Obama's Former Rival Chosen as Secretary of State

The former first lady trades in her Senate seat for a foreign policy minefield.

ByABC News
December 1, 2008, 6:25 PM

Dec. 1, 2008— -- Hillary Clinton has her work cut out for her.

President-elect Obama's choice to be America's next top diplomat will inherit a foreign policy minefield, including two wars in the Middle East, a floundering Israeli-Palestinian peace process, deteriorated relations with Russia, a China ascending toward hegemony, a Pakistan descending into violence, a tenuous negotiation with North Korea, an almost-nuclear Iran and tension between Washington and several Latin American capitals.

But her efforts will also likely be complicated by her past rivalry with Obama. Both the media and foreign governments are likely to scrutinize her every word for signs of substantive or tonal differences with the president.

If Clinton is perceived as being on a different page than her boss, it may complicate her efforts to advance the administration's foreign policy agenda.

The Bush administration engaged in a furious push in the past year to complete its foreign policy objectives before leaving office. But many will fall to the Obama administration and will top Clinton's to-do list from day one.

The Bush administration has been defined more by the wars it started in Iraq and Afghanistan than by any other foreign policy initiative. The administration recently negotiated a deal with the Iraqi government that sets a deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal by the end of 2011.

It will now fall to Clinton and the rest of President-elect Obama's national security team to oversee the challenge of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, one of Obama's central campaign promises, while continuing work to build the capacity of Iraq's government and security forces.

In Afghanistan, the Bush administration is engaged in an 11th-hour policy review that will attempt to forge a new strategy to fight al Qaeda and a resurgent Taliban that operates along the lawless border with Pakistan. Its intention to boost resources there have been hampered by the demands of the Iraq war and a Pakistani government that has been reluctant to cooperate in efforts to go after the militants on its soil.