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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2675

Obama Cabinet Appointments: Likely Candidates

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 14 November (Asiantribune.com): President-elect Barack Obama is deeply involved in his transition work and the selection of his cabinet in his home town Chicago.

Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States on January 20 next year.

Candidates To Head Defense: Reporting on Obama's upcoming appointments, the New York Times notes speculation Obama could ask current Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to stay "to demonstrate bipartisanship." Democrats also "see former Clinton administration Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre and former Navy Secretary Richard J. Danzig as two candidates for the Pentagon." The talk in the portals of the US Congress mentions Senators Jack Reed and John Hamre.

Potential mention for the position of Secretary of State: The New York Times says Obama "might want to tap a Republican for the State Department, perhaps including Senators Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the ranking member of the foreign relations committee or Chuck Hagel of Nebraska who is very close to Obama. Among Democrats, Sen. John F. Kerry "is a leading choice." Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, ambassador for the UN and Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration is mentioned for the State Department post.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, reports Kerry "was angling for secretary of state." David Ignatius writes in the Washington Post, "Among the big questions are whether to ask Bob Gates to stay on as defense secretary or, if not, whether to appoint a prominent Republican, such as Sen. Richard Lugar or Sen. Chuck Hagel, as secretary of state."

According to the New York Times: In the national security arena, much depends on whether Mr. Obama decides to ask Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to stay to demonstrate bipartisanship. If Mr. Obama decides against it, or Mr. Gates turns him down, Democrats see former Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre and former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig as two candidates for the Pentagon.

Without Mr. Gates, Mr. Obama might want to tap a Republican for the State Department, perhaps including Senators Richard Lugar of Indiana or Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, advisers said. If Mr. Gates stays, some Democrats said, Senator John F. Kerry, the Democratic nominee who gave Mr. Obama the platform at the 2004 convention that vaulted him to national fame, is a leading choice to be secretary of state.

For national security adviser, Mr. Obama might pick between James B. Steinberg, a former deputy national security adviser, and Gregory B. Craig, a former State Department official. Mr. Danzig and Dennis Ross, a longtime Middle East envoy, are also mentioned. Susan E. Rice, a former assistant secretary of state and early Obama adviser, is often described as a possible deputy national security adviser or ambassador to the United Nations.

Washington Post speculates: Transition efforts are also underway in the other most pressing arenas — national security and foreign policy — that Obama will soon control. The Pentagon has begun a robust political transition effort, seeking to minimize disruptions during the first wartime presidential turnover in 40 years, senior Pentagon officials said. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with the senior Pentagon leadership and “charged everyone to make sure we don’t drop the baton, and to be as collaborative and helpful as possible,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Pentagon officials have cleared office space with computers and phones for dozens of Obama transition team members, anticipating that as many as 50 aides will soon arrive and, in the words of one officer, “occupy the building.” Gates conducted an inventory of the roughly 250 political appointees at the Pentagon to see who would be willing to stay in their jobs if asked.

Meanwhile Time magazine reports: Candidates for secretary of state are believed to include former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke and Chuck Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska who did not seek re-election and has been critical of the war in Iraq. A spokeswoman for John Kerry denied rumors that the Massachusetts senator and failed 2004 presidential nominee was also seeking the job. In the running to serve as Obama’s national security adviser are James Steinberg, who served as Clinton’s deputy national security adviser, and James Jones, a retired Marine commandant and former top NATO commander who has been highly critical of the Bush Administration’s Afghan policy.

- Asian Tribune -

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