Rahm Emanuel, President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, has declared that "you don't ever want a crisis to go to waste." As reported here yesterday, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has been busy lately promoting the idea that Obama should move quickly once in the White House to turn various economic and political crises into opportunities to create a "new world order." (The words are Kissinger's.)
Addressing the Saban Forum on December 5, President George W. Bush stated: "It is true, as I've said many times, that Saddam Hussein was not connected to the 9/11 attacks."
Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, India, on December 3, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that Pakistan must act "fully and transparently" in efforts to bring the terrorists responsible for the deaths of at least 188 people in Mumbai — India's financial capital — to justice.
The one aspect of the Obama campaign that was arguably laudable and comparatively better than the McCain campaign was Obama's skepticism of the Iraq War and his demands that the United States leave Iraq. However, when Barack Obama announced on December 1 that he would keep Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in place and appoint fellow Iraq hawk Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Obama ended any rational hope that the United States would pursue a more non-interventionist foreign policy.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, a senior adviser to President-elect Barack Obama on matters of national security and foreign policy, was the featured speaker at Chatham House in London on November 17, 2008. The title of his lecture was "Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President." Although Chatham House events are known to attract "the great and the good" of England's political, financial, and academic elites — as well as many of its top media representatives — there has been virtually no word as to what Brzezinski had to say in any of the world's press.
During a speech given on November 13 before the Atlantic Council think tank, CIA Director Michael Hayden offered his best-informed opinion that Osama bin Laden is isolated and most likely hiding amidst the mountainous terrain along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
The New York Times revealed on November 10 the existence of yet another secret administration policy that had been hidden from the American people: "Since 2004 [the Bush administration] has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere." The Times story noted that the Bush administration had singled out 15-20 nations where such military operations could be conducted without congressional approval (and perhaps even congressional knowledge).
One of the first orders of business for a new president-elect is to consider which people to nominate for his cabinet. The position of secretary of state is generally regarded as the most critical of these, since it is one of four original cabinet positions, and the secretary of state is first among cabinet members in the line of presidential succession (following the vice president, speaker of the House, and president pro tempore of the Senate).
A report in the British newspaper, the Guardian, for November 1 examined the plight of 17 members of a dissident ethnic Chinese group who have been incarcerated at the U.S. detention facility inside Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba for almost seven years. The men are members of the Uyghur ethnic group — Turkic-speaking Muslims who are seeking political autonomy from China.
On October 17, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) hosted a "Symposium on International Law and Justice" featuring actress Angelina Jolie, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and co-chair, with her husband, actor Brad Pitt, of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation. According to the CFR website, the symposium "was made possible through the generous support of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation."
Hosting the White House Summit on International Development on October 21, President George W. Bush called on Americans to continue funding foreign-aid programs, saying it would be "a serious mistake" to cut back due to the current economic crisis. He also boasted that his administration has dramatically increased foreign aid.