2008 Obama and the Return of the State Department
posted by July 18 at 12:19 PMon
We can reduce the struggle for power in American politics to one between the State Department and the Pentagon.
Every day around 8 a.m., foreign policy aides at Senator Barack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters send him two e-mails: a briefing on major world developments over the previous 24 hours and a set of questions, accompanied by suggested answers, that the candidate is likely to be asked about international relations during the day.
One recent Q. & A. asked, for example, whether Obama supported the decision by Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to include a timetable for American troop withdrawal in any new security agreements with the United States. The answer, provided to Obama with bullet points, was yes — or “a genuine opportunity,” as he put it in a speech on Iraq this week.
Behind the e-mail messages is a tight-knit group of aides supported by a huge 300-person foreign policy campaign bureaucracy, organized like a mini State Department, to assist a candidate whose limited national security experience remains a concern to many voters.
It’s not because Obama is inexperienced that his campaign has established a mini State Department (300 experts) to advise him on foreign policy—no, get that notion out of your head. Stabilizing international relations for segments of American capital that were neglected by the almost decade-long energy/military regime—this is the whole meaning of his rise to power. The Pentagon has one way of dealing with the world, the State Department a completely different one. For its own survival, America is trying to transition from the former to the latter.