Known for speaking her mind, Obama’s pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is a protégé of former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and an expert in trans-national threats, global poverty, and failed states, having earned her chops as one of the youngest ever assistant secretaries of state during the Clinton administration.
ADM. DENNIS BLAIR
The cerebral four-star admiral with close ties to the Clinton family was a Rhodes scholar with Bill, and will serve as director of national intelligence with Obama. An Asia expert fluent in Russian, Blair served in the Navy for 34 years, and reportedly tried to water ski behind a Navy destroyer while commanding the ship in Japan.
Another former member of Tom Daschle’s team and a scholar at the Center for American Progress, McDonough was instrumental in helping the president formulate his foreign policy positions during the campaign, and is credited with planning much of Obama’s successful overseas trip.
A leading humanitarian voice, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist is known for her efforts to increase awareness of world genocide and human rights abuses, particularly in Darfur. She is also known for her slip of the tongue during the election when she called Hillary Clinton “a monster” in an interview with The Scotsman.
A former CIA officer and now senior fellow, foreign policy, at Brookings, the terrorism and conflict resolution expert served as senior advisor to three U.S. presidents on Middle East and South Asia issues. The author of Al Qaeda Strikes Back, served as a policy adviser to the Obama campaign.
If Joe Biden takes a lead role in crafting the Obama administration’s foreign policy, as the president has suggested, Tony Blinken’s pragmatic brand of realism will likely come to center stage in his new position as the new vice president’s national security advisor.
A principal at the Albright Group and senior level diplomat, her national security expertise is focused on North Korea, the Middle East, and Russia. She serves on the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism and is a former special advisor to President Clinton.
Tapped for deputy secretary of state, Steinberg quickly became one of Obama’s closest foreign policy advisors after accompanying him to the Middle East last summer. An avid fly fisherman and marathon runner, Steinberg is known for his high-octane work style and encyclopedic knowledge of many subjects.
A senior fellow at the Center for American Progress focusing on national security policy, particularly regarding the Middle East, Katulis is fluent in Arabic and often writes articles for the Washington Post, he spent years as a consultant and worked on the policy planning staff at the State Department from 1999 to 2000.
The first female secretary of state has a long history in Washington and now serves as top advisor on Obama’s national security team. Since her tenure as Secretary of State, Albright serves on several boards and committees focusing on international issues and teaches at Georgetown University.
With over 40 years of foreign policy experience, the former Peace Corps director has served as assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs under Carter, and assistant secretary of state for European affairs and ambassador to the UN under Clinton. Holbrooke’s experience in India and Pakistan will prove invaluable.
As director for policy planning at State under Bush 41, and special Middle East coordinator under Clinton, Ross has helped shape America’s involvement in the Middle East for over a decade. Currently a counselor of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Ross will serve as ambassador-at-large to the Middle East.
A close friend of John Podesta, Lew served as director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1998 to 2001 under President Clinton and will serve as Obama’s deputy secretary of state. A Hill vet, having worked as senior policy adviser to Speaker Thomas O’Neill, Lew always leaves his office on Friday evenings to observe the Jewish Sabbath.
After announcing he would not seek re-election to his Nebraska Senate seat, the seasoned legislator and decorated veteran was increasingly critical of the Bush administration’s Iraq War strategy, going so far as to label the Iraq War one of history’s five biggest blunders. Obama and Hagel share a strong mutual admiration.
Largely credited with the successful policies that ended the Bosnian War, Lake ruffled feathers in the Clinton camp when he came out early for Obama then co-chaired Obama’s foreign policy team. Another layer in the mix is Lake’s conversion to Judaism in 2005, a fact which has not gone unnoticed by the American Jewish establishment.
This former deputy secretary of defense of Asia and Pacific affairs in the Clinton administration will now serve under another Clinton – Hillary – as assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs. His main focus will be fostering the relationships with countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Myanmar.
GEN. JAMES JONES
Popular on both sides of the aisle, this former NATO supreme allied commander and current chairman of the Atlantic Council has been critical of the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. After serving as a Bush administration envoy to the Middle East, Jones will join the Obama administration as national security advisor.
This retired four-star general in the Marine Corps commanded CENTCOM and served as envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. A favorite military figure in Democratic circles, Zinni co-authored Battle Ready, a scathing criticism of the 2003 Iraq invasion with Tom Clancy.
A longtime Department of Defense insider and intelligence expert, Flournoy held three positions under the secretary of state, and recently served as one of the leaders of the DoD transition review team. Flournoy will serve as undersecretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration.
As deputy secretary of defense (a.k.a the Pentagon’s No. 2 guy), Lynn is a former lobbyist who served as Sen. Ted Kennedy’s liason to the Armed Services Committee early in his career, and held budget and strategic planning positions at the Pentagon during the Clinton Administration.
