Biden’s prime cupboard nominees promise break from Trump worldview | US & Canada Information
US President-elect Joe Biden’s nominees to head the Department of State and Defense told Congress on Tuesday that they would seek to restore the nation’s leadership in world affairs and reverse the Trump administration’s policies.
Antony Blinken, who was appointed the next US Secretary of State, pledged to restore US leadership in international affairs after President Donald Trump’s four-year tenure.
“We will revive American diplomacy in order to meet and accept the most pressing challenges of our time,” Blinken told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
“American leadership is still important,” said Blinken, describing the world as a world defined by “increasing nationalism, receding democracy, growing rivalry between China and Russia and other authoritarian states.”
Lloyd Austin, Biden’s candidate for Defense Secretary, told the Senate Armed Forces Committee that renewing the US military alliances against China was one of his top priorities.
“I am very much looking forward to renewing these alliances,” said Austin in response to a questionnaire from Democratic Senator Jack Reed, who will chair the committee this year.
Defense Secretary candidate Lloyd Austin, a recently retired Army general, told the Senate Armed Forces Committee that he would work to strengthen civilian control of the military if confirmed [Greg Nash/Pool via AP Photo]When Trump leaves office and Biden takes office on Wednesday, the US faces diplomatic and military challenges from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, according to Blinken and Austin.
Trump had pursued an “America First” foreign policy that irritated Washington’s allies in Europe and strained relations with NATO, and had taken a tough stance against China and Iran.
Blinken called China the US’s biggest foreign policy challenge and agreed to the general direction of the Trump administration’s tougher approach.
“The rationale was the right one,” Blinken said, adding that he, however, disagreed with some of the steps Trump was taking.
“We must first turn to China from a position of strength,” Blinken said, which “requires investments in the military to ensure that we can deter any aggression.”
Middle East Policy
In the Middle East, Blinken said the new Biden administration will seek to build on the recent US-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.
Blinken stressed that the US commitment to Israel’s security is “sacrosanct” and that the two-state solution, which has long been a core part of US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is “currently very much challenged” .
At the same time, the Biden team will review some of the commitments Trump has made to motivate countries to get these deals with Israel, Blinken said. He didn’t elaborate on what that would mean.
For example, the US recognized Morocco’s claim to the disputed area of Western Sahara as part of the normalization agreement between Morocco and Israel. It also removed Sudan from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism” after the Sudanese government approved its own agreement with Israel.
Blinken also reiterated Biden’s pledge to end US support for Saudi Arabia-led coalition struggles in Yemen.
This was a major demand from Democratic Party lawmakers that Washington’s involvement in the devastating conflict exacerbated an already dire humanitarian crisis.
The war in Yemen began in late 2014 when the Houthi rebel group took control of much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.
The conflict escalated in March 2015 when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates formed a US-backed military coalition to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government.
It’s a big deal. Thanks @JoeBiden and @ABlinken. This move will save lives and make America safer. https://t.co/nBK6ku7mZk
– Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 19, 2021
Regarding Iran, Blinken said Biden would try to renew the nuclear deal with a “longer and stronger deal”. Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iranian nuclear pact in 2018 when his administration pursued a strategy of “maximum pressure” against Tehran.
Blinken said Trump’s assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani a year ago “made us less safe” in the region.
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