Biden’s Foreign Policy Challenge: Change or Continuity? – Session 2 of 2 Western Hemisphere

february, 2021

24feb12:30 pm1:30 pmVirtual EventBiden's Foreign Policy Challenge: Change or Continuity? - Session 2 of 2 Western Hemisphere


(Wednesday) 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Event Video

Event Details

The Biden administration has taken office with the intention of reversing or marking sharp changes from the foreign policy of its predecessor.  Yet, how likely or even possible will that be?

In many respects, the world changed over the last four years just as the Trump administration imposed its different approach to American foreign policy.  Some situations changed so radically that returning to previous policies may not work any more.  In others, the different approach brought in by the Trump administration may be better suited to the challenge, even if the brusque manner in which it was introduced may have struck many as offensive or a gratuitous break with previous administrations.

The U.S. has also changed, and the domestic political landscape on which the Biden administration must operate imposes likely constraints on current and future policy.  Abroad, friends and rivals must ask how durable the more traditional style of operation the Biden administration follows will be and what are the implications during and beyond this administration given the deep political divide in the U.S.  As the shadow of Donald Trump looms large over America for the foreseeable future, even America’s allies must ask whether they can trust Washington as they once did.

Two separate panels will discuss what they expect to change and what they expect to stay the same, perhaps for rather surprising reasons.

The panelists will all bring insights, in some cases as former U.S. government insiders, to explore these questions.

This second of two panels is focused on the Western Hemisphere, i.e., the region stretching from Hudson Bay in the north to the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego.  Speakers will discuss Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico and Central America, and Canada as well as much more.



Speakers for this event

  • Bisa Williams

    Bisa Williams

    Ambassador Bisa Williams is co-Founder and Managing Director of Williams Strategy Advisors, LLC (WSA), a problem-solving, business, and foreign affairs advisory consulting firm. For the last 3 years, she has led The Carter Center’s effort as Independent Observer of implementation of the Peace Agreement in Mali. She is also a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. Before co-founding WSA with her brother Paul Williams, Jr., Bisa was a career member of the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State. During her 30+ years in the Foreign Service, she served tours in Guinea, Panama, Mauritius, France, the US Mission to the UN (NY), and Washington, DC, including two years at the National Security Council, The White House, and three years as Coordinator of Cuban Affairs at the Department of State. As Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Bisa led the US delegation to talks in Havana, Cuba, ending a seven-year hiatus of high-level direct discussions. Her accomplishments were recognized in LeoGrande/Kornbluh’s book Back Channel to Cuba. She was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010 as Ambassador to Niger where she served for 3 years. After serving two years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs, she retired from the Foreign Service in 2015. Bisa speaks French, Spanish, and Portuguese and is the recipient of numerous Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards from the Department of State. She also holds the distinction of being the first Department of State officer to be awarded the “Agency Seal Medal” from the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency for exceptional contributions to U.S. national security while serving as Ambassador to Niger. Ambassador Williams holds a Master of Science in National Security Strategy from the National War College of the National Defense University in Washington, DC, a Masters of Arts, and is ABD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Yale.

  • Luis G. Moreno

    Luis G. Moreno

    Luis G. Moreno, a career member, served as Ambassador to Jamaica from December 2014 to June 2017 when he retired from the Foreign Service. He is currently a member of the Foreign Service Grievance Board. Prior to Jamaica, Ambassador Moreno served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Madrid, Spain. From 2010 to 2011, he served as the Political-Military Minister Counselor and Force Strategic Engagement Cell Director in Baghdad, Iraq. From 2007 to 2010, Ambassador Moreno served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Tel Aviv, Israel. From 2004 to 2007, he was the Consul General and Principal Officer in Monterrey, Mexico. Ambassador Moreno served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti from 2001 to 2004. From 1997-2001, Ambassador Moreno served as the Narcotics Affairs Director in Bogota, Colombia. He was instrumental in planning and implementing Plan Colombia. In 1995, Ambassador Moreno was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Panama as the Narcotics Director and Law Enforcement Coordinator. Shortly after his arrival, he was detailed as the Kurdish Refugee Coordinator. He oversaw the U.S. government’s effort in moving Kurdish refugees to Guam and assisted them in their resettlement to the United States. In 1993, Ambassador Moreno was assigned to Port-au-Prince, Haiti as Refugee Coordinator. While in Haiti, he repatriated tens of thousands of Haitians, as well as directed three political asylum in-country processing centers. After the United Nations intervention in 1994, Ambassador Moreno became the Embassy’s first political-military officer. He was also the U.S. government’s primary advisor to the International Police Monitors. Earlier in his career, Ambassador Moreno served as the Colombia Desk Officer for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement in Washington, DC; Deputy Director of the Narcotics Affairs Section in Lima, Peru; Staff Assistant in the Bureau of Latin American Affairs in Washington, DC; American Citizens Services Chief in Managua, Nicaragua; and Vice-Consul in Bogota, Colombia. Ambassador Moreno has received 11 Senior Performance Awards, four Superior Honor Awards, three Meritorious Honor Awards, and the American Foreign Service Association William Rivkin Award for Creative Dissent. He won the Department of State’s James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence in Diplomacy in 2001. He received the Department of State’s Heroism Award in 2004. In 2012, he received a Presidential Meritorious Service Award for his achievements in 2010 as the Principal Officer in Monterrey, Mexico, and the Deputy Chief of Mission in Tel Aviv, Israel. Ambassador Moreno received a B.A. from Fordham University and an M.A. from Kean College. He speaks Spanish, French, and some Haitian Creole.

