Bay of Plenty Times

‘Amer­ica is back’

Team Bi­den set to re­store global ties — but are his po­ten­tial ap­point­ments ‘Obama re­treads’?

- U.S. News · US Politics · Politics · Elections · United States of America · Joe Biden · Joe · Donald Trump · Wilmington, DE · Delaware · Wilmington · Washington · Barack Obama · Republican Party (United States) · Congress of the United States · United Nations · Sullivan · Haines, AK · Central Intelligence Agency · John Kerry · United States Senate · Georgia · Tom Cotton · Arkansas · Republican · Beijing · Rubio · Louisiana · General Services Administration · Linda · Marco Rubio · United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Declar­ing “Amer­ica is back”, Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Bi­den in­tro­duced his na­tional se­cu­rity team yes­ter­day, his first sub­stan­tive of­fer­ing of how he’ll shift from Trump-era “Amer­ica First” poli­cies by re­ly­ing on ex­perts from the Demo­cratic es­tab­lish­ment to be some of his most im­por­tant ad­vis­ers.

“To­gether, these pub­lic ser­vants will re­store Amer­ica glob­ally, its global lead­er­ship and its moral lead­er­ship,” Bi­den said from a the­atre in his long­time home of Wilmington, Delaware. “It’s a team that re­flects the fact that Amer­ica is back, ready to lead the world, not re­treat from it.”

The nom­i­nees are all Wash­ing­ton vet­er­ans with ties to for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, a sign of Bi­den’s ef­fort to re­sume some form of nor­malcy af­ter the tu­mult of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s four years in of­fice. There are risks to the ap­proach as Repub­li­cans plan at­tacks and pro­gres­sives fret that Bi­den is tap­ping some of­fi­cials who were too cau­tious and in­cre­men­tal the last time they held power.

Still, Bi­den’s nom­i­nees were a clear de­par­ture from Trump, whose Cabi­net has largely con­sisted of men, al­most all of them white and wealthy. Bi­den’s picks in­cluded sev­eral women and peo­ple of colour, some of whom would break bar­ri­ers if con­firmed to their new po­si­tions.

The pres­i­dent-elect’s team in­cludes Antony Blinken, a vet­eran for­eign pol­icy hand well-re­garded on Capi­tol Hill whose ties to Bi­den go back some 20 years, for sec­re­tary of state; lawyer Ale­jan­dro May­orkas to be home­land se­cu­rity sec­re­tary; vet­eran diplo­mat Linda ThomasGree­n­field to be US am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions; and Obama White House alum­nus Jake Sul­li­van as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser.

Avril Haines, a for­mer deputy di­rec­tor of the CIA, was picked to serve as di­rec­tor of na­tional in­tel­li­gence, the first woman to hold that post, and for­mer Sec­re­tary of State

Amer­ica is back, ready to lead the world, not re­treat from it. Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Bi­den

John Kerry will make a cur­tain call as a spe­cial en­voy on cli­mate change. Kerry and Sul­li­van’s po­si­tion will not re­quire Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion.

With the Se­nate’s bal­ance of power hing­ing on two runoff races in Ge­or­gia that will be de­cided in Jan­uary, some Se­nate Repub­li­cans have al­ready ex­pressed an­tipa­thy to Bi­den’s picks as lit­tle more than Obama re­treads.

Sen. Tom Cot­ton, an Arkansas Repub­li­can and po­ten­tial 2024 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, ar­gued that Bi­den is sur­round­ing him­self with peo­ple who will go soft on China.

Sen. Marco Ru­bio, an­other po­ten­tial White House hope­ful, who sits on the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee that will con­sider Blinken’s nom­i­na­tion, broadly wrote off the early se­lec­tions.

“Bi­den’s cabi­net picks went to Ivy League schools, have strong re­sumes, at­tend all the right con­fer­ences & will be po­lite & or­derly care­tak­ers of Amer­ica’s de­cline,” Ru­bio tweeted.

Bi­den said his choices “re­flect the idea that we can­not meet these chal­lenges with old think­ing and un­changed habits”. He said he tasked them with re­assert­ing global and moral lead­er­ship, a clear swipe at Trump, who has re­sisted many tra­di­tional for­eign al­liances.

The pres­i­dent-elect said he was “struck” by how world lead­ers have re­peat­edly told him dur­ing con­grat­u­la­tory calls that they look for­ward to the US “re­assert­ing its his­toric role as a global leader” un­der his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

While Trump ex­pected to­tal loy­alty from his Cabi­net and chafed at push­back from ad­vis­ers, Bi­den said he ex­pected ad­vis­ers to tell me “what I need to know, not what I want to know”.

Fur­ther draw­ing a con­trast with Trump, Haines said she ac­cepted

Bi­den’s nom­i­na­tion know­ing that “you value the per­spec­tive of the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be in­con­ve­nient or dif­fi­cult”.

Bi­den cel­e­brated the di­ver­sity of his picks, of­fer­ing a par­tic­u­larly poignant tribute to ThomasGree­n­field. The el­dest of eight chil­dren who grew up in seg­re­gated Louisiana, she was the first to grad­u­ate from high school and col­lege in her fam­ily. The diplo­mat, in turn, said that with his se­lec­tions, Bi­den is achiev­ing much more than a chang­ing of the guard.

“My fel­low ca­reer diplo­mats and pub­lic ser­vants around the world, I want to say to you, ‘Amer­ica is back, mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism is back, diplo­macy is back’,” Thomas-green­field said.

Mean­while, there were signs that the stalled for­mal tran­si­tion of power is now un­der­way. Bi­den’s team now is in con­tact with all fed­eral agen­cies.

The moves came a day af­ter the head of the Gen­eral Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion wrote the let­ter of “as­cer­tain­ment” ac­knowl­edg­ing Bi­den as the ap­par­ent win­ner of the elec­tion.— AP

 ?? Photo / AP ?? US Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Bi­den ad­dresses me­dia from his home town in Wilmington, Delaware.
Photo / AP US Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Bi­den ad­dresses me­dia from his home town in Wilmington, Delaware.

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