Feature

The Dream Team

The next American president will confront a host of potential cataclysms: from a virulent financial crisis to a vicious terrorist enemy, nuclear proliferation to climate change. He'll need his country's brightest minds -- not his party's usual suspects. So, we asked 10 of the world's top thinkers to name the unlikely team that can best guide No. 44 through the turbulent years ahead.

ROBERT L. GALLUCCI
Dean of the Edmund A. Walsh School at Georgetown University

The No.1 challenge facing the next president is to prevent a terrorist group from detonating a nuclear weapon in an American city. If he successfully ended the conflict in Iraq, checked Iran, brokered an Israeli-Palestinian peace, cut carbon emissions, stabilized Pakistan, and artfully managed relations with China and Russia — but lost a million citizens in a nuclear attack, the nation would not be grateful.

Strobe Talbott
Secretary of State
Capable of discerning America’s interests, the Brookings Institution president and former deputy secretary of state has the gravitas and experience to execute policy and lead the department.

Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense
Secretary Gates is a keeper: He inspires confidence in all quarters, providing independent advice to the president while respecting the expertise of the professional military.

David Lipton
Secretary of the Treasury
A former under secretary of the Treasury, Lipton has a solid understanding of the global economy, with proven success in both the public and private sectors.

Marc Grossman
Director of National Intelligence
Grossman is a universally respected diplomat with the integrity, management, and leadership skills to coordinate the complex intelligence community — while never forgetting that the purpose of intelligence is to improve policy.

Jessica T. Mathews
National Security Advisor
The Carnegie Endowment president is a brilliant analyst of the thorniest policy issues, with the temperament and strength to manage the national security bureaucracy for the president.

Susan Rice *BONUS PICK
Amb. to the United Nations
The former assistant secretary of state projects American values with intelligence and passion, while understanding that the United States must inspire others in order to succeed. Plus, her Africa expertise gives her an advantage in dealing with today’s most vexing challenges.

CHRISTOPH BERTRAM
Former director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs

Given the United States’ immense domestic problems, the key challenges for the next president will be at home. Abroad, his toughest task will be to adapt U.S. foreign policy to a world in which America must relearn how to exert influence through coalitions and institutions.

James Baker
Secretary of State
Baker, an excellent deal maker and an international realist, so impressively mastered the job under George H.W. Bush that, even today, it is still difficult to think of a better candidate.

Robert Zoellick
Secretary of Defense
The president of the World Bank has one of the best foreign-policy brains around, is a Washington insider familiar with the diverse international arena, and knows how to run a large organization.

Hillary Clinton
Secretary of the Treasury
Hillary’s the one, precisely because the senator is not a Wall Street product but a highly skilled politician with political clout and a sense of the economic needs of ordinary Americans.

James Steinberg
Director of National Intelligence
The former deputy national security advisor combines first-class analytical heft with tough administrative skills and a deep sense of the value of undoctored intelligence.

Richard Haass
National Security Advisor
President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Haass is familiar with the whole range of international and strategic issues. He’s also one of the sharpest minds on how the United States can best mobilize influence in a globalized world.

Arnold Schwarzenegger *BONUS PICK
Secretary for Energy and the Environment
The Governator has proven himself to be a get-the-job-done environmentalist who commands international respect. To address this increasingly vital area properly, the next president must view energy and the environment as two sides of the same coin.

GIDEON RACHMAN
Chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times

The next president’s advisors must finally jettison the idea that U.S. foreign policy should be centered on a "war on terror." They should concentrate instead on rebuilding alliances and restoring the U.S. economy.

Richard Lugar
Secretary of State
U.S. foreign policy has been far too exciting under Bush. We need someone sober, experienced, and dull: Senator Lugar.

Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense
He’s doing a good job managing two wars and seems to be opposed to a strike on Iran. Why change now?

Warren Buffett
Secretary of the Treasury
With the government nationalizing half the financial sector, let’s see how the Sage of Omaha does as manager of the world’s largest hedge fund.

