U.S. Foreign Policy Monitor: What Allies and Partners Need to Know - March 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. This week the Monitor features Secretary of State Blinken’s trip to Europe, as well as a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the new administration. Sign up here to receive the newsletter every Friday in your inbox.
This week, Secretary of State Blinken travelled to Europe to participate in the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels. Before the meeting opened, Secretary Blinken and Secretary General Stoltenberg provided some short remarks, while fielding questions from the press.
On the side-lines of the NATO ministerial, Blinken had bilateral meetings with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, German Foreign Minister Maas, Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu, and Italian Foreign Minister Di Maio, as well as trilateral meetings with foreign ministers from the Baltics, foreign ministers from Central Europe (Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary), and a meeting with E3 foreign ministers (Germany, France, and the U.K.).
After the first day of the ministerial, NATO Foreign Ministers issued a joint statement “reaffirming” the enduring importance of the alliance. Following the second day of meetings, Secretary Blinken held a press conference where he discussed issues ranging from burden sharing and Afghanistan to Nord Stream 2 and Russia. He also delivered a speech from NATO HQ framing the administration’s approach to alliances and partnerships.
While in Brussels, Blinken also met with key EU officials, including Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and HRVP Josep Borrell. Discussions with Borrell included formally launching the US-EU dialogue on China.
In Focus: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)
Much has been said of the diverse composition of the Biden cabinet, one of the most inclusive in decades. But gender issues are soon to become even more central at the White House with the anticipated establishment of the Gender Policy Council. Co-chaired by former U.S. ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso and Jennifer Klein, a former staffer of Hillary Clinton’s team, the council was born out of efforts in the 1990s from the former first lady and secretary of state to mainstream gender issues such as advocating the benefits of quality childcare on the economy. It will report directly to the president and carry out work across several departments, with every cabinet member participating.
This horizontal gender approach will be key to achieving the new Biden administration’s goals when it comes to tackling what has been recently announced as the four major priorities: the pandemic, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change.
DE&I [email protected]
- Transatlantic Tuesdays - Unpacking U.S. Voters: The Female Factor
- U.S. Global Leadership Begins at Home: A Conversation with Stacey Abrams
- Racism, Intolerance & the Coronavirus Featuring U.S. Congresswoman Debra Haaland
DE&I [email protected]
- On Diversity, European Think Tanks Can Learn from the Biden Administration by Corinna Horst and Louise Langeby
- Inclusive Tech Leadership by Kalli Giannelos
- Strengthening Inclusive Leadership in Crisis and Recovery by Elandre Dedrick and Lora Berg
- Advancing Inclusion through Strategic Coalition Building by Elandre Dedrick
Who to Watch
Keisha Lance Bottoms is the mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. President Joe Biden nominated Bottoms as vice chair of civic engagement and voter protection at the DNC for the 2021–2025 term. In February 2020, Bottoms released Atlanta's first LGBTQ Affairs report that focused on how various policies, initiatives, and programs can improve the lives of LGBTQ Atlantans.
Carlos Elizondo is the current White House social secretary. Elizondo previously served for both terms of the Obama-Biden administration as special assistant to the president as well as social secretary to the vice president and Jill Biden. He is the first Hispanic individual and second openly gay person to hold the position.
What to Read
Harris’s self-evident truth, Robin Givhan, The Washington Post.
“At the end of a busy day in Georgia, Vice President Harris walked up the steps to Air Force Two …. For many folks, seeing Harris inhabit those few seconds of mundane ceremony was an extended moment of pride, because at long last a woman was stepping inside the plane, her plane — one emblazoned with the words “United States of America.” And on this particular Friday evening, the power of Harris’s identity as an Asian American and Black woman in a time of heightened racial animus and unabashed violence was especially bountiful and profoundly needed.”
Shalanda Young, Top House Aide, Is Confirmed as Biden’s No. 2 Budget Official, Emily Cochrane, The New York Times.
“As the first Black woman to serve as staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, Ms. Young played critical roles on Capitol Hill in negotiating … dozen annual spending bills, [and] five pandemic relief packages that together totaled $3 trillion …. Now she is headed to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue to become the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. After Mr. Biden’s pick to lead the agency, Neera Tanden, withdrew amid bipartisan opposition, Ms. Young will have a leading role steering the office in the coming weeks as the administration begins to prepare its first budget proposal and pursue an ambitious infrastructure plan.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is confirmed to lead Labor Department, Eli Rosenberg, The Washington Post.
“Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was confirmed Monday by the Senate as secretary of labor, setting the stage for him to take the reins of an agency that is central to President Biden’s worker-friendly agenda. Walsh (D), 53, a friend of the president’s who was a favored candidate of organized-labor groups such as the AFL-CIO, will be the first labor secretary to come from a union background in nearly 50 years.”
The Senate confirms Dr. Vivek Murthy to be the surgeon general — again, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times.
“Dr. Vivek Murthy, who helped found several health-related advocacy groups and later tackled the opioid epidemic and e-cigarettes as surgeon general during the Obama administration, was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday to reprise that role for President Biden.”
Biden Eyes Former Top U.N. Official for Horn of Africa Envoy, Robbie Gramer and Colum Lynch, Foreign Policy.
“The Biden administration is expected to tap a former senior United Nations official and seasoned U.S. diplomat to be special envoy for the Horn of Africa, a new position aimed at tackling the unraveling crisis in Ethiopia and instability in the broader region. Jeffrey Feltman, the former top political advisor to the U.N. secretary-general, has been offered the newly created post ….”
White House Pledges Asian-American Focus After Democrats Threaten Nominees, Nicholas Fandos and Emily Cochrane, The New York Times.
“The White House said Tuesday that it would appoint a senior official to focus on Asian-American priorities after the Senate’s two Asian-American Democrats called on President Biden to address what they said was an unacceptable lack of representation at the highest levels of his administration.”
America Can—and Should—Vaccinate the World, Helene Gayle, Gordon LaForge, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, Foreign Affairs.
“The Biden administration is right to want to take the lead in vaccinating the world, for a host of reasons both self-interested and altruistic. But it should not fall into the trap of trying to beat Russia and China at their own game—handing out vaccines to specific countries based on their geostrategic importance …”
North Korea Conducts 1st Missile Test Under Biden Administration, Sang-Hun, The New York Times.
“President Biden plans to complete a North Korea policy review in the coming weeks in close coordination with South Korea and Japan, Mr. Blinken said in Seoul. He said the review included both ‘pressure options and potential for future diplomacy.’”
There Will Not Be a New Cold War: The Limits of U.S.-Chinese Competition, Thomas J. Christensen, Foreign Affairs.
“Critics … might say that the United States is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy: by declaring a cold war, Washington is unnecessarily creating one. But nothing akin to the U.S.-Soviet and U.S.-Chinese Cold War of the 1950s and 1960s is in the offing, regardless of what strategies the United States itself adopts.”
Biden’s Sensible Stimulus, Jeffrey Frankel, Project Syndicate.
“[Although] U.S. output growth is likely to be above potential next year, a relatively flat Phillips curve implies that inflation is unlikely to rise inordinately. In fact, the Fed would actively welcome a small pickup in price growth. To be sure, providing so much stimulus may have other downsides. The U.S. national debt is the highest it has been since 1945, relative to GDP, and will become less sustainable if interest rates rise.”
The United States Returns to Africa, Lynsey Chutel, Foreign Policy.
“Africa could benefit from the State Department’s new focus on the climate crisis and strengthening democracy, but the emphasis on rebuilding alliances will be key as regions from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa become the front lines in emerging security crises.”
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.