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Obama Appoints H. Clinton as Sec. of State

Posted November. 24, 2008 03:10,   


U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who advocates a government of unity, has appointed New York Senator Hillary Clinton as his first secretary of state, major U.S. media said Saturday.

Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, will be treasury secretary and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will take over as commerce secretary. The official announcement of the appointments will come Thursday after Thanksgiving.

In choosing Clinton, his one-time bitter rival for the hard-fought Democratic Party nomination, Obama has shown his intent to embrace political rivals and fill his Cabinet with competent figures. The selection is heralded as a win-win situation for both Obama and Clinton since Obama can highlight his open-mindedness as a leader whereas Clinton can expand her influence on the global stage.

Obama`s choice of Clinton apparently shows his confidence that he will not clash with her in foreign policy.

The White House, however, will be filled with his Chicago confidants. In addition, former NATO supreme commander Gen. James L. Jones, who is a strong candidate for national security adviser, and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, a veteran foreign policy expert, will serve as counterweights to Clinton.

Pundits say Obama`s selection of Clinton signals his center-right diplomacy. Clinton is viewed by many as slanting to "right" in diplomatic issues such as the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the peace deal in the Middle East, and the North Korean nuclear issue.

On the directions of foreign affairs and national security policies, the consensus is that the Obama administration will prefer middle-road pragmatism to ideology and past experience to experimentalism.

Given that Obama will focus on reviving the flagging U.S. economy after taking office amid the deteriorating situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in Iran`s nuclear threat, his priority for the time being will be stable administration at both home and abroad.

A close look at Clinton`s comments made in the Democratic primaries and her eight-year stint on the Senate Armed Services Committee, however, indicates she will speak up for Israel rather than the Arab world in the Mideast peace process.

The New York Times said Obama`s phone call to Clinton Thursday led her to accept the position.

When Obama met Clinton Nov. 13 for the first time since his election, he offered her the position in general terms, but that Clinton was pessimistic about joining his Cabinet.

Clinton reportedly asked for direct access to Obama without reaching his security adviser and personnel authority in the State Department as conditions for taking the job, because she wanted to avoid the situation faced by Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state under the Bush administration. At the time, Powell was swayed by then Undersecretary of State John Bolton planted by neo-con forces.

In the phone call, Obama addressed her concerns about access, personnel and other issues.