Mohammad Amjad Hossain from Virginia, USA
AS President of the United States of America for the second term, Barack Obama is planning to reshuffle his cabinet. As indicated earlier Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined to continue in the present position. Therefore, her replacement will be required. Similarly, Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner will also not remain in his post. Timothy faces criticism from the opposition for not being clear in his planning. The opposition to Obama administration also criticises Secretary of Treasury for not putting pressure on China to stop manipulating Chinese currency in dealing with trade. There is a talk in the town to replace Secretary of Defence as well.
Hillary Clinton, the 67th Secretary of State of the United States, will leave behind indelible mark in making a more effective and smart diplomacy. Possibly she has travelled most widely around the world than any of her predecessors in that post. Her shuttle diplomacy helped her to conclude a ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to stop aggression on both sides. She championed causes large and small: a milk cooperative in Malawi, clean cock-stoves in China, and global women issues. Hillary also succeeded to open door of diplomatic relations with pariah state of Myanmar. But she could not make any startling achievement like Henry Kissinger who had made history by establishing relations between the United States and China in 1971-1972. Henry Kissinger developed warm relations with the Soviet Union which led to the strategic arms limitations talks (SALT) in 1969 and helped negotiate the SALT agreement with Soviet Union. Henry Kissinger was awarded Nobel Peace Prize for successful withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam and negotiated peaceful permanent settlements between North and South Vietnam.
Both Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence hold significant importance in the cabinet in the US. It has been rumoured that President Obama is likely to pick up Republican for the post of Secretary of Defence which will reflect that cabinet is a bi-partisan. In the first term President Obama retained Gates as Secretary of Defence, who was appointed by his predecessor George W Bush. Possibly former two-term Senator Chuck Hagel of the Republican Party will be appointed as Secretary of Defence to replace Leon Panetta. Chuck Hagel is a Vietnam veteran. President Obama is reportedly paying back debt to his wife for supporting President Obama.
For the Secretary of State, the President was seriously considering to nominate Dr Susan Rice, present American Ambassador to the United Nations to replace Hillary Clinton. In view of her comments as 'spontaneous riot triggered by an anti-Islamic video made in America' days after the deadly attack on US consulate in Benghazi in Libya over TV networks have caused serious concern to Republican Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain, who are pledged bound to filibuster in the senate. Meanwhile, 97 House Representatives have written a letter to the President saying she caused 'irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world'. Senator Lindsey Graham blasted Rice as incompetent while John McCain called her not very bright. These comments came following Susan Rice's meeting with them in the Senate recently. Some commentators, however, are of the opinion that the Republican senators have targeted Obama's African-American aides, from Van Jones to Eric Holder, who is Attorney General in the Department of Justice, and now Rice.
Dr Susan Rice is in fact well-qualified for the post of Secretary of State. She is a Rhodes Scholar and gifted diplomat who succeeded in getting the world to back tougher sanctions against Iran. At the United Nations Susan Rice has invited anger from Russia and China with imperious manner, denouncing Russia and China as "disgusting, and bullying European diplomats over Iran issue".
Now that Susan Rice has requested the President on December 12 to withdraw her name from the shortlist for considering for the post of secretary of state by saying "confirmation process for her to become lengthy, disruptive and costly" and the President accepted her request, Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is the only candidate to be considered for the post of Secretary of State who will be confirmed by the senate. The Republican Party in fact is in favour of John Kerry to become the next Secretary of State. The Republican Party is eyeing his to be vacated seat in the Senate. In that case, Democratic Party and president himself will face difficult situation in case a democratic candidate could not defeat Republican candidate in a special election should Senator John Kerry leave senate. Senator Kerry knows world players. It is also likely that Susan Rice will become National Security Adviser to President in case Tom Donilon moves over to be Chief of Staff of the President. Here Susan Rice would not face scrutiny of the Senate for confirmation like secretary of state.
With the departure of Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) four star General David Petraues as a result of scandal, a new director has to be appointed. Four names are in circulation for nomination for Director of CIA. They are: Michael Morell, acting Director of CIA, John Breunnan, Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism, Michael Vickers, Under Secretary of Defence for intelligence overseas all military intelligence programmes and Jane Harman, Current President and Chief Executive officer of the Woodrow Wilson center for scholars.
There is a possibility to change Secretary of Commerce. Recently, Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, who met with two auto accidents in Southern California, was on leave of absence. A rumour was in circulation that President Obama may consider offering the portfolio to Mitt Romney, who was defeated in presidential election in November last. It is highly likely that Mitt Romney would accept the proposal if he is offered. Another name is in circulation -- Gary Locke, former Governor of Washington State and former Secretary of Commerce until 2010, is likely to be considered for the post because of his Chinese background. He is now serving as American Ambassador to China. Presently America is having huge trade deficit with China. In October last, trade deficit with China rose to $29.5 billion. This is because China is conducting unfair trade practice and the Chinese currency Yuan remains undervalued against US dollar. The reshuffle of the cabinet will take place after President Obama takes oath of office on January 20 in 2013 to begin his second term as President of the United States of America.
The writer is a retired diplomat