
Yugoslav government sign a document that would have been unacceptable to
any sovereign nation. Known as the Rambouillet Accord, it included a
provision that would have guaranteed U.S. and NATO forces "free and
unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout" all of
Yugoslavia--not just Kosovo--while also seeking to immunize those
occupation forces "from any form of arrest, investigation or detention by
the authorities in [Yugoslavia]." Moreover, it would have granted the
occupiers "the use of airports, roads, rails and ports without payment."
Similar to Bush's Iraq plan years later, the Rambouillet Accord mandated
that the economy of Kosovo "shall function in accordance with free-market

When Yugoslavia refused to sign the document, Albright and others in the
Clinton administration unleashed the 78-day NATO bombing of Serbia, which
targeted civilian infrastructure. (Prior to the attack, Albright said the
U.S. government felt "the Serbs need a little bombing.") She and the
Clinton admin istration also supported the rise to power in Kosovo of a
terrorist mafia that carried out its own ethnic-cleansing campaign against
the province's minorities.

Perhaps Albright's most notorious moment came with her enthusiastic
support of the economic war against the civilian population of Iraq. When
confronted by Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” that the sanctions were
responsible for the deaths of "a half-million children...more children
than died in Hiroshima," Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard
choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it." (While defending
the policy, Albright later called her choice of words "a terrible mistake,
hasty, clumsy, and wrong.")

Richard Holbrooke

Like Albright, Holbrooke will have major sway over U.S. policy, whether or
not he gets an official job. A career diplomat since the Vietnam War,
Holbrooke's most recent government post was as President Clinton's
ambassador to the U.N. Among the many violent policies he helped implement
and enforce was the U.S.-backed Indonesian genocide in East Timor.
Holbrooke was an Assistant Secretary of State in the late 1970s at the
height of the slaughter and was the point man on East Timor for the Carter

According to Brad Simpson, director of the Indonesia and East Timor
Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George
Washington University, "It was Holbrooke and Zbigniew Brzezinski [another
top Obama advisor], both now lea ding lights in the Democratic Party, who
played point in trying to frustrate the efforts of congressional
human-rights activists to try and condition or stop U.S. military
assistance to Indonesia, and in fact accelerated the flow of weapons to
Indonesia at the height of the genocide."

Holbrooke, too, was a major player in the dismantling of Yugoslavia and
praised the bombing of Serb Television, which killed 16 media workers, as
a significant victory. (The man who ordered that bombing, now-retired Army
Gen. Wesley Clark, is another Obama foreign policy insider who could end
up in his cabinet. While Clark is known for being relatively progressive
on social issues, as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, he ordered bombings
and attacks that Amnesty International labeled war crimes.)

Like many in Obama's foreign policy circle, Holbrooke also supported the
Iraq war. In early 2003, shortly after then-Secretary of State Colin
Powell's speech to the UN, where he presented the administration's
fraud-laden case for war to the UN (a speech Powell has since called a
"blot" on his reputation), Holbrooke said: "It was a masterful job of
diplomacy by Colin Powell and his colleagues, and it does not require a
second vote to go to war....Saddam is the most dangerous government leader
in the world today, he poses a threat to the region, he could pose a
larger threat if he got weapons of mass destruction deployed, and we have
a legitimate right to take action."

Dennis Ross

Middle East envoy for both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Ross was one
of the primary authors of Obama's aforementioned speech before AIPAC this
summer. He cut his teeth working under famed neoconservative Paul
Wolfowitz at the Pentagon in the 1970s and worked closely with the Project
for the New American Century. Ross has been a staunch supporter of Israel
and has fanned the flames for a more hostile stance toward Iran. As the
lead U.S. negotiator between Israel and numerous Arab nations under
Clinton, Ross' team acted, in the words of one U.S. official who worked
under him, as "Israel's lawyer."

