Cynthia Rozell: Change is coming to national security


— The major international challenge facing the Obama administration is repairing our nation's frayed international relationships. Restoring global partnerships is key to achieving our global aims and priorities, and it is what Americans voted for. So how does President-elect Obama's new national security and foreign policy team shape up to this challenge?

We hear that 78 percent of America likes the team. It is a strong team filled with pragmatic choices. But others say it looks like a group of Washington retreads, and we hear the skeptics ask: "Where is the change?"

Do not be fooled. The Obama team's shift away from the foreign policy of the Bush administration will be quick, led by an immediate paradigm change in how our national leadership engages the world.

We can expect a new national security strategy for positive world engagement. Neo-conservative philosophy is out, and the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strike (a particularly disastrous strategy) will experience a speedy death under the Obama team.

The new team proactively will engage international leaders. Obama stated this during the election campaign and maintained this intent despite criticism. The team includes seasoned diplomats such as Susan Rice with track records of positive international engagement. Hillary Clinton embraced and engaged the world as a respected policy maker and diplomatic envoy. Bob Gates and Jim Jones have pragmatic experience engaging world leaders on major security issues including terrorism and energy. Working as this president's foreign affairs team, they may be the most qualified and experienced ever assembled.

We can expect experienced leadership of U.S. foreign policy and security institutions. The new Obama team understands the importance and the appropriate roles of the institutions it will lead. Bob Gates, with his extensive Pentagon management experience, has spoken eloquently about what the U.S. military should and should not be asked to do. Jim Jones knows the NSC well and is equipped to bring together strong opinions to forge consensus. As First Lady, Hillary Clinton worked most closely with the institutions of "soft power," our diplomatic, development, humanitarian and exchange programs. She knows the real power of soft power. As Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Rice experienced the United Nations and knows it well as a partner, a powerful advocate, a peacekeeper and a flawed institution that too often exposed its weaknesses in Africa.

Finally, we can expect a new, high-level commitment to international morality and active U.S. leadership in implementing that new morality. Respect for human rights and our own civil liberties dominate the careers of this team. Even as all have vowed to confront the dangers of terrorism directly, we can expect the closure of Guantanamo Bay and a major rethink in our counter-terrorism tools.

This team also advocates strong, moral leadership in addressing the origins of terrorism. For example, in 2007, Rice noted that "when Americans see images of bone-thin African or Asian kids with distended bellies, they think of helping. But does it also occur to us that we are seeing a symptom of a threat that could destroy our way of life? Efforts to illuminate the complex relationship between poverty and insecurity may be unwelcome (in some quarters), but we ignore the implications of global poverty for global security at our peril."

And Hillary Clinton: "We enhance our international reputation and strengthen our security if the world sees the human face of American democracy in the good works, the good deeds we do for people seeking freedom from poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy and oppression."

And Robert Gates: "I am convinced ... that around the world, men and women seeking freedom from despotism, want, and fear will continue to look to the United States for leadership. We made our share of mistakes; we have strayed from our values; and, on occasion, we have become arrogant in our dealings with other countries. But we have always corrected our course."

America will correct its course again because in November 2008, America made a fundamental change in its leadership. President-elect Obama has chosen this team to help him change how the world views America and how America leads the world. This team will bring about that change.

Steamboat Springs resident Cynthia Rozell owns a small consulting firm that provides management assistance to international organizations. She spent most of 2008 designing economic recovery programs in Afghanistan and Northern Uganda.


Fred Duckels 8 years, 4 months ago

I find it statistically impossible for one administration to be so incompetent while another is perfect and all our troubles are going to be solved. Will diplomacy work with bullies and terrorists? Will our "friends" honor sanctions and support unity? Many tried diplomacy with Hitler, how did that turn out? Obama can't wait to see if he can hit a home run. May my god bless him and I predict that he has a lot to learn. Will Europe who has many Muslims, that are not treated well support us in the war on terror? They are terrified of them and will not join us in any meaningful way. Will Hillary convince them to pull their weight? As you say it will be easy now that the "cowboys" are gone.


MrTaiChi 8 years, 4 months ago

There is an argument to be made that American foreign policy began to weaken near the end of the Johnson administration. For the first time in modern American history, one party, the Democratic party, made foreign policy partisan. Then, as will happen shortly, the ideological left, (call them the 'anti-neocoms'), bolted the Democratic party in favor of a delusional dream of world cooperation, in a nasty and dangerous world. Lenin called people of that mind, "useful fools." He had a less euphoric view of international cooperation. Our president elect calls himself a pragmatist. His appointments and recent statements mean a continuation of American foreign policy largely unchanged from the last three administrations, because it is one thing to be a vote whore and say anything to your base to get nominated and then to mushmouth your way through a campaign to get elected, another to be confronted with the realities of the world. Yes, Barack to the Future, is looking a whole lot like he is turning to Washington retreads for advice, and we can be thankful for that. So he turned out to be just another lying politician. I'd rather have that than dropping John Lennon DVDs on the Taliban.


aichempty 8 years, 4 months ago

Lyndon Johnson had valid reasons to pussyfoot around with the Russians; megatons of them.

