The White House: Business as usual?

Al Jazeera's Mark Seddon on the issues facing the incoming Obama administration.

     President-elect Barack Obama is inheriting a country whose treasury is bare [AFP]

    President-elect Barack Obama made his electoral pitch from outside Washington.

    Populist political contenders for office know that making appeals as 'outsiders' tends to resonate with voters, who by reflex, don't much like professional politicians.

    It is something of a game of course, because both Obama and John McCain, his Republican former rival, are both Washington insiders.

    In fact, Obama is even now taking his pick of Washington insiders to act as part of his advisory team.

    He does so in the knowledge that a change of administration in the United States heralds a major change over of personnel.

    There are reckoned to be over 3,000 potential vacancies on Capitol Hill.

    So advisers, communications specialists, lobbyists, will all be dusting off their CVs.

    Many of George Bush's advisers will of course be writing theirs for the first time in years, in the knowledge that they will be back on the job market come January.

    Seddon's diplomatic diary

    Part 1: Spain finds her voice in victory

    Part 2: Sarkozy reaches for the stars

    Part 3: Beijing: Nothing left to chance

    Part 4: The ugly side of resurgent Russia?

    Part 5: Global crisis reinvigorates Brown

    Part 6: Obama's double-edged sword

    Part 7: World awaits US presidential poll

    Which all begs the question; will it be business as usual in the White House come January?

    President-elect Obama will shortly be receiving the same military and intelligence advice as George Bush. He will soon find himself exposed to the "realities" of government, and of a military presence globally in over 120 countries.

    He inherits a country whose treasury is bare, and economy brought low – some would argue by the greed of the financial sector and the thoughtless export of "real economy" jobs to other countries.

    President Obama may not have a great deal of room for manouevre.

    How much attention has been focused on the powerful forces that will seek to push the Obama administration into supporting much of the status quo?

    Why is it that few people have raised the issue of Obama's promise to go in 'hot pursuit' of al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan?

    What exactly does Obama think of President Bush's plan to station a new range of missile in central Europe, and just how does Obama plan to win the war against insurgents in Afghanistan?

    Would he for instance favour negotiations with elements of the Taliban, as the government of Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, does?

    These questions may seem premature, but they will soon be asked with increased urgency.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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