For Obama’s second term, that suggests that any future “Obama doctrine” will also be a Kerry-Hagel-Biden doctrine. We will likely see something close to the status quo on Iran’s sanctions policy, and Obama’s mix of tough realpolitik and engagement toward China. Interestingly, however, both Kerry and Hagel are also men who’ve fallen somewhat into eclipse with something to prove. In Hagel’s case, the onetime GOP star found himself persona non grata in his party after his fierce opposition to the Iraq invasion and later the surge. As Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Kerry has had to claw his way back to respectability in the Democratic Party after his humiliating loss to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential race, a defeat made all the more embarrassing by the “Swift-boating” attacks Kerry endured over his record as a war hero in Vietnam…

In Kerry and Hagel, Obama likely sees two statesmen who largely share his views and will be eager to follow up on his first-term foreign-policy theme: the “restoration of the United States’ prestige and power in the world” after the Bush administration, in the words of National Security Adviser Tom Donilon (a former Biden aide). “We came in after an exhausting time for foreign policy and a huge expenditure of capital,” Donilon said at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School on Nov. 28. Hagel, especially, has inveighed for years against military over-extension abroad. And the description that Donilon gave in his speech sounds like it could have been recycled from many of Hagel’s and Kerry’s own discussions about building cooperative military arrangements and engaging diplomatically. Donilon described the strategy of recovering from the Bush years as five-pronged: rebuild the U.S. economy; repair alliances frayed by Bush’s unilateralism; fix neglected “great-power” relationships with Russia and China; shift focus from the Mideast, “where we were over-invested” (read: Bush went too far in invading Iraq), to East Asia; and pull together new groupings of nations–for example, including India, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey–to solve future problems of global governance.

Based on interviews with Obama administration officials and policy experts, the president is said to be focused on several major agenda items right now: stepping up nuclear nonproliferation; forcing nuclear surrender by Iran; making China a fair trader; transforming America’s energy profile; and laying down long-term rules of the road for covert war. And despite the eagerness to leave the Mideast behind somewhat, the administration is likely to get dragged back in, which could mean a harder line with Israel, one that might also be in accord with past views expressed by Hagel especially.