"The 'no surprises' policy, under which we had to run everything by Israel
first, stripped our policy of the independence and flexibility required
for serious peacemaking," wrote U.S. diplomat Aaron David Miller in 2005.
"If we couldn't put proposals on the table without checking with the
Israelis first, and refused to push back when they said no, how effective
could our mediation be? Far too often, particularly when it came to
Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, our departure point was not what was needed
to reach an agreement acceptable to both sides but what would pass with
only one--Israel." After the Clinton White House, Ross worked for the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a hawkish pro-Israel think
tank, and for FOX News, where he repeatedly pressed for war against Iraq.

Martin Indyk

Founder of the Was hington Institute for Near East Policy, Indyk spent
years working for AIPAC and served as Clinton's ambassador to Israel and
Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, while also playing a
major role in developing U.S. policy toward Iraq and Iran. In addition to
his work for the U.S. government, he has worked for the Israeli government
and with PNAC.

"Barack Obama has painted himself into a corner by appealing to the most
hard-line, pro-Israel elements in this country," Ali Abunimah, founder of, recently told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!,
describing Indyk and Dennis Ross as "two of the most pro-Israel officials
from the Clinton era, who are totally distrusted by Palestinians and
others across the Middle East, because they're seen as lifelong advocates
for Israeli positions."

Anthony Lake

Clinton's former National Security Advisor was an early supporter of Obama
and one of the few top Clintonites to initially back the president-elect.
Lake began his foreign policy work in the U.S. Foreign Service during
Vietnam, working with Henry Kissinger on the "September Group," a secret
team tasked with developing a military strategy to deliver a "savage,
decisive blow against North Vietnam."

Decades later, after working for various administrations, Lake "was the
main force behind the U.S. invasion of Haiti in the mid-Clinton years,"
according to veteran journalist Allan Nairn, whose groundbreaking
reporting revealed U.S. support for Haitian death squads in the 1990s.
"They brought back Aristide essentially in political chains, pledged to
support a World Bank/IMF overhaul of the economy, which resulted in an
increase in malnutrition deaths among Haitians, and set the stage for the
current ongoing political disaster in Haiti." Clinton nominated Lake as
CIA Director, but he failed to win Senate confirmation.

Lee Hamilton

Hamilton is a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and
was co-chairman of both the Iraq Study Group and 9/11 Commission. Robert
Parry, who has covered Hamilton's career extensively, recently ran a piece
on Consortium News that characterized him this way: "Whenever the
Republicans have a touchy national-security scandal to put to rest, their
favorite Democratic investigator is Lee Hamilton....Hamilton's carefully
honed skill for balancing truth against political comity has elevated him
to the status of a Washington Wise Man."

Susan Rice

Former Assistant Secretary of Sate Susan Rice, who served on Bill
Clinton's National Security Council, is a potential candidate for the post
of ambassador to the U.N. or as a deputy national security advisor. She,
too, promoted the myth that Saddam had WMDs. "It's clear that Iraq poses a
major threat," she said in 2002. "It's clear that its weapons of mass
destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that's the path we're
on." (After the invasion, discussing Saddam's alleged possession of WMDs,
she=2 0said, "I don't think many informed people doubted that.")

Rice has also been a passionate advocate for a U.S. military attack
against Sudan over the Darfur crisis. In an op-ed co-authored with Anthony
Lake, she wrote, "The United States, preferably with NATO involvement and
African political support, would strike Sudanese airfields, aircraft and
other military assets. It could blockade Port Sudan, through which Sudan's
oil exports flow. Then U.N. troops would deploy--by force, if necessary,
with U.S. and NATO backing."

John Brennan

A longtime CIA official and former head of the National Counterterrorism
Center, Brennan is one of the coordinators of Obama's intelligence
transition team and a top contender for either CIA Director or Director of
National Intelligence. He was also recently described by Glenn Greenwald
as "an ardent supporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates
of FISA expansions and telecom immunity." While claiming to oppose
waterboarding, labeling it "inconsistent with American values" and
"something that should be prohibited," Brennan has simultaneously praised
the results achieved by "enhanced interrogation" techniques. "There has
been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation
procedures that the agency has, in fact, used against the real hard-core
terrorists," Brennan said in a 2007 interview. "It has saved lives. And
let's not forget, these are hardened terrorists who have been responsible
for 9/11, who have20shown no remorse at all for the death of 3,000

Brennan has described the CIA's extraordinary rendition program--the
government-run kidnap-and-torture program enacted under Clinton--as an
absolutely vital tool. "I have been intimately familiar now over the past
decade with the cases of rendition that the U.S. Government has been
involved in," he said in a December 2005 interview. "And I can say without
a doubt that it has been very successful as far as producing intelligence
that has saved lives."

Brennan is currently the head of Analysis Corporation, a private
intelligence company that was recently implicated in the breach of Obama
and Sen. John McCain's passport records. He is also the current chairman
of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a trade
association of private intelligence contractors who have dramatically
increased their role in sensitive U.S. national security operations.
(Current Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell is former
chairman of the INSA.)

Jami Miscik

Miscik, who works alongside Brennan on Obama's transitional team, was the
CIA's Deputy Director for Intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. She
was one of the key officials responsible for sidelining intel that
contradicted the official line on WMD, while promoting intel that backed
it up.

"When the administration insisted on an intelligence assessment of Saddam
Hussein's relationship to al-Qaida, Miscik blocked the skeptics (wh o were
later vindicated) within the CIA's Mideast analytical directorate and
instructed the less-skeptical counterterrorism analysts to 'stretch to the
maximum the evidence you had,'" journalist Spencer Ackerman recently wrote
in the Washington Independent. "It's hard to think of a more egregious
case of sacrificing sound intelligence analysis in order to accommodate
the strategic fantasies of an administration....The idea that Miscik is
helping staff Obama's top intelligence picks is most certainly not change
we can believe in." What's more, she went on to a lucrative post as the
Global Head of Sovereign Risk for the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers.

John Kerry and Bill Richardson

Both Sen. Kerry and Gov. Richardson have been identified as possible
contenders for Secretary of State. While neither is likely to be as
hawkish as Hillary Clinton, both have taken pro-war positions. Kerry
promoted the WMD lie and voted to invade Iraq. "Why is Saddam Hussein
attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don't even try?"
Kerry asked on the Senate floor in October 2002. "According to
intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons...Iraq is
developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and
biological warfare agents."

Richardson, whose Iraq plan during his 2008 presidential campaign was more
progressive and far-reaching than Obama's, served as Bill Clinton's
ambassador to the UN. In this capacity, he supported Clinton's December
1998 bombi ng of Baghdad and the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq. "We think
this man is a threat to the international community, and he threatens a
lot of the neighbors in his region and future generations there with
anthrax and VX," Richardson told an interviewer in February 1998.

While Clinton's Secretary of Energy, Richardson publicly named Wen Ho Lee,
a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, as a target in an
espionage investigation. Lee was accused of passing nuclear secrets to the
Chinese government. Lee was later cleared of those charges and won a
settlement against the U.S. government.

Robert Gates

Washington consensus is that Obama will likely keep Robert Gates, George
W. Bush's Defense Secretary, as his own Secretary of Defense. While Gates
has occasionally proved to be a stark contrast to former Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he would hardly represent a break from the
policies of the Bush administration. Quite the opposite; according to the
Washington Post, in the interest of a "smooth transition," Gates "has
ordered hundreds of political appointees at the Pentagon canvassed to see
whether they wish to stay on in the new administration, has streamlined
policy briefings and has set up suites for President-elect Barack Obama's
transition team just down the hall from his own E-ring office." The Post
reports that Gates could stay on for a brief period and then be replaced
by Richard Danzig, who was Clinton's Secretary of the Navy . Other names
currently being tossed around are Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, Republican
Sen. Chuck Hagel (a critic of the Iraq occupation) and Republican Sen.
Richard Lugar, who served alongside Biden on the Senate Foreign Relations

Ivo H. Daalder

Daalder was National Security Council Director for European Affairs under
President Clinton. Like other Obama advisors, he has worked with the
Project for the New American Century and signed a 2005 letter from PNAC to
Congressional leaders, calling for an increase in U.S. ground troops in
Iraq and beyond.

Sarah Sewall

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and
Humanitarian Assistance during the Clinton administration, Sewall served
as a top advisor to Obama during the campaign and is almost certain to be
selected for a post in his administration. In 2007, Sewall worked with the
U.S. military and Army Gen. David Petraeus, writing the introduction to
the University of Chicago edition of the Army/Marine Corps
Counterinsurgency Field Manual. She was criticized for this collaboration
by Tom Hayden, who wrote, "the Petraeus plan draws intellectual legitimacy
from Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, whose director, Sarah
Sewall, proudly embraces an 'unprecedented collaboration [as] a human
rights center partnered with the armed forces.'"

"Humanitarians often avoid wading into the conduct of war for fear of
becoming complicit in its purpose," she wrote in the introdu ction. "'The
field manual requires engagement precisely from those who fear that its
words lack meaning."

Michele Flournoy

Flournoy and former Clinton Deputy Defense Secretary John White are
co-heading Obama's defense transition team. Flournoy was a senior Clinton
appointee at the Pentagon. She currently runs the Center for a New
American Security, a center-right think-tank. There is speculation that
Obama could eventually name her as the first woman to serve as defense
secretary. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported: "While at CNAS,
Flournoy helped to write a report that called for reducing the open-ended
American military commitment in Iraq and replacing it with a policy of
'conditional engagement' there. Significantly, the paper rejected the idea
of withdrawing troops according to the sort of a fixed timeline that Obama
espoused during the presidential campaign. Obama has in recent weeks
signaled that he was willing to shelve the idea, bringing him more in line
with Flournoy's thinking." Flournoy has also worked with the
neoconservative Project for the New American Century.

Wendy Sherman and Tom Donilon

Currently employed at Madeline Albright's consulting firm, the Albright
Group, Sherman worked under Albright at the State Department, coordinating
U.S. policy on North Korea. She is now coordinating the State Department
transition team for Obama. Tom Donilon, her co-coordinator, was Assistant
Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Chief of St aff at the State
Department under Clinton. Interestingly, Sherman and Donilon both have
ties to Fannie Mae that didn't make it onto their official bios on Obama's website. "Donilon was Fannie's general counsel and executive
vice president for law and policy from 1999 until the spring of 2005, a
period during which the company was rocked by accounting problems,"
reports the Wall Street Journal.


While many of the figures at the center of Obama's foreign policy team are
well-known, two of its most important members have never held national
elected office or a high-profile government position. While they cannot be
characterized as Clinton-era hawks, it will be important to watch Denis
McDonough and Mark Lippert, co-coordinators of the Obama foreign policy
team. From 2000 to 2005, McDonough served as foreign policy advisor to
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and worked extensively on the
use-of-force authorizations for the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, both
of which Daschle supported. From 1996 to 1999, McDonough was a
professional staff member of the House International Relations Committee
during the debate over the bombing of Yugoslavia. More recently, he was at
the Center for American Progress working under John Podesta, Clinton's
former chief of staff and the current head of the Obama transition.

