President-elect Joe Biden introduced key members of his Cabinet and national security team Tuesday afternoon and declared: "America is back."
He stressed his plans for a foreign policy based on the United States taking a global leadership role and strengthening its alliances in the Asia-Pacific region after four turbulent years under President Donald Trump.
"The team meets this moment, this team behind me. They embody my core beliefs that America is strongest when it works with its allies. As Secretary of State, I nominate Tony Blinken. He's one of the better prepared for this job, no one is better prepared, in my view. And my national security adviser, I choose Jake Sullivan, he's a once in a generation intellect, with experience and temperament, for one of the toughest jobs in the world. And he helped lead the early negotiations that led to the Iran nuclear deal."
"Now we have to proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence. Humility, because as the President- elect said, we can't solve all the world's problems alone. () But also confidence, because America at its best, still has a greater ability than any other country on earth to bring others together to meet the challenges of our time."
"Sir, we will be vigilant in the face of enduring threats, from nuclear weapons to terrorism. But you have also tasked us with reimagining our national security for the unprecedented combination of crises we face at home and abroad. The pandemic, the economic crisis, the climate crisis, technological disruption, threats to democracy, racial injustice and inequality and all forms."
What we can expect from the incoming Biden administration particularly regarding North Korea and the Korean peninsula - let's go in-depth.
Live in the studio with me is Dr. Go Myong-hyun, senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
Dr. Go, great to see you again.
Taking a look at President-elect Joe Biden's pick for his national security team - not only Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, but Avril Haines, the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, career Foreign Service officer as ambassador to the UN, and John Kerry his climate czar for a new place in the Situation Room. There is also Alejandro Mayorkas for his Secretary of Homeland Security to oversee immigration policy. What are your overall thoughts?
Of course, as a North Korea policy expert, I'm sure your focus have been more on the successors of Mike Pompeo and Robert O'Brien who, of course, succeeded John Bolton as the National Security Advisor.
First, to take Mike Pompeo's position is Tony Blinken. Secretary Pompeo has met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a number of times, has visited Pyeongyang during his term. We don't expect that from Tony Blinken, do we?
In a New York Times op-ed in 2018, just ahead of Trump’s first meeting with Kim, Blinken outlined his view that the best kind of deal Washington could expect from Pyeongyang would be something akin to the Obama administration's 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. What does he mean by this?
Conspicuously missing from the stage in Wilmington was one major player in Biden's national security team: Mr. Biden's choice for defense secretary. He has not named one yet, though the leading candidate is believed to be Michele Flournoy, who served as the under secretary of defense for policy under Mr. Obama. She's also a hardliner when it comes to North Korea, is she not?
How do you think North Korea is receiving this new appointment? The Blinken, Sulliven duo, if you will?
When do we expect North Korea to make any kind of acknowledgment about the Biden administration?
So, what can the Biden administration do about North Korea?
Obviously President-elect Biden will not fawn over North Korean leader Kim Jong-un or hold photo-op summits. But what will he do instead? Will he maintain sanctions or offer a partial lifting of sanctions in return for a nuclear freeze?
What North Korea does from now until the early days of the Biden administration will set the tone of Washington's North Korean policy.
Now, with the current South Korean administration ever so keen to revive diplomatic talks with North Korea, what could be the ultimate best-case-scenario?
With a new line-up being unveiled in Washington, do you think South Korea and the U.S. can better coordinate in dealing with various bilateral issues and of course, North Korea?
With the Moon Jae-in administration drawing closer to its end, how can South Korea play a key role in guiding both the U.S. and the North to some sort of common grounds?
Dr. Go Myong-hyun, senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, many thanks for your expertise. We appreciate it.