Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Monday, November 23, 2020, 1:58 PM

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state tomorrow, reports the New York Times. A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School, Blinken served as deputy secretary of state under President Obama. He is expected to roll back President Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and strengthen ties with U.S. allies through international organizations like NATO and the United Nations. The Times adds that Biden is expected to nominate former deputy DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as the first Latino secretary of the department, former deputy CIA director Avril Haines as the first female Director of National Intelligence and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a longtime member of the Foreign Service, as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. 

There is more exciting news about a coronavirus vaccine. AstraZeneca released preliminary data today showing that its vaccine is 70.4 percent effective on average between two dosing regimens. Unlike vaccines by the drug giants Pfizer and Moderna, it doesn’t need to be stored in uber-cold refrigerators, which would make it easier to distribute across the U.S. and the world. The Associated Press writes that AstraZeneca’s vaccine will likely be only $2.50 a dose, compared to between $15 and $25 a dose for its competitors. The company will seek emergency-use authorization immediately. 

A group of more than 100 Republican national security officials condemned President Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election and castigated party leaders for supporting President Trump’s baseless voter fraud allegations. According to Reuters, the officials—who include Gen. Michael Hayden, William Webster and John Negroponte—signed an open letter today urging fellow Republicans to speak out against Trump’s attempts to avoid conceding the presidential election. “By encouraging President Trump’s delaying tactics or remaining silent, Republican leaders put American democracy and national security at risk,” the group wrote.

Over the weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping pushed for a global QR-code-system in which travelers can be scanned for their health status, reports BBC News. Xi’s comments at the G20 summit in Saudi Arabia raised concerns with Human Rights Watch; the group’s director, Kenneth Roth, wrote that “an initial focus on health could easily become a Trojan Horse for broader political monitoring and exclusion.” 

An Israeli education minister revealed yesterday that Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the first time, writes CNN. A month after Israel normalized relations with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, Netanyahu’s highly unusual meeting with bin Salman may foreshadow closer ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated as much in a speech yesterday, saying that, “If we continue down this path of the strengthening of Israel's power, and the strengthening of the ties with moderate Arab world that pushing toward stability and advancementwe will see more Arab states that widen the circle of peace."

A nonprofit advertising group called the Ad Council – the same group responsible for a polio vaccine push in the 1950s – is now launching a $50 million campaign to convince Americans to get vaccinated for the coronavirus. According to the New York Times, the council will begin releasing public service announcements and social media posts next week. Because recent polling shows that only 58 percent% of American adults will willingly take the vaccine, the advertising group intends to bolster these numbers and counter misinformation about ties between vaccines and autism. 

 ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Elizabeth McElvein examined the state laws which govern vote certification in Michigan. 

As part of Lawfare’s Foreign Policy Essay Series, Tricia Bacon discussed whether the U.S. has conditions for negotiating with terrorist groups like Al-Qaida. 

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