“Its main task is to restore a sense of credibility so that the United States keeps its commitments and is ready to lead,” says a former diplomat about Blinken.
Antony Blinken is soft-spoken, where his predecessor was loud, with huge chips on his shoulders. He is a consensus-maker and student, unlike the outgoing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who has often slashed his own prejudices and determined views on American affairs. And although Pompeo was considered raw, Blinken is a collegiate, respectful and sophisticated French performer who visited Paris as a descendant of a diplomatic family.
Blinken, a veteran of Washington’s old-school foreign policy elite, former deputy foreign minister and deputy national security adviser, is reportedly named Secretary of State of President-elect Joe Biden this week.
But you may find that your usual approach to diplomacy is being tested before Washington with new and unprecedented challenges.
“Tony will be working in a completely different context since he was deputy secretary of state.” says Matthew Bryza, a former American diplomat who has known and worked with Blinken since the late 1990s. “Why would the world ever believe that the United States was on the old, reliable path when it signed and adhered to the agreements? Its main task is to restore a sense of credibility so that the United States keeps its commitments and is ready to lead. “
Blinken will continue to be formally appointed after Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20 and then approved by a majority of U.S. senators.
For Blinken, restoring ties to U.S. allies deeply relieved by Joe Biden’s election will be an easy job. Even the re-entry into the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the restoration of World Health Organization funding will be relatively smooth.
It will be politically more burdensome to re-enter the Iranian nuclear deal, in which it played a role in creating and then defending criticism of Washington falcons.
He will confront the leaders of the resurgent China and Russia who did not trust Trump but benefited from the chaos of the administration and the unjustified distractions it created, and will beware of the Biden administration committed to gathering international support for them.
“The U.S. relationship is much more confrontational with China, and not just because of Trump and its trade wars, but because of China’s actions,” Bryza says.
Blinken’s most shady challenge may be redefining relations with seemingly friendly nations like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, which are well connected in Washington and have special access to the White House under Trump, which will now be over.
Blinken, 58, has been advising Biden on foreign policy for years. Known quantity, has a long record of public statements and policy actions. He has often criticized the Trump administration, such as its 2018 decision to relocate the U.S. Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel and will always be the capital of Israel,” he told France 24 television. “But the subject of Jerusalem is also said to be part of the negotiations for a final settlement. By unilaterally declaring that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and moving our embassy there, the Trump administration has actually taken this issue out of the negotiations and made a unilateral decision on it. “
But criticizing Trump’s moves will be much less difficult than reversing them, or even bringing some balance to American ties. In the Middle East, the Trump administration has been actively seeking in recent weeks to consolidate its apparent policy of giving Israel anything on its wish list without offering anything to the Palestinians, apparently attempting to complicate the work of the Biden government.
For years, Blinken has been a strong advocate of the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated by President Barack Obama, which Trump has abandoned despite its shortcomings, which include addressing nothing but Tehran’s nuclear efforts.
“In an ideal world, we would have discussed all the misconduct that Iran conducts at home and around the world,” he wrote. The New York Times. “But we live in the real world, not an ideal world. The only issue our partners were willing to discuss, including Europeans, including China, Russia, not to mention Iran, was the nuclear program. “
However, Blinken and Biden may find that even if the United States returns to a nuclear deal, the layers of non-nuclear sanctions imposed by Trump, including the waves of punishment imposed after the election, are difficult to resolve politically and technically.
To his advantage, unlike Trump’s first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Blinken knows and understands the Washington machinery, having worked under two former presidents. “He knows the bureaucratic system and he knows the political system,” Bryza says.
Blinken has also been harshly criticized for some of his views. Left-wing journalist Robert Wright gave him a medium C grade, describing him as a “liberal interventionist,” who often favored military action over diplomacy and favored an “expansionist” American policy that provoked Russia and China.
Wright noted in his blog post that Blinken approved the 1990 U.S. invasion of Panama for the arrest of President Manuel Noriega. “The country’s intrusion to arrest a leader is problematic at best under international law,” he said before stating, “Tony is bright and docile, but he needs to do a better job of learning from past mistakes.”
In response to the criticism, Blinken praised Wright as someone he respected. “Sigh,” he wrote on Twitter. “It hurts me in light of my passion for Robert Wright. Well, maybe I’ll improve.
Blinken was a builder of the sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014 following the invasion and annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea, which most foreign policy observers consider similar to the types of routine punishments imposed by the Trump administration on countries with which it clashed. .
“President Putin and Russia are one way to define power is the geopolitical influence that Russia is able to gain,” Blinken said in a speech at the Brookings Institute. “Russia’s political undermining in the international community and political isolation will reduce this power.”
But Blinken has already begun to outline the positions that have won him some praise and set him apart from his predecessor. The Holocaust-surviving stepson, Blinken, referred to a more value-based foreign policy focused on maintaining global human rights concerns. Under Trump and Pompeo, the U.S. focused on abusing the rights of rivals such as Iran, Venezuela, and China, while ignoring or tacitly endorsing the oppression of White House allies in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
He deplored the Obama administration’s indecisive Syrian policy, which seemed to offer rebels fighting the Bassar al-Assad tyrannical regime enough firepower and diplomatic cover to allow their battle to continue without ever being overthrown – this view is critical. extended the armed conflict. without creating political change.
In recent days, Blinken has expressed concern about three human rights researchers arrested in Cairo by Abdel Fattah Sisi, a close friend of the Egyptian regime, Trump. The staff of the Egyptian initiative on personal rights was shut down after informing international officials. “Meeting foreign diplomats is not a crime,” Blinken wrote. “He also stands peacefully for human rights.”
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