The new team has prominent players, too, but they’re likely to defer more to the White House. Secretary of State John Kerry has the heft of a former presidential candidate, but he has been a loyal and discreet emissary for Obama and is apt to remain so. Chuck Hagel, likely to be confirmed next week as defense secretary, is a feisty combat veteran with a sometimes sharp temper, but he has been damaged by the confirmation process and will need White House cover. …

It’s a Washington truism that every White House likes Cabinet consensus and hates dissent. But that’s especially so with Obama’s team, which has centralized national security policy to an unusual extent. This starts with national security adviser Tom Donilon, who runs what his fans and critics agree is a “tight process” at the National Security Council (NSC). Donilon was said to have been peeved, for example, when a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff insisted on delivering a dissenting view to the president. …

The real driver, obviously, will be Obama, and he has assembled a team with some common understandings. They share his commitment to ending the war in Afghanistan and avoiding new foreign military interventions, as well as his corresponding belief in diplomatic engagement. None has much experience managing large bureaucracies. They have independent views, to be sure, but they owe an abiding loyalty to Obama.