Caldera, who served as Bill Clinton’s secretary of the army, will now serve as director of the White House Military Office, acting as liaison between the two organizations. After serving in the military early in his career, Caldera studied law at Harvard, worked as a California state assemblyman, and as president of the University of New Mexico.
After he penned a 2005 position paper along with several of his Center for American Progress colleagues that criticized President Bush for invading Iraq, Korb became an anti-war darling. The former assistant secretary of defense under Reagan, has been outspoken against the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
GEN. COLIN POWELL
George W. Bush’s former secretary of state spoke forthrightly about the need for reform within the Republican party, and his headline-making endorsement helped to settle the argument over Obama’s foreign policy credentials in the campaign’s final days. Powell will work with Obama to further American’s commitment to public service.
The retired Navy officer, Air Force comptroller, and former director of the American Society of Military Comptrollers has the experience needed as the new undersecretary of defense. A math and statistics major while at Stanford University, Hale went on to get his masters from George Washington University.
Support for Danzig’s eventual takeover of the Pentagon is growing, regardless of how long Robert Gates stays in the post. In fact, this former navy secretary has repeatedly endorsed Gates, saying he is “a very good secretary of defense and would be an even better one in an Obama administration.”
This former lawyer and White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration is Obama’s pick for CIA director. Aside from his 16 years of service representing California in Congress and serving on the House Budget Committee, Panetta has a strong interest in marine biology and ocean ecology.
This senior fellow at the Center for American Progress is an expert on national security, and served as deputy national security advisor to President Clinton and chief of staff of the National Security Council. The Hyannis, Massachusets, native was editor of the Harvard Human Rights Journal while at Harvard Law School.
JOHN O. BRENNAN
Brennan will serve as Obama’s top adviser on counterterrorism, a position not subject to approval by the Senate. The head of Analysis Corp., a firm that assists private firms and federal agencies on counterterrorism, Brennan will have broad influence on administration’s Middle East policy.
The current deputy director ?of the CIA is poised to play a critical role in day-to-day operations alongside director Leon Panetta.?Kappes, a legendary intelligence operative and former Moscow station chief, has earned the unflinching loyalty of his staff at the top secret agency.
Laipson joins the working group for national security policy with experience garnered as vice chair of the National Intelligence Council and president of the Henry L. Stimson Center, among several national security positions. She speaks frequently on U.S. foreign policy and Middle East issues.
Daalder, a foreign policy and national security scholar, worked as an advisor to Democratic presidential nominees including Howard Dean and Barack Obama. He previously worked under Bill Clinton as a National Security Council staffer and is now a senior fellow at Brookings.
Nominated as deputy national security advisor, Donilon served in the state department during the Clinton administration. Donilon’s ties to Biden include working as his campaign advisor. His wife, Cathy Russell, was named Jill Biden’s chief of staff, and brother, Mike Donilon, as the veep’s lawyer.
After two years on the Bush National Security Council, Beers quit in 2003 five days before the start of the Iraq war, which he feared would strengthen Al Qaeda. The counterterrorism expert later advised Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign and started the National Security Network, a largely Democratic policy group.
A member of Biden’s staff for more than 20 years, McKeon has worked as deputy staff director and chief counsel for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Biden chaired, since 1997. The former Notre Dame lacrosse player will serve as deputy national security adviser to the vice president in the new administration.
As chief of staff to Gen. James Jones, the president of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, Farnsworth is essential to the overall direction and activities of the center. She’s no stranger to the ways of Washington, having previously served as vice president of the USO World Center and on Hillary Clinton’s staff in the White House.
Once considered a frontrunner for defense secretary if Bob Gates did not stay on, Hamre is currently president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A ten-year vet of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he served as undersecretary of defense under Clinton and as deputy secretary of defense for two years.
JEH CHARLES JOHNSON
Johnson, the grandson of noted sociologist Dr. Charles S. Johnson, was appointed the defense department’s general counsel. In June 2008, this civil and criminal trial lawyer who also served in the Clinton administration was named by the National Law Journal’s “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America.”
This Iranian-born foreign policy scholar has long advocated diplomatic engagement with Iran, in opposition to Bush administration practices. Along with his wife, Iran scholar Suzanne Maloney, the pair represent some of the most innovative policy thinking on this part of the world.
Burns plans to stay on as undersecretary of state for political affairs, the highest career position in the State Department. He previously served as ambassador to Russia, as well as in several other diplomatic posts and landed on TIME’s list of the “50 Most Promising American Leaders Under Age 40” in 1994.
Obama’s longest-serving foreign-policy adviser spent a year deployed in Iraq working as an intelligence officer with the Navy SEALS. Known as a pragmatist, Lippert will serve as chief of staff at the National Security Council. He and is an advocate for rebuilding the military and increasing the size of the Army and Marines.
Next up: Economic Policy
The Obamasphere: Foreign Policy