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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Obama: National Security a Top Priority

President-elect Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday that since terrorists might try to attack the United States during the White House transition, selecting his national-security team is one of his top priorities. He also told CBS’ 60 Minutes that he would try to “regain America’s moral stature in the world”.

“It’s important to get a national-security team in place”, Mr Obama said in the interview. “We want to make sure that there is as seamless a transition on national security as possible”.

In his first television interview since his historic election, Mr Obama said he spent his time mostly dealing with domestic issues, from doing “whatever it takes” to stabilise the economy, restore consumer confidence, and create jobs, to getting sound health care and energy policies through Congress. The President-elect also said that as soon as he takes office he will work with his security team and the military to draw down US troop levels in Iraq, shore up Afghanistan, and “stamp out al-Qaeda, once and for all”. Mr Obama confirmed reports that he intends to close the detention centre at Guantánamo Bay and “make sure we don’t torture” as “part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world”.

Meanwhile, the world is largely cheering Obama’s historic victory. Only in Israel, Georgia, and the Philippines was John McCain’s crushing defeat lamented. Needless to say, his to-do list is extensive. He will need all the savvy he can summon to soothe the world’s many trouble spots. Mr Obama’s victory, coupled with reinforced Democratic control of the House and Senate, offer him a unique opportunity to resolve some of America’s most troubling foreign problems. Foreign policy experts believe the first step he will need to undertake is to demilitarise US foreign policy and remove foreign policy making from the Pentagon and return it to the State Department, where this function properly belongs.

Although he talked in his 60 Minutes interview about al Qaeda, Iraq, and Afghanistan, America’s most important national security challenge, according to one expert, will not be there, but, in relations with Russia, which has thousands of nuclear warheads. Mr Obama, he said, would need to renew President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s call for nuclear disarmament. Above all, he must move NATO away from Russia’s borders in order to avoid making the alliance a spear pointed at Russia’s heart.

Source: Voices from Russia

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