By Sylvia Gurinsky
Is President-Elect Barack Obama's "Cabinet Of Rivals" going to leave this world a better place than they're finding it?
Assuming the confirmation process goes smoothly for all, those rivals will include current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (who does not need to be re-confirmed), Homeland Security Secretary-Designate Janet Napolitano - and oh, yes, Secretary of State-Designate Hillary Clinton.
Napolitano and Clinton, as well as Gen. James Jones, Obama's pick for national security adviser, and Susan Rice, Obama's pick as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, face a world much changed from the one President Bill Clinton left.
One symptom of that change is the tragedy last week in Mumbai. The terrorists, wherever they are from and whoever trained them, clearly targeted Americans, Jews, Britons and anyone sympathetic to the causes of those people. While India is busy pointing a finger at Pakistan, it has to take into account its own failings in ensuring the security of its people and its visitors.
The United States may have to play referee once again - and does have to keep an extra eye on Pakistan for its possible harboring of terrorists of many stripes, including Al Qaida.
There is the issue of the U.S. image overseas during the last eight years, which has triggered everything from disdain to outright hatred and a re-awakening of Cold War-style matters that Clinton and his predecessors thought they had resolved.
There is also the War On Terror. The way it's been fought by the Bush Administration does not work. Period.
What India must go through now is not dissimilar to the soul-searching this country still needs to go through, seven years after 9/11 - about security, about relations with the rest of the world and about the future.
It's soul-searching President George W. Bush and many around him haven't participated in. One trusts that Obama and his "Cabinet Of Rivals" will finally do so.