NPR spoke with Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a former adviser to the Obama administration, and Danielle Pletka, a SAIS graduate and vice president of foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute, about President Barack Obama's recent nominations for two key cabinet positions and how those picks will affect U.S. foreign policy in Obama's second term.
Nasr said he supported the nominees—Chuck Hagel for Defense secretary and John Brennan for CIA director—but questioned whether they would have the power to meaningfully shape U.S. foreign policy, noting that U.S. relations with Israel and Iran are "very tightly managed by the White House." Nasr also noted that the administration "continues to be primarily focused on domestic issues"—he cited the nation's fiscal difficulties and gun control as two administration priorities—and that "it's time for a new strategy" with regards to foreign policy.
Pletka was more critical of Obama's picks, questioning whether Hagel could adequately protect the Pentagon's interests amid cuts Defense Department funding and expressing concerns about statements Brennan has made in the past about Hezbollah and jihad.
Audio from the interview and a complete transcript are available at npr.org.Read more from NPR