U.S. Foreign Policy Monitor: What Allies and Partners Need to Know - March 12
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. This installment of the Monitor looks at Secretary Blinken’s foreign policy speech and the interim security strategy, as well as appointments to the Pentagon and State Department. Sign up here to receive the newsletter every Friday in your inbox.
Last week, we briefly mentioned Secretary of State Tony Blinken’s speech delivered at the State Department. In case you missed it, Blinken detailed Biden’s foreign policy approach as focusing on domestic renewal and framed by three key guiding questions:
- “What will our foreign policy mean for American workers and their families?”
- “What do we need to do around the world to make us stronger here at home?”
- “And what do we need to do at home to make us stronger in the world?”
In line with what Biden has offered elsewhere, these questions underscore the administration’s intention to create a “foreign policy for the middle class.” A key component of the administration’s efforts to shore up the middle class is relief from the economic consequences caused by the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $1.9 trillion relief package, which the President signed into law on Thursday.
Secretary Blinken’s remarks prefaced the Biden team’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance which was issued later the same day. The document gives departments and agencies guidelines as the White House develops its National Security Strategy.
Who to Watch
Spencer Boyer is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO policy. A lawyer by training and long-time Europe hand, Boyer has held numerous jobs across government, research institutions, and the private sector. He began his career in corporate law, followed by a series of positions focused on international law at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Claims Resolution Tribunal for Dormant Accounts in Switzerland. Boyer spent most of the 2000s as a researcher at different institutions, including Harvard Law School and the Center for American Progress. Boyer worked in the Obama administration as deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. After a short break, he re-joined the administration as the national intelligence officer for Europe on the National Intelligence Council. After the 2016 election, Boyer spent four years in the private sector and academia, working as a senior fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and director of the Washington office of New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. Boyer received his MA in French studies and JD from New York University.
- As NATO contends with the dual conventional/hybrid threat posed by Russia, Boyer will likely draw on his recent work focusing on election interference and the proliferation of disinformation.
- Dig deeper into Boyer’s views on disinformation and technology by watching this panel discussion from 2019.
- Read this article in Foreign Policy to better understand how Boyer thinks about the role of culture in driving European politics and transatlantic relations.
Suzy George is chief of staff to the United States secretary of state. A longstanding associate of Madeleine Albright, George first joined government in 1995, serving as then-Ambassador Albright’s special assistant and assistant counsel at the U.S. Mission to the UN. George then spent four years as Secretary Albright’s deputy chief of staff. Following the Clinton administration, George joined Albright Stonebridge Group, a Washington-based strategic consulting firm. She worked in this role for nearly fourteen years before serving in the Obama administration as chief of staff and executive secretary for the National Security Council. In 2017, The ONE Campaign recruited George to work as its chief operating officer. The organization, which was co-founded by U2 lead singer Bono, devotes itself to “fighting extreme poverty and the spread of preventable diseases.” A lawyer by training, George received her JD from the George Washington University.
What to Read
Kamala Harris is playing an unusually large role in shaping Biden’s foreign policy, Olivier Knox, The Washington Post.
“Harris has spoken independently of Biden to at least six world leaders, the White House says, an unusually large number for a new vice president; joined his virtual White House summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; and given remarks at the State Department.”
Meet Biden’s Middle East Team, Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer, Foreign Policy.
“President Joe Biden has begun staffing up his White House with experts to deal with renewed volatility in the Middle East, even as the administration looks to pivot Washington’s main focus to China…. Seven new officials have joined the National Security Council’s Middle East team since Biden took office…”
Biden to nominate Big Tech critic Lina Khan to Federal Trade Commission, Rachel Lerman, The Washington Post.
“One of the most prominent antitrust scholars to urge government to reexamine the way Big Tech’s power is regulated is being tapped to join the Federal Trade Commission. Lina Khan, perhaps best known for her 2017 paper ‘Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,’ will be nominated to the agency charged in part with regulating monopoly power …”
How Biden is betting on Buttigieg to drive a new era of racial equity, Sam Mintz, Politico.
“A central plank in President Joe Biden's agenda of improving racial equity requires dismantling or reimagining parts of America's transportation system …. Reversing the most harmful of those decades worth of decisions about how America's transportation system is designed falls to Buttigieg, Biden and a team determined to power a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan through Congress....”
Biden’s Pick for Justice Dept. No. 3 Wins Backing of Law Enforcement, Katie Benner, The New York Times.
“Ms. Gupta is President Biden’s nominee to serve as the associate attorney general, the Justice Department’s No. 3 official responsible for overseeing the lawyers who defend the administration in court; issues including antitrust law, the environment and taxes; and funding allocations to local law enforcement departments nationwide.”
On war powers, Biden has pushed for both more congressional oversight and broad presidential authority, JM Rieger, Washington Post.
“Days after President Biden authorized his first lethal airstrike in Syria … he recommitted himself to a promise he made during the 2020 campaign: to replace decades-old congressional use-of-force authorizations. … How Biden approaches repealing or replacing his existing AUMF [Authorization for the Use of Military Force] authorities amid a new bipartisan push to overhaul them could significantly shape his foreign policy agenda.”
The Saudi Test Case: How to Put Values Into Biden’s Foreign Policy, Martin Indyk, Foreign Affairs.
“The passionate convictions of one side and the strategic imperatives of the other threaten to obscure the real dilemma that the Khashoggi case presents for a new administration.… If the Biden administration hopes to succeed in rebalancing values and interests in its foreign policy, it is going to have to do a better job of defining and defending a middle way that combines the two.”
President Biden Must Follow the Advice of Candidate Biden on Iran, Assal Rad and Negar Mortazavi, Foreign Policy.
“Although Biden’s supporters have patiently waited for his administration to settle in …, reviving diplomacy with Iran does not seem to be a priority… More alarming are actions and statements … that appear to run counter to what Biden and his team had been saying for years in their outspoken criticisms of Trump’s Iran policy.”
Is Nuclear Peace with North Korea Possible?, Bennett Ramberg, Project Syndicate.
“Relying on deterrence alone against nuclear-armed North Korea cannot assuredly prevent or manage missteps, because the country’s isolation from the rest of the world breeds unique perils. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration should therefore consider normalizing diplomatic relations with Kim Jong-un's regime.”
Move Over, Nerds. It’s the Politicians’ Economy Now, Neil Irwin, The New York Times.
“Leaders of both parties have become more willing to use their power to extract the nation from economic crisis, taking the primary role for managing the ups and downs of the economy that they ceded for much of the last four decades.”
What’s Happening @GMF
- Rebuilding Trust in the Digital Ecosystem: New Mechanisms for Accountability by International Digital Accountability Council and Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative (GMF Digital) (Article)
- Europe and the United States Have Enabled Kleptocracy. Now They Have to Get Serious About Fighting It. By Boris Kowalski (Article)
- NATO 2030: United for a New Era (Event Video)
- A Partnership to Endure: What Next for the Transatlantic Relationship? (Event Video)
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.