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Your Opinion: The New National Security Team

Last week, we asked what readers thought of Bill Clinton's new national security nominations: Madeleine Albright as secretary of state, William Cohen as secretary of defense, Anthony Lake as CIA director and Sandy Berger as national security advisor. Here's some of the e-mail we've gotten so far.

You can write to us at Be sure to include your name and home town.

'Most Qualified?'

What ever happened to the old-fashioned notion that positions like Secretary of State should be filled by the BEST choice available? I don't doubt that Mrs. Albright is qualified, but is she the most qualified? I doubt it.

-- Arthur Sobey, Corpus Christi, Texas, Dec. 8

'Not Bad'

Not bad. I'd like to have seen Sam Nunn of Georgia as Secretary of State or Defense, and Colin Powell would have been an asset in either of those posts as well. But the group they've gotten, at least on the foreign policy side, seems to be pretty strong.

-- Nathan Mize, Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 8

'Will Be Failures, If Confirmed'

Two extremes on SecDef's and SecState's are knowledgeable-on- military/international-affairs-with-no-management-experience and competent-manager-but-naive-in-military/international-affairs. Clinton's nominees for these positions are at the first extreme. Both will be failures, if confirmed.

-- Benjamin H. Colmery, Dec. 8

'Keep Up The Good Work'

I would like to register approval of the president's choices thus far. Keep up the good work, Mr. President!

-- Dr. Robert L. Cannon, Dec. 8

'Very Impressed'

For the first time in four years, President Clinton has made good choices. I am very impressed with his all-star line-up for the Cabinet positions. Nevertheless, I see a strong possibility for his agenda to revert to a foreign focus, as we saw with Bush.

His momentum of handling domestic issues will probably screech to a halt as the United States currently witnesses one of the most tumultuous times for international affairs: South Africa is faltering, Zaire-Rwanda-Brundi, Israeli-Palestinian tensions increase with Netanyahu's call for settlement expansion, the U.S. withdrawl from Bosnia and the subsequent difficulties citizens face with Milosevic, intellectual property rights violations from China, Yeltsin's ill-health leaves a big gap for Russian conservatives to seize leadership, the lack of mediation between N. Ireland/Ireland, Afganistan's new fundamental leadership, the Kashmir conflict in India...I can continue with more, but I think the point has been made.

The fairly clean-cut Cold War circumstances of US VERSUS THEM do not exist anymore. Instead, the atmosphere is anarchic internationally, and the closest governing/policing organization is the United States. Hence all the pressure for international focus for the new Clinton administration. Forget the U.N.; it is going nowhere fast.

-- Daniel J. Drennan, Dec. 7

'Fragment The Executive Branch'

I really wish Clinton had not chosen a Republican to lead a Cabinet post. Clinton is assuming that being bipartisan is the same as being centrist. It is not. Choosing someone from the opposite party to lead an important post on your team serves only to fragment the executive branch of government. William Cohen, the Republican Clinton chose to head the Defense Department, will either become a lackey of the White House or a divisive figure representing Republican views on foreign policy (and there ARE differing views between the parties on foreign policy).

Cohen will either be absorbed and become a virtual Democrat as he defends the administration, or Cohen will become so independent that his effect will be divisive.

Clinton has made a terrible mistake. If he wanted to prove his commitment to "a dynamic center," he should have nominated a centrist Democrat, like Sam Nunn. Yes, Nunn was interested in Secretary of State, but other centrist Democrats were willing to take Defense had they been asked.

So what are we in for on the foreign policy front in the next four years? We will see Secretary of State Albright outshining Cohen until he becomes just a memory in terms of his influence? I would not be surprised if Cohen decided to call it quits after the '98 congressional elections, when the Republican party (and GOP views on foreign policy) will be validated.

-- Jason McNeill, Mission Viejo, Calif., Dec. 7

'Out Of Touch'

Bill Clinton's Cabinet picks are, as usual, full of inexperienced staff that is out of touch with mainstream America. His major goal is to "make history" for himself at the expense of the American people. This Albright pick is a horrible choice stacked against Sen. Sam Nunn.

-- Ian Bayne, Dec. 6

"A Smart Move"

Adding a Republician like William Cohen to the Cabinet was a smart move on Bill Clinton's part. It will start some badly needed healing in the government, after a long and mean campaign. William Cohen is stable and consistent and will make an excellant secretary of defense. He will add a lot of maturity to the Cabinet. Madeleine Albright was the best possible choice for secretary of state. She already knows the job and holds great respect at home and abroad. So far, so good.

-- Nadine Gault, Florence, Ore., Dec. 6

'Fine Picks'

Albright and Cohen are fine picks. They satisfy political constituencies. They are qualified. Clinton had the luxury of having a huge number of very well qualified individuals to serve in a variety of positions.

I would have preferred [George] Mitchell at State and [Sam] Nunn at defense. But who am I, just an ordinary taxpayer.

-- David Cantor, Rockville, Md.

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