U.S. Foreign Policy Monitor: What Allies and Partners Need to Know - April 16
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 looks at some big news for GMF and President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
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We delayed our newsletter send-out this week to be able to include some news. Our own president, Dr. Karen Donfried, is President Biden’s nominee to be assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs in the State Department. You can learn more about Karen and read some of her recent articles here.
The other big announcement from the White House this week is the intent to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, nearly 20 years after American forces first entered the country. Speaking from the White House on Wednesday, the president said that “our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan have become increasingly unclear.” Of course, Biden is not the first president to call for a full withdrawal; both Barack Obama and Donald Trump did so. Yet, as opposed to previous announcements, the Biden administration emphasized that this time the U.S. military’s departure would not be based on conditions on the ground.
The reaction in Washington, DC to the announcement was mixed. The Washington Post Editorial Board strongly criticized the president’s decision and warned that it would likely lead to disaster. Most Republicans criticized the decision, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell labelling it “a retreat in the face of an enemy” and Senator Lindsay Graham calling it “dumber than dirt.” Although some Democrats in Congress voiced concern about the overall situation in the region, most welcomed the decision.
Who to Watch
President Biden nominated Christine E. Wormuth to serve as the secretary of the Army. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve in this position. Wormuth is returning to the Pentagon, having already served there as under secretary and deputy under secretary of defense during the Obama administration and in the mid-1990s as a civil servant. Earlier in the Obama administration, she also worked on the National Security Council as the senior director for defense policy, helping shape the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance that began rebalancing the military toward the Indo-Pacific. She joined the Obama-Biden administration in 2009 as the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and civil support.
Before joining the Obama administration, Wormuth was the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation. Earlier in her career she also served as a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She is a graduate of Williams College and holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland.
- In September 2020, Wortmuth testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee on “The Role of Allies and Partners in U.S. Military Strategy and Operations.”
- In March 2019, she spoke at a Hearing for the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment on the topic of “The United States and Europe Since World War II – A Mutually Beneficial Partnership.”
Chris Inglis was nominated by President Biden to be the first national cyber director, leading a newly created White House office to guide cyber strategy and coordinate agencies’ digital security. Inglis is a veteran of the intelligence community, having worked for 28 years at the National Security Agency, including until 2014 as its deputy director. From 2003 to 2006, he served as the U.S. special liaison to the United Kingdom. Inglis also has a military background, having graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and served for more than 30 years in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard. Currently he is a visiting professor for cyber studies at the U.S. Naval Academy and a managing director at Paladin Capital.
Inglis holds advanced degrees in engineering and computer science from Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, and the George Washington University.
- In July 2020, Inglis laid our his views on many of the current challenges in the cyber realm in an interview that was published by Strategic Studies Quarterly.
What to Read
Democrats Were Lukewarm on Campaign Biden. They Love President Biden, Lisa Lerer and Giovanni Russonello, The Washington Post.
“[In] the first few months of his administration, Mr. Biden has garnered almost universal approval from members of his party, according to polls, emerging as a kind of man-for-all-Democrats after an election year riddled with intraparty squabbling. He began his term this winter with an approval rating of 98 percent among Democrats, according to Gallup. … And as Mr. Biden nears his 100th day in office, most public polls have consistently shown him retaining the approval of more than nine in 10 Democrats nationwide.”
The Sullivan Model, Elise Labott, Foreign Policy.
“Perhaps the biggest challenge for [President Biden’s national security advisor Jake] Sullivan will be realizing what he, like the president, calls a ‘foreign policy for the middle class.’ Instead of divorcing U.S. foreign-policy actions—whether fighting terrorists in the Middle East or pursuing new trade deals—from domestic policy, Sullivan and his boss are trying to meld the two.”
Biden picks the first woman to be the Army secretary, Eric Schmitt, The New York Times.
