Obama's secret dinner with foreign policy wonks

Barack Obama had a “secret dinner” with a small group of foreign policy experts last week in Washington, D.C., according to Laura Rozen of the revamped Foreign Policy.com web site.

Apparently, the group was assembled by former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, the president of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and co-chair of the Iraq Study Group. Recall that group’s recommendations were disproven by the success of the surge and the democratization-imperfect as it may seem-at work in Iraq. The report also counseled taking a tougher approach towards Israel and a softer outreach approach towards Syria and Iran  (there is a reason to bring this last issue up). Many people with ties to Hamilton serve in key roles in President-elect Obama’s foreign policy team:


Among them: Obama speechwriter Ben Rhodes, who wrote speeches and was a policy advisor for Hamilton for several years; Obama's top foreign-policy advisor Denis McDonough, who worked for Hamilton on the staff of the House International Relations Committee, Obama Mideast advisor Daniel Shapiro, who worked for Hamilton as his professional staff member on the Middle East when Hamilton was chairman of the then-House Foreign Affairs Committee in the 103rd Congress (1993-94); Dan Restrepo, a top Obama Latin America advisor now with the Center for American Progress who worked for Hamilton on the Hill, and Mara Rudman, who worked for Hamilton on the Hill and is now a member of the formal Obama transition team.


 Who was at the dinner with President-elect Obama and Lee Hamilton?


 Iran scholar Haleh Esfandiari, Pakistan expert Ahmed Rashid (who had flown in from Lahore), Obama friend and foreign-policy advisor Samantha Power of Harvard University (who accompanied PEOTUS to the meeting), incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and a few others.


Samantha Power’s future role in an Obama Administration has been subject to much conjecture. She was clearly the closest foreign policy adviser to Senator Obama during the campaign, until she was forced to “resign” from active involvement in the wake of calling Hillary Clinton a “monster”. She came back to help with the transition at the State Department (in the ways of Washington, all things are forgiven between Hillary Clinton and Power).

Now it appears she may be on the rise. She accompanied the President-elect to the dinner. Rozen notes:


A veteran Washington foreign-policy hand says Power is likely to get a job in the Obama administration, probably in the NSC, but would not divulge what position.



Supporters of the American- Israel alliance have many reasons to be wary of the role of Samantha Power at the National Security Council. These reasons are out lined in two American Thinker articles here and here.

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