Welcome to Foreign policyWe hope you spend your week booking your appointment for a coronavirus vaccine rather than trying to define the “infrastructure”.
This week’s highlights: The Biden administration isn’t Hug open skiesThe White House has a new envoy to confront Russian pipelinesand new details on US Hostage talks in Syria.
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Joe Biden has been US President for almost three months, but a few big things haven’t changed about the Trump administration.
The Foreign Ministry is still talking harshly about China. Most senior national security positions in the Department of Defense and Foggy Bottom have not yet been filled. Iran remains under crippling US sanctions despite efforts to resume negotiations on the nuclear deal. And Biden doesn’t seem intent on getting back into the 34-nation Open Skies Treaty, which has allowed largely unarmed surveillance flights over much of Europe and Russia for the past two decades.
As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Same as the old boss. In an internal memo to US partners at the end of March reported this week of Defense newsThe Foreign Ministry said it would send the “wrong message” to Russia by re-joining the Open Skies Treaty. Back in February, Biden extended the new START treaty with Russia, which limits the number of strategic launchers, missiles, bombers and warheads deployed on each side.
The State Department’s argument for not re-joining Open Skies, however, had a distinctly Trumpish tone: it would weaken US efforts to bring Moscow to the table for other future arms control talks. Former Trump administration officials were skeptical of New START’s five-year extension. Some hoped to use a shorter extension to leverage Russia for more expansive business in the future.
A State Department spokesman said Defense news that no final decision has been made on the future of US involvement in Open Skies.
Lying in wait. Former President Donald Trump famously said the fact that incumbent officials were installed gave him more flexibility. That trend intensified in November 2020 when he promptly fired his Secretary of Defense and cleared the house of most of the senior ranks of the Pentagon. And although the Biden administration has stated that it is facing tougher security clearance requirements and remaining delays due to the Trump team’s refusal to confirm election results, it has still been slow to get around 300 Senate-approved national security positions across the Cabinet occupy like Robbie previously reported.
While the White House rolled out some new tips last week (see below) while the Biden administration was still focused on introducing the coronavirus vaccine and revealing the new budget, some of these candidates might still be on hold – or on Ice cream sit -for a while.
Who is next to join Team Biden?
New global vaccine tsar. Biden has named Gayle Smith, the former head of the US Agency for International Development, as the new coordinator for the global COVID-19 response and health security at the Department of State.
Famous Amos. The White House reportedly has plans to develop them Amos Hochstein, a former senior envoy on energy under the Obama administration, as special envoy to lead negotiations to end the controversy Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, as PoliticoNatasha Bertrand and Andrew Desiderio report.
Three for DoD. Biden plans to officially nominate three more veterinarians from the Department of Defense and the intelligence services for top jobs at the Pentagon, the White House announced last week. CIA and Air Force veteran Ronald Moultrie is Biden’s decision to join the Department of Defense’s top intelligence agency. Michael Brown was selected as Undersecretary of State for Acquisitions and Sustainability, and Michael McCord would take his job again as Pentagon controller, a position he first held during the Obama administration when approved by the Senate.
12-13 April: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is supposed to visit Egypt and Iran.
April 13: Former US House Speaker John Boehner will publish a new narrative Washington treatise.
April 15: Texas MP Kevin Brady speaks on the future of the Republican Party global trade agenda at a virtual event with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Hostage talks in Syria. In October, the Trump administration admitted that officials had traveled to Syria for a high-level meeting with colleagues from the Bashar al-Assad regime to discuss the recovery of Austin Tice, an American freelance journalist and former Marine who has served since 2012 is missing in the war-torn country. but said little else about the encounter.
At a meeting with the head of the Syrian secret service, the Assad regime officials, the Associated Press, offered little help after the US delegation ignored major changes in Syria policy Reports, including proof of whether Tice is even alive.
Time keeps slipping. In the future, for the high budget of the Pentagon. Break defense Reports The rollout could go towards June, with the US Navy possibly gaining the most in what appears to be a flat year for the Department of Defense. The agency’s return on sales amounts to around 704 to 708 billion US dollars and could be announced on Friday.
Last woman standing. Relations between Turkey and the rest of the West are in a downward spiral and attempts to save that relationship are not going so well. The two leaders of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week to try to reduce long-simmering tensions between the EU and Ankara. But there was one major problem: apparently there weren’t enough chairs For the meeting, von der Leyen stood awkwardly while Erdogan and Michel sat down to get down to business.
The snafu protocol has sparked sexism charges and has become a diplomatic scandal. EU and Turkish heads of state and government exchange barbs and EU lawmakers accusing Erdogan’s team of deliberately insulting von der Leyen – despite Turkey insisting that it follow protocol instructions set out by the EU team. The incident adds another tension to relations between Brussels and Ankara.
Cuba broadcasting. The US agency for global media has typed Sylvia Rosabal as director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, a US government-funded media agency.
Think tank moves. A former top Pentagon official while the Trump administration, Kathryn Wheelbargerjoins the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a visiting scholar.
The Center for a New American Security has named Paul Scharre as Vice President and Head of Studies.
“Why on earth should we have a brutally expensive idea if we don’t? [Defense] Department, do you have the money? … I’ve been asked by some congressmen. And you know what? To be honest, I think it’s stupid. ”
– US Air Force General Timothy Ray, head of the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, with the US Army plans Station long-range missiles in the Pacific
Don’t you miss in action anymore? The U.S. military is studying how DNA-based technologies that police officers can use to track down serial killers can help identify the remains of American service personnel from WWII. The New York Times has the story.
It’s all fun and games. Nerds and wins are happy. The US State Department introduces a new diplomacy program based on video games. The department awards grants for a program called “Games for Change,” which brings together young players from the United States and the Middle East.