On January 20, Joe Biden began serving as president of the United States. His foreign policy team is virtually complete, mostly made up of former officials from Barack Obama’s administration with whom Biden has worked in the past. However, Biden’s foreign policy will not be a simple continuation of Obama’s. The international and domestic political situation have changed.
The Neocons are on board
Moreover, the Democratic Party is not what it used to be. Donald Trump’s rise to power in the US in 2016 was accompanied by a mass exodus of neoconservatives from the Republican Party. William Kristol, Max Boot, David Frum, Rick Wilson, Jennifer Rubin suddenly became Democrats, accusing Trump of betraying the ideals of democracy.
This convergence started during the Obama years, when Max Boot wrote that Hillary Clinton was a “powerful” voice “for ‘neoliberalism’ which is not so different in many respects from ‘neoconservativism.'” Figures on Biden’s foreign policy team like future Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the national security adviser Jake Sullivan, or Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines awere notorious interventionists.
However, Trump’s rise to power was a turning point when neocons began to declare their disillusionment with Republicans en masse. Consequently, their influence in the Democratic Party and its affiliated media increased, where neocons like Max Boot became the leading experts on foreign affairs. Nearly 300 former Bush officials endorsed Joe Biden in 2020.
Briefly, the doctrine of these people can be formulated as follows: the US should actively interfere in the politics of other countries, remove unwanted regimes, promote liberal democracy with all its might, ensure its planetary hegemony by all possible means and fight against countries that challenge the value and military hegemony of the West: China, Russia and smaller countries like Turkey or even Hungary, where sovereign and “authoritarian” tendencies are too strong. And of course, Israel must be guarded at all costs.
In 2019, Robert Kagan, a prominent neoconservative, along with Antony Blinken wrote an article urging the US to abandon Trump’s America First policies and continue the policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Specifically, they called for a policy of “preventive diplomacy and deterrence” against “US adversaries,” calling for containment of Russia and China. According to The Daily Sabah columnist Hakki Öcal, “preventive diplomacy and deterrence” – “is shorthand for sending boys and tanks wherever they can.”
Robert Kagan’s wife is Victoria Nuland, former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in the Obama administration. She played an active role in organizing and supporting the color revolution in Ukraine in 2014, infamously advising to the US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyat to “Fuck the EU”.
The failed coup in Turkey in 2016 occurred during her stay in office.
From 2003 to 2005, Victoria Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the US Vice President that filled the US Administration with neocons.
In the Biden-Harris administration she is going to serve as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. This is currently the third-ranking position in the United States Department of State, after the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary. This way, Nuland will be promoted and will be able to pursue neoconservative policies more aggressively. In a recent Foreign Affairs article, she called for a more “activist” policy toward Russia, including “speaking directly to the Russian people about the benefits of working together and the price they have paid for (President Vladimir) Putin’s hard turn away from liberalism”.
The infamous Brett H. McGurk, who in his tenure as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State insisted on the support of PKK-related militias in Syria, is also considered a neocon, and started his career in the George W. Bush administration. He will be the Middle East “czar” in Biden’s National Security Council. That may be a signal of the return of the US to the “Greater Middle East” plan to divide and conquer in the Middle East: redrawing borders and exploiting the Kurdish factor to breed chaos in the region.
“The only important intellectual difference between neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on US power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance. Both groups extol the virtues of democracy, both groups believe that US power – and especially its military power – can be a highly effective tool of statecraft,” the prominent US scholar Stephen M. Walt notes.
In the early 2000s, many Democratic Party members, which their opponents called “liberal hawks”, became active in the United States. They advocated virtually the same interventionist and imperialist policies as the neoconservatives, differing from the latter only stylistically.
There are many people in and around the Biden team who in 2003 authored the liberal hawkish “Progressive Internationalism: A Democratic National Security Strategy”: Kurt Campbell, Larry Diamond, Michèle Flournoy, Philip Gordon, Michael McFaul and Kenneth Pollack.
Samantha Power and Michael McFaul were the most unoriginal representatives of the liberal hawk doctrine in the Obama Administration. She will be back under Biden as Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In her recent article for Foreign Affairs Samantha Power called for countering China’s influence and using “anti-corruption” rhetoric to undermine “authoritarian powers”, “for the persuasion and coalition building needed to advance US interests in the years ahead”.
In 2007 Power stated that “in this age, there is no such thing as a purely ‘internal matter.’
Dr. Amanda Sloat, future senior director for Europe at the National Security Council is also known as a democratic interventionist, and applauded back in 2016 the Hillary Clinton interventionist record, especially for her role in regime change in Libya.
Her counterpart at the NSC Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who will be a Senior Director for Russia and Central Asia, in 2019 spoke before the US Congress and called for the “early intervention” to “respond to the slow dismantling of democracy” and global democratic promotion as a core on the US foreign policy. It is also a version of hawkish liberal interventionism.
Michael McFaul is yet not on the board of Biden’s foreign and security team, but he constantly dispenses advice to the administration. He insists of the containment of Russia (including through tighter censorship of the Internet).
Also in Joe Biden’s administration can be found individuals associated with the queen of the liberal hawks, Madeleine Albright.
The future United States Deputy Secretary of State – the №2 in the Department of State, is Wendy Ruth Sherman, former Madeleine Albright counselor and Vice Chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group.
It is worth noting that since Madeleine Albright supported Joe Biden and has been active in advising on foreign policy by a Democratic administration, her direct influence should not be underestimated either.
Philip Gordon, a prominent liberal hawk and supporter of the Iraq war, is also on the board. He warned against withdrawing troops from Germany and declared that “It’s getting hard to describe Turkey as an ally of the US”. Gordon, former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs is also a good friend of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America (Ioannis Lambriniadis) of the Greek Orthodox (Fener) Patriarchate of Istanbul, who actively promotes an anti-Turkish agenda in Washington. In the new administration, he will be the Deputy National Security Advisor for the Vice President.
Joe Biden’s foreign policy team is full of neo-conservative lobbyists and liberal hawks. Representatives of these ideological groups saw in Biden’s presidency a chance to implement their programs. The rest of the world will have to face their fierce attempts to restore the imperial policy of the United States.