President Joe Biden’s secretary of state nominee, Antony Blinken, was confirmed Tuesday during a vote in the U.S. Senate.
Blinken, with experience in the Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and Barack Obama (2009-2017) Administrations, received the nod in the Senate with 78 votes in favor and 22 against.
During his hearing last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, this stepson of a Holocaust survivor defended that “humility and confidence should be the two sides of the U.S. leadership coin.”
“Humility, because we have a lot of work to do at home to promote our position abroad, but we will also act with confidence that the United States still has a greater capacity than any country on Earth to mobilize others for the good of all,” he said.
On China, he said the Asian giant poses “the most significant challenge that any nation state has ever posed to the United States.”
Therefore, “we must begin to approach China from a position of strength, not weakness,” he said in what appeared to be a policy of rapprochement with the Chinese Communist Party.
As for Iran, Antony Blinken stressed that the Biden administration feels that the world is safer with the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, from which Trump withdrew the United States in 2018. So everything seems to indicate that the country will return to the agreement that allowed Iran to rearm itself.
“The president-elect believes that if Iran returns to compliance (with the agreement), so do we,” Blinken said at the hearing, a day before Biden was inaugurated last January 20th.
Antony Blinken’s positions on Israel
In his introduction as Biden’s nominee to lead U.S. diplomacy, Antony Blinken recalled his stepfather, “who was one of 900 school children in Bialystok, Poland, but the only one to survive the Holocaust after four years in concentration camps.”
“At the end of the war he escaped from a death march through the forests of Bavaria (Germany). From his hiding place he heard a deep rumbling, it was a tank, but instead of an Iron Cross (of German troops) he saw painted on one side a white five-pointed star,” he recounted in an emotional speech.
“He ran to the tank,” he continued, “the lid opened and an African-American soldier looked down and (his stepfather) knelt down. And he said the only three words he knew in English that his mother had taught him before the war ‘God bless America.’ And this is who we are.”
Heir to this family legacy, Antony Blinken is an unwavering defender of Israel and human rights in the face of the practices of governments such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
During his hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, asked by Republican Senator Ted Cruz whether he believed Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and whether Washington will maintain its embassy there, Blinken replied, “Yes and yes.”
Background with Clinton and Obama
Blinken, a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, began his diplomatic career during the Bill Clinton Administration (1993-2001) and most recently served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security advisor in the Barack Obama administration (2009-2017) before moving into the private sector, where he was a founding partner of the consulting firm WestExec Advisors.
Diplomat Jim Steinberg, who also served as deputy secretary of state under the Obama administration and has worked with Blinken for decades, described him as having “the experience and the knowledge” needed for the job, telling public radio station NPR:
“He has the temperament. He’s a great partner and works well with others, and most important of all, he trusts the president of the United States,” Steinberg said.
In the past, Blinken already worked for nearly 20 years closely with Biden, who is a former senator and Obama’s former vice president, having served as his top aide on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and national security adviser to his vice presidency.
The New York Times underlined that, as Biden’s Vice Presidential advisor, Blinken helped develop the U.S. response during the so-called Arab Spring, with “mixed” results in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya.