Continuity and humility

The decision by United States President-elect Barack Obama to ask the current secretary of defense, Robert M. Gates, to remain on the job for at least another year after Obama is inaugurated no doubt seems odd in the eyes of a country such as Greece, in which party affiliations and inter-party differences are seen as being more sacred than any national interests. At the same time, Obama’s decision, which was leaked to the American and international media on Tuesday, demonstrates a continuity that is characteristic of the United States government. Gates is a technocrat who has steered American forces toward an exit strategy in Iraq – one of the thorniest issues facing the White House at the moment. His knowledge and experience were deemed indispensible by the new administration for the purpose of ensuring the smooth withdrawal of US troops. As the Democratic president-elect acknowledged in a rare sign of humility, «wisdom is not the monopoly of any one party.»