One of the oft-repeated criticisms of Barack Obama during his run to the White House was that his foreign policy was naive to the point of being highly dangerous to America's best interests. The President-elect's misreading of history would undercut the United States in its dealings with adversaries such as Iran and North Korea and offer sustenance to terrorist groups, said opponents.
Such critics would have strengthened in number had Mr Obama chosen idealists and ideologues for the key positions in his national security team. He has not. Fortunately, those selected, including, most notably, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are all of an utterly pragmatic disposition.
Any concerns should have been further allayed by Mr Obama's statement as he unveiled those appointments. It was startlingly tough. He declared that the US should maintain the "strongest military on the planet", while aiming to restore global moral leadership. He also said that his Administration was "absolutely committed to eliminating the threat of terrorism" and, to that end, "we have to bring the full force of our power, not only military but diplomatic and political, to deal with the threats".
To a degree, this was a pre-emptive strike. Mr Obama knows he will be tested by foes of the US during his first few months in office. He cannot appear weak or betray a lack of judgment. The make-up of his national security team is a signal that military might will remain a very real option even as he embarks on his vision of rebuilding America's credibility in the world and forging "new and enduring partnerships".
On one level, it might appear odd to choose Mrs Clinton, a rival only months ago for the Democratic ticket. She was among those who accused Mr Obama of naivety for calling for direct presidential-level engagement with adversaries like Iran. She also pledged to "obliterate" that country if it attacked Israel. But on other levels, her inclusion is commendable. President George W. Bush's national security team was composed almost exclusively of neo-conservatives.
There appeared to be little debate or dissension over the calamitous invasion of Iraq. The appointment of Mrs Clinton and the ongoing presence of Robert Gates, an equally opinionated Republican, as Defence Secretary to oversee wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suggest decision-making will become more contested and considered.
More compellingly still, their pragmatism indicates the US will become more interventionist if the cause is judged to be right or a failing state threatens international peace and security. During the 1990s, when Mrs Clinton was First Lady, the US returned an elected leader to power in Haiti.
There was also Nato intervention to end a war in Bosnia and to halt a campaign of terror in Kosovo. Such intrusiveness has stopped since the US blundered into Iraq. World leaders have been loath to breach the sanctity of national sovereignty and, as a result, there has been reprehensible inaction over Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Darfur.
The latter could be an early test of Mrs Clinton's diplomatic credentials. As First Lady, she travelled widely on behalf of women's issues, demonstrating an ability to strike a rapport with world leaders. She will need all that skill as she tackles issues as complex as Darfur, the Middle East, climate change, and Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
Both she and the President-elect want the US to be admired rather than feared. Achieving that will involve reviving traditional alliances and striking up new relationships, while also being prepared to use muscle when the occasion demands. Fine judgment will be required. Mr Obama has started well by putting the right people in the right places.