Shadow Government

A front-row seat to the Republicans' debate over foreign policy, including their critique of the Biden administration.

From Foreign Policy Magazine to Biden’s Foreign Policy

FP’s preemptive preview of the coming administration.

By and , an assistant editor at Foreign Policy.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 24, 2020.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 24, 2020. Mark Makela/Getty Images

Although Foreign Policy magazine has always been non-partisan, it has never been anything other than political—in all senses of that term. FP seeks to understand the broad spectrum of global political events, from wars to pandemics to elections to intellectual debates. But it also offers views on politics from the vantage of its practitioners—the distinct perspective of those who critique power because they have wielded it before, and hope to do so again.

FP’s clearest line to eavesdrop on policymaking conversations has been Shadow Government. Strictly defined, the idea of a “loyal opposition” is a parliamentary concept foreign to the United States. But the Shadow Government forum has hosted the functional equivalent: Whichever party controls the White House, experienced policymakers from the opposing side are invited to critique the decision-making—the priorities, strategies, and tactics—of those in power, and chart their own ideological future. Such articles are featured across the entire Foreign Policy website, but Shadow Government, by its very design, offers a unique preview of future U.S. governments.

That’s never more obvious than during a U.S. presidential transition, when a host of regular writers transfer those conversations from the pages of our magazine to the literal halls of power in Washington. The Biden administration’s foreign policy will ultimately be determined by the people who comprise it—and FP’s recent archives are a unique view into their ideas, concerns, and affinities. A selection of articles by incoming Biden officials is found below.

Although Foreign Policy magazine has always been non-partisan, it has never been anything other than political—in all senses of that term. FP seeks to understand the broad spectrum of global political events, from wars to pandemics to elections to intellectual debates. But it also offers views on politics from the vantage of its practitioners—the distinct perspective of those who critique power because they have wielded it before, and hope to do so again.

FP’s clearest line to eavesdrop on policymaking conversations has been Shadow Government. Strictly defined, the idea of a “loyal opposition” is a parliamentary concept foreign to the United States. But the Shadow Government forum has hosted the functional equivalent: Whichever party controls the White House, experienced policymakers from the opposing side are invited to critique the decision-making—the priorities, strategies, and tactics—of those in power, and chart their own ideological future. Such articles are featured across the entire Foreign Policy website, but Shadow Government, by its very design, offers a unique preview of future U.S. governments.

That’s never more obvious than during a U.S. presidential transition, when a host of regular writers transfer those conversations from the pages of our magazine to the literal halls of power in Washington. The Biden administration’s foreign policy will ultimately be determined by the people who comprise it—and FP’s recent archives are a unique view into their ideas, concerns, and affinities. A selection of articles by incoming Biden officials is found below.

In the meantime, Shadow Government has completed its transition from a Democratic Party forum to a Republican one. Now’s the time to tune in, to understand where the current administration might be going wrong—and where future ones might be heading next.


Derek Chollet, State Department counselor

“Trump Will Likely Regret His Red Line on Iran,” Feb. 2, 2017

“4 Reasons Trump Is Worse For America Than Nixon,” March 10, 2017

“Why Israel Should Be Worried About Getting Into Bed with Trump,” Dec. 13, 2017

“The United States Should Give Saudi Arabia a Choice” (with Ilan Golberg), Nov. 30, 2018


Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy

“Can Trump End the War in Syria?” (With Ilan Goldberg and Nicholas Heras), March 29, 2017

“The United States and Turkey Are on a Collision Course in Syria,” May 12, 2017

“Trump Has Nobody to Blame for North Korea But Himself,” July 11, 2018

“Trump Is Playing With Fire in the Middle East,” Jan. 4, 2020


Jon Finer, deputy national security advisor

“Trump Is Already Damaging the Ability of the State Department to Function,” Jan. 27, 2017

“Sorry, Mr. President. The Obama Administration Did Nothing Similar to Your Immigration Ban,” Jan. 30, 2017

“From SEALs to All-Out-War: Why Rushing Into Yemen Is a Dangerous Idea,” Feb. 9, 2017


Juan S. Gonzalez, senior director for the Western hemisphere (NSC)

“Mass Deportations Will Not Make America Safer,” Feb. 17, 2017

“Trump’s Cuba Policy and the Return of the American Bogeyman,” June 23, 2017


Kelly Magsamen, Pentagon chief of staff

“Afghanistan Is Now Trump’s War,” Aug. 21, 2017

“Here’s What a Progressive China Policy Would Look Like” (with Melanie Hart), May 10, 2019


Jeffrey Prescott, deputy secretary to the United Nations

“Trump Doesn’t Deserve Any Credit for His Disruptive Foreign Policy,” March 14, 2019

“Praise for the Suleimani Strike Isn’t Based in Reality” (with Ned Price), Jan. 13, 2020


Ely Ratner, special advisor to the U.S. secretary of defense on China

“How to Get Tough on China, in Six Easy Steps,” March 3, 2017

“The State Department Is Tilting Dangerously Toward China,” Aug. 24, 2017


Amanda Sloat, senior director for European Affairs (NSC)

“Here’s a Win-Win Deal for Trump: Cyprus,” March 23, 2017

“Here’s What Erdogan’s Referendum Means for Turkey, the EU, and the U.S.,” April 17, 2017

“The United States and Turkey Should Fix Their Relationship—Before It’s Too Late,” Feb. 14, 2018