  • Lynne Platt

    Lynne Platt

    Lynne Platt’s career of U.S. Government service spanned 31 years, 24 of them in the U.S. Foreign Service. She retired in 2018 with the rank of Minister-Counselor, having worked overseas in Cairo (1995-1997), Casablanca (1995-1997) USNATO (2001-2004), Paris (2004-2008), Baghdad (2008-2009), Port-au-Prince (2009-2011), London (2011-2014), and Vancouver (2014-2017) as Consul General. Domestically, she served in the State Department’s Near East Asia Bureau (1999-2000) and at the non-partisan Wilson Center as senior State Department Fellow at the Canada Institute (2017-2018). Lynne received her BA (Phi Beta Kappa) and MA in Political Science from the University of Washington. She and her husband recently relocated to Saint Petersburg, Florida.

  • Patrick Duddy

    Patrick Duddy

    Ambassador Patrick Duddy is the director of Duke University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. He is also a senior advisor to the Offices of Global Affairs and Press and Government Affairs. He has taught in both the Fuqua School of Business and the Sanford School of Public Policy. Before joining the Duke faculty, Ambassador Duddy served as a U.S. diplomat for nearly thirty years. At his retirement from the U.S. Foreign Service, he was one of the Department of State’s most senior Latin American specialists with exceptionally broad experience in trade, energy, public affairs, and crisis management. From 2007 to 2010 he was the U.S. Ambassador to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for both President Bush and President Obama. Prior to his assignment to Venezuela, Ambassador Duddy was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (DAS) for the Western Hemisphere. In that capacity, he was directly responsible for the Office of Economic Policy and Summit Coordination, which included the hemispheric energy portfolio, as well for the Offices of Brazil/ Southern Cone Affairs and of Caribbean Affairs. From 2002 until 2005, Ambassador Duddy was the U.S. Consul General in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he was the ranking American official in the world’s fourth-largest city and directed the largest U.S. consulate general in the western hemisphere. In Sao Paulo, Duddy also served as the senior USG liaison to one of the most dynamic and sophisticated business communities in the world and as a board member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo, the largest American Chamber in the world outside the U.S. In addition, he served as the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia. Prior to his assignment in Brazil, Duddy served in a variety of positions around the hemisphere and in Washington including senior positions at the U.S. embassies in Bolivia and Panama. Earlier in his career, he also served in U.S. embassies in Paraguay, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Chile. Duddy served as U.S. head of delegation to international conferences on counter-narcotics, energy, and assistance for Haiti. He has spoken to a wide range of private sector groups, world affairs councils, NGOs, and universities both in the United States and in Latin America. He has taught at the National War College in Washington, D.C., and lectured at the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State. He has written for the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action and published op-ed columns on U.S. foreign and trade policy in English, Spanish and Portuguese. He has been interviewed by NPR, the BBC, Deutsche Welle, the Voice of America, ABC Australia, and CTV Canada among many others. Duddy is the recipient of the Secretary of State’s Career Achievement Award and a Presidential Meritorious Service Award. In May of 2012, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree by Husson University. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Educated at Colby College (BA), Northeastern University (MA), and the National War College (MS), he is married to Mary Huband Duddy. They have two children, Sarah and Robert.

  • Tim Johnson

    Tim Johnson

    Tim Johnson spent 35 years as a journalist covering foreign affairs in Latin America and Asia for UPI, The Miami Herald, Knight Ridder Newspapers and McClatchy Newspapers. He was posted to Lima, Managua, Bogota, Beijing, Washington and Mexico City through his career. Johnson won the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Colombia University for “valiant” reporting from the Americas, and was part of a small McClatchy team recognized with the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for its role in the global Panama Papers investigation into offshore tax havens. Johnson is author of the 2011 book Tragedy in Crimson: How the Dalai Lama Conquered the World But Lost the Battle with China (Nation Books). He retired in early 2019 and splits his time between Central America and the States.

  • William Jordan

    William Jordan

    Retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer, Independent Analyst William Jordan served for 30 years (1981-2011) as a political officer in the U.S. Foreign Service specializing in the Arab world and France.  His overseas assignments included Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; Tunis, Tunisia; Damascus, Syria; Amman, Jordan; Paris, France; and Algiers, Algeria, where he served in his final posting as Deputy Chief of Mission. Mr. Jordan’s responsibilities in the Arab world included reporting and analyzing foreign policy trends, especially as they related to the United States, as well as internal politics, human rights conditions, and the rise of radical Islam as a political force.  From 1997-2001, Mr. Jordan was the reporting officer in Paris for labor issues and internal politics.  He returned to Paris in 2007-2009 to work on the Near East and North Africa as well as Russia (including during and after the 2008 Georgia crisis).  From 2002-2007, Mr. Jordan focused his attention on North Africa, notably as Director of the Office of Maghreb Affairs. Since retiring from the Foreign Service, Mr. Jordan has lived in Paris, where, in addition to his work as an independent analyst and consultant, he occasionally comments on the Arab world, northwest Africa, France, and U.S. national security policy for France24, RFI, and the BBC.  He is a board member of and has participated in the annual Saint Petersburg, FL, Conference on World Affairs in addition to lecturing frequently to numerous audiences, including the French Ecole militaire and at the Paris campus of New York University. From May 2020-December 2021, Mr. Jordan served as president of the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO).  

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