US President-elect Joe Biden has said the United States would be “ready to lead” again on the global stage, turning the page on Republican President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies as he pledged to work together with the nation’s allies.
Introducing his foreign policy and national security team, the Democratic former vice president Tuesday signalled he intended after taking office on January 20 to steer the United States away from the unilateralist nationalism pursued by Trump.
Biden has moved swiftly to assemble his team and make Cabinet choices after defeating Trump, who has waged a flailing legal battle to try to overturn the results, falsely claiming the election was stolen through widespread voting fraud.
The six women and men he has chosen to be his key diplomats and intelligence advisors said they would implement a return to multilateralism, global cooperation and fighting climate change after four years of Trump’s go-it-alone policies.
“It’s a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure,” Biden said, introducing his picks for secretary of state, national security advisor, intelligence chief, homeland security and other key cabinet jobs.
“It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back. Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it.”
The team would shed what the president-elect described as “old thinking and unchanged habits” in its approach to foreign relations, he added.
Biden said his national security advisor Jake Sullivan is a once in a generation intellect with the experience and temperament for one of the toughest jobs in the world.
“As my National Security Advisor, I choose Jake Sullivan. He’s a once-in-a-generation intellect with the experience and temperament for one of the toughest jobs in the world,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday at the transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware.
At 43, he is the youngest national security advisor in decades. Sullivan was National Security Advisor to Biden when the latter was the vice president. He was a top advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
He helped lead the early negotiations that led to the Iran nuclear deal, helped broker the Gaza ceasefire in 2012, and played a key role in the Asia-Pacific rebalance in our administration, Biden said.
“And in this campaign for the presidency, he served as one of my most trusted advisors on both foreign and domestic policy, including helping me develop our COVID-19 strategy. Jake understands my vision that economic security is national security,” he said.
Biden said that Sullivan will help steer a foreign policy for the middle-class, for families like his growing up in Minnesota, where he was raised by parents who were educators and taught him the values of hard work, decency, service, and respect.
Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of state, vowed to pursue cooperation around the world, saying that the United States cannot solve global problems on its own.
“We have to proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence,” Blinken said.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s choice to be the next ambassador to the United Nations, echoed those sentiments.
“I want to say to you: America is back. Multilateralism is back. Diplomacy is back,” she said.
Former secretary of state John Kerry, who Biden chose as his special envoy on climate change, confirmed the new administration would bring the US back into the Paris climate accord after Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 deal.
But Kerry also warned that the Paris pact he helped negotiate was not enough to fight global warming, and called Tuesday for a UN conference in Glasgow next year to push for more.
“You’re right to rejoin Paris on day one. And you’re right to recognize that Paris alone is not enough,” he said to Biden.
In his remarks, Sullivan said his national security team will be vigilant in the face of enduring threats from nuclear weapons to terrorism.
During his time in government, Sullivan was a lead negotiator in the initial talks that paved the way for the Iran nuclear deal and played a key role in the US-brokered negotiations that led to a ceasefire in Gaza in 2012. He also played a key role in shaping the Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy at both the State Department and the White House.
Biden also introduced Cuban-born Alejandro Mayorkas, tapped to become Homeland Security secretary; Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, and Jake Sullivan as his White House national security advisor.
All three pledged to maintain an environment of professionalism among the government officials they will oversee, obliquely referring to the politicization of much of government work that left much of the bureaucracy dispirited under Trump.
The world is much changed since Democrats were last in the White House four years ago.
China is on the rise and emboldened, Russia has sought to further assert its clout, US influence has waned as it has pulled out of various accords and American moral authority has been dented by turmoil at home.
Trump over four years unsettled many US allies, in Europe and elsewhere, with an antagonistic approach toward the NATO alliance and trade relations, abandonment of international agreements and warm relationships with authoritarian leaders.
Biden said his team had been able to begin coordinating with the Trump administration on national security, the coronavirus pandemic and vaccine distribution plans since it got the green light on Monday for formal transition efforts.
Biden also signalled that two former, more liberal, rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, were not under consideration for Cabinet appointments, saying he needed their votes in the closely divided Senate.
The White House on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for Biden to start receiving the president’s daily intelligence briefing. Biden said he did not get one on Monday but expected it regularly.
During his presentation with his national security team, Biden urged the Senate to give his nominees who require confirmation by the chamber “a prompt hearing” and expressed hope he could work with Republicans “in good faith.”
“Let’s begin that work … to heal and unite America as well as the world,” Biden added.
Some Republican senators indicated, however, they may be prepared to stand in the way of his Cabinet appointments. Marco Rubio, a Foreign Relations Committee member, wrote on Twitter that Biden’s Cabinet picks “will be polite & orderly caretakers of America’s decline.”
Pennsylvania became the latest pivotal state on Tuesday to certify that Biden had won. The Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday also confirmed Biden had won the state, sending the results to Nevada`s Democratic governor for final certification.