[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
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
One of the things that has made endurance difficult through the pandemic is the lack of an endpoint. A great many yardsticks are available from many sources – cases by day or month, numbers of hospital beds available, hospitalizations, deaths – but not when things are likely to get better, when we can see our friends and family in person again, when children can return to school, when we can feel safer.
The measures we have go up and slightly down, then up again. They can be tied to the early call to “open things up” long before it was wise to, with no plans for stopping the spread. They can be tied to the politicization of measures, like mask-wearing, that might have helped to stop the spread. The general movement in numbers has been upwards, to our current state of almost 4000 deaths daily and a total of 400,000 dead, a medium-sized city of Americans gone forever.Read More
President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of William Burns to be director of the CIA is an inspired choice.
Burns is the most senior and most respected diplomat in the US today. He is currently president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one of the think tanks to which experts go when they are out of government. It’s also the sponsor of the Carnegie Conference on Nuclear Policy, which I’ve attended for the past decade or so, also known as #nukefest. It’s THE gathering for experts on international nuclear issues. The next one will be virtual, in June.Read More
Job One for the Biden administration is controlling the pandemic. The economy won’t recover until people feel safe going shopping, to restaurants and movies, and all the rest. We can’t effectively work with other countries until we can think beyond full hospitals and people sick and dying and losing housing and going hungry. The justice system can’t work well with Zoom hearings and prisons as hotbeds of infection. We need to sort out priorities among education, bars, gyms, and yoga classes.
Simultaneously, the Biden administration must repair the government, hiring back to full agency capabilities and reversing malign policies. Assessment of the situation has already started in the transition. We need a fully staffed government, not hobbled by ridiculous policies, to control the pandemic.Read More
Congratulations to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris! Biden has already announced Job One.
The numbers of sick and dead from Covid-19 are shooting up the steep part of the exponential curve, where they become hard to control. Most of the country is seeing uncontrolled spread of the virus – that means that people don’t know how they contracted it. The numbers set records every day now.
Biden has already announced that he will name, on Monday, a 12-member COVID task force.Read More