When it comes to foreign affairs, Biden and his advisers are nonideological and mainly transactional.
By Jonathan Guyer
American Prospect (7/6/20)
They had been public servants their whole careers. But when Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election, two departing Obama officials were anxious for work. Trump’s win had caught them by surprise.
Sergio Aguirre and Nitin Chadda had reached the most elite quarters of U.S. foreign policy. Aguirre had started out of school as a fellow in the White House and a decade later had become chief of staff to U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power. Chadda, who joined the Pentagon out of college as a speechwriter, had become a key adviser to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in even less time. Now, Chadda had a long-shot idea.
“He’s not a guy who knows history. He’s not a guy who is intellectually curious. It’s all about personal relationships.” — Emma Sky, who advised the U.S. military in Iraq.
They turned to an industry of power-brokering little known outside the capital: strategic consultancies. Retiring leaders often open firms bearing their names: Madeleine Albright has one, as do Condoleezza Rice and former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen. Their strategic consultancies tend to blur corporate and governmental roles. This obscure corner of Washington is critical to understanding how a President Joe Biden would conduct foreign policy. He has been picking top advisers from this shadowy world.
The Kissinger model
At the outset of a new administration, high-ranking officials often join one of a dozen such firms, which are surprisingly bipartisan in their makeup, to help companies navigate the areas where their relationships give them power. The model was pioneered by Henry Kissinger, who through Kissinger Associates represented American Express and Coca-Cola, among other banks and transnationals. In Beijing, Washington, and developing countries, strategic consultants help corporations manage tricky regulations, potential crises, and new markets. Their behind-the-scenes work in world capitals can look a lot like lobbying.
The problem for Aguirre and Chadda was that neither young man was a marquee name. Chadda realized that the latest crop of senior officials hadn’t yet started their own named consultancies. “The thought for us was to build a living and breathing platform, with those who are enthusiastic about serving again,” he said. Staying up late one night, they drafted a plan and came up with the first target they would pitch.
Michèle Flournoy had served as undersecretary of defense for policy from 2009 to 2012. Both Aguirre and Chadda had known her well in the Obama administration. Since leaving office, she’d spent several years in consulting and was hitting her stride. With Flournoy as senior adviser, Boston Consulting Group’s defense contracts grew from $1.6 million in 2013 to $32 million in 2016. Before she joined, according to public records, BCG had not signed any contracts with the Defense Department. …
Saagar Enjeti: Report EXPOSES How Biden Team Profits Off Endless War
The Rising / The Hill (7/7/20)
Saagar Enjeti blasts Biden’s potential administration after reports from The American Prospect detail how strategic consultants will define Biden’s cabinet.