Meet the New Boss
During his election campaign, Senator Obama promised that he would if elected bring real “change” to Washington, as opposed to his opponent, who would bring “more of the same.” Now that Mr. Obama is President-Elect, things are becoming somewhat murkier. Exhibit A. Intellegence Policy to Stay Largely Intact:
President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.
As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA’s interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.
Yet he more recently voted for a White House-backed law to expand eavesdropping powers for the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama said he opposed providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided warrantless surveillance, but ultimately voted for the bill, which included an immunity provision.
The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight.
A few months back, taking the same position caused Senator McCain to be labeled a supporter of torture by one of my co-bloggers at Vox Nova.
Exhibit B. Obama Won’t Rush to Reverse Iraq Policy:
Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, stayed up most of the night, watching the U.S. election returns. He offered his government’s congratulations to Obama but said he doesn’t see much prospect for a significant policy change right away.
“That is a relief,” Zebari says, “that there wouldn’t be an abrupt or sudden withdrawal or disengagement that would lead to destabilization or confusion.”
Zebari, you may recall, made some headlines back in June when he told reporters Obama had promised “if there would be a Democratic administration, it will not take any irresponsible, reckless, sudden decisions or action to endanger your gains, your achievements, your stability or security. Whatever decision he will reach will be made through close consultation with the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders in the field.”
Exhibit C. Obama’s Second Thoughts on Iran:
Obama appears to be having second thoughts about the wisdom of an idea announced largely as a means of strengthening his anti-Bush message rather than dealing with a dangerous foreign foe. All indications from him since his election are that he’s in no hurry to open talks.
The other day, in response to a cable from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulating him on his win, Obama indicated he was in no mood to accept the Iranian’s invitation to dance.
Obviously there is a lot of speculation involved in these articles. Maybe as president, Mr. Obama will deliver on his campaign promises and that his administration will represent a radical break with Bush administration foreign policy, rather than making only symbolic changes while leaving the core of those policies intact.
Then again, maybe not.