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Who would be Biden’s picks for State Department, NSA, other foreign policy jobs?

  • Published at 10:30 pm November 9th, 2020
Joe Biden
File photo: US President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks after being declared the winner of the US presidential election, in Wilmington on November 7, 2020 AFP

A look at the potential candidates for the posts in a Biden administration

Joe Biden is facing the task of rebuilding the country’s foreign policy team, following his election as the US president, as the Trump administration cut several veteran diplomats in sweeping changes over the past four years.

With Biden nearly guaranteed to become the next US president barring an unexpected victory for Donald Trump in his legal challenge against the election result, US daily Los Angeles Times examined potential candidates for posts in a Biden administration.

National Security Advisor

The LA Times highlights Antony Blinken, top foreign policy advisor of the Biden campaign, as a leading candidate for the national security advisor post. The 58-year-old served as national security advisor to Biden from 2009-13, and he also served as deputy national security advisor and deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration.

Furthermore, Blinken is a descendent of Holocaust survivors and leans towards US intervention in world crises. He has regularly served as a surrogate for Biden during the pandemic.

Secretary of State

A likely candidate for the post of top US diplomat is William Burns, retired career foreign service officer and current president of Washington-based think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The 64-year-old is a former deputy secretary of state and has also served as US ambassador to Russia and Jordan during both Democratic and Republican administrations. He played a key role in the Iran nuclear deal signed by President Obama and five other nations with Tehran.

Another possible candidate for secretary of state is Susan Rice. She served as a national security advisor and US ambassador to the UN during the Obama administration and held diplomatic posts during the Clinton administration. This year, she was considered for the vice-presidential nomination before losing out to Kamala Harris. 

Secretary of Defence

A strong candidate for the secretary of defence post is Michele Flournoy, who held the deputy secretary of defence post for most of the eight years during the Obama administration.

She co-founded Washington think tank Center for a New American Security and was expected to be Hilary Clinton’s choice for defence secretary had she defeated Trump in 2016.

Director of the CIA

A potential candidate for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director is Avril Haines, who has served as the deputy to commanders of both the CIA and National Security Agency (NSA). She supported Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA director and began advising the Biden campaign this year.

US ambassador to the UN

Leading candidates for the US ambassador to UN post include Nicholas Burns, 64, a former ambassador to NATO and senior State Department official in Democratic and Republican administrations; Wendy Sherman, 71, a former top State official who helped negotiate the landmark Iran nuclear deal, and Christopher Hill, 68, a retired diplomat who served in numerous prominent ambassadorships.

Another candidate is Obama’s ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. She had a close relationship with Obama and was warm in when writing about Biden in her autobiography, but she also clashed with Biden over retaliation against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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