“President Biden has picked Christine E. Wormuth to be the first woman to serve as secretary of the Army, Pentagon officials said on Monday. If approved by the Senate, Ms. Wormuth, …would take control of the largest branch of the military at a time when the armed services are wrestling with a range of challenges, including weeding out right-wing extremists from their ranks and confronting rising threats from China and Russia.”
State Dept. Out to Tackle Diversity Failings with New Appointment, Robbie Gramer, Foreign Policy.
“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has tapped a former senior career diplomat to spearhead efforts to tackle the State Department’s long-standing challenges on diversity and inclusion. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, who previously served as the department’s deputy coordinator for counterterrorism and as U.S. ambassador to Malta, will rejoin the department as chief diversity and inclusion officer, a newly established post that reports directly to the secretary of state.”
Kristen Clarke faced abuse for taking on Trump. Now she’s poised to lead Justice Department’s civil rights team, David Nakamura, The Washington Post.
“On Wednesday, Clarke will appear at a Senate confirmation hearing as President Biden’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division. She is poised to become the first woman confirmed to helm what former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. called the agency’s ‘crown jewel,’ returning to the office where she began her professional career two decades earlier as a line attorney.”
Biden will nominate a police chief who criticized Trump as head of Customs and Border Protection, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, The New York Times.
“President Biden will nominate Chris Magnus, the police chief of Tucson, Ariz., and a critic of the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies, to lead Customs and Border Protection, one of six new installments of leadership at the Department of Homeland Security. If confirmed, Mr. Magnus would step into a politically divisive challenge facing the Biden administration: how to handle a record number of border crossings that are projected to increase in the coming months.”
Exit Strategy: There will be no power-sharing, no reconciliation, no peace of the brave, Eliot A. Cohen, Defense One.
“This is not the end of the war; it is merely the end of its direct American phase. The war began more than four decades ago, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and its first American phase, in the 1980s, featured indirect United States intervention on behalf of the anti-Soviet mujahideen. The war will assuredly last well beyond the American exit.”
Biden administration imposes significant economic sanctions on Russia over cyberspying, efforts to influence presidential election, Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post.
“The Biden administration on Thursday imposed the first significant sanctions targeting the Russian economy in several years in order to punish the Kremlin for a cyberespionage campaign against the United States and efforts to influence the presidential election, according to senior U.S. officials. The administration also sanctioned six Russian companies that support Russian spy services’ cyberhacking operations and will expel 10 intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover in the United States. It formally named the Russian intelligence service SVR as responsible for the hacking operation commonly known as SolarWinds.”
The Summit That Can’t Fail, Michael Hirsh, Foreign Policy.
“The United States’ new president, Joe Biden, and Japan’s recently minted prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, badly need to get along at their first meeting Friday, which is also the first visit to the White House by any foreign leader during Biden’s three-month-old administration. And they need this for mostly the same reasons: to counter China’s rising threat and prove their political mettle at home.
Biden Brushes Off China’s Complaints, Sends First Delegation to Taiwan, Chao Deng, The Wall Street Journal.
“A former U.S. senator and two former U.S. deputy secretaries of state have arrived in Taiwan, leading the first unofficial delegation dispatched by President Biden, amid heightened tensions with Beijing over the future of the self-ruling island. Christopher J. Dodd, a former Democratic senator from Connecticut, and former senior State Department officials Richard Armitage and James Steinberg touched down in Taipei on Wednesday afternoon local time, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said.”
Biden Wants Leaders to Make Climate Commitments for Earth Day, Lisa Friedman, The New York Times.
“The Biden administration is nearing agreements with Japan, Korea and Canada to bolster carbon emission reduction targets in all four countries ahead of a closely watched summit of global leaders on Earth Day, April 22. But in the latest sign of how difficult it will be for President Biden to make climate change a core part of his foreign policy, similar deals with China, India and Brazil, economic powerhouses that together produce more than a third of global emissions, remain elusive.”
What’s Happening @GMF
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The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.