Obama's Secret Mid-East Policy Dinner
Foreign Policy publication's 'The Cable' scoops the news on a secret dinner President-Elect Barack Obama shared with a wide range of foreign policy and Middle East experts. Late afternoon last Thursday Jan.8, scholars and staff at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars noticed an unusual upgrade in the security of the top floors of their building.
Among those who attended the off-the-record dinner: Iran scholar Haleh Esfandiari; Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid (who had flown in from Lahore); Obama friend and foreign-policy advisor Samantha Power of Harvard University (who accompanied PEOTUS to the meeting); incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel; and a few others. Obama told the group, none of whom reached would discuss the details, that he already felt in the bubble [the bubble beng the isolation tank that President's experience isolated by their staff and advisors from independent policy thinkers] and was trying his best to meet with independent experts.
"From what I understand, the president-elect wants to be able to have access to different ideas and opinions," said one Wilson Center associate. "What better person than Lee [Hamilton]? ... Lee was always tasked whenever there was anything to do with ethics. For instance, Iran-contra" [Hamilton was one of congressional chairs of Iran contra investigation]. "They went to Lee because he has the ability to transcend party lines. ... He's very congenial, very decent, he's willing to listen to everybody, ... he treats everybody with dignity and respect. And that comes through. He listens. He assesses. And that is what Hamilton said he likes about Senator Obama. Obama listens. He goes around the table. Lee has been in numerous meetings with him, and Obama listens to what people have to say. Hamilton has a great deal of respect for him."