Biden’s cabinet signals a return to the U.S. role on the global stage

The professionals are back.

This is the message that President-elect Joe Biden sent to the world when he presented the most important selections of the Cabinet and national security earlier this week.

“We’re at the top of the table again,” Biden said in an exclusive interview with Lester Holt on NBC News. “America will reaffirm its role in the world and become a coalition builder.”

This will be good news for most of the U.S. traditional allies, many of whom have struggled with President Donald Trump’s “America’s First” approach, which has avoided long-standing agreements and partnerships. The appointments and nominations are likely to reinforce the momentum of optimism and relief that has worked through these nations when Biden became president-elect earlier this month.

National teams such as former Secretary of State John Kerry as Special Envoy for the Climate and Antony Blinken as Secretary of State are facilities with many years of experience who are expected to try to return the U.S. to a more measured and multilateral career.

In 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry will kiss his two-year-old grandson, Isabelle Dobbs-Higginson, after signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the UN headquarters.Mike Segar / Reuters

Biden also included veteran diplomacy Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who spent years in African capitals helping shape U.S. policy in sub-Saharan Africa, the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Alejandro Mayorkast as secretary of homeland security.

Foreign governments know Biden’s team from their time in office as President Barack Obama and other previous governments. And European allies are particularly enthusiastic about the selection of Blinken and Jake Sullivan as national security advisers, whom they consider competent and experienced, European officials and former U.S. diplomats said.

“We are very excited about the opportunities. We are on the same page with regard to climate, Iran and NATO.

Trump broke with Europe on all three issues, announcing in 2017 that he would withdraw America from the Paris Agreement on Climate, and in 2018 that he would withdraw the United States from the notable Iranian agreement of the Obama era. At the beginning of his presidency, he hinted at leaving NATO’s military alliance, saying some members would not pay for the trip.

In contrast, Blinken, Kerry, and Sullivan all played important roles in negotiating the 2015 Iran agreement, while Kerry helped implement the Paris climate agreement. Blinken said the Trump administration decided in July to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany, a long-standing ally, a “strategic loser” that would weaken NATO and help Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In 2015, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken shook hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Olive Hall before meeting at the 2015 Foreign Ministry meeting in Beijing.Andy Wong / Getty Images file

He comes from a family of Blinken diplomats. He is fluent in French before graduating from Harvard University and Columbia Law School, attended high school in Paris, and is a long-term Biden consultant who held important foreign policy and national security positions under Obama.

In France, the daily Le Figaro described it as a “francophile” who runs Biden’s diplomacy and said his appointment after four years of Trump’s presidency seemed “a small revolution”.

European countries such as France are likely to welcome America’s return to a multilateral approach to foreign policy and diplomacy. French President Emmanuel Macron had a tense relationship with Trump and rebuked America’s “first” approach to international affairs.

Rivals like Russia and China have reason to be wary of Biden, but even they can welcome the new team.

Trump’s personal relationship with Putin was warm, and at least on the Russian side, it was expected that it would lead to better relations, said Neil Melvin, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

However, in reality, relations with Russia have deteriorated further over the past four years as the US imposed further sanctions on Moscow, expelled massive Russian diplomats and put pressure on European nations to weaken their ties with Russia, such as the gas pipeline project with Germany. With Russia, he said.

Even in Israel, where the Biden government is expected to be more critical of government action in the Palestinian territories, Blinken’s appointment has been welcomed by foreign policy veterans, according to Haaretz newspaper in the middle left.

Relations between Israel and the United States have been strained under Obama, who, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposed the Iranian nuclear deal and called for an end to settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territories early in his presidency.

Shortly before the Obama administration left office, the United States, largely as a symbolic measure, allowed the UN Security Council to pass a resolution declaring the settlement illegal under international law.

In Asia, while the Allies will be happy to see an end to Trump’s impulsive, irregular decision-making, the Japanese government and other partners fear Biden’s team may return to Obama’s approach to China, which they said was too conciliatory, former U.S. officials said.

During the campaign, Biden – as well as Sullivan and Blinken – indicated that their views on China had developed and that they had no illusions about Beijing. But unlike Trump, Biden and his advisers vowed to gather allies on a common front to push China back on trade and other issues.

Melvin, of the Royal United Services Institute, said he also welcomed cabinet elections in countries with a tense relationship with the United States.

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“I think one of the issues over the last four years has been concern about the unpredictability and irrationality of their relationship,” he said. “I think some of these countries look forward to at least now the opportunity to build a more structured and predictable relationship.”

Even if it is difficult, it may allow progress on some difficult issues, he added.

Climate activists, scientists and policymakers around the world have welcomed Biden’s decision to elect Kerry as the first climate change official to join the National Security Council, says Nicholas Stern, president of the Center for Economics and Political Change at the London School of Economics. who says Kerry is a good friend.

As Obama’s secretary of state, Kerry has made climate change one of his top priorities and helped implement the Paris climate deal, which Biden has promised to join after taking office in January.

Kerry had a “deep” understanding of climate science and politics, and his appointment would give impetus not only to international action on climate change, but also to multilateralism and international respect for the United States, Stern said.

The fact that the National Security Council is hiring a climate change official for the first time has also sent an important message to the world that the climate is a big security issue, he said.

However, Biden’s new team did not receive general praise.

In an interview with Fox News presenter Bret Bavaria on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized the next administration’s foreign policy approach, saying some members of the new team “lived in a little fantasy world”.

Asked to respond to Thomas-Greenfield’s statement on Tuesday that “America is back, multilateralism is back, diplomacy is back,” Pompeo said, the Trump government worked with nations when they had common interests and formed coalitions. real results ”and to reflect the reality on earth.

“I couldn’t tell you exactly from your statement.” But multilateralism in order to hang out with friends over a classy cocktail party is not in the U.S. interest. “- He told.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida fired Biden’s new team members for their achievements with China under Obama’s presidency.

“Biden’s cabinets have been placed in Ivy League schools, have strong resumes, attend appropriate conferences, and will be polite and orderly caretakers in the face of America’s decline,” – Rubio tweeted. “I support American greatness. And he wasn’t interested in going back to the “normal” that depended on us from China. “