Joe Biden revealed a list of transition teams for the departments in his administration on November 10, 2020. Dave DeCamp of Antiwar.com observed that the Biden Pentagon transition team is made up of 23 people, “many of whom hail from hawkish think tanks”
Kathleen Hicks is leading the team. She was previously employed at the Pentagon under the Obama administration. Hicks recently worked at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a foreign policy think tank which is a recepient of contributions from weapons manufacturers such as Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon.
Additionally, CSIS is a recipient of contributions from foreign governments. Some of its largest donors are Japan, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Two other individuals who work for CSIS are on the transition team. Specifically, Andrew Hunter and Melissa Dalton, were employed in the Pentagon during the Obama administration.
CSIS analysts generally pen articles that call for a more active U.S. presence abroad. A few months ago, Hicks was a co-author of an Op-Ed in The Hill titled, “Pentagon Action to Withdraw from Germany Benefits Our Adversaries,” a piece critical of President Trump’s plan to reduce troops in Germany, which Biden could potentially reverse. For decades, Germany has been under American occupation. It is now a First World nation with a level-headed government that is more than capable of defending itself. However, the foreign policy establishment has other plans in mind and would rather maintain a de facto empire abroad.
Another two members of the transition team previously worked at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Susanna Blume was a former Pentagon employee and Ely Ratner served as deputy national security from 2015 to 2017 under then-Vice President Joe Biden.
CNAS also is the beneficiary of generous donations from weapons manufacturers, big business, and governments. Over the past year, CNAS received at least $500,000 from both the US State Department and Northrop Grumman. Some of CNAS’s other high profile donors include Facebook, Google,Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon.
All in all, the Biden administration looks to be another Swampy administration. Due to how connected Biden is to the defense industry, there’s no reason to believe that his foreign policy will be less restrained than Trump’s.
If Biden’s election is certified, expect the U.S. to go back to its usual neoconservative/neoliberal programming. At least with Trump, his administration has brought restrainers such as Douglas Macgregor on board as an adviser. The same cannot be said about a future Biden administration.
Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?
America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad
Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.
Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy.
In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”
Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.
That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.
Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:
“Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”
Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 24, 2020
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”
All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting:https://t.co/0g3jpVPsDm
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 24, 2020
The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change.
Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.
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