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Foreign Policy Editor’s Note: Barack Obama’s election triumph is only days old, but already the buzz has shifted from the horserace to the coming shakeups among his top aides and cabinet secretaries. To help the president out, we asked seven top thinkers to select the brain trust that Obama should have at his side as he retools his foreign policy for a second term.
As Obama begins his second term, it will be tempting — because it always is — to reward loyalists with promotions. But that’s a temptation this president should resist. The world is a more dangerous place than it was four years ago, and if re-election animated Obama’s first term, his legacy will surely animate the second. But an Iran with nuclear weapons, an al Qaeda that is stronger and more diversified, and a dominant and increasingly militant China are surely not the legacy Obama would prefer to leave his successor. He will therefore need a new team at the helm, one respected by this White House and with sufficient stature to stand against the machinery of fear now run from the West Wing — one that will be honest about and engaged in the safety and security of the American people. Who does that mean?
SECRETARY OF STATE
Lieberman is retiring, and the Senate has seen few of his stature, intellectual heft, gentility, or morality. He is a worthy successor to Clinton and a man who will stand for his department but first and foremost for his country.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
Keane is a retired general who is respected by all and has no history of partisanship. He has a love of the military, respect for the fighting force, and an understanding not only of management and budgets, but also of our challenges in Afghanistan and throughout the Near East, South Asia, and the Pacific.
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Bowles is a fiscal conservative with a clear track record, convictions and a willingness to stick by them, an understanding of compromise, and an ability to work with all parties.
DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Abolish the position. Along with secretary of homeland security, this is one of the worst jobs in Washington. The officeholder is the head of a massive bureaucracy that makes the management of the intelligence world worse, not better.
The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was a scandal, and our intelligence apparatus is broken, but nothing can be fixed in one short term. Give him the job of fixing it, and he will do it.
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR
Her name is regularly bruited for secretary of defense, but Flournoy is a professional through and through. She would manage agencies, and manage them fairly and without fear-mongering. And she would return the post of national security advisor to its appropriate place as a coordinating position for all of the national security agencies in government.
Anne-Marie Slaughter *BONUS PICK
The lady reveres international law, which will put her among friends at Turtle Bay. She is also a principled humanitarian and will fight harder than anyone for the United Nations to play a role the United States has eschewed under Obama: a champion of freedom.
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