Jim Steinberg

Hillary's State

The seventh floor of the U.S. State Department is a generally dreary place. Its employees roam hallways so long and confusing that they are color-coded for guidance. Fluorescent lights throw down a harsh hospital glare. But, to most State employees, the "real" seventh floor is a secure area, protected by armed guards and doors that require electronic keys, where the department's top staffers, including the secretary herself, spend their days.

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In a video from a July 2008 conference you can see here, Jim Steinberg--initially rumored to be Obama's choice for national security director and now his possible deputy secretary of state--laid out some thoughts about a new "framework" for US foreign policy. Arguing against making "all of our problems subordinate" to terrorism, Steinberg says there's been "an illusion" in recent years that America can solve problems on its own without international help.

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I've made a political case for appointing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State--which assumes that fixing the economy, in the near term at least, takes priority over foreign policy synergy--but I should underscore a major practical drawback that would attend her appointment. Obama might want to consider the advice of his own national security adviser-in-waiting, Jim Steinberg.

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