Biden’s secretary of state pick Antony Blinken slammed over Iraq War, big tech, Chinese ties
Presumptive President-elect Joe Biden is expected to tap Antony Blinken for his secretary of state this week. Blinken has widely been criticized for his recent consulting work and early support for the Iraq War. He is an Obama administration alum and a left-leaning foreign policy expert.
Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has very close ties with Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world, allegedly fully reversing President Trump’s foreign policy stances.
With Blinken as his nominee, Biden will be able to sidestep potential trouble he faced if he had chosen two other candidates on his shortlist to be America’s top diplomat: Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons. Rice would have faced significant GOP opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lacks the experience in managing day-to-day foreign policy issues that Blinken allegedly will bring to the job.
Blinken is a Harvard University and Columbia Law School graduate and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence. He has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and a renewed emphasis on global engagement.
“Democracy is in retreat around the world, and unfortunately it’s also in retreat at home because of the president taking a two-by-four to its institutions, its values, and its people every day,” Blinken told The Associated Press in September. “Our friends know that Joe Biden knows who they are. So do our adversaries. That difference would be felt on day one.”
Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Blinken advised Biden to vote for the Iraq War. Also said US failed by not sending more troops to Syria,” Ricochet editor-in-chief Jon Gabriel wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
Blinken advised Biden to vote for the Iraq War. Also said US failed by not sending more troops to Syria. https://t.co/BisdYmdAuN
— Adm. Jon Gabriel, Esq, PhD, AIA, OBE (Ret.) (@exjon) November 23, 2020
Biden’s selection has caused many to focus on Blinken’s firm WestExec Advisors.
“TONY BLINKEN co-founded a consultancy @WEAdvisors that launched in 2018 to help clients navigate DC. It doesn’t disclose most clients’ identities, but has acknowledged working with an unidentified drug maker [and] a Big Tech firm it helped with US-China trade,” New York Times journalist Kenneth P. Vogel wrote on Twitter.
TONY BLINKEN co-founded a consultancy @WEAdvisors that launched in 2018 to help clients navigate DC.
It doesn’t disclose most clients’ identities, but has acknowledged working with an unidentified drug maker & a Big Tech firm it helped with US-China trade https://t.co/cj4mKJbnBM
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) November 23, 2020
Others chimed on the pick and many of them had less than stellar reactions to Biden’s choice.
Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald called Blinken “Biden’s standard-Blob choice.”
“‘A centrist with a streak of interventionism’ — the [New York Times’] gentle description of Antony Blinken, Biden’s standard-Blob choice for Secretary of State. Sounds exciting,” Greenwald tweeted.
But a number of progressive Democrats came to Blinken’s defense.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) took the opportunity to slam current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent statement that the U.S. is “committed to countering the Global [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] Campaign as a manifestation of anti-Semitism.”
“So long as [Blinken] doesn’t suppress my First Amendment right to speak out against Netanyahu’s racist and inhumane policies,” Tlaib wrote on Twitter. “The Palestinian people deserve equality and justice.”
So long as he doesn't suppress my First Amendment right to speak out against Netanyahu's racist and inhumane policies. The Palestinian people deserve equality and justice. https://t.co/SLhT3yYc4i
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) November 23, 2020
Political insiders in the Democratic Party also spoke up for Biden’s pick. Praise came from those attached to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as well.
“Tony Blinken is one of the finest public servants I’ve ever known. Brilliant, thoughtful, honest and experienced-really a splendid choice,” former Obama White House senior adviser and CNN political commentator David Axelrod wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
Tony Blinken is one of the finest public servants I’ve ever known. Brilliant, thoughtful, honest and experienced-really a splendid choice.https://t.co/i41ZHVzK8Q
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) November 23, 2020
“Solid choice. Leaders around the world will assume that when Blinken speaks, he speaks for Biden,” Sanders’ former campaign manager Faiz Shakir stated.
— Faiz (@fshakir) November 23, 2020
“This is a good choice,” wrote Matt Duss, Sanders’ foreign policy adviser. “Tony has the strong confidence of the president-elect and the knowledge and experience for the important work of rebuilding US diplomacy. It will also be a new and great thing to have a top diplomat who has regularly engaged with progressive grassroots.”
This is a good choice. Tony has the strong confidence of the president-elect and the knowledge and experience for the important work of rebuilding US diplomacy.
It will also be a new and great thing to have a top diplomat who has regularly engaged with progressive grassroots. https://t.co/NglVbp9YCa
— Matt Duss (@mattduss) November 23, 2020