The dramatic irony of Biden’s foreign policy choices

Individual GOP senators are trying to slow down a host of State Department ambassadorial and high-ranking candidates, but not largely on the basis of the ideologies of a list of players in the Obama administration and the United States. academia. Biden’s Republican blockade of foreign policy choices stems from larger political differences with his administration, and the few people who got confirmation fit a similar establishment profile.

“These are a wide range of profiles, but qualified, experienced, seasoned, capable and knowledgeable candidates or ambassadors,” said Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) In an interview with the recent Halifax International Security Forum.

At that conference, Coons met with American allies who he said were impressed with Biden’s choices, but wanted to see more confirmed by the Senate. Many of the diplomacy and national security candidates Biden sent to the upper house are from DC’s foreign policy circuit – often referred to as the “Blob” – or other exclusive Democratic circles. Some also worked with Biden during his tenure as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, while others worked closely with him when he was vice chairman.

“He himself feels very comfortable with foreign policy and national security decisions. And so it doesn’t surprise me that he brings in people who have been part of his own journey as a public servant, ”said Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Another ally of the President, in a brief. interview. in Halifax.

The list begins with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden’s main aide during his tenure as foreign relations chairman. Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has already spent four years at the top of the department as chief of political affairs under Obama. Julianne Smith, who the Senate recently confirmed as US Ambassador to NATO, served as Biden’s Deputy National Security Advisor when he was Vice President and previously leading NATO policy at the Pentagon.

It was not a given that Biden would stick to the establishment path for his foreign policy advisers. He has taken the heat of the left throughout his career for his positions on foreign affairs, notably his support for the Iraq war that began under former President George W. Bush. And Biden is teaming up with progressives in this Congress in their long-standing effort to repeal or replace the outdated authorizations for the use of military force that underpin the so-called “war on terror.”

But while liberal thugs like Federal Trade Commission Chairman Lina Khan and Justice Department antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter delighted the Liberals and even received modest support from the GOP, the Biden’s foreign policy choices have not stretched. Matt Duss, longtime foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Was reportedly under consideration for a high-level position at the State Department, but ultimately remained on Capitol Hill. Duss had amplified criticism of some of Biden’s foreign policy decisions on social media.

But Biden has delighted progressives with some of his major foreign policy decisions, including the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and his approval of the reduction in sprawling presidential war powers.

The White House did not immediately comment on this story.

Some progressives were also unhappy with Biden’s decision to appoint former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel as US ambassador to Japan. But their opposition has focused on his handling of civil rights issues as mayor, rather than concerns about his qualifications for the job in Tokyo.

Beyond Khan and Kanter, Biden brought in two former House Progressives for his cabinet – Home Secretary Deb Haaland and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra – and appointed two prominent women Liberals of color, Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke, at the Department of Justice. posts. They succeeded despite almost unanimous opposition from the GOP which could have condemned their chances in a Senate at 50-50.

“What America has seen with Joe Biden’s policies is the biggest bait and political change we’ve ever seen,” said Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.). “He introduced himself as a moderate, he was going to be a unifier, and he went even further than the progressive left could ever have dreamed he would budge.”

Hagerty, who served as U.S. ambassador to Japan under Trump, enthusiastically supports Emanuel’s appointment to the same post. He has always drawn a line between his own career in business as well as in state government and the “profile of the government and academia official and foreign policy establishment” which has dominated the world. administration of Biden.

While Biden’s foreign policy candidates face opposition mostly unrelated to personal experience, several of his choices on the national side have proven too liberal for centrist Democrats to accept. This includes Neera Tanden, whose appointment as Biden’s budget chief has been withdrawn, and, more recently, Saule Omarova, the bank regulator’s candidate, whom five Democrats plan to oppose. Biden was also forced to remove his candidate for head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, David Chipman, who was a prominent gun control activist.

Vice President Kamala Harris voted to sever ties with the Senate in ten nominating votes, all but one for home policy positions.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has blocked swift action on dozens of diplomatic candidates for his opposition to the Biden administration’s decision to lift sanctions on the Russia-Germany pipeline known as the Nord Stream 2. His actions angered not only Democrats and the Biden administration, but also European allies and even some fellow Republicans. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) Has done the same for some national security candidates, due to his objections to the way the Biden administration pulled the United States out of Afghanistan.

“Not having an ambassador weakens our ability to solve problems and speak for the United States to solve problems,” Coons said of the standoff.

Cruz, for his part, has shown signs of weakening – offering to lift some of his deductions in exchange for votes tied to the Nord Stream 2 sanctions.

But more than 50 of Biden’s mostly established foreign policy appointments remain stranded in the Senate, and Democrats are pushing Schumer to set aside valuable time before the end of the year to confirm as many as possible.

“Hopefully we’ll be working a few nights and weekends by the end of the year,” Kaine said. “We’re going to have to work non-standard hours to do this. I hope we will be ready to do so.

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