THE NEUTRAL ZONE
President-elect Joe Biden announced six leaders of his foreign policy and national security teams. They are as follows:
- Secretary of State: Antony Blinken
- Department of Homeland Security Secretary: Alejandro Mayorkas
- Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines
- Special Presidential Envoy for Climate: John Kerry
- National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan
- U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Biden also named former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary. She would be the first woman to lead the department if confirmed. Yellen was confirmed as Fed chairwoman in 2014 and as vice chairwoman in 2010 with bipartisan support. She has been described as exacting, detail-oriented and meticulously prepared.
Blinken served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama. He also worked as Democratic staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2002 to 2008, and as national security adviser when Biden was vice president. Blinken is currently a managing partner at WestExec Advisors, a firm he co-founded. Biden has indicated plans to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, stop the U.S. exit from the World Health Organization and resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal.
Mayorkas was born in Cuba and moved to the U.S. when he was a year old. He was the former deputy DHS secretary in the Obama administration, later becoming a partner at the law firm WilmerHale. Mayorkas was a primary architect of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and a primary negotiator of the thaw in then-frozen U.S.-Cuban relations. If confirmed, he would be the first Latino secretary of Homeland Security.
Haines served in the Obama administration as a national security lawyer and deputy CIA director. From 2013-2014, Haines served as deputy CIA director and was the first woman to hold that office. She spoke in favor of Gina Haspel’s nomination to be CIA director, even as some Democrats opposed the nomination. Since her work in the Obama administration, she has been affiliated with Columbia University and the Brookings Institution think tank and has consulted for various companies. Haines will become the first woman to hold the DNI job.
Kerry will “fight climate change full time” and his role will include a seat on the national security council. As secretary of state, he played a prominent role in crafting the Paris climate agreement. Since leaving government in 2017, Kerry has been critical of President Donald Trump’s climate policies. He tweeted that America will have a government that treats climate change “as the urgent national security threat it is.”
Sullivan served as Biden’s national security adviser during Obama’s second term and was a head of policy planning and deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state. He also met with Iranian officials in 2013, initiating diplomatic meetings that led to the Iran nuclear deal. Jacobin questioned both Sullivan and Blinken’s involvement with think tanks that received funding from defense contractors and agencies.
Thomas-Greenfield served 35 years in the Foreign Service and acted as the assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs during the Obama administration. While at the State Department, she held ambassadorships to Liberia, Pakistan, Kenya, Gambia, Nigeria and Jamaica. If confirmed, she will work to reestablish the U.S. position at the United Nations.
Biden to name long-time confidant Antony Blinken as secretary of state – USA Today – 11/23/2020
Biden has called Blinken a “superstar” and once said he could do “any job.” By choosing Blinken for one of the most coveted jobs in the Cabinet, Biden is aiming to install an alter-ego at the helm of the State Department and signaling he will make foreign policy a priority of his presidency.
Biden secretary of state pick Blinken criticized over Iraq War, consulting work – Fox News – 11/23/2020
“Blinken advised Biden to vote for the Iraq War. Also said US failed by not sending more troops to Syria,” Ricochet editor-in-chief Jon Gabriel wrote on Twitter on Sunday. […] Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald called Blinken “Biden’s standard-Blob choice.” […] But Blinken, Biden’s top foreign policy adviser during the 2020 campaign, also received praise from political insiders, including those in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ orbit.
Biden’s Victory Does Not Guarantee a Progressive Agenda. We Must Fight for It. – Truthout – 11/23/2020
Biden’s choice for secretary of state is worrisome as the nation’s chief diplomat should favor diplomacy over militarism. Tony Blinken was Obama’s deputy national security adviser. He was instrumental in formulating Biden’s support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Blinken recently said that Biden “would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions that it makes, period, full stop.”
Biden Taps John Kerry to Serve as Climate Czar, Announces Key Cabinet Picks – National Review – 11/23/2020
Kerry will serve on the White House national security council as the “Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.” The position, which does not require Senate approval, would be the first national security council post to deal with specifically climate change.