Biden begins choosing national security team - Defense News
Joe Biden names several top Cabinet picks, including ...
FROM JEWISHINSIDER..COM - SOME FIRST COMMENTS ON BIDENS PICKS
Biden also announced the appointment of former White House aide Jake Sullivan as national security advisor and former Secretary of State John Kerry as a special envoy on climate and a member of the NSC, the first time the council will have a dedicated position on the issue.
The president-elect is expected to formally introduce the team on Tuesday. In a statement, Biden explained that he chose to roll out his national security team first because “we have no time to lose when it comes to our national security and foreign policy.”
Many of the appointees share not only long-standing professional relationships with Biden, but also a pragmatic approach to the challenges facing the next administration, former administration officials and Mideast experts stressed in interviews with Jewish Insider.
Rob Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told JI he felt “very much encouraged” by the appointments, describing Blinken and Sullivan as “smart, experienced, pragmatic centrists who have a balanced approach” to using America’s leadership role to “advance U.S. interests in security and peace.”
Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), described the announcement as a “good early indicator that Biden is going to govern as a moderate, as a centrist, and he’s choosing people from this same wing of the Democratic Party. That’s a good sign of moderation to come.”
A former senior national security official, who wished to remain anonymous, said the broad consensus about the Biden team is they are all “seriously bright, experienced, thoughtful, personable, and knowledgeable across the board” and “are broadly respected and superb organizers and leaders.”
The selections were also welcomed by broad swaths of the Democratic Party. Blinken and Sullivan are two experts “with immense experience in the Middle East who at the same time are open to rethinking the U.S.’s approach to the region,” Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute, told JI. The think tank — founded in 2019 and funded by the unlikely pairing of George Soros and Charles Koch — calls for an end to American military intervention and a refocus on diplomatic strategy.
“Unlike many of the other contenders for top jobs in the Biden administration, they both have successfully negotiated with Iran,” Parsi explained. “They know that diplomacy with Iran can work, they know what is realistic and unrealistic, and are as a result less susceptible to demands and pressures by those who outright oppose talks with Tehran or who seek to impose poison pills onto the agenda in order to sabotage diplomacy.”
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that his organization “could not be more pleased” with the choices. “These are two individuals who we are excited to work with, and believe are qualified for the jobs they’ve been nominated for,” Ben-Ami said.
Former U.S. Ambassador for U.N Management and Reform Mark Wallace, who serves as CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran, told JI that while he opposed the 2015 nuclear deal and supported the Trump administration’s maximum-pressure campaign on Iran, he sees the Biden team as “talented, thoughtful and reasonable.”
“I think that they’re both pragmatic, self-aware to see what we see,” he explained. “And to the extent that they want to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement, that they understand their negotiating counterparty better, and the leverage and the tools that we have in our toolkit to bring about a successful negotiation.”
Blinken began his career in Washington as a staffer on the National Security Council, later becoming a senior director for strategic planning. In the 1990s, he worked as a speechwriter for former President Bill Clinton. After serving as a staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the George W. Bush administration, Blinken joined Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign, later becoming part of the Obama-Biden transition team.
During Obama’s first term, Blinken served as the vice president’s national security advisor. In 2014, he was tapped to serve as deputy to Kerry, who had replaced Hillary Clinton as secretary of state during the latter four years of the Obama administration. During Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, Blinken served as a top foreign policy advisor, reaching out to key advocacy groups around the country while also serving as a channel for Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to connect with the campaign.
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