Antiwar Groups Fear Hawkish Cabinet

As President-elect Barack Obama’s national security team begins to take shape, there is increasing disquiet among antiwar activists that his appointees and rumored appointees have thus-far, without exception, favored the Iraq invasion and held hawkish foreign policy positions.

The persistent reports that Obama is in talks with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about keeping his position in the new administration had already prompted loud complaints that keeping him on was not in keeping with his campaign’s mantra of change. His apparent preference to make Sen. Hillary Clinton his Secretary of State, despite all the times he publicly trashed her position on the Iraq War during the primaries, has only added to those concerns.

But nowhere in Obama’s “Team of Rivals” cabinet is any suggestion of an appointee less-hawkish than himself, meaning his increasingly tenuous claim to being an antiwar politician will serve as the base-line for his administration’s foreign policy, with his cabinet pulling it in ever more bellicose directions.

Editorial director of Justin Raimondo says that “the likely appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state should disabuse even the most brain-dead of Obama’s supporters that we won’t be seeing much change in American foreign policy. If I were an Iranian, I’d start digging a bomb shelter.”

Raimondo rather sees antiwar Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as a much better fit for a key role, saying “that would be an unmistakable sign from the Obama camp that they really are nonpartisan.”

Kelly Dougherty, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War complains that “Obama ran his campaign around the idea the war was not legitimate, but it sends a very different message when you bring in people who supported the war from the beginning.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.