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America: A Spectator Sport or Soap Opera

November 23, 2008

The spectator world is watching America grapple with socio-economic meltdown.  Countries are fans to one side or the other and have opinions about everything.  Obama is the new kid on the block, countries are on the edge of their seats waiting for the excitement to escalate.  The new player starts out with a bang,  but as the drama unfolds, some familiar players are positioned in strategic places.  The world wonders what kind of change Obama really intends.  Will he be able to really control so many “Clintonistas” in his cabinet?  This unfolds as the Soap Opera …

Obama’s Cabinet Takes Shape

Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s White House chief of staff, is the only person to have been confirmed as a member in Obama’s pending administration to date.

The son of Israeli parents whose father fought against the British during the British Mandate of Palestine in the 1940s, the Chicago-born-and-raised Emanuel was a senior adviser to former US president Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1998.


Ah, the drama begins.  Arabs become skepitcal right away when Hillary Clinton becomes Secretary of State.  Israel cheers that one.

Why Obama Wants Hillary for His ‘Team of Rivals’

her relationship to the president and the new administration—so key to success in the job—is coarsely mixed. And her future ambitions could affect her pursuit of the administration’s goals.

Analysts say Clinton’s experience and global visibility are assets to the role, one of the most prominent in any US administration.

However some have questioned her harsh words over Iran and its nuclear programme and firm support of Israel as being evidence of a more hawkish stance towards world politics.

“I can imagine lots of room for friction,” Michael Hunt, a diplomatic historian at the University of North Carolina. said, adding that strains between presidents and their top diplomats have been a “leitmotif of U.S. history.”

The fixed presence of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, raises a range of additional questions.

Gates will remain Secretary of defense. Robert Gates, who now holds the position, would remain in office for an interim period.

Robert Gates, the current defence secretary, is respected on both sides of the political divide and there are reports Obama may consider keeping him on as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq rumble on.

The Republican served under George Bush as the Director of Central Intelligence before taking on the position vacated by Donald Rumsfeld.

Despite a misstep earlier this year when he criticised Nato forces in southern Afghanistan which led to angry protests from nations whose forces were serving under the organisation in the region, he is widely respected.

What will Obama do with all that Iraq War Baggage?

Iraq has been war as cornucopia, war as a consumer’s paradise. Arguably, on a per-soldier basis, no military has ever occupied a country with a bigger baggage train. On taking Iraq, they promptly began constructing a series of gigantic military bases, American ziggurats meant to outlast them. These were full-scale “American towns”, well guarded, 22-32 kilometers around, with multiple PXes, fitness clubs, brand fast-food outlets, traffic lights, the works. (This, in a country where, for years after the invasion, nothing worked.)

To the tune of multi-billions of dollars, they continued to build these bases up, and then, in Baghdad, put the icing on the Iraqi cake by constructing an almost three-quarter-billion dollar embassy of embassies, a veritable citadel in the heart of the capital’s American-controlled Green Zone, meant for 1,000 “diplomats” with its own pool, tennis courts, recreation center, post exchange/community center, commissary, retail and shopping areas, and restaurants – again, the works.

Iraq bids farewell to US arms

By Gareth Porter   WASHINGTON – The text of the United States-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed by US ambassador Ryan Crocker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Monday closes the door to a further US military presence beyond 2011 even more tightly than the previous draft and locks in a swift end to Iraqi dependence on the US military that appears to be irreversible.

The agreement ends the George W Bush administration’s aspiration for a long-term military presence, aimed both at projecting power in the region from bases in Iraq and at maintaining that Iraqi military dependence on US training, advice and support.

The evil of the US dollar

Obama to announce Geithner at treasury, Summers to lead National Economic Council

… Timothy Geithner held posts in the Treasury Department under three administrations and five secretaries before moving to the New York Fed in 2003. He also held positions at the International Monetary Fund and was employed at the private firm of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

The next US attorney general inherits, among others, the thorny issue of what to do with the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

Kaine, left, could be attorney general
under Obama [GALLO/GETTY]

The frontrunner is Eric Holder, a former deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton and senior legal adviser to Obama.

Holder, who was the first African-American to hold the deputy attorney general position, also served on Obama’s vice-presidential selection committee.


Progressive complaints about Obama’s appointments

…And then there’s Joe Lieberman …

Lieberman, Obama, Bush, and Congressional Oversight

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