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Diplomacy instead of military force

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The horrific terrorist attacks against hotels, a restaurant and other sites across the sprawling city of Mumbai, India, killed 171 people, including 26 foreigners, of which five were Americans, according to wire service reports. The attacks also injured 300.

In a written statement, President-elect Barack Obama said, “The U.S. must stand with India and all nations and people who are committed to destroying terrorist networks, and defeating their hate-filled ideology.”

This among many is only one of the concerns Obama will be forced to address as he continues his transition under his administration starting Jan. 20.

With all eyes on the president-elect after Monday’s announcement of his national security team: Hillary Clinton, secretary of State; James Jones, national-security advisor; Robert Gates, secretary of Defense; Susan Rice, senior foreign-policy advisor; and Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security, Hoosiers and military families are speaking out about how they think Obama’s foreign policy affairs will impact them.

Desralei Jackson, equal employment opportunity manager for the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, says Obama’s implementation to renew American diplomacy will bring many military families together.

“There will not be as many individuals separated from their families on foreign soil, and this is going to alleviate a lot of stress for many military families,” Jackson said. “Spouses will have one another and this will create more stability for children.”

Jackson, who is also a military wife, says Obama’s eagerness to conduct negotiations opposed to making hasty decisions similar to past administrations should be calming to most Americans.

“I’m glad we are going to have a president that believes in diplomacy instead of military force,” Jackson said.

With the Bush-Cheney administration, sources say it has been vital the U.S. attempt to recalibrate and be more aware of its allies, interests and needs while being more diplomatic.

This is a trait that Scott Pegg, associate professor in the department of political science at IUPUI, says the Obama-Biden administration will bring to the table.

“It’s clear to me that Obama’s policies will pay more attention and heed to our allies,” Pegg said. “I think he will invest a large amount of time in symbolic resources just making this country more widely admired as it once was.”

Obama’s campaign ran on change advocated his desire to unite. With his strong beliefs in bipartisanship and openness, Obama’s foreign policy suggests it is stronger when Americans are united creating a cabinet of both Democrats and Republicans to advance his policy.

“He has some very high level top-notch selections,” Pegg said. “Hillary Clinton is a bold selection and very well suited; I’ve heard nothing but good things about Gen. James Jones; and asking Secretary Gates to stay on is very intelligent and a worthwhile decision. These choices will buy him some political capital.”

Both Pegg and Jackson agree that Obama’s desire to withdraw troops will benefit families; however, the swiftness of withdrawal and the extent at which it will help is debatable.

“Our military is going to be in for a period of sustained activity at a higher level than some military families might like to see,” Pegg said. “However, I think President-elect Obama will certainly begin drawing down troops, and I think that will be positively received by military families.”

From her experience working with military families, Jackson notes, many people fail to realize reserves suffer greatly at wartime, and Obama’s ability to empathize with these families and bring our men and women home will make a difference.

“When you have someone in the reserves who in a real job is making $50,000 and all of a sudden you put that person on active duty full time their income may go down to $25,000,” Jackson said. “You have cut that family income in half, but your mortgage and your car note didn’t get cut in half so how do they make that up?”

With military families and area residents speaking out about Obama’s foreign policy views, he has now come face-to-face with his first terrorist attack since the election and his policies will soon be tested.

Pegg says Obama’s foreign policy, like many of the other views under his administration, will be a significant effort in improving America’s standing throughout the world.

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