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08/22/2020

Biden’s foreign policy team: war hawks, lobbyists and the Deep State

Biden’s foreign policy team: war hawks, lobbyists and the Deep State

Recently, former US Vice President Joe Biden was chosen as the presidential candidate from the Democratic Party. Now, according to public opinion polls, Biden is the frontrunner in the presidential race. We have already considered the basic framework of Biden’s foreign policy, should he come to power. However, it is often those who prepare analytical materials, develop strategies and tactics that are crucial for a specific policy to be realized. 

Biden-Harris’ Future Foreign Policy

This is particularly important in the case of 77-year-old Joe Biden, who has already shown a significant decrease in cognitive abilities during the election campaign. As his dementia progresses, the president’s entourage will play an increasingly important role in shaping US foreign policy.

Susan Rice: Obama’s legacy

Previously, one of the main candidates for the post of vice president in probable Biden’s administration was Susan Rice, US presidential adviser on national security issues in 2013-2017. She was a member of Barack Obama’s team, and has additional important qualities as she is a woman and African-American. As the Democratic electorate fights for racial, gender and social justice and in the wake of BLM protests, these are crucial qualities.

Biden also found another woman of color to join his ticket: Senator Kamala Harris. However, experts believe that Susan Rice will also find her place in the Biden administration if the former vice president enters the White House.

“Susan Rice, national security adviser and U.N. ambassador under Obama, is a finalist for vice president. If she isn’t selected, she could become a key adviser if Biden wins,” noted The Washington Post.

Susan Rice, along with Hillary Clinton, did everything possible to propel US and NATO intervention in Libya in 2011 and stage the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Rice was then the United States Ambassador to the United Nations and is personally responsible for Libya’s current horrible condition. 

Susan Rice is closely associated with Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State and the embodiment of the doctrine of liberal interventionism. It is an interesting fact that since 2018, Rice has joined the board of directors of Netflix, which shows interest in postmodern concepts of influence through “soft power”. However, a person like Susan Rice will not fear the use of military force in the conduct of American foreign policy.

Tony Blinken: the main advisor

However, she would not be Biden’s main chief foreign policy advisor; That would be Tony Blinken. He held high positions in the State Department – a former Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Advisor. Today, Blinken is a Managing Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a Think-tank which was established in 2018 which is essentially Biden’s brainstorming headquarters.

Blinken is Biden’s trustee, and was his advisor back in 2008 during Biden’s failed run for president. He is a Jew and has long expressed his firm support for the state of Israel.

Blinken said he opposed the withdrawal of US troops from Syria because it would allegedly lead to a dangerous “power vacuum”. He called on the US to arm Kurdish separatist formations in Turkey, despite Ankara’s negative reaction.

At the same time, Blinken has a more benevolent position towards Qatar and opposed the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. However, it was Blinken and Biden who once gave Saudi Arabia carte blanche to intervene in Yemen in 2015.

Blinken is one of the cofounders of WestExec Advisors – a company that lobbies for drone warfare. The company also offers its services in government lobbying, which shows the close ties of its founders with both American big business and the state apparatus – the notorious Deep State.

Michèle Flournoy – the possible Secretary of Defense

Another important member of Joe Biden’s foreign policy staff, Michèle Flournoy, also has close ties with the American defense industry: She was a co-founder of WestExec Advisors.

From 2009 to 2012, she worked as a secretary of defense for politics. After she left her position with the private company Boston Consulting Group, the company’s defense contracts grew 30 times in three years – $1.6 million in 2013 to $32 million in 2016.

Flournoy opposes a ban on the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia because of the war in Yemen. 

This is believed to be related to defense contracts between the Saudis and Raytheon and other WestExec Advisors clients. 

She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and cofounder of Center for New American Security (CNAS). Its report “Extending American Power” from 2016 was endorsed by Flournoy. The report spoke about the need to increase the US defense budget, the need of military invasion to Syria, arms sales to Ukraine and intensification of the war on terror. 

It is worth noting that other well-known members of Joe Biden’s foreign policy team are also associated with the Center for a New American Security: Ely Ratner – former Biden’s deputy adviser and nowadays the executive vice president at the CNAS concerning the Asian affairs, her former chief in Obama-Biden administration – Colin Kahl, Julianne Smith – former Deputy National Security Advisor to the VP of the United States, who is currently focusing mostly on Europe. 

To this list we can add Elizabeth Rosenberg, who is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security and specialists on international sanctions and energy policy.

In the article “How to Prevent a War in Asia; The Erosion of American Deterrence Raises the Risk of Chinese Miscalculation”, published in 2020 Michèle Flournoy insisted on increasing American military power in the Pacific to deter China. Thus, its approach to relations with China is no different from the aggressive attitude of the current Donald Trump administration.

In her time as undersecretary of defense Flournoy was among the main promoters of the US intervention in Libya. Now Michèle Flournoy is one of the most likely candidates for the US Secretary of Defense if Joe Biden is elected president.

Brett H. McGurk: the PKK’s man

Brett H. McGurk, former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has also found his place as a campaign consultant for Joe Biden. 

