President Barack Obama’s foreign policy priorities


The Washington Post reports President Barack Obama will get his first national intelligence briefing today, as he prepares for several security challenges.

Obama will receive the same briefing as outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush from Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell. The article says Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, and the Guantanamo Bay detention facility could figure prominently in the briefing.

Op-ed columnist David Ignatius considers Barack Obama’s foreign policy priorities, and says he’ll focus first on personnel before he turns to substance. He notes the speculation that Obama will appoint a Republican to a senior foreign policy post, perhaps Condoleeza Rice or Colin Powell.

Meanwhile, Obama has chosen Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel to be his White House chief of staff, one of the most influential positions in the new administration. Rahm Emanuel, a former Bill Clinton adviser, is the son of a Jerusalem-born pediatrician who was a member of the Irgun, a militant Zionist group that operated in Palestine between 1931 and 1948. Emanuel served briefly as a civilian volunteer on an Israeli military base during the Persian Gulf war of 1991.

Also in The Guardian, an editorial lists what it calls the elephant traps facing the new U.S. president: how to disengage from Iraq without destabilising it; how to end the Pashtun insurgency in Afghanistan without sparking a bigger one in Pakistan; how to achieve a breakthrough over the intractable problems of Israel-Palestine.

Last but not least: In today’s New York Times, columnist Nicholas D. Kristof writes that Barack means blessing in Swahili, and this election feels like America’s great chance to rejoin the world after eight years of self-exile. He argues: “America is more than a place. At its best, it also is an idea.”

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