Richard Holbrooke
Director of National Intelligence
I know he would prefer Foggy Bottom, but I’m sure the former assistant secretary of state could have some fun (and do some good) by bringing his robust management style to the intel world.

James Steinberg
National Security Advisor
Experienced, clever, and committed, Steinberg has the talents needed to steer policy from the White House.

Sarah Palin *BONUS PICK
U.S. Ambassador to Russia
The governor’s taste for hunting, plain-spoken talk, and foxy boots — not to mention long years of staring at Russia from Alaska — ensure a special relationship with Putin.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL
Editor, The Nation

The new president must understand the limits of American power, extricate the United States from Iraq and Afghanistan, repair damaged alliances, and refocus our energy on rebuilding American society and making the global economy work better for working men and women.

Bill Bradley
Secretary of State
The former New Jersey senator and Knicks star is a slam dunk: He opposes NATO expansion and has a keen understanding of the importance of statecraft, multilateral diplomacy, and international economics.

Lawrence Korb
Secretary of Defense
An assistant defense secretary under Ronald Reagan and now at the Center for American Progress, Korb has done groundbreaking strategic thinking on issues including a speedy and orderly exit from Iraq, support for troops and veterans, and cutting billions in wasteful Pentagon spending.

James K. Galbraith
Secretary of the Treasury
Like his father, Galbraith understands that finance must serve the real economy. He recognizes the ruinous economic effects of our hypermilitarized foreign policy, thinks that world prosperity depends upon rising wages and public investment, and has the wisdom to guide us through the remaking of our global financial architecture.

James Bamford
Director of National Intelligence
An investigative journalist whose 1982 book about the NSA, The Puzzle Palace, has been used as a textbook at the National Defense Intelligence College, Bamford values wisdom and history above intelligence factoids. He will challenge convention and abuses and draw the line on covert action. A man of integrity, he’ll always refuse to bend intelligence for political purposes.

Andrew Bacevich
National Security Advisor
An Army officer for more than 20 years, Bacevich was considered one of the U.S. military’s leading intellectuals. He is also a transpartisan truth teller who understands the limits of U.S. military and economic power.

Al Gore and Van Jones *BONUS PICK
Energy Security Council Co-Chairs
Because global warming is going to be catastrophic, we need to end our dependence on fossil fuels while simultaneously creating well-paid, green-collar jobs. No other nation has the power to get others to the table, and nobody can do it better than the former vice president and the founder of the advocacy group Green for All.

SHASHI THAROOR
Former U.N. under secretary general for communications and public information

The next president’s challenge is to restore America’s standing in the eyes of the world. He must reinvent the United States as a country that listens, engages with others, and, as its founders hoped, shows "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind."

Bill Clinton
Secretary of State
There is no more popular American in the world than the former president, and no one else with comparable energy, knowledge, experience, and credibility to undo the negative stereotypes that have grown out of Washington’s conduct after 9/11.

Richard Lugar
Secretary of Defense
Although Lugar’s reputation is as a foreign-policy statesman rather than a defense expert, the Defense Department must be better attuned to international political realities. And the world would benefit from enlightened leadership of its most powerful military establishment.

Michael Bloomberg
Secretary of the Treasury
The mayor of New York has extraordinary credentials as a corporate leader, government administrator, financial expert, and visionary. Perhaps he can do for a shaken Wall Street what he has done for the company that bears his name.

Jane Harman
Director of National Intelligence
The California congresswoman demonstrates a firm grasp of both the usefulness of an effective national intelligence apparatus and the need for it to be properly accountable. She enjoys the respect of both the intelligence community and the political establishment.

Wesley Clark
National Security Advisor
A thinking-man’s soldier with field experience and an Oxford degree, General Clark would bring a rare mix of credentials to the job. But he needs a strong deputy in Susan Rice, who understands Africa and other important but neglected areas and issues that Clark knows little about.

