The Best Security Cabinet the Yuan Can Buy

If  Joe Biden assumes office in January, it appears that he will make boring tedium and reliability a priority. The machine is going to run so smoothly that it can be put in the toddler’s room and not even interrupt nap time, which is precisely the point. 

Apart from critics in the pundit sphere, the conservative grassroots, and the far-Left anti-war movement, many of the faceless myrmidons who will fill the administration are strangers with an almost invisible presence in the public eye. They are trading in the flashy tones of Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)  for the bland and uninspiring cadence of Janet Yellen at Treasury and Alejandro Mayorkas at Homeland Security. 

The list is so full of no-names that USA Today mostly focused on their ethnic and family heritage lines, which obscures another major issue: their lack of fame is not an indicator of clean records. 

As the Republican Party may retain slim control of the Senate, if these nominees are confirmed it would be the grandest of all betrayals and would set the stage for corruption that is not only shameless, but largely unknown to the public thanks to a complicit media.

Numerous Conflicts of Interest

The first and most egregious example is the secretary of state-designate Antony Blinken, a character familiar for those who have read my previous stories about the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement (PBC), a small and relatively unknown unit created in Joe Biden’s name at the University of Pennsylvania. Blinken was the first managing director of the PBC, but apart from holding that position it is unclear what exactly he was doing besides drawing a salary from an institution that benefited richly from its foreign cash flow. 

Fox News has finally published an article, naturally too late to make a difference, highlighting the complaint from the National Legal and Policy Center concerning the PBC’s $22 million in anonymous donations from Chinese donors since 2017. Until now Fox apparently found this too boring to report, the only other story concerning the PBC published by them was released in 2017 when the center was founded. Coverage of its numerous conflicts of interest by the likes of the Washington Free Beacon and American Greatness was ignored in the midst of other important stories, like the Hunter Biden controversies. 

But there is an important distinction to be made here. While Hunter Biden’s corrupt dealings are indeed deeply troubling, he will not be serving in an official capacity in his father’s administration, whereas Blinken will be the face of American foreign policy for the foreseeable future if confirmed.

Add to this another more direct conflict of interest of Blinken’s involving a fellow Biden nominee. WestExec Advisors was founded in 2017 immediately after Blinken and Biden’s designated Defense Secretary Michèle Flournoy and other Obama Administration alumni left the White House. A basic reading of WestExec’s homepage under “Our Offerings ” illustrates what sort of services they offer concerning “Market Entry & Expansion Support.” 

Describing the “challenge” as one of developing “a strategy for expanding market access in China while safeguarding against trade tensions between the U.S. and China; and develop[ing] and implement[ing] a market reentry and expansion strategy in east Asia,” (emphasis added) WestExec’s solution is written in rather cryptic corporate jargon:

In order to develop a strategy for expanding market access in China, WestExec analyzed the trajectory of the U.S.-China economic relationship and Chinese domestic and global healthcare priorities to inform a comprehensive strategy that aligned the firm’s comparative advantages with Chinese objectives. The strategy identified U.S. and Chinese stakeholders to engage. For market reentry in Asia, WestExec designed an engagement plan, facilitated outreach with key high-level stakeholders on the ground, provided analysis on cultural and political considerations, and supported a targeted communications strategy.

The clients listed for this engagement were “a leading American pharmaceutical company; and a multi-billion dollar American technology company.” The company keeps close guard of its client list behind non-disclosure agreements which it claims legally prohibit it from providing transparency about the names of those companies. 

A Nightmare Reel for Progressives

As for Flournoy, she is the co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, a nonprofit think tank. The CNAS list of donors ought to be a nightmare reel for “progressives” including oil companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP America, defence contractors like Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, and the Charles Koch Foundation. 

When former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson was appointed in 2017 as secretary of state, critics howled that his affiliation with the fossil-fuel company was emblematic of Donald Trump’s cozy relationship with corporate America. Now they get the same thing in a more consumer-friendly package in Flournoy, who is already being hailed as a feminist icon for being the first woman tapped to head the Pentagon. 

