That Thin Blue Line Flag

The Police Department in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where Daunte Wright was killed by an officer, has been flying a “Thin Blue Line” flag just below the American flag. The mayor of Brooklyn Center requested that the flag be taken down because it is inflammatory, and the police complied. Its use has been banned by the University of Wisconsin and Pelham, NY, police departments.

The TBL flag has a lot wrong with it. It is related to the “Blue lives matter” slogan, which developed in response to “Black lives matter” to minimize that claim. It is used by white supremacist factions. The flag was displayed in the January 6 attack on the Capitol, with attackers somewhat contradictorily attacking Capitol police with poles with the flag attached.

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Biden’s Foreign Policy

[The Biden adminstration’s foreign policy is surprising in many ways. I’ve been thinking it out. The posts summarized here set up a background for development of that foreign policy. In later posts, I’ll look at specifics relating to various countries.]

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Asia and Europe the past two weeks, rebuilding relationships with allies. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin accompanied him to Asia. He and Jake Sullivan also met with their Chinese counterparts in Asia last week, with rhetorical fireworks.

The administration faces five big foreign policy challenges:

  • The relationship with China
  • The relationship with Russia
  • Dealing with Trump’s promise of withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1
  • Rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear agreement with Iran
  • North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs
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Kazakhstan Cleans Up

In the 1990s, the United States and other countries helped the newly independent states that had been part of the Soviet Union to deal with their nuclear weapons and materials. It’s a story that has been almost completely forgotten, but it contains a number of lessons that might be helpful today.

David Frum reminds us of that effort. I was involved in it. A few additional thoughts.

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The Biden Doctrine

The first week of March, the Biden administration rolled out a speech by Antony Blinken and an interim national security strategy. Those documents overlap significantly with each other and with a report led by Jake Sullivan, now Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor, when he was at the Carnegie Endowment last year.

Any number of authors have shared the 35 things they want Biden to do in his first week and specific solutions to numerous foreign and domestic policy problems, including would-be George Kennans penning their own long telegrams. None seem to have read the administration’s documents. The Carnegie report has been available since last September.

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The Biden Interim National Security Strategy

Remarkably early, the Biden administration has issued an Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. A full national security strategy document usually takes at least a year or two. The document overlaps significantly with Antony Blinken’s speech of March 3 and a report drawn up earlier by Jake Sullivan and his colleagues at the Carnegie Endowment. But after Donald Trump’s policy carnage, it’s necessary to tell government employees, the public, and other nations how the administration proposes to address national security.

The standard national security strategy focuses on how an administration sees military threats and intends to respond to them. Military equipment will be mentioned. Diplomacy and threats like climate change and pandemics each get a token paragraph or two.

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A Foreign Policy For The American People

Joe Biden’s foreign policy is evolving before our eyes. It’s refreshing to see a policy and an administration that has confidence enough to show us how they’re thinking.

While he was at the Carnegie Endowment, Jake Sullivan, now Biden’s National Security Advisor, led a study called “Making U.S. Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class.” I summarized that report here. It was published in September 2020, before the election, but Sullivan would have discussed it with Biden.

Wednesday this week (March 3), Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave a speech “A Foreign Policy for the American People.” Comparing the report and this speech give insights into the administration’s policy development.

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Foreign Policy For The Middle Class

President Joe Biden has said it. Antony Blinken has said it. Jake Sullivan has said it. “Foreign policy for the middle class.” I think I’ve heard Kamala Harris say it too. It comes from a report that Sullivan and others wrote while he was at the Carnegie Endowment.

Yesterday (March 3) Secretary Blinken gave a speech, “A Foreign Policy for the American People.” It looks like that speech is an upgraded version of the report. What I take from the report and the speech is that the Biden administration is bringing a new approach to foreign policy, and, more importantly, that they can change. I’ll work through the speech in a later post, but here’s the report.

 “Foreign policy for the middle class” combines two concepts not usually combined, but the two interact in many ways. The report highlights these interactions and attempts to provide ways to make those interactions more favorable. International trade is an obvious point of contact, but others are addressed in the report as well.

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I’m Vaccinated! What Comes Next?

I had my second dose of the Moderna m-RNA vaccine yesterday. What comes next?

It takes three weeks to build immunity, and I don’t plan to change what I’ve been doing until then. I have been isolating rather thoroughly. I haven’t been inside a store since last October. I’m taking piano lessons via Zoom. I wear double masks held tight with a clip that pulls the ear loops to the back of my neck. I haven’t seen friends in person since sometime late last summer. My family is at distances that make a year’s separation not extraordinary.

The CDC has promised guidelines on what to do after you’ve had your vaccine, but they haven’t published them yet. Guidelines are difficult to develop because there are so many variables.

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Covid Likely To Become Endemic

Nature magazine, one of the top two science journals in the world, did a survey of 100  immunologists, infectious-disease researchers and virologists working on the coronavirus, asking if they thought that the virus would become endemic in the human population. Ninety percent of them said they thought it would. From just the mathematics of it, and the fact that it’s everywhere in the world now, I agree with that. I don’t see how it can be otherwise.

But that doesn’t mean that our current situation continues. People will be vaccinated; some will acquire immunity by being infected (although current guidance is that they should be vaccinated anyway); and more will continue to die. As immunity spreads, we will be able to relax social precautions, probably this summer or later. We will, perhaps in a couple of years, be able to go back to something like normal.

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