North Korea’s nuclear program is further along, despite all the “love letters” Trump exchanged with the dictator Kim Jong Un. The Taliban is on the march in Afghanistan, unimpressed by the Trump administration’s negligible “peace” talks. Trump’s hasty push to bring US troops overseas home by January, days before the inauguration, is going to leave his successor boxed in, both in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Then there is the defunct US nuclear deal with Iran. The world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, in Yemen. And China’s expansionist behavior, assault on democracy in Hong Kong and human rights abuses against the Uighurs.
There is also the worsening pandemic. And looming over everything else, the planet-wide threat of climate change.
Blinken will reassure longtime American allies that the United States will once again take its place as the first among equals in NATO and stop kowtowing to adversaries like North Korea and Russia.
He was the agency’s No. 2 under President Obama, and before that the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which handles naturalizations. He is widely respected by immigrant-rights advocates for his work for the “Dreamers” by setting up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which has helped hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants work and go to school, while protecting them from deportation.
Whoever Biden picks in that role will surely have a world of troubles to contend with.
The baleful effects of a warming planet are all around us, from the vast forest fires in the American West to the record number of destructive hurricanes in the southern United States. This will likely be the hottest year since record-keeping began, according to meteorologists.
By appointing the former senator and secretary of state John Kerry to a new cabinet-level position for climate change, Biden is widening the aperture about what really constitutes our “national security.”
And that may be his most consequential move of all.