charity, had to be met before Clinton could accept the secretary of state nomination. In addition to releasing the names of 208,000 donors, President Clinton can no longer accept donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Global Initiative or manage the charity’s day-to-day operations. He also must submit his speaking schedule and speeches for review by the State Department and the White House. And there is some debate about how he might influence his wife in her role as secretary of state.
“Obviously Obama can’t disconnect himself from the foreign policy of the Clinton administration, partly because many of the people who are working for him had a role in [that]. Consequently, there’s going to be some continuity there,” explains David Lewis, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University. He senses the potential for conflict because the Clintons have such strong views about how foreign policy should be handled and the fact that the former president, through his charity, continues to be a player of sort in that arena. But, Lewis adds, “To some extent, having Bill Clinton close by can be an asset. He’s obviously someone who knows a lot about foreign policy and has a lot of expertise. It’s difficult to tell at this point how different [the Clintons’] and Obama’s foreign policies are likely to be. That’s going to have to be worked out in practice and it’s a risk Obama is taking.”
Throughout the campaign, Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, was a strong advocate of Obama, in large part because of his differences with Clinton on Iraq, Iran, and other issues. He considers Clinton’s nomination to be “the ultimate betrayal” of those who supported Obama and that her voting record on foreign policy matters will make it difficult to repair America’s image in the world.
“Even though the Bush administration alienated the U.S. throughout the world to an unprecedented degree, we forget that the Clinton administration, albeit to a lesser extent, alienated much of the international community, as well,” says Zunes, citing opposition to a treaty banning landmines and policies on Iraq, Iran, and Israel as examples. “In many ways [Clinton’s nomination] is just a return to the status quo ante and not the change we can believe in.”
At his news conference, Obama also announced other members of his foreign policy team. Former NATO commander General James Jones is slated to become national security advisor; current Defense Secretary Robert Gates will continue in his role; and Susan Rice, a Clinton alum who was a chief foreign policy adviser to Obama throughout his presidential campaign will be named United Nations ambassador.