Modification, that is.
In about an hour, Coach Obama will roll out his team. While he is in charge of the vision-thing, he has assembled a team of independent minded people who barely resemble the change-thing he campaigned on. More like a Modification Squad.
If any PUMA’s and Just Say No Deal folks are still reading, how is the appointment of Hillary as SoS playing with your camps?
Now that the election is over, the New York Times notes that the Bush administration had some initiatives of merit, even if unrealized. In fact, after bashing “the failed policies of the Bush Administration,” Obama is going to make a go at pursuing one of them in Afghanistan.
Several times during his presidency, Mr. Bush promised to alter that strategy, even creating a “civilian reserve corps” of nation-builders under State Department auspices, but the administration never committed serious funds or personnel to the effort. If Mr. Obama and his team can bring about that kind of shift, it could mark one of the most significant changes in national security strategy in decades and greatly enhance the powers of Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state.
Mrs. Clinton may find, as her predecessor Condoleezza Rice and others in the Bush administration discovered, that building up civilian capacity is easier to advocate than execute. [my emphasis]
That problem will be no less acute for Mr. Obama in Afghanistan, where the building projects and job-creation activities that Mr. Bush promised in 2002, soon after the invasion, and then again in late 2005, have ground to a halt in many parts of the country because the security situation has made it too dangerous for the State Department’s “provincial reconstruction teams” to operate.
The security situation must be resolved in order for the statecraft to have a chance to work. To his credit, Obama proposed more troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Given the defense team he has assembled, the change he campaigned on seems less change and more modification. Probably, chanting “the modification we need” would not have been as catchy. I pray it works.