Progressive foreign policy groups advising President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team plan to send the team a dazzling brochure with profiles of 100 people supposed to be in the administration – the greatest effort progressives have made to deal with Biden with influencing global affairs.
During the campaign, left-wing foreign affairs organizations held regular meetings with high-ranking members of Biden’s team – including Antony Blinken, who has since been appointed Secretary of State – about how the candidate could pursue more progressive foreign policy. Her advice included proposals such as cutting the Pentagon budget, lifting the 2001 armed forces authorization that allowed the war on terror to continue, and ending support for governments that abuse human rights.
Making more progress in the White House, State Department, and other key agencies is seen as a way to ensure their advice is put into action. “Personnel is politics,” as many in the country’s capital say, the views and priorities of the people you have used to shape the political implications of politics. It’s hard to have a progressive foreign policy without progressives actually pursuing foreign policy.
For this reason, a consortium of progressive foreign policy groups created the digital brochure for Biden’s transition team, as Politico first reported.
“There is no good reason for the president-elect not to hire everyone.”
The effort was coordinated by Yasmine Taeb of the Center for International Policy and Alex McCoy of Common Defense. They coordinated for weeks between different organizations to identify 100 consensus decisions that Biden’s transition team should make.
The proposed employees are 65 percent women and black people and come from left-wing think tanks, activist organizations and convention bureaus.
While the writers told reporters that none of the people on the list had any corporate relationships, a draft notebook showed that at least two of them had some affiliation with Goldman Sachs. You have assured me that the final list will not include these people.
McCoy is convinced of the recommendations. “There is no good reason for the president-elect not to hire everyone,” he told me. Biden now has a compelling range of options for appointing national security agencies. The existence of this list proves that anyone who claims they have no choice but to rely on people with more problematic views to fill these agencies with competent experts is wrong. “
“These are people who are clearly committed to fulfilling Joe Biden’s election pledge to end the eternal wars,” McCoy continued. “It is people who foresaw about the earlier mistakes in US foreign policy that Joe Biden rightly wishes to avoid repeating.”
It is unclear how many of the people on this list actually get jobs in the Biden administration, or how high-ranking they might be. But two names on the list – Matt Duss, Senator Bernie Sanders’ national security adviser and a leading advocate of progressive foreign policy, and Trita Parsi, a longtime advocate of a softer US approach to Iran – are likely to receive the most attention and controversy pull.
Duss was strongly advised to be either the deputy national security advisor, potentially making him one of the government’s top foreign affairs officials, or a senior adviser to Blinken in the State Department. Parsi, meanwhile, has been proposed as the National Security Council’s senior official for Iran policy, which would put him at the center of important decisions about America’s dealings with the Islamic Republic.
Your longstanding focus on prioritizing diplomacy over Iran is sure to alarm advocates of tougher policies both inside and outside the government. However, the positions recommended for Duss and Parsi do not require Senate confirmation, so they could be eligible if Biden so wishes.
Taken together, the list of 100 names shows how seriously the progressives took their efforts to influence the foreign policy of the Biden government. Whether or not the upcoming president accepts his advice and staff proposals could prove to be an early line of error in the growing inner-left struggle for the future of America’s place in the world.