U.S. Foreign Policy Monitor: What Allies and Partners Need to Know - February 26
Welcome to the U.S. Foreign Policy Monitor where every week we track the “who,” “what,” and “so what” for the new U.S. administration and Congress. In this edition, we look back at a busy week for foreign policy in the Biden administration. Sign up here to receive the newsletter every Friday in your inbox.
NATO gathered for the first defense ministerial meeting during the new administration a week ago Wednesday. To frame a new approach, U.S. Defense Secretary Austin authored an op-ed ahead of the meeting, arguing that NATO must “consult together, decide together and act together.” Following the meetings, the secretary offered readouts on day one and day two, commenting on issues ranging from the NATO 2030 effort to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.
On Thursday (Feb. 18), Secretary of State Blinken held a virtual quadrilateral meeting with the foreign ministers of Australia, India, and Japan. The informal group will be part of the administration’s strategy to address collective challenges in the Indo-Pacific. A brief readout can be found here.
At the end of the week, President Biden also joined the virtual G7 meeting chaired by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson (readout from the chair). The meeting centered on G7 coordination around COVAX, climate issues, responding to the coup in Burma, and Alexey Navalny’s imprisonment.
Later the same day, President Biden spoke at a special virtual edition of the Munich Security Conference. Biden started by offering that “America is back,” and continued detailing the central role of allies and partners in meeting common challenges. Biden’s remarks were couched between several world leaders, being immediately followed with speeches by German Chancellor Merkel, French President Macron, and, later in the program, U.K. Prime Minister Johnson. A full video of the program can be found here.
Who to Watch
Anne Neuberger serves as deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology. A long-time civil servant, Neuberger’s career in government began in 2007, when she worked in the Bush administration’s Department of Defense as a White House Fellow. After a brief stint with the Department of the Navy, Neuberger moved over to the NSA, where she worked between 2009 and 2021, most recently serving as director of the agency’s Cybersecurity Directorate. Neuberger—whose father fled the Hungarian revolution of 1956—also goes by the name “Chani.” She was raised in a Hasidic family in Brooklyn and received her MBA and master’s in international affairs from Columbia University.
- Watch Neuberger in action in this recording of a recent White House press briefing (transcript here).
- Neuberger discusses the work of the secretive National Security Agency in this interview.
- Read this profile to learn more about Neuberger’s unique family background.
Daleep Singh is slated to become deputy national security advisor for international economics and deputy national economic council director. Singh most recently worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as executive vice president and head of the Markets Group. In this role, Singh was responsible for the bank’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to that, he worked in the Obama administration from 2011-2017, serving as acting assistant secretary for financial markets and deputy assistant secretary for international affairs. Singh received his MBA and master’s in public administration from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Read this congressional testimony to learn more about Singh’s views regarding the role of sanctions in advancing national security and foreign policy challenges.
- To get a better idea about how Singh might think about using coercive economic measures during the Biden administration, read his remarks on the topic from this 2019 event.
- Singh discusses the use of economic tools to counter Russia in this 2018 congressional testimony.
What to Read
Biden’s Nominee for CIA, William J. Burns, Set to Trade Diplomacy for Spycraft, Warren P. Strobel, The Wall Street Journal.
“At his hearing…Mr. Burns is expected to outline four priorities: China, technology, the CIA’s workforce and strengthening U.S. partnerships, including ties with allied intelligence services that were sometimes strained during Mr. Trump’s tenure.”
Garland, at Confirmation Hearing, Vows to Fight Domestic Extremism, Katie Benner and Charlie Savage, The New York Times.
“Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, said on Monday that the threat from domestic extremism was greater today than at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and he pledged that if confirmed he would make the federal investigation into the Capitol riot his first priority.”
How the White House botched the Neera Tanden nomination, Natasha Korecki and Burgess Everett, Politico.
“Biden and his aides insist that Tanden’s prospects are not doomed. But her fate now hinges on Sen. Lisa Murkowski swooping in to save the nomination. Even if the independent-minded Alaska Republican were to do that, the saga would still mark one of the biggest missteps of Biden’s still-young presidency…”
Blinken, Without Leaving Home, Tries to Mend Fences With Allies Abroad, Michael Crowley, The New York Times.
“As part of his effort to re-energize American alliances frayed by the Trump years, Mr. Blinken has spoken with dozens of his counterparts around the world and joined gatherings of Asian and European leaders — all without ever leaving his seventh-floor office at the State Department.”
Pentagon Deputy Hicks should say ‘yes’ to nuclear modernization, ‘no’ to a ‘no first use’ policy, Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, and Raphael Piliero, Defense News.
“While Hicks’ support for nuclear modernization is encouraging for supporters of the U.S. nuclear deterrence mission, she did leave herself flexibility on the particulars of modernization. She noted that it was ‘difficult to assess exactly the timeline, margin and technical feasibility’ of modernization.”
Biden Was Right: America Is Back, Jonathan Tepperman, Foreign Policy.
“What Biden likely meant to convey—and what allies and adversaries should pay attention to—is the fact that Washington is trying again: trying to mend ties and restore cooperation with its friends. Trying to push back against authoritarian regimes and defend universal values. Trying to protect public goods like the environment. And, like it or not, trying to lead.”
A Superpower, Like It or Not: Why Americans Must Accept Their Global Role, Robert Kagan, Foreign Affairs.
“The time has come to tell Americans that there is no escape from global responsibility, that they have to think beyond the protection of the homeland. They need to understand that the purpose of NATO and other alliances is to defend not against direct threats to U.S. interests but against a breakdown of the order that best serves those interests.”
Will Biden’s Iran Diplomacy Become a Shakespearean Tragedy?, Robin Wright, The New Yorker.
“The scope of the U.S. diplomatic damage and Iran’s scientific advances during the Trump era is now sinking in. De-escalation looks daunting, even though Washington and Tehran share the goal of resuscitating the first major diplomatic deal between them since the 1979 revolution and the seizure of fifty-two American hostages.”
What comes after ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran, Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post.
“Though he is eager to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Biden is already facing pushback from regional allies in the Middle East and Republicans at home over making possible concessions to Tehran.”
Biden deprioritizes the Middle East, Natasha Bertrand and Lara Seligman, Politico.
“’If you are going to list the regions Biden sees as a priority, the Middle East is not in the top three,’ said a former senior national security official and close Biden adviser. ‘It’s Asia-Pacific, then Europe, and then the Western Hemisphere. And that reflects a bipartisan consensus that the issues demanding our attention have changed as great power competition [with China and Russia] is resurgent.’”
What’s Happening @GMF
- Flexible Security Arrangements and the Future of NATO Partnerships by Sophie Arts and Steven Keil (Article)
- Trump’s Legacy Complicates Biden’s Relationship with France by Matthew Teasdale (Article)
- Debating U.S.-Turkey Security Cooperation in Times of Global and Regional Shifts (Event Video)
- Progressive Ideas from Grassroots to Government (Event Video)
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.