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Obama 'Selling Out' On Foreign Policy?

The headline in the UK's Telegraph says it all: "Barack Obama accused of selling out on Iraq by picking hawks to run his foreign policy".

If elaboration is needed, read the first graphs.

Mr Obama has moved quickly in the last 48 hours to get his cabinet team in place, unveiling a raft of heavyweight appointments, in addition to Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.

But his preference for General James Jones, a former Nato commander who backed John McCain, as his National Security Adviser and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a supporter of the war, to run the Homeland Security department has dismayed many of his earliest supporters.

The likelihood that Mr Obama will retain George W Bush's Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, has reinforced the notion that he will not aggressively pursue the radical withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq over the next 16 months and engagement with rogue states that he has pledged.

Chris Bowers of the influential OpenLeft.com blog complained: "That is, over all, a centre-right foreign policy team. I feel incredibly frustrated. Progressives are being entirely left out of Obama's major appointments so far."

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos site, the in-house talking shop for the anti-war Left, warned that Democrats risk sounding "tone deaf" to the views of "the American electorate that voted in overwhelming numbers for change from the discredited Bush policies."

Look, President-Elect Obama knows that Iraq is won, regardless his campaign rhetoric. To his credit, he is loathe to trade in victory already won before his inauguration for defeat just to appease fervent supporters, such as Markos Moulitsas and Chris Bowers. With the slightest patience, he can take credit - rightly or not - for removing US troops from Iraq and increasing the force levels in Afghanistan.

Naturally, these events would have occurred regardless the election's result. The war in Iraq has been essentially won, and the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater is in need of an infusion of both forces and a new ground-up strategy. And Obama - with David Petraeus in charge at CENTCOM and Robert Gates at Defense - will be able to politically take credit for it in his first term.

Moulitsas and Bowers (et al) seemingly much prefer defeat and the abandonment of the Iraqi people. Kudos to Barack Obama for ignoring them.

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