U.S. Foreign Policy Monitor: What Allies and Partners Need to Know - April 30
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’s edition focuses on Biden’s first 100 days and his first address to a joint session of Congress, as well as key nominees for the U.S. military. Having hit the 100-day mark, the Monitor team will take the next few weeks off, but we will be back.
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A long-held milestone for new U.S. administrations, President Biden hit the 100-day mark as commander-in-chief this week. For an overview, take a look at the statistics in this article from NPR. Also, for comments by administration officials on early foreign policy accomplishments, read this background press call transcript. For more, check out the following articles (and video):
- Opinion: Biden’s first 100 days in foreign policy have been about undoing. Here’s what comes next, David Ignatius, The Washington Post.
- Biden’s first 100 days in foreign policy are hamstrung by Trump’s last 100, Nahal Toosi, POLITICO.
- Biden’s first 100 days: Where he stands on key promises, Alexandra Jaffe, Aamer Madhani, and Kevin Vineys, AFP
- (VIDEO) Where Biden Stands on key foreign policy promises as he nears 100 days in office, Ian Bremmer, CBS News
An equally noteworthy occasion, President Biden spoke before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening emphasizing several domestic policy issues, including police reform and federal investment in infrastructure and childcare. On foreign policy, Biden addressed relations with China and Russia, and his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. A full video of the speech can be watched here. Senator Tim Scott gave the official GOP reaction, which can be watched here.
With COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in India increasing dramatically over recent weeks, the Biden administration announced it will send urgent vaccine material and oxygen-related supplies, as well as other therapeutics. This decision followed a call between President Biden and Prime Minister Modi on Monday. A readout of the Biden-Modi call can be found here. The U.S. also announced it will share 60 million of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries.
In Focus: GMF’S Take on Biden’s First 100 Days
Marking the 100-day milestone in the Biden presidency, GMF experts recently reflected on the administration’s record so far. Specific topics include China policy, climate and energy, transatlantic security, the Mediterranean, tech policy, and economic policy. Click here to read the full expert analysis on these issues.
Who to Watch
Frank Kendall was nominated to be the next secretary of the Air Force. Kendall has deep experience in the private and think tank sectors and has been working as an independent consultant to defense industry firms, as well as an executive in residence at Renaissance Strategic Advisors. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a senior advisor to CSIS, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Kendall’s work at CAP focused on defense policy and budgeting, as well as emerging threats. Kendall has served in several positions in the Department of Defense, including as under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. He has also taught at West Point and served ten years of active duty in the Army in Germany. An attorney by training, he has worked on human rights issues with Amnesty International USA.
- In this article, Kendall elaborates on the Biden administration’s “Greatest and Most Important National Security Challenge.”
- In 2016, Kendall conducted a wide-ranging Q&A with the Aerospace Industry Association including issues like future warfare, capabilities, and tech.
Gina Ortiz Jones was nominated to be the next under secretary of the Air Force. Jones is an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq as an intelligence officer. She worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency at U.S. Africa Command and worked for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative focusing on foreign investment. A member of the LGBTQ community, Jones was on active duty during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Jones twice ran for Congress in her home state of Texas and holds graduate degrees from Boston University, the University of Kansas, and the U.S. Army school of Advanced Military Studies.
- Here is a profile of Jones featured in NBC News when Jones ran for Congress during the previous elections cycle.
- This interview, also during the campaign, provides insight into Jones’ perspectives on several key policy topics, including the use of the military.
What to Read
Washington Is Avoiding the Tough Questions on Taiwan and China, Charles L. Glaser, Foreign Affairs.
On China, U.S. policymakers have reached a near consensus: the country is a greater threat than it seemed a decade ago, and so it must now be met with increasingly competitive policies […] But the most consequential question has been largely overlooked: Should the United States trim its East Asian commitments to reduce the odds of going to war with China?”
Biden’s Whiplash Pandemic Diplomacy, Thomas Wright, The Atlantic.
“The Biden administration’s announcement on Monday that it would soon export tens of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine completed a dramatic policy U-turn. It came after a tumultuous week in which the administration’s carefully constructed pandemic-diplomacy plan fell apart as the COVID-19 crisis in India worsened. The Biden administration needs to learn from this misstep and demonstrate a more agile approach ….”
Israel and Iran Are Pulling the United States Toward Conflict, Daniel C. Kurtzer, Aaron David Miller, and Steven N. Simon, Foreign Affairs.
“One way or another, escalation will suck the United States into a war it did not seek, at a time and place it did not choose. The Biden administration must make a decision. It can bet that a fragile stability will last until its legislative agenda is complete, in which case it does not need to intervene. Or it can step in now, on the assumption that the near-term consequences of a political confrontation with Israel and muscular diplomacy with Iran will be more manageable than the consequences of a war within the next two years.”
‘We Can Turn It Around,’ Ravi Agrawal, Foreign Policy.
In an Interview, John Kerry discusses “the deep roots of his environmentalism, how he negotiates with the Chinese on climate, and the unshakable momentum of the green marketplace: ‘China accounts for 30 percent of the world’s emissions, and Mother Nature doesn’t measure whether it came from China or the United States or Timbuktu. The fact is that it’s the total of all those emissions that are affecting our climate.’”
100 days in, Harris tries to move from history-maker to Biden’s heir apparent, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., The Washington Post.
“In the 100 days since Harris cemented herself in the history books merely by taking her oath of office, she has demonstrated some of the characteristics that make her a singular figure on the national political stage — some of the same traits that drew 22,000 cheering supporters to Oakland City Hall two years ago to help start a potentially historic presidential campaign.”
U.S. Africa Envoy: Ethiopia Crisis Could Make Syria Look Like ‘Child’s Play,’ Robbie Gramer, Foreign Policy.
“The Biden administration this month brought Jeffrey Feltman, a seasoned former senior U.S. and United Nations diplomat, out of semi-retirement to assume the newly created role of special envoy for the Horn of Africa, where multiple crises threaten to unravel the entire region. … [Feltman] will become Washington’s lead troubleshooter for a deadly conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia that has sparked a massive humanitarian crisis and widespread allegations of war crimes.”
The unexpected Pentagon chief, Lara Seligman, Politico.
“Never comfortable in the spotlight, Austin has assumed a behind-the-scenes role in the Biden administration, providing his counsel but ultimately carrying out the decisions made by the president …. Nowhere has that dynamic been more apparent than in Biden’s decision this month to end the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Privately, Austin argued against an unconditional withdrawal on that timeline. But ultimately, Biden went against Austin’s advice, …. And in the end, Austin said publicly that he fully supported the president’s decision to withdraw.”
Senate confirms Pentagon nominee after battle over tweets, Mideast views, Connor O’Brien, Politico.
“The Senate on Tuesday approved Colin Kahl, President Joe Biden's pick for the top Pentagon policy job, capping the most contentious and partisan confirmation process for a Defense Department nominee so far in the opening months of the new administration. The vote was 49-45 to confirm Kahl as undersecretary of defense for policy. Tuesday evening's vote broke entirely along party lines. He is the third Biden Pentagon nominee to win Senate approval.”
Scoop: Biden close to naming ambassadors for EU and NATO, Hans Nichols, Axios.
“President Biden is leaning toward nominating Mark Gitenstein to be his ambassador to the European Union and Julie Smith as his envoy to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, people familiar with the matter tell Axios […] Some Biden advisers want to have the EU and NATO ambassadors announced ahead of Biden’s first foreign trip as president, when he heads to the United Kingdom for the G-7 and then Brussels for a NATO summit in June. […] Biden officials say that final decisions have not been made.”
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The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.