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Biden's cabinet enthralls International Geneva

The Geneva Observer

November 24, 2020



This article was first published as part of our newsletter briefing sent out on Tuesday November 24, 2020. Sign up to our newsletter to get our content the moment it's published, straight in your inbox.


"I bet you that many Foreign Service officers around the world" are drinking champagne today, says a political analyst on CNN, commenting on Tony Blinken's appointment as US Secretary of State.

Tony Blinken with Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, former High Commissioner for Human Rights ©️ US Embassy

Our phone calls and morning phone texts around International Geneva confirm these words. The US’ siege of International Geneva is over. Orwellian “newspeak” will no longer be (so) shamelessly spoken. National interests will be defended, there will be disagreements, but the relentless, ideological attacks on multilateralism (think WHO, WTO, or the Human Rights Council) won't be the norm anymore. Diplomacy will be back shortly to an International Organization near you.

"It's feeling a bit like Christmas," a seasoned practitioner of International Geneva tells The G|O. As former US State department Chief of Policy Planning Anne-Marie Slaughter writes in The G|O:

"Faced with a global pandemic and climate change, political leaders around the world should re-examine exactly what makes their citizens more or less secure. They will find that investing in domestic resilience and international diplomacy and development makes more sense than boosting military budgets."

This is, of course, what Joe Biden’s plan is. As we report below, unlike the Republican establishment still humoring Donald Trump's delusional pronouncements, the G20 participants are already vocally reaffirming international solidarity. As we also report below, that is certainly non-negligible, but it is certainly not enough either. Experience and competence matter. So does familiarity. For this city, Biden's first cabinet nominations read like a dream team. It goes beyond Tony Blinken (seen here on the children's program Sesame Street) telling Grover (a loveable blue Muppet) that "refugees are just like you and me."

Tony Blinken with Grover ©️ ShareAmerica

As well as Tony Blinke, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a thirty-five-year veteran of the Foreign Service, was nominated to become UN Ambassador with a seat in the Cabinet was Head of the Refugee and Migration section at the US Mission. People who have worked with her in Geneva describe her as extremely professional, "a dedicated humanitarian and a truly good person." It is expected that she will weigh in on the choice of the next American Ambassador here. Janet Yellen, the first-ever female Treasury Secretary, and arguably the key cabinet member as the US battles the pandemic and its devastating economic impact, is a labor economist. At the same time as international Geneva, from the ILO to the Graduate Institute, grapple with and reimagine the "future of work." And, although the new climate czar John Kerry won't come here as often as he once was, we are impatient to spot him again at his favorite chocolatier (Auer, before you ask) or on the local biking trails. Please be careful out there!