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Progressives push for key national security positions under Biden

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Dozens of progressive organizations will deliver a book to President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team on Friday with staffing recommendations for 100 positions in his administration within the national security space.

The book contains 100 profiles of left-leaning foreign policy experts and potential positions they could fill.

The effort was led by Yasmine Taeb, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, and Alex McCoy, the political director at Common Defense.

Of the 100 people included in the Progressive Foreign Policy Talent Pipeline, about two-thirds are women or people of color, and the overriding qualifier was that none of the candidates have corporate ties or backgrounds.

The candidates generally advocate for foreign policy restraint and support cutting the budget at the Pentagon and pulling the U.S. out of foreign entanglements.

“For far too long, U.S. foreign policy has contributed to global insecurity and has been out of step with much of the rest of the world in addressing climate change, nuclear proliferation and other major challenges,” said Alexander Main, the director of international policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

“President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect [Kamala] Harris have an opportunity to change course and deploy a fresh, innovative policy playbook to engage with the international community in promoting peace, equitable development and a sustainable future for our planet. To do this they’ll need a team of smart, creative people with bold ideas, a deep understanding of and respect for other cultures, and a record of thinking outside of the box. And that’s exactly the kind of candidates that are being proposed in this book.”

Biden has already filled several top level national security positions, with Antony Blinken nominated to be secretary of State, Alejandro Mayorkas nominated to be secretary of Homeland Security, Avril Haines nominated to be director of national intelligence and Jake Sullivan nominated to be national security adviser.

But progressives are hoping to put their own allies in key roles as advisers to many of those leaders.

Among the recommendations in the book are for Matt Duss, a foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), to serve as deputy national security adviser or special adviser to Blinken; Trita Parsi, the former president of the National Iranian American Council to serve on Biden’s National Security Council or as a senior director for Middle East Affairs; and Kate Gould, a former senior policy adviser in Congress to act as U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

The progressive foreign policy push is the first coordinated effort to advocate for the left’s inclusion on Biden’s national security and foreign policy teams.

The progressive groups involved include the Progressive Change Institute, Common Defense, Revolving Door Project, Friends of the Earth U.S., Progressive Democrats of America, Project On Government Oversight, Earth Rights International, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Quincy Institute, Win Without War, Peace Action, Women’s Action for New Directions, National Iranian American Council Action, American Economic Liberties Project, MoveOn and the Arab American Institute.

In addition to delivering the book of profiles and recommendations, the progressive groups will send a joint petition, spearheaded by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), calling on the transition not to appoint any corporate lobbyists or “C-suite level corporate executives.”

The petition, which was organized by the Center for International Policy, has more than 200,000 signatures.

“We are demanding our Congressional leaders oppose the confirmation of any nominee to an executive branch position who is currently or has been a lobbyist for any corporate client or officer for a private corporation, in this or any future administration,” the petition states. “Installing corporate chums in the Cabinet and government agencies provides them easy access to undermine protections for everyday American people in favor of giveaways and rollbacks for big business. Appointing corporate lobbyists to political positions is generally backed by the ‘they have the experience’ excuse, but there’s always a question as to where those political appointees’ interests lie.”

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Antony Blinken Avril Haines Bernie Sanders Foreign policy Jake Sullivan Joe Biden Matt Duss progressives Ro Khanna

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