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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/5/21

Biden's Troubling Appointments

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Message Jason Sibert

Many in American foreign policy circles are happy that President Donald Trump will leave office this month and will be replaced by President Joe Biden.

Foreign policy types did not like the extent that Trump isolated our country from the rest of the world. However, Biden is currently pushing more than one appointment to key positions that should disturb those who feel the object of our foreign policy should be defined by soft power (non-military) and the establishment of a world governed by law. Biden has nominated Kathleen Hicks for the office of Deputy Secretary of Defense, the second highest position in the Pentagon.

Hicks was an administration official in the Barack Obama Administration. Her most recent employer was the Center for Strategic and International Studies. CSIS is a think tank funded by weapon makers, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. Several governments, including the United States, United Arab Emirates, Japan, and Taiwan also provided funding for CSIS.

At CSIS, Hicks has been writing stories calling for more U.S. involvement in the world. Army General Lloyd Austin will be Hicks' supervisor if he is confirmed as secretary of defense. He is currently on the board of directors of the defense contractor Raytheon. Since Austin has not been out of the armed forces for seven years, he will require a waiver from the U.S. Congress to take the job.

The influence of the arms industry runs deep if one looks at the proposed appointments of President-Elect Biden. Another Obama era official Colin Kahl has been nominated for Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

Kahl worked previously for the Center for a New American Security, a hawkish think tank funded by the arms industry. Kahl's appointment may be positive for Iran policy, as he has defended the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which he had a role in negotiating. Biden praised the nomination of both Kahl and Hicks: "These respected, accomplished civilian leaders will help lead the Department of Defense with integrity and resolve, safeguard the lives and interests of the American people, and ensure that we fulfill our most sacred obligation: to equip and protect those who serve our country, and to care for them and their families both during and after their service. Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Dr. Colin Kahl have the broad experience and crisis-tested judgment necessary to help tackle the litany of challenges we face today, and all those we may confront tomorrow."

The Secretary of Defense was intended to be a civilian position and that's the reason why the creators of the department wanted any prospective nominee to be out of the military for so long. Retired Army General Andrew Bacevich of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft recently stated the reason why the position of defense secretary is a civilian position, - to keep the military subservient to the civilian segment of the population. Bacevich called Austin's work for defense contractors "ethically wrong," but he also said it was not illegal. The path from high-ranking officer to civilian employee or board member of a defense contractor is a common path for former high-ranking officers. Mr. Bacevich also said the American public should be uncomfortable with this relationship.

If we are to be secure in this country, we must address the relationship between weapons makers, the defense department, and the people who manage it.

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Jason Sibert worked for the Suburban Journals in the St. Louis area as a staff writer for a decade. His work has been published in a variety of publications since then and he is currently the executive director of the Peace Economy Project.
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