Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hillary Clinton Has a New Number Two

By Barry Rubin

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns is being promoted to deputy secretary of state, moving from the number three to the number two position in the State Department. Burns is a veteran Middle East specialist.

Why is this happening? The administration wants to show that it has someone with experience at the highest level. It is also signalling the importance of the Middle East.

Ironically, Burns has spent his three-decade-long career advocating things that are mostly the exact opposite of what the Obama Administration is doing. Will he be able to influence the White House to change its course?

Maybe. But Burns didn't get to where he is today by being a dissenter. Perhaps his final exam was the testimony he had to give last month in which he completely explained administration Middle East policy exactly the White House wanted.

The problem is that when one listens to his explanations it is easy to understand how disastrously bad that policy has been.

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