The game of musical chairs is underway as Barack Obama narrows his choices for who he’ll appoint to key Cabinet posts. Most of the speculation, naturally, focuses on key economic posts, but there’s a steady trickle of leaks and inflating of trial balloons in the national security arena, too.

The New York Times suggests that Obama might want to appoint a secretary of state who is a Republican, “perhaps including Senators Richard G. Lugar of Indiana or Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.” In what would be a far, far better choice, the AP reports that John Kerry wants that job:

Several Democrats said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who won a new six-year term on Tuesday, was angling for secretary of state. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss any private conversations.

According to McClatchy, another possibility for State is Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, who broke with the Clintons to support Obama. Like Kerry, Richardson would be wiser choice than selecting a Republican.

At Defense, besides Robert Gates, among those being floated for the job are Richard Danzig, who might have the inside track because he has been part of Obama’s inner circle of advisers during the campaign, and John Hamre, a former deputy secretary of defense in the late 1990s and president of the center-right Center for Strategic and International Studies. Hamre,primarily a technocrat and budget expert who is perhaps too closely tied to the defense procurement effort, emerged as a choice in the Times and in The Hill, which outlined the speculation thus:

For Defense secretary, the smart money seems to be on Robert Gates staying put through the first part of the year. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), an Army veteran and current member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is another popular choice — but not now. If Reed took the job, Rhode Island’s Republican governor would choose his replacement.

John Hamre, deputy secretary of Defense during the Clinton administration, is also mentioned. Hamre is now the president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Marine Gen. Jim Jones, former NATO commander, is also mentioned as a possibility. Richard Danzig, who served as Navy secretary in the Clinton administration, is apparently interested in the deputy secretary job.

And what about Rahm Emanuel? As chief of staff, he won’t have a big role in foreign policy making, perhaps, but Emanuel has strong Israel connections, since his father was born in Jerusalem and served as a member of the far-right Irgun militia. In 1991, Emanuel volunteered to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces during the Gulf War, and he’s seen as a strong Israel partisan.