The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2021 15 TALKING POINTS The Transition Begins T he head of President-elect Joe Biden’s State Department Transi- tion Team “is pushing to revitalize the agency and make it more diverse,” NPR reported on Nov. 18. Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield leads the State Department Transition Team. She has also been selected as the incoming Biden administration pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, which will be a Cabinet position. Ambassadors (ret.) Thomas-Green- field and William Burns argue in an article for the November/December Foreign Affairs that “the United State s needs a top-to-bottom diplomatic surge. …The Trump administration’s unilateral diplomatic disarmament is a reminder that it is much easier to break than to build. The country doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for a generational replenishment, marking time as new recruits slowly work their way up the ranks.” Among other familiar names on the transition team: Ambassadors (ret.) Nancy McEldowney, Michael Guest and Roberta Jacobson. On Dec. 3, Kamala Harris announced Amb. McEldowney as the pick for national security adviser to the vice president. Heading the USAID transition team is Linda Etim, former USAID assistant administrator. “The most important confidence- building step will be to have a president with a Secretary of State who trusts the professionals and empowers them to do their jobs, instead of a daily dose of contempt,” Thomas Countryman told the Los Angeles Times . Countryman, the former top arms control official, was dismissed at the same time as Amb. Thomas-Greenfield at the start of the Trump administration. On Nov. 23, the General Services Administration informed President- elect Biden that the formal transition process could begin. Biden Promises New Foreign Policy Era “ T ogether, these public servants will restore America globally, its global leadership and its moral lead- ership,” Biden said as he introduced his national security team to the nation on Nov. 24 in Wilmington, Delaware. “It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it. Once again sit at the head of the table. Ready to confront our adversaries and not reject our allies. Ready to stand up for our values.” Biden’s national security nominees promised changes from the past four years. “We have to proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence,” Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of State, said at the event. “Humility because, as the president-elect said, we can’t solve all the world’s prob- lems alone. We need to be working with other countries. We need their coopera- tion. We need their partnership. But also confidence, because America at its best still has a greater ability than any other country on earth to bring others together to meet the challenges of our time.” “And that’s where the men and women of the State Department, Foreign Service officers, Civil Service, that’s where they come in,” added Blinken, who served as Deputy Secretary of State from 2015 to Antony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, deliv- ers remarks at the Nov. 24 event in Wilmington, Delaware, where the president-elect announced his nominees for Cabinet-level positions in diplomacy and national security. GETTY IMAGES/CHANDANKHANNA