Joe Biden’s cabinet picks – who they are and why they matter

President-elect Joe Biden has formally announced some key cabinet picks for his national security and foreign policy teams.

The list brings together people who worked in the Obamaadministration at the State Department and the White House.

Some have relationships with Mr Biden dating back many years, but the hires also reflect a more diverse cabinet than we’ve previously seen.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks to reporters following an online meeting with members of the National Governors Association (NGA) executive committee in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
Image:Joe Biden’s new cabinet appointments reflect one of the most diverse in US history

Many are well known to foreign diplomats around the world and share a belief in strong US alliances internationally and multilateral organisations but are also wary of foreign interventions after the conflicts in Iraqand Afghanistan.

Here’s who Mr Biden plans to bring on board – and more importantly, why they matter.

John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

John Kerry has a lot of experience in global crises
Image:John Kerry has a lot of experience in global crises

John Kerry, the former secretary of state, will be climate czar.

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A statement released by the transition office said Mr Kerry “will fight climate change full-time as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and will sit on the National Security Council”.

Mr Kerry is perhaps the most well-known of Mr Biden’s appointments, with a lot of experience in global crises.

On Twitter, he said he looked forward to working with “young leaders of the climate movement”.

This group, spearheaded by the Sunrise Movement, helped get Mr Biden elected.

Many support the Green New Deal and will be holding Mr Biden’s feet to the fire.

Unlike others, this role doesn’t need Senate confirmation.

Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State, one of Mr Biden’s closest and longest-serving foreign policy advisers

Anthony Blinken compared Brexit to the rise of Marine Le Pen in France
Image:Anthony Blinken compared Brexit to the rise of Marine Le Pen in France

Mr Blinken has previously said Brexit was like a dog being run over by a car – a “total mess.”

He compared it to the rise of far right leader Marine Le Pen in France.

So, Boris Johnson may have some persuading to do and some delicate conversations ahead.

Like Mr Biden, expect Mr Blinken to be pushing hard on the sanctity of the Northern Irish peace deal in any Brexit negotiations.

He is widely viewed as a pragmatic centrist on foreign policy who has supported past American interventions and is well respected by some Republicans.

Democrats say they hope he will revive what they see as a beleaguered State Department and the career Foreign and Civil Service.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Barack Obama described him as “outstanding. Smart, gracious, a skilled diplomat, well-regarded around the world”.

Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas will need to rebuild faith in his department
Image:Alejandro Mayorkas will need to rebuild faith in his department

Served as deputy Homeland Security secretary from 2013 to 2016.

He’d be the first Latino to run the department if confirmed and will be tasked with implementing and managing the nation’s immigration policies.

He’s a Cuban-born immigrant whose family fled the Castro revolution.

He also worked as an attorney in California.

He’ll need to work on rebuilding faith in the department after President Trump, some critics say, turned it into a passive recipient of his most controversial policies.

Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence

Avril Haines has been appointed Director of National Intelligence.
Image:Avril Haines has been appointed Director of National Intelligence

She’d be the first woman appointed to this position.

Ms Haines served as deputy director of the CIA in the Obama administration before succeeding Tony Blinken as Mr Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

She, too, is a former aide to Mr Biden.

There are no great shocks, no great controversies or creative elements in any of these appointments.

Many of the picks are people Mr Biden has worked with for a long time and trusts deeply – a signature quality of his leadership preferences.

They are largely centrist globalists who will want to restore relations with organisations like NATO that President Trump heavily criticised.

There are more women and more people of colour than we’ve seen in the past four years – a sign Mr Biden wants to be seen to be reflecting America’s demographics.

His team are also vetting Representative Deb Haaland for the interior Secretary Post.

If selected Deb Haaland will be the first Native American cabinet secretary
Image:If selected Deb Haaland will be the first Native American cabinet secretary

She’d be the first Native American cabinet secretary.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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