When a new president with little foreign policy expertise goes shopping for experts to man his foreign policy apparatus, where does he go — especially when his campaign mantra has been “change”?
Barack Obama will have the ability to select over 200 people to fill positions in the foreign policy apparatus — not just in the State Department but also in related areas in the Department of Defense and National Security Council. Andrew McCarthy notes that Barack Obama’s appointment strategy might consist of selecting moderate center-left nominees who will need Senate approval to assume office. The next step might be to move leftward with hundreds of executive level appointments: the deputy secretaries, under secretaries, and associates, who are the ones who help craft and implement policies. They in turn hire thousands of other people who do not need Senate approval but who nevertheless control the levers of power.
President-elect Obama has been highly critical of the foreign policy approach of the current president. What might he do to project and protect his image as being a “change” agent?
One place he may go for help is an influential non-governmental organization (these are popular in the liberal sphere): the International Crisis Group (ICG).
The ICG is formally based in Brussels but has offices around the world (Washington, D.C., of course, is a major office). These offices are prominent in various “hot spots” in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East since the stated mission of the group is “conflict resolution.” Indeed, the group might be considered a proto-State Department. It has a roster of foreign policy analysts who travel throughout the world, meeting with political and other leaders to try to bring about “change.”
This group also has ties to Barack Obama. One of its major donors is prominent Obama supporter George Soros, who received a “Founders Award” from the ICG. He also serves on its board and executive committee. Indeed, the ICG was founded by former UN official Mark Malloch Brown, whose involvement in the oil-for-food scandal and close ties to George Soros were controversial enough to merit editorials in the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets.