Progressives to Biden: Foreign Policy Personnel Must Break With the Failed Status Quo


Last Updated on July 20, 2020.

WASHINGTON — A future Joe Biden administration should not be staffed by those complicit in the failed foreign policy status quo. Today, Win Without War, along with 30 other leading progressive movement organizations, sent a letter to presumptive Democratic nominee Vice President Biden outlining clear, progressive requirements and disqualifiers for any national security personnel on his transition team, or in a potential future administration. 

“In a time of global pandemic — as people across the nation rise up against a violence-first approach to addressing social ills here at home — one thing should be absolutely clear: the foreign policy status quo has not kept us safe,” said Win Without War Policy Director Kate Kizer. “It’s time to break with the past and build toward a new, progressive vision of U.S. foreign policy. That means ensuring that those who hold the levers of power are not the same old guard of the national security establishment. If a Biden administration is to lead us to a more just, equitable, and peaceful world, it must first ensure that its decision-makers meet these basic requirements.”

The letter notes that, after decades of failed foreign policy, the Trump era has sparked a long overdue fundamental rethinking of national security amongst the public within the Democratic party. The Biden transition team can reflect their understanding of the urgency of our current moment by appointing personnel who will challenge the institutions and groupthink that have led us to the existential threats the world faces in the coming century.

The letter urges the following (paraphrased) minimum requirements for any potential personnel:

  1. Recognition of mass inequality, white nationalism, climate change, pandemics, and authoritarianism as critical security threats;
  2. Prioritization of international cooperation over competition;
  3. Embrace of significant cuts to the Pentagon budget;
  4. Support for accession to, engagement with, and funding of international treaties and bodies;
  5. Acceptance of the need to engage and prioritize civil society in policymaking.

The letter also calls to disqualify individuals who (paraphrased):

  1. Were complicit in the Bush-era torture and extraordinary rendition programs;
  2. Opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA);
  3. Support Israeli settlements or annexation of Palestinian land, or oppose the rights of U.S. residents to boycott in protest of the actions of foreign governments;
  4. Have worked for a for-profit entity that received money from the agency they would work in, from an undemocratic foreign government or its auspices; or from organizations or individual donors that espouse hate, xenophobia or racism against;
  5. Advocated for and have not publicly disavowed their support of U.S. military interventions, covert operations, or the provision of weapons to human rights-abusing governments.

Read the full letter here

American Friends Service Committee · Beyond the Bomb · Center for Biological Diversity · Center for Constitutional Rights · Common Defense · Data for Progress · Demand Progress · Democracy for America · Earth Action, Inc. · Historians for Peace and Democracy · If Not Now · Indivisible · J Street · Just Foreign Policy · Justice Democrats · Justice Is Global · MoveOn · National Iranian American Council Action · Nuclear Watch New Mexico · Our Revolution · Peace Action · People’s Action · Progressive Change Campaign Committee · Revolving Door Project · September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows · Social Security Works · Sunrise Movement · Veterans for Peace · Vets for the People · Working Families Party · Win Without War

July 9, 2020