Not so with the middle eastern nations of our current reality.

We're really gonna wait until some theocracy in the middle east pops off a nuke on an enemy, and then it's going to be heck to pay.

When I was a kid in the 60s, the Russians were conducting atmospheric nuclear tests. The fallout from those nuclear explosions traveled through the stratosphere via jet stream and contaminated grass eaten by milk cows with Strontium 90 and other radioactive isotopes, passing those elements along into the milk being served to American school children. Is it a coincidence that the big increase in lung cancer in this country also occurred after radioactive fallout had settled on tobacco growing in the fields? Probably not. Plutonium is a highly toxic heavy metal which, radioactive or not, causes lung cancer from the toxic effects of the element. Microscopic particles of plutonium from the Russian tests could easily have contaminated tobacco fields in the United States, been inhaled by smokers, and resulted in lung cancer. Might this be why, "some people get it, and some people don't?" Who knows? Too late to do the research now.

If the Indians and Pakistanis and Iranians and Syrians start duking it out with nukes, the fallout is going to land on other countries, including the United States. This is why it is in our national interest to use conventional explosives against nuclear facilities in rogue/enemy nations to prevent them from building nuclear weapons.

So, screw the diplomacy.

Bomb the A-bomb builders before they get a chance to use them, because there's no way that it won't affect us directly if they are used. If you're worried about OUR environment, and OUR health, it's the only sure way to protect us.

4,000 American deaths in Iraq are nothing compared to what can happen if we allow the region to go nuclear. That's what people don't understand. If we could expect them to act like reasonable, rational people, there would have never been a 9/11. They will lie, placate and negotiate right up to the bright flash of light. You can count on it.


JustSomeJoe 8 years, 4 months ago

Aich - interesting theory. India has had nuclear weapons since 1975, Pakistan since 1987. They have been fighting on and off over Kashmir since Pakistan was created. I don't want to take too much liberty with your proposal, but what I thought I read is we should use convential weapons against India and Pakistan to eliminate their nuclear capability. Should we use convential weapons against Israel in case they decide to use tactical nukes against Syria or Iran? What about South Africa's capabities?

In your words, screw the diplomacy and bomb everyone?


JLM 8 years, 4 months ago

What utter tripe!

Sweetheart, the election is over and Barack Obama won. That much is true. Congratulations! Good luck! Godspeed! I wish him great success as President. Enjoy the victory. Heck, even glory in the victory.

But, please spare annointing a bunch of novitiates as All Stars until at least they suit up. At least let them get in the game before you critique their performance. Hillary Clinton has no more experience or qualification to be SOS than BO has as President. Still, I wish them the very best and that they perform at a level which earns them a unanimous re-election in 2012.

"We can expect a new national security strategy for positive world engagement."

What absolute nonsense. You should be fined for using words that mean absolutely nothing.

President George W Bush kept us safe for 8 years. Let's let President Obama keep up safe for 8 days before we begin the canonization and cheerleading!



MrTaiChi 8 years, 4 months ago

"Tripe" sums it up pretty well. Other markers of usefulness are resort to the leftist newspeak, such as "proactive" and "new morality." Nothing is wrong with the old morality expressied in the secular Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was 60 years old yesterday, except, no Muslim country signed on, ever, none. Article 18 guarantees freedom of religious choice and conscience.

"Soft Diplomacy???" I guess that Laura Bush is qualified to be Secretary of State, too. She did more to advance the international cause of women's rights during the last eight years than, oh, let's say, Hillary Clinton, in the past sixteen years.

Clinton is the right choice for SOS. Our enemies locked in a room with her will buckle and beg for mercy rather than listen to the shrill voice that just won't stop.

Aich, I usually like your stuff, but are you serious? Stop the threat of nuclear fallout by using nuclear weapons to bomb developing programs? It is the credible threat to use nuclear weapons that has kept us safe for 63 years. Once they psychologically become just another theater weapon, civilizaton is doomed. Incidentally, a friend's wife came down with cancer of the thyroid as an adult, after a childhood spent in an unusually radioactive hot area during America's above ground testing phase. Being thyroid cancer sells, even though they had metastasized, doses of radioactive iodine found them and killed them.