Indra Nooyi *BONUS PICK
U.S. Trade Representative
A business leader who heads a multinational corporation, an immigrant knowledgeable about conditions in the developing world, and a feisty woman with advanced diplomatic skills, the PepsiCo chair could transform the negotiations for a new "development round" of global trade talks.

KISHORE MAHBUBANI
Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School at the National University of Singapore

America’s destiny is increasingly tied to that of others, yet the gap between the United States and the ever shrinking world has never been greater. The main challenge of the next president is to bridge this gap and explain to Americans why their country must provide global leadership.

Strobe Talbott
Secretary of State
His new book, The Great Experiment, explains eloquently how America can regain the trust of the world. And who better than the author, with his diplomatic skills and unflappable temperament, to accomplish this task?

Sam Nunn
Secretary of Defense
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is legally alive but spiritually dead. Former Senator Nunn knows that American leadership by example is the only thing that will push the nuclear genie back into its bottle.

Mohamed El-Erian
Secretary of the Treasury
Having excelled at the International Monetary Fund, at the Harvard endowment, and in private finance, El-Erian has an intuitive feel for the interdependence of today’s global markets and how the United States can gain international support to get its economy in order.

Brent Scowcroft
Director of National Intelligence
The U.S. intelligence community has been politicized and demoralized. George H.W. Bush’s national security advisor has the bipartisan stature and the credibility to help it rebuild its confidence.

Fareed Zakaria
National Security Advisor
In The Post-American World, Zakaria describes the complex world the United States must navigate and why a return to pragmatic realism is the answer. Newsweek International’s editor is a great communicator, in public and in private, and he can persuade the Washington establishment to change its outdated worldview.

Anne-Marie Slaughter *BONUS PICK
Ambassador to the United Nations
The world’s richest country would benefit as much as anyone from better global governance. The Woodrow Wilson School’s dean appreciates that a revitalized United Nations can best serve America’s national interests by delivering this international public good.

CESARE MERLINI
Executive vice president at the Council for the United States and Italy

The next occupant of the Oval Office will need a team that can restore the American people’s confidence in their economic system and fend off protectionist impulses at home. Above all, he needs advisors who understand that strengthening the rule of law, rather than spreading democracy, should be the guiding principle of U.S. foreign policy.

Robert Zoellick
Secretary of State
Given the turmoil in the global economy, having a secretary of state who combines top-level competence on both foreign policy and economics seems like a smart move.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense
Widely respected in Washington and in foreign capitals, the Nebraska senator would ensure sufficient consensus across the aisle as it becomes increasingly apparent that a dramatic reexamination of America’s military deployments is needed.

Indra Nooyi
Secretary of the Treasury
The PepsiCo chair is not only a woman (a first for the Treasury), but she also comes from the manufacturing sector rather than the toxic atmosphere of Wall Street.

Richard Holbrooke
Director of National Intelligence
Seen from abroad, rich diplomatic experience would be a welcome addition to the basic requirements of inter-agency management skills and an objective approach to intelligence.

Strobe Talbott
National Security Advisor
The Brookings president has the right blend of seasoned realism and consistent idealism, and he understands that boosting the rule of law, not pushing for hasty elections, must guide U.S. foreign policy.

Jessica T. Mathews *BONUS PICK
Ambassador to the United Nations
With her deep understanding of shared global problems, Mathews is the right person to represent the United States at the world’s most inclusive international organization.

ROBERT BAER
Author and former CIA case officer assigned to the Middle East

The next administration is tasked with ending two wars in which we still cannot define victory, let alone the enemy. Among my old CIA colleagues, I cannot get a consensus on whether Osama bin Laden is dead or alive. How do you beat an enemy who may already be dead? And then there is Iran, which is either the real enemy in the Middle East or, potentially, a reluctant ally. Figuring out which will be the new president’s greatest strategic puzzle.

