The projected winner in the US presidential election, Joe Biden, is reportedly considering appointing former Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Michèle Flournoy as his secretary of defence upon taking office, The Herald reported, citing anonymous officials. Should the report turn out to be true and Biden is victorious in the election, Flournoy would become the first woman to hold the post.
According to the sources, Flournoy, who has worked at the Department of Defence but never served in the military, is a "front-runner" to take a post in Biden's expected administration. She was also expected to receive a position in a Hillary Clinton administration if the then-Democratic candidate had one the 2016 election.
Not a Fan of Radical Changes and Complete Withdrawal of Troops
Flournoy is a co-founder of the Westexec Advisors consulting company, which focuses on geopolitical risk analysis, and the Centre for a New American Security think tank. She also holds a position on the board of Booz Allen Hamilton, a government contractor known among other things for being behind the notorious NSA surveillance programmes revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. Her involvement with the government contractor may become a roadblock in her confirmation, should it occur, especially in the Senate, where the Republicans could retain their majority.
The potential future secretary of defence has spoken in support of certain changes in her speeches, specifically in terms of boosting US cooperation with its allies, rebuilding mutual trust with them. She noted that the process of changing the perception of America in the eyes of its foreign allies, supposedly undermined by the actions of the Trump administration, would take "a number of years".
"Whoever the next president is, whether it’s a second Trump term or Vice President Biden or whoever it is, one of the top agenda items is going to try to, I think, repair some of that perception", Flournoy stated in the past.
Flournoy also supports a limited US military presence in the Middle East and Afghanistan instead of a complete withdrawal. Trump's former Defence Secretary Mark Esper also supported a limited US engagement in the region and opposed a complete withdrawal, something that reportedly prompted his "termination" and subsequent replacement by Trump with the former director of the National Counterterrorism Centre, Christopher C. Miller, on 9 November.
Biden's alleged defence secretary pick is on the same page with the current administration in regards to recognising China as the main challenger to US global military dominance in the long-term. Regardless, should Flournoy be appointed, she is unlikely to opt for a major U-turn in America's defence policy.
"One of the most dangerous tendencies is for — after a change of administration, particularly when there’s a change of party — for the new team to come in and use the term ‘repudiation’. But to come in and assume that everything their predecessors did was wrong, you know, they throw the baby out with the bathwater, basically, and they overcorrect in another direction", Flournoy said while speaking at the Hudson Institute.