27 November 2008

Obama And Discontent Over His Cabinet

Keeping Bush's Defence Secretary might be a good thing for Obama to do. FlyOnTheWall makes the point that cabinet appointees execute policy. They work for the president. What has happened, for decades, is that the Pentagon's bureaucracy stalls and out-lasts civilian appointees. Instead, Obama is signalling that he will pursue the key reforms that Gates has tried to put in place. These include trying to stall/question the procurement of the F-22, the C-17, the CSAR-X helicopter, the Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer, and the $160 billion Future Combat Systems initiative.


"And defense spending is just the tip of the iceberg. On a wide array of issues including encouraging heterodox thought, promoting capable officers, reigning in inter-service rivalries, prioritizing the needs of soldiers in the field, and placing personnel ahead of technology, Gates has made important strides - a point I've already made at excessive length. Having him pursue the same agenda while working for a President who actually agrees with and supports his efforts is an exciting prospect."
We (anti-military activisits, whether Left or Green) continue to have a contradictory position:

- The military-industrial complex is all-powerful, it cannot be overcome, Blackwater is hiding under every bed, it's iron-clad, we'd doomed to the Pentagon buying £1040 wrenches

- Obama should sweep into office, appoint all progressive people to his cabinet, and throw out Gates, and the military, and military industry, will just fall in line, they'll love Obama, and on his own, he will change the world.

It's neither of these things.

Perhaps Carter and Clinton simply weren't effective (heck, Carter was leading by 30% in the summer of 1976, and he was one-term-and-out) since they came in and appointed people who didn't know what they were doing. Maybe it's more important to set overall policy, manage people (as opposed to Cheney/Scooter/Rummy going rogue), and get things done.

I'd rather Obama concentrate on making the Copenhagen conference a reality, to start getting the US out of Iraq, to begin an economic stimulus in the US, than stumble around for a year with ideologically pure appointees.


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