Mark Lippert is a close personal friend of Obama's. He has worked for
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, as well as the Senate Appropriations20Committee
and the Democratic Policy Committee. He is a lieutenant in the Navy
Reserve and spent a year in Iraq working intelligence for the Navy SEALs.
"According to those who've worked closely with Lippert," Robert Dreyfuss
recently wrote in The Nation, "he is a conservative, cautious centrist who
often pulled Obama to the right on Iraq, Iran and the Middle East and who
has been a consistent advocate for increased military spending. 'Even
before Obama announced for the presidency, Lippert wanted Obama to be seen
as tough on Iran,' says a lobbyist who's worked the Iran issue on Capitol
Hill, 'He's clearly more hawkish than the senator.' "


Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to bring change to Washington. "I
don't want to just end the war," he said early this year. "I want to end
the mindset that got us into war." That is going to be very difficult if
Obama employs a foreign policy team that was central to creating that
mindset, before and during the presidency of George W. Bush.

"Twenty-three senators and 133 House members who voted against the
war--and countless other notable individuals who spoke out against it and
the dubious claims leading to war--are apparently not even being
considered for these crucial positions," observes Sam Husseini of the
Institute for Public Accuracy. This includes dozens of former military and
intelligence officials who spoke out forcefully against the war and
continue to oppose militaristic policy, as well as credible national
security experts who have articulated their visions for a foreign policy
based on justice.

Obama does have a chance to change the mindset that got us into war. More
significantly, he has a popular mandate to forcefully challenge the
militaristic, hawkish tradition of modern U.S. foreign policy. But that
work would begin by bringing on board people who would challenge this
tradition, not those who have been complicit in creating it and are bound
to continue advancing it.

Bill Koehnlein

"My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the
battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
--George W. Bush, May 1, 2003

"...I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult, and
that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult--and we are
--George W. Bush, June 28, 2005

"Our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary....America is engaged in a new
struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can and we will
--George W. Bush, January 10, 2007

"Prevailing in Iraq is not going to be easy."
--George W. Bush, March 19, 2007

+U.S. military fatalities through May 1, 2003: 140
+U.S. military fatalities through June 28, 2005: 1743
+U.S. military fatalities through January 10, 2007: 3017
+U.S. military fatalities through March 19, 2007: 3217
+U.S. military fatalities as of November 22, 2008: 4204 (this figure exceeds
the number of people killed in all of the incidents that occurred
on September 11, 2001)

+Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion, as of September 2004 (estimated by
The Lancet): 100,000+
+Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion, as of July 2006 (estimated by The
Lancet): 654,965
+Iraqi deaths due to the US invasion, as of November 22, 2008 (estimated
by Just Foreign Policy): 1,288,426*

*These figures are based on the number of deaths estimated in The Lancet
(the British medical journal) study through July 2006, and then updated
based "on how quickly deaths are mounting in Iraq". To do that, Just
Foreign Policy multiplies The Lancet figure as of July 2006 by the ratio
of current deaths reported by Iraq Body Count (IBC), divided by IBC deaths
as of July 1, 2006. The IBC numbers, considerably lower than those cited
by The Lancet, Opinion Research Business (a British polling firm which
estimated 1.2 million Iraqi deaths as of September 2007), and even the
Iraq Ministry of Health, are based on the number of fatalities cite d in
various news reports and have been criticized, with much justification,
for not giving an accurate assessment of the real Iraqi death count. The
much more rigorous and statistically-reliable study, conducted by teams
from Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and Al-Mustansiriya
University, and published in The Lancet in September 2004, put the figure
at around 100,000 civilians dead. However, that data had been based on
"conservative assumptions", according to research team leader Les Roberts,
and the actual count at that time was credibly assumed to be significantly
higher. For example, The Lancet study's data greatly underestimated
fatalities in Fallujah due to the surveying problems encountered there at
that time. The second Lancet study, released on October 10, 2006,
indicated that 654,965 "excess" deaths of Iraqis have occurred since the
outbreak of the aggression and genocide committed by the United States
against the people of Iraq. The current figures provided by Just Foreign
Policy seem to be logically consistent with the increasing rates of death
from 2003 to 2004, and 2004 to 2006.


November 20, 2008,_clintonites_and_neocons_to_watch_for_in_obama%27s_white_house/?page=entire

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