Sam Nunn
Secretary of State
During the next four years, we can count on one or more major crises and some tough negotiations with Russia. Nunn, who understands how the breakup of the Soviet Union left a deep well of Russian resentment, can detect where Moscow’s red lines really are.

Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense
Gates has already gone a long way toward cleaning up the mess left by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. And, however you want to cut it, the so-called surge succeeded under his watch. More importantly, Gates is on record saying that a war with Iran would be "disastrous." He knows what can and cannot be accomplished militarily in the next four years.

Warren Buffett
Secretary of the Treasury
The incoming president must figure out how globalization went so wrong on Wall Street. I’d ask Buffett. He sniffed out the derivatives disaster long before anyone else. And because people trust him, he can guide America out of this crisis of confidence.

John Abizaid
Director of National Intelligence
General Abizaid understands that intelligence is an organized search for a windfall; sometimes it is very good, and sometimes there is none at all. Plus, having a general atop the intelligence community will keep the Pentagon happy.

Buckminster Fuller
National Security Advisor
Fuller is long dead, but the White House needs a visionary of his caliber to think our way out of oil dependence on unstable dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. We need a Manhattan Project for solar power, windmills, and even nuclear energy. We also need someone who can look objectively at our options on global warming before it’s too late.

T. Boone Pickens *BONUS PICK
Secretary of Energy
It will take an oil man to convince Americans that it’s time to move on. Either we’re out of oil, or it will kill the planet and we’re out of luck. Pickens has a plan for both.

GROVER NORQUIST
Founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform

The United States is the freest, most dynamic, most competitive, and wealthiest economy in the world. To keep it that way, the next president must expand free trade, cut U.S. corporate taxes, and avoid expensive social welfare commitments, such as running other countries for them. Not every fight in the schoolyard is America’s fight.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of State
If you cannot go back in time and change mistakes, you can replace those who made the errors with those who had the wisdom to oppose them at the time.

Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense
Simply put, he needs more time to fix things. Four more years!

Steve Forbes
Secretary of the Treasury
He is a committed free trader and has a record of fighting for lower marginal tax rates — just the area where we have fallen behind many of our competitors.

David Norquist
Director of National Intelligence
He’s my brother and he’s good. He did defense intelligence budgets for the Pentagon, and he is now the chief financial officer for the Department of Homeland Security.

Dov Zakheim
National Security Advisor
The president’s closest foreign-policy advisor needs common sense and experience. The former Defense comptroller has both, and he knows where to look for extra zeros in the budget.

Robert Zoellick *BONUS PICK
U.S. Trade Representative
It would be unusual for the World Bank president to return to his old job. But he left too soon, and it’s time to make progress on all of these stalled trade agreements.

LESLIE H. GELB
Board senior fellow and president emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations

There are no new requirements for America’s next crop of leaders. Like the best of their predecessors, they must have common sense and think strategically, because to the extent that nations respond to anything today, it’s still power. I mean real power, especially pressure and coercion of the diplomatic and economic variety. 

Richard Holbrooke
Secretary of State
Holbrooke thinks strategically and has a proven ability to get things done. Plus, he’s courageous and highly bipartisan.

Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense
Why change horses midstream? Secretary Gates has done a superb job. He’s clearheaded and pragmatic, and he doesn’t seem to have a partisan bone in his body.

Roger Altman
Secretary of the Treasury
What the markets need right now is someone who inspires confidence. That’s Altman, a financial wizard with years of government experience and a sound head on his shoulders.

Jamie Gorelick
Director of National Intelligence
This high-powered lawyer and former 9/11 Commission member knows the intel business well, having served at the highest levels of the Justice and Defense departments. She’ll be very smart and very tough.

Dennis Ross
National Security Advisor
With his strategic outlook and broad experience working for both parties as the chief Middle East peace negotiator, Ross would be seen as an honest broker inside and outside government.

Susan Rice *BONUS PICK
Ambassador to the United Nations
Tightly wound, Rice has the fire to drive U.S. policy in Turtle Bay’s diplomatic maze.

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