Good luck to Obama. We are in the ship he is steering. Keep an eye out for shoals though, as the left will use race victimization, ad hominem labels, equal time enforcement of media, hate speech accusations and other strategems to stiffle criticism of their progressive vision of American and one-world society.


aichempty 8 years, 4 months ago


Yup. Bomb anybody who endeavours to start a war using WMDs. Anybody. The Israelis do it all the time (Syria, Iraq . . . ).

How anyone could believe that "talk" can bring peace in a world where people in a town like ours haul stolen money out of the bank in their pants totally escapes me. Evil is all around us. Words mean nothing.


MrTaiChi 8 years, 4 months ago

I want to apologize for the typos and misspelling "cells and stifle" in my last posting. I know how to type and spell, but in my rush to comment and get back to my life, I seem to make these mistakes. In another round of comments, the resident editor of Yampa Valley, The Editor of Oz, took me to task for similar mistakes as either a marker of character defects or intellectual shortcomings. I obsequiously humble myself and seek the forgiveness of the Oz. To all others I will redouble my efforts to proofread my postings.


JustSomeJoe 8 years, 4 months ago

Aich - you are one long non sequitur, how you brought the Alpine bank mess into this discussion is way beyond me. I think Chazz Michael Michaels said it best, "mind bottling".

War/violence seems to be your only solution and discussion solves nothing. I'd love to hear your criteria for how you determine someone who "....endeavors to start a war using WMDs", and obviously needs a bombing. Do we start with non NPT signers, or just start with anyone with a nuclear reactor? Perhaps you can become the "Bombing Czar" and make the call for us.


aichempty 8 years, 4 months ago


There are evil, selfish people in the world who don't care when others are hurt. Stealing money right out of the bank is a great example of evil and selfish. So is being in a position to enforce the law, and choosing not to do so. So is selling a Senate seat.

Now, if the bank money had gone to a liver transplant for a child without insurance, or for cancer treatments, people might be sympathetic. Jewelry and vacations to Vegas don't inspire much sympathy.

I think I'll bounce this one back to you. Both Germany and Japan worked on A-bomb programs during their attempts to conquer the globe. At what point would YOU have bombed them to prevent the invasions of Indochina and Poland? Only after diplomatic negotiations failed?

If you read yore histry (sic) you'll discover that diplomatic negotiations with Germany and Japan continued pretty much right up to the point where they declared war on the United States. The only thing that was accomplished was to delay U. S. preparations for the inevitable war. The departure from the lessons taught by history in the case of WW-II was that the people who started the war did not win it. Most of the time, the nation that starts the war wins.

If you think talking will prevent a rogue nation from waging war for fun, profit and religious reasons, then I'd say you should leave your car unlocked with the keys in it, and your home unlocked when you're away, and put up signs saying, "Please be honest and don't take my stuff while I'm away." See how that works out.

People who take advantage of others by saying one thing and doing another have a name for the victims: Suckers.


JLM 8 years, 4 months ago

The challenge of the future is that despots with toys ultimately use their toys. Restraint is at an all time low. Do we want to have Iran with a nuclear weapon? Do we want to "guarantee" Israel's safety?

I would like fewer and fewer places in the world where America is required to rise to the defense of an "ally" if attacked.

If we must shed blood, let's try to make it the enemy's blood and let's do it quick and surgically, if possible. Use overwhelming force and don't give any warning.

Man, that sounds bloodthirsty. Must be the caffeine and low blood sugar. Nonetheless, I checked and it's what I think.


JustSomeJoe 8 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps JLM and Aich can start a "kill first" commune somewhere in Northern Idaho. Even better, I hear the Alaskan Independence Party is looking for new members. I'd bet you would find a bunch of new BFFs.


JLM 8 years, 4 months ago

Actually having been in that line of work for real, I am the least likely one to do it again. Been there, done that. An ugly, but unfortunately, a necessary business.

Anyway, I have nothing against Americans --- kinda like our tribe actually. Now, the ragheads who want to kill us, they are not getting any Christmas cards from me this year. LOL

My slant is to get rid of the bad guys in THEIR zip code and to do it quickly, quietly and completely --- the alliterative solution, one might say.

I want the lowest possible number of sh!t heads loose in the world and the lowest possible number of hateful places in which the American military can be called upon to sacrifice for our Nation.

Of course, I also like to fly fish so maybe I should consider Idaho or Alaska? BTW, what is the bag limit on liberals in Idaho and Alaska? LOL

And, hey, have a nice damn day!


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