“How Are Countries Reopening? Firsthand Reports From Around the World,” May 9, 2020


Jake Sullivan, national security advisor 

“The Slippery Slope of Trump’s ‘Whataboutism,’” Feb. 7, 2017

“I was Hillary Clinton’s Chief Foreign-Policy Advisor. And I Have a #MeToo Mea Culpa,” Dec. 8, 2017

“America Needs a New Economic Philosophy. Foreign Policy Experts Can Help” (with Jennifer Harris), Feb. 7, 2020

“China Has Two Paths to Global Domination” (with Hal Brands), May 22, 2020


Ned Price, State Department spokesperson

“Trump’s Nuclear Crisis Was of His Own Making,” Aug. 23, 2017

“Trump Should Put the Safety of American Diplomats First” (with Samantha Vinograd) Jan. 28, 2019

“Trump Is Dangerously Predictable With China,” May 1, 2020

“CIA Recruitment Has Joined the Social Media Age,” June 25, 2020


Kathleen H. Hicks, deputy secretary of defense

“Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand the Value of U.S. Bases Overseas,” April 7, 2016


Julian Gewirtz, China director (NSC)

“Xi Jinping Is Facing a Harsh Reality Check,” Aug. 15, 2018

“China’s Post-Coronavirus Aggression Is Reshaping Asia” (with Lindsey W. Ford), June 18, 2020


John Kerry, special climate envoy 

“How to Make Sure Iran Is a Nuclear Non-Proliferator” (with Ernest Moniz), April 27, 2015

“How India and the United States Are Building a 21st-Century Partnership” (with Penny Pritzker), Sept. 24, 2015


Wendy R. Sherman, deputy secretary of state

“The Total Destruction of U.S. Foreign Policy Under Trump,” July 31, 2020


Kurt M. Campbell, Indo-Pacific coordinator (NSC)

“The Lady and the General,” Nov. 26, 2012


Rush Doshi, senior China director (NSC)

“Beijing Believes Trump Is Accelerating American Decline,” Oct. 12, 2020


Samantha Power, USAID administrator 

“Business as Usual at the U.N.,” Oct. 23, 2009


Laura Rosenberger, special advisor to the president senior director for China (NSC)

“Career Officials: You Are the Last Line of Defense Against Trump,” Jan. 20, 2017

“Can the U.S.-Japan Alliance Survive Under Trump?” Feb. 9, 2017


Bill Burns, CIA director

“The Rules of the Brave New Cyberworld” (with Jared Cohen), Feb. 16, 2017


Lisa Monaco, deputy attorney general

“The Next Phase in the War on Terror Is Here,” Nov. 8, 2017

“The Next Pandemic Will Be Arriving Shortly” (with Vin Gupta), Sept. 28, 2018


David Cohen, deputy CIA director

“Trump’s Politicization of U.S. Intelligence Agencies Could End in Disaster” (with Michael Morell and Avril Haines), April 28, 2020


Antony J. Blinken, secretary of state

“Bannon’s Vision of the World Isn’t What Makes America Great,” Feb. 28, 2017


Avril Haines, director of national intelligence

“Dear Senators: Push Back Against Iran, but Not at the Expense of the Nuclear Deal” (with Antony J. Blinken, Colin Kahl, Jeffrey Prescott, Jon Finer, Philip H. Gordon, and Robert Malley), March 31, 2017


Philip H. Gordon, deputy national security advisor to the vice president

“Trump’s Empty North Korea Threats Will Lead to Humiliation or War,” Oct. 11, 2017

“Trump’s Magical Thinking on Iran Sanctions Won’t Advance U.S. Interests” (with Robert Malley), Nov. 14, 2018

“Trump’s Support for Haftar Won’t Help Libya” (with Andrew Miller), April 24, 2019

“Annexation Will Probably Go Smoothly. The Problems Will Come Later” (with Robert Malley), Jul. 6, 2020

“The Next Administration Needs a Plan for De-escalation in the Gulf,” Oct. 22, 2020


Brian P. McKeon, deputy secretary of state for management and resources

“Trump’s ‘Secret Plan’ to Defeat ISIS Looks a Lot Like Obama’s,” May 31, 2017

“Neither U.S. Senators nor Trump’s Team Is Lying About Khashoggi’s Killing,” Dec. 14, 2018


Pete Buttigieg, secretary of transportation

“Present at the Destruction of U.S. Power and Influence” (with Philip H. Gordon), July 14, 2020


Mira Rapp-Hooper,  senior advisor on China policy for policy planning (State  Department)

“Trump’s Team Has No Idea What It’s Doing on China” (with Alexander Sullivan), April 5, 2017

“The 5 Ways U.S.-China Competition Is Hardening” (with Charles Edel), May 18, 2020


Salman Ahmed, director of policy planning (State Department)

“Trump Has Set a Scary Strategic Precedent” (with Jake Sullivan), Dec. 21, 2017


Rob Malley, special envoy for Iran

“Iran’s Protest Movement Doesn’t Vindicate Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ Campaign” (with Philip H. Gordon), Dec. 11, 2019

“The Coronavirus Crisis Is a Diplomatic Opportunity for the United States and Iran” (with Ali Vaez), March 17, 2020

“10 Conflicts to Watch in 2020,” Dec. 29, 2020

This article is periodically updated to include new members of the Biden administration.

Cameron Abadi is a deputy editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @CameronAbadi

Allison Meakem is an assistant editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @allisonmeakem

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