McGurk is known for his support for the YPG-PKK Kurdish separatists in Syria and his anti-Turkish stance. In particular, he even explained the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE.

The presence in Biden’s team of such an obvious conductor of anti-Turkish interests testifies to the desire of American democrats after coming to power to draw a line of increasing confrontation with the current political regime in Turkey.

The UAE’s role in Greater Middle East Project has been made official

Nicholas Burns: one more war hawk

Another colorful character on Joe Biden’s foreign policy team is Nicholas Burns, who served as US Ambassador to the United Nations in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He is a former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

Burns supported the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, but does not see the need to support a campaign of maximum pressure on Iran.

Nicholas Burns is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Tripartite Commission. Starting his career in the State Department as a specialist on Russia and the former Soviet Union, he later worked on more general issues. From 1997 to 2001 Burns served as US Ambassador to Greece, doing much to bring the two countries together.

He now works for The Cohen Group, a consulting firm, lobbying interests of the US military industrial complex.

In February 2019 Burns co-authored the report “NATO at Seventy: An Alliance in Crisis” published by The Robert and Renée Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

The report called to “bolster US military strength in Europe that is the primary deterrent against Russian adventurism” and “upholding NATO’s democratic values”. Burns and his coauthor Douglas Lute named Turkey, Hungary and Poland “a potentially cancerous threat from within”, “anti-democratic governments” and “recalcitrant allies”. The authors are confident that NATO should “discipline” these countries.

The Middle East Team

Jake Sullivan, who was a senior advisor to the US government for the Iran nuclear deal and former aide to Hillary Clinton during her unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2016, is also on board and believed to be part of close aides to Joe Biden nowadays. He is criticized by progressive Democrats because of his support for the US military interventions, particularly in Libya. 

Sullivan started his foreign policy career after being surrounded by Hillary Clinton and somehow his entire career was connected to his patroness. Sullivan also served as the National Security Advisor to Biden while he was vice president.

His successor, Colin Kahl’s other former advisor to Biden, is expected to lead the future Iranian administration of Joe Biden. He is against military intervention in Iran and for re-engagement of Islamic Republic into new negotiations regarding its nuclear program.

While acting as a member of the Advisory Council of National Security Action – one more Liberal and Democrat Think tank that supports Joe Biden – he is against Saudi military intervention in Yemen.

Jeffrey Prescott also has important links and interests in this area. He now works at the Penn Biden Center, but in the past he was the Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf States on the National Security Council. He has also served as Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden.

Avril Haines, the first-ever female Deputy Director of the CIA and Deputy National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, is also among Joe Biden’s close advisers.

She is known for playing a critical role in the development and implementation of the Obama administration’s “targeted killing” program that led to  1,878  drone strikes in Africa and the Middle East. Often civilians have been targeted. Avril Haines also condoned CIA agents who hacked into the Senate computers, studying the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture. She later participated in censoring that report.

Brian McKeon, Joe Biden’s long-time advisor to the Obama administration, may also be paying some attention to this area. In 2019, he acted as one of the experts on the basis of which the US House of Representatives was building its position on Turkey’s purchase of S-400 SAM systems.

It is also possible that Kamala Harris will bring with her one of her foreign policy aides – Philip Gordon – a prominent liberal hawk and supporter of the Iraq war, who recently warned against withdrawing troops from Germany and declared that “It’s getting hard to describe Turkey as an ally of the US”.

Frames of change

An analysis of those who have joined Biden’s foreign policy team suggests that once in power, this team will pursue a policy of hawkish liberal interventionism. Most of the people are somehow connected with the US Department of Defense, the CIA and the military-industrial complex and lobbying their interests. The majority are in favor of a tough confrontation between China and Russia and do not like Turkey. 

Perhaps some relaxation awaits Iran, but it is not clear whether Tehran will be able to go back to the nuclear deal given the unclear safeguards. Biden’s foreign policy team is made up of advocates of tough action. 

At the same time, they are ready to continue many features of the Trump administration’s policy in terms of pressure on other countries. Jake Sullivan in February 2020 called for “a new economic philosophy”, which should be based on redirecting investment to America, fighting against money going offshore abroad and economic confrontation with China.

In turn, back in 2018, Ely Ratner and Kurt Campbell – CNAS Board Chairman and Co-Founder and head of influential The Asia Group, LLC – said that the policy of peaceful engagement with China in the hope of liberal change in this country has failed. In their view, the US should now fight hard for human rights in authoritarian countries to which China, as they believe, belongs. 

This, as well as the fact that Amit Jani, friend of Indian President Narendra Modi, is actively involved in Biden’s campaign, may serve as evidence that the most important trend of the Donald Trump administration – the trend of confrontation with China in Indo-Pacific region – will not change even if Joe Biden comes to power in the US.

According to Philipp Gordon “The Trump administration has been good at identifying the problems posed by China’s approach to the world.” ”The democrats plan to use more effective means, but will not abandon the strategic goal of defeating China in a New Cold War.

The US declares Cold War on China: but can it win this time?

United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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