Former Biden, Clinton adviser talks foreign policy in U of M discussion

A Twin Cities native who went on to become a leading diplomat says he has faith that the world will once again embrace American leadership.

Jake Sullivan returned to the University of Minnesota Thursday where he says there is enough resiliency in world diplomacy for America to build new relations after the Trump presidency.

For Jake Sullivan, foreign policy is still critical subject.

As the former National Security Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he traveled to more than 120 countries.

At a Humphrey School forum today with former Vice President Walter Mondale, Sullivan says he believes there is a fundamental core of western democracies that are ready to once again embrace a new kind of American leadership after President Trump leaves office.

“That means an American president and United States of America that is once again stepping up to be the leader of the free world,” Sullivan said. “And I think if we have a President who is committed to that, then absolutely there is huge hunger around the world to rally to solve big problems.  Problems that might sound far away to your average American right now, but can easily come home very quickly, like climate change, like the possibility that the terrorists get their hands on weapons of mass destruction.  Like the possibility that Ebola is not just an outbreak in a country in Africa but sweeps across the Atlantic.”

Sullivan is not all critical of President Trump’s foreign policy. He actually gives him credit for attacking some big problems.

“I think that the way the Administration built the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea was a real positive.  I think carrying forward the work that President Obama did against ISIS to the point now where we really have reduced ISIS’s capacity to threaten the United States, the President’s team deserves some credit for that,” Sullivan said. “And I think the President is on to some things when he says other countries need to step up and share more of the burden.  I just think the ways he’s going about getting them to do so has been more self-defeating than effective.”

Sullivan is currently teaching international law at the Yale Law School. He’s a graduate of Southwest High School.

The extended interview, explaining how his growing up in the Twin Cities shaped his views on diplomacy when he worked with Joe Biden and Secretary Clinton can be found above.