Global Politics

New Obama cabinet picks announced

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Senator Hillary Clinton and President-Elect Barack Obama (Image: sskennel, Flickr)

Senator Hillary Clinton was announced as his pick for Secretary of State and current Pentagon chief Robert Gates as his Defense Secretary. Both have disagreed with Mr. Obama in the past, most notably over the Iraq War.

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"The World's" Katy Clark explains what these choices mean about the role diplomacy will play in the incoming Obama Administration.

Mr. Obama introduced his top cabinet picks during a morning news conference in Chicago. He said the time has come for a new dawn of America leadership: "We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships. We will show the world once more that America is relentless in the defense of our people, steady in advancing our interests, and committed to the ideals that shine as a beacon to the world."

Mr. Obama went on the say that his nominee shares his pragmatism about the use of power and about his sense of purpose when it comes to America's role as a leader in the world.

Hillary Clinton took up the drumbeat shortly after the President-elect introduced her on stage at today's gathering: "We know our security, our values, and our interests cannot be protected and advanced by force alone. Nor, indeed, by Americans alone.

Both Clinton's and Obama's comments were in sharp contrast to the go-it-alone policy pursued during much of the Bush Administration.

Robert Gates has expressed little doubt about what he thinks public diplomacy can accomplish. In a remarkable speech last year, Gates said America needs to invest more in soft power.

For his part Gates was relatively brief in his remarks following today's announcement that he would continue on as defense secretary. He simply said that he was deeply honored to have been asked to continue to serve: "Mindful that we are engaged in two wars, and face other serious challenges at home and around the world. And with a profound sense of personal responsibility to and for our men and women in uniform and their families. I must do my duty as they do theirs. How could I do otherwise."

Questions remain about how well Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and Barack Obama will work together. Mr. Obama tried to erase any doubts today by saying he assembled the team he did in part because of the strong personalities they bring to the table: "One of the dangers in a White House is that you get wrapped up in group-think, and everybody agrees with everything, and there's no discussion, and there are no dissenting views. So I'm going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House."

Echoing the words of Harry Truman, President-elect Obama said make no mistake about it, the buck with stop with him.

PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.

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