At CNAS in 2018, Flournoy earned more than $450,000 in total compensation, in addition to the $250,000 she earned from her position on the board of directors of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

Similarly, Blinken is shielded from scrutiny by the media as it prefers, instead, to highlight his Jewish heritage. When Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted to gripe that she would accept Blinken if he didn’t restrict her right to support the BDS movement and criticize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, many critics, including conservatives, alleged that there was anti-Semitism behind it. But a more rational approach would see the comment for what it is, an idiotic jeer from the peanut gallery. The would-be secretary of state has no purview over First Amendment expressions of criticism, and therefore Tlaib’s tweet was just a window into her stupidity. 

Blinken already has been preceded in his designated job by two people with Jewish heritage, Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger. But the world was no more secure for humanity, Jewish or otherwise, thanks to either of those two so-called trailblazers. Is America supposed to feel better if Blinken oversees failures akin to Kissinger’s fall of Saigon or the Rwandan genocide that Albright meekly protested as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, just because he happens to be Jewish? If he supports reentering the Iran nuclear deal, and strains newly minted ties between Israel and Arab states, what consolation is that to the citizens of the Middle East, Jewish or not? 

Blinken served under President Bill Clinton on the National Security Council, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under its chairman Joe Biden, and as Biden’s national security advisor. He was also the deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama. So his appointment is no surprise and commentators worldwide propose that his biggest asset is the confidence that Biden has in him. But should Americans have confidence in the man who may have helped cement Biden’s support for the Iraq War during his time as a staffer? 

A third Biden pick with ties to WestExec is would-be Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines who left the company in July, and is curiously also a “senior research scholar” at CNAS. Haines helped to craft the Obama Administration’s drone policy as deputy director of the CIA before serving as the president’s deputy national security advisor for his last two years in office. Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) criticized Haines’ previous support for wars in Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. She also took part in Obama’s response to the “Russian meddling” in the 2016 election, which if we are to believe corporate media’s assessment of it, still was a failure by the U.S. intelligence community.                    

David Sirota, former senior adviser to the Bernie Sanders campaign, has also pointed out that both Blinken and Flournoy are partners at Pine Island Capital Partners, a private equity firm. Other D.C. partners include a bipartisan roster of former Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) as well as former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.). In April, Pine Island acquired Precinmac Precision Machining, a manufacturer of components for—among other industries—aerospace and defense. 

The Challenge and the Price of Failure

Progressives, libertarians and conservatives alike are reading the tea leaves for what a Biden presidency will look like: More wars, fought with more modern technology, with a more media friendly face. But they could be powerless to stop it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has a chance to obstruct this outcome. These are two nominees who make a mockery of the cries for “transparency” that were so common under Trump. They do not disclose the names of Chinese donors, corporate clients, nor even all of the companies that their firm invests in. 

Flournoy is, at her core, a soulless instrument of corporate America, stating unironically that the work of “building bridges” between the U.S. government and Silicon Valley is a “labor of love.” Knowing McConnell, it’s questionable whether he will take this obligation seriously, especially since he himself voted for the Iraq War resolution of 2002. 

How do we change that? The MAGA movement needs to engage in the next big endeavor, one that isn’t about getting votes but avoiding wars. Trump and his voters need to send a message through letter writing or demonstrations to the majority leader and tell him to block these nominations by any means necessary. This could mean enforcing caucus discipline in order to get all Republican senators to vote against Blinken, Flournoy, and Haines. 

Even if the GOP does not hold the majority going into 2021, McConnell could reach across the aisle to Sanders or Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), two anti-war senators, and get a majority to vote down their confirmations. 

The price of failing in this should be the start of the next paradigm shift: the seizing of the anti-war mantle by conservatives from the Left. Republican officeholders need to be told at town halls and rallies that the price of acquiescing to Biden’s warmongering cabinet under the pretense of “national security” will be primary challenges that threaten their job security or, failing that, a mass exit from the party and the formation of a third force.

If conservatives want to seize the initiative and prevent further tragedy, it is time to begin. We must compel the entire Republican Senate caucus to get on board with this and reverse their largely uniform record of supporting endless war and global corporatism. It is even possible to marshal support from elements of the Left in order to do this. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s judges got “Borked.” It is time for the Biden cabinet to get “Blinkened.” 

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