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Harris lands top national security aide on Biden’s team

She has been described by her colleagues as thoughtful and strategic but tenacious when making an argument internally. As the United States dumps billions of dollars in weapons into Ukraine, she has also been heavily involved in the Russia-Ukraine ‘Tiger Team’, which has played on the potential contingencies of the conflict to help the Biden administration keep one step ahead of the war. Lissner and the team also worked closely with the interagency process to plan Russia’s next moves and how to respond to them.

“Rebecca has been an amazing member of the team and her promotion is well deserved. I am very pleased that we will continue to work together in her new role,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

After entering the vice presidency with relatively little foreign policy experience, Harris has recently taken on a broader portfolio. A White House official pointed out that she has spoken to more than 65 different world leaders since taking office, either in person or on calls.

While she had a nebulous role her first year as vice president and couldn’t travel as much because of the pandemic and her Senate tiebreaker role, since last August she has done several trips – in Southeast Asia and in Western and Eastern Europe. She also met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy just before the invasion and seven other world leaders at the Munich Security Conference.

Harris is in the midst of a major personnel overhaul for several teams, with aides every month this year announcing they are heading for the exits, including his national security adviser Nancy McEldowney. Philip Gordon, who was most recently Harris’ deputy national security adviser and also served in the Obama and Clinton administrations, replaced McEldowney. In addition to Lissner, Harris recently added former State Department aide Dean Lieberman as a special adviser and speechwriter.

“Rebecca is a brilliant strategist who will be a tremendous asset to the Vice President because of her global perspective and in-depth knowledge of policy and process,” Gordon said. “She’s been a great colleague and I’m excited to work more closely with her.”

Lissner, who starts in the coming weeks, will be replaced by longtime Brookings Institution foreign policy expert Tom Wright, who will serve as the president’s special assistant and senior director of strategic planning. Wright, who did a Ph.D. at Georgetown in International Relations and was born in Ireland, is currently Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on the United States and Europe. He enters the government for the first time.

For more than a decade, Wright, a contributing writer at The Atlantic, has written extensively about great power competition and how best to deal with threats from Russia and China, US foreign policy generally. and the future of Europe. During the Obama and Trump administrations, he called on the United States to adopt a more competitive strategy vis-à-vis China.

Wright has been skeptical of resets with Russia and engagement with Russian President Vladimir Putin and argued that Russian and American interests are opposed given how Putin defines them. In his 2017 book “All Measures Short of War”, he wrote about the return of great power competition, while in “Aftershocks: Pandemic Politics and the End of the Old International Order”, written with the leader of Pentagon policy Colin Kahl, he has written about the geopolitical impact of the pandemic and how it has shaped Chinese stocks.

While Biden officials before the invasion said the sanctions threats were meant to deter Russia from invading, Wright wrote in The Atlantic in early February that “little historical evidence suggests that sanctions alone can provide enough sanctions to deter a great power from doing something it really wants”. To do. Moreover, Putin has long sought national resilience to prepare his country to weather this storm.

He also pleaded for stronger support from NATO frontline states, writing on Twitter at the end of February“I can’t believe this needs to be said – it would be a strategic mistake to abandon Poland and leave it alone to face the Russian army on its border.”

Along with Gordon – whose former role she assumes – Lissner, a Harvard graduate and Ph.D. of Georgetown, will lead a team of approximately 10 policy professionals from various federal agencies and other staff who work with the interagency to achieve Harris priorities, which have recently become more focused on supporting European allies as they face the fallout from Ukraine and confront Russia.

“I’m the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors so international politics and politics have always felt very immediate and important to me and my family and that’s why I got into this business in the first place and I I am committed to ensuring that America remains a force for good in an increasingly difficult world,” she said in a brief interview.

Lissner, who also worked in the Obama administration’s Energy Department, joined the White House early in January 2021 after serving as a foreign policy adviser to the Harris and Biden campaigns. Before entering government, she was an assistant professor at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and during the Trump years she was a research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

Lissner is the author of two recent books “Wars of Revelation: The Transformative Effects of Military Intervention on Grand Strategy” and “An Open World”, which received a favorable endorsement from former Trump Defense Secretary Jim Mattis .


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