WHITE HOUSE —
President Barack Obama begins his second term with new challenges overseas.
In nominating former Senator Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, President Obama acknowledged that his team will deal with a changing world.
“Ending the war in Afghanistan and caring for those who have borne the battle, preparing for the full range of threats, from the unconventional to the conventional, including things like cyber security…,” Obama said.
In his Senate confirmation hearing, Hagel said, if confirmed, he would confront new issues as the U.S. brings its troops home from Afghanistan.
"That does not mean the threats we face and will continue to face, are any less dangerous or complicated. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Recent events in Mali and Algeria remind us clearly of this reality," Hagel said.
Hagel’s fellow Republican, former Senator Richard Lugar, says the new priorities will have to be accomplished with smaller defense budgets and with a Pentagon that is stressed “... as they take a look at all the changes that have to be made, even at a time that we are still at war in Afghanistan, have great responsibilities, for that matter, all over the world, where we still have troops stationed,” Lugar said.
With the administration shifting away from land wars, CIA operations, including drones and targeted killings, may take on a greater role.
“A much less expensive role, if you got it right, than sending battalions of troops and having all the logistic support, but at the same time, requiring extraordinary intelligence resources," Lugar said.
A recently revealed Justice Department memo says it's legal for the government to kill U.S. citizens abroad if it believes they are senior al-Qaida leaders working to kill Americans.
President Obama's pick for CIA director, John Brennan, has said targeted killings against certain terrorists are legal, ethical and necessary.
The diplomatic arm of the team is Former Senator John Kerry. He has been confirmed as Secretary of State.
Stopping Iran and North Korea from advancing nuclear weapons programs will be an urgent task.
Kerry told the Senate he will do whatever necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"And I repeat here today: Our policy is not containment, it is prevention, and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance," Kerry said.
On his first day at the State Department, Kerry phoned Israeli and Palestinian leaders and made a commitment to help them pursue peace.