Joe Biden stays on course. What he promised in the election campaign, he is now putting on the rails. He wanted to unite America and return to the world stage, he said in his first interview after the election. His team reflected that America was back and ready to lead the world. It embodies his core belief that the United States is strongest when it works with its allies. “Let’s start with that,” said Biden when introducing the first selection.
The fact that Biden is not only interested in mending broken relationships, but also in rethinking politics, is shown by the appointment of the first climate commissioner to sit at the cabinet table. The former Foreign Secretary John Kerry is the first to embody the moral claim to leadership. On the first day of his term in office, Biden wants to lead the US back into the Paris climate agreement.
Many commentators are reminded of Barack Obama’s time. Whether security advisor or chief spy – Biden’s message is that we deploy solid, established and competent public servants of whom we are proud. In doing so, he ties in with the era of his ex-boss, but at the same time contradicts: “This will not be a third Obama term in office.”
Biden has not yet brought fresh faces into his chosen circle, although he assures that the team should represent American society – and the entire Democratic Party. This would also include prominent representatives of the left wing, such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. The previous occupations belong to the political center: For example, the first Latino in the Ministry of Homeland Security or the first woman to head the secret services.
These are the first key posts to be filled by the Biden government. In addition to the Vice President, the cabinet includes 15 ministers and other leaders, such as the chief of staff and the heads of important federal authorities.
Biden’s philosophy that America’s strength lies in its alliances is embodied primarily by future Secretary of State Antony Blinken. No one is better prepared for this post than he, said Biden. The 58-year-old grew up in Paris, comes from a family of immigrants, and has already visited international trouble spots under Obama as a national security advisor and advised Vice President Biden. He is considered one of the closest confidants. America now needs cooperation and confidence, said Blinken. By virtue of its capabilities, it is still best suited to bring states together and solve problems of this time. For Blinken, international cooperation is also the key to overcoming the economic consequences of the corona crisis.
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Ambassador to the United Nations
At the United Nations, too, the allies can look forward to a committed return by Washington in the spirit of multilateralism. Linda Thomas-Greenfield will represent the United States at the UN in future. In 35 years in the diplomatic service, the African American has served in various overseas posts, including in Africa, and coordinated US aid to West Africa in the fight against the Ebola epidemic. She reminded that an ascent like hers was only possible in the USA – “where life can be hard and cruel, but where there is hope in battle and promise in our dreams”.
@imago images / Björn Trotsky
After the end of his tenure as Foreign Minister, John Kerry has remained a sought-after discussion partner, as he did at the side of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at this year’s Munich Security Conference. He occupies the newly created post of Special Representative for Climate Protection, a key issue in Biden, who sets up the post as a signal of his determination. Beyond the Paris Climate Agreement, Kerry also sees it as his task to help protect the climate and create millions of jobs for the middle class, as well as to contribute to cleaner oceans and healthier lives for people around the world. Kerry is a ministerial and sits on the National Security Council.
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Ministry of Homeland Security
Alejandro Mayorkas, according to Biden, has the difficult and critical task of repairing the broken immigration system in the United States. The 60-year-old native Cuban is the first Latino to take on the post of Minister of Homeland Security and is also not a blank slate. From 2013 to 2016, he was deputy to the then incumbent Jeh Johnson and responsible for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which granted children of undocumented immigrants legal residence status. The so-called Dreamers program, which Trump did not renew. Prior to that, he was head of the Citizenship and Immigration Department (USCIS).
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National Security Advisor
The future National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan helped negotiate the nuclear deal with Iran for the US government and experienced the perils of Middle East policy. At 43 years old, he is one of the youngest on the team and in this position, but, according to Biden, is getting one of the toughest jobs in the world. Sullivan advised Biden on domestic and foreign policy matters during the election campaign, including developing a strategy against the corona pandemic. Biden said at the presentation that he understood the vision that economic security is also national security. Critics miss corners and edges in Sullivan’s previous statements.
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US intelligence coordinator
Avril Haines will become the first woman in US history to coordinate the work of US intelligence. Biden praised the longtime confidante as a vehement advocate of the truth. She was already the deputy chief of the CIA foreign intelligence service, and now the 51-year-old will become the national secret service director. Both worked together for over ten years, including when Biden headed the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and Haines provided him with legal advice. She later did so on the Obama administration’s National Security Council and was Deputy National Security Advisor. It also concerned the legal framework for the controversial use of unmanned drones in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.
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White House Chief of Staff
Biden’s longtime confidante Ron Klain was appointed Chief of Staff in the White House in mid-November. Not only is he a die-hard Washington insider, he also knows his way around the White House: first as Vice Biden’s chief of staff, and later on a guest appearance for Obama, when he helped coordinate the fight against the Ebola epidemic in Africa (see picture). He then joined the Hillary Clinton campaign team, then returned to business as a lobbyist before joining Biden at campaign headquarters.