Antony Blinken

© Image Copyright : Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: U.S. State Department / Source of Photo: https://www.brookings.edu/events/cities-and-refugees-the-european-response/

Background

Antony John Blinken was born to Jewish parents on April 16, 1962, in Yonkers, New York.

His stepfather, lawyer Samuel Pisar (1929-2015), was a Holocaust survivor whose native Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union and then Nazi Germany. Pisar survived Majdanek, Auschwitz, and Dachau, the Nazi death camps, before escaping at age 16. According to Politico, Pisar, in his career as an attorney, “pushed for greater Western engagement with the Soviet Union and other adversarial nations, saying that through increased connections, chiefly trade, East and West could reduce the risk of a catastrophic military clash and improve the lives of people living under oppressive regimes.” Moreover, “his work informed U.S. presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.”

Antony Blinken attended grade school and high school in Paris, France, where he also received a bachelor’s degree with high honors. In addition, he graduated from Harvard College (1984) and Columbia Law School (1988).

After graduating from Harvard in 1984, Blinken spent about a year working as an intern for New Republic magazine.

In 1987, Praeger Publishers published Blinken’s  Harvard senior thesis as a book, titled Ally Versus Ally: America, Europe and the Siberian Pipeline.

Entering the World of Democratic Party Politics

In 1988, while still in law school, Blinken, a committed Democrat, worked as a fundraiser for the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

During the Bill Clinton Administration in 1993-94, Blinken was a special assistant in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs.

Blinken also spent four years (1994-98) as President Clinton’s chief foreign-policy speechwriter and led the National Security Council’s strategic planning team. His father, meanwhile, was President Clinton’s ambassador to Hungary during that same four-year period.

In 1995 Blinken met a young woman named Evan Ryan, who was Deputy Director of Scheduling for then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. Blinken and Ryan eventually married in 2001. (Ryan also worked for Hillary Clinton’s successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2000, and for John Kerry‘s failed presidential bid in 2004. During the Barack Obama Administration (2009-17), Ryan was an assistant to Vice President Joe Biden and a Special Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.)

From 1999-2001 (under President Clinton), Blinken was a member of the National Security Council staff, including two years as Senior Director for European Affairs.

Additional Blinken family members to hold positions in the Clinton Administration included: (a) Blinken’s half-sister, Leah Pisar, who served a stint as Communications Director at the State Department, and (b) Blinken’s uncle, Alan Blinken, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 1993-97.

In 2001-02, Blinken was a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

From 2002-08, he was the Democratic staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which Joe Biden was a longtime leading member.

Supporting the Iraq War

Blinken supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and advised then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden to vote in favor of the operation. Blinken later helped Biden formulate a plan to divide Iraq into three autonomous regions — delineated according to majority populations of Sunni, Shia, and Kurds. But the plan was rejected by Congress and the Iraqi government alike.

Joining the Obama-Biden Administration

From 2009-13, Blinken served as Vice President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor. He was also “one of the government’s key players in drafting Syria policy,” according to a Washington Post profile on September 15, 2013. Around that time, Blinken told CNN that he favored arming the rebels who were fighting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

In  2011, Blinken and Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, advocated a joint U.S.-NATO military offensive aimed at halting Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s “human rights violations and slaughter of his own people.” This ignored the fact that Qaddafi, in the years prior, had transformed himself, according to retired Israeli diplomat Yoram Ettinger, “from a ruthless supporter of terrorism into a ruthless warrior against Islamic terrorism in north, central and western Africa, who provided the United States with invaluable intelligence on global terrorism and transferred his nuclear infrastructure to the United States.”

Supporting “The Arab Spring” and the Muslim Brotherhood

The aforementioned Yoram Ettinger writes that during the so-called Arab Spring of 2010 to 2012, Blinken “assessed the brutal confrontations on the Arab street—which have been an intrinsic feature of the Arab world since the 7th century—through the prism of human rights … [but] overlooked the complexity of these confrontations (among non-democratic, violent elements) and underestimated the dominant role of Islamic terrorism and inherent intra-Arab domestic and regional brutal power struggles.” Blinken characterized this rising violence as a “youth revolution” and a “march for democracy.”

Believing that the U.S. should promote human rights in Egypt, Blinken supported the Muslim Brotherhood and the ouster of the pro-American president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak.

Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor

From 2013-15, Blinken was President Obama’s principal Deputy National Security Advisor.

Blinken Defends Obama’s Guantanamo Prisoner Swap for Bowe Bergdahl

In 2014, President Obama traded five terrorists who had been in custody at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had deserted the American military while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. In an email he had sent to his father just days before his desertion, Bergdahl wrote: “I am sorry for everything here. These [Afghani] people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world [the U.S.] telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.” “I am ashamed to be an American,” Bergdahl added. “And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools. I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

Following Obama’s 2014 prisoner swap for Bergdahl, then-deputy national security adviser Blinken praised the deal, saying that the freed Taliban members would be “very carefully monitored,” and that “any threat they would pose to the United States [and] to Americans has been sufficiently mitigated.”

Seven years later, in September 2021, Fox News reported:

“Four out of five Guantanamo detainees whom former President Barack Obama released in exchange for former U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014 now hold senior positions in the interim government created by the Taliban in Afghanistan. According to the Afghan television network TOLOnews, the Taliban-formed government gave leadership positions to Khairullah Khairkhwa, Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, and Mohammad Fazl; all of whom were released in a 2014 deal between the Obama administration and the Taliban to free Bergdahl…. On [September 7], the Taliban announced that Khairkhwa would serve as acting minister for information and culture, Noori would serve as acting minister of borders and tribal affairs, Wasiq would serve as acting director of intelligence, and Fazl would serve as deputy defense minister.”

Supporting the Iran Nuclear Deal

Blinken was closely involved in the negotiations that led to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Criticizing a Myanmar Bill That Might “Undermine Reproductive Rights”

In 2015 Blinken criticized Myanmar’s Population Control Health Care Bill that sought to require mothers to have children at least 3 years apart and could have been used to repress ethnic Rohingya Muslims. “The legislation contains provisions that can be enforced in a manner that would undermine reproductive rights, women’s rights and religious freedom,” Blinken said, adding it could “exacerbate ethic and religious divisions and undermine the country’s efforts to promote tolerance and diversity.”

Deputy Secretary of State

From 2015-17, Blinken was the Deputy Secretary of State under Secretary of State John Kerry (during the Obama Administration).

Opposing the Coup Attempt in Turkey

Blinken opposed the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey and said he favored the democratically elected government there.

Opposing the Designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) As a Foreign Terrorist Organization

In 2017, Blinken was opposed to designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization and imposing sanctions on it, even though The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran established the IRGC explicitly to “strike terror into [the hearts of] the enemies of Allah” — meaning most prominently the U.S. and Israel — and to “expan[d] the sovereignty” of Islam across the globe. As the Zionist Organization of America explains: “The IRGC’s terror involvements have included: planning 9-11; murdering hundreds of American troops in Iraq; Iranian nuclear proliferation and weapons delivery systems development; plotting to set off a bomb in a Georgetown restaurant (to murder a Saudi diplomat and innocent American diners); providing weapons, training, funding, and logistical support to Iranian terrorist proxies, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Iraq-based militias, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Taliban; and numerous other major terror attacks, including on the Buenos Aires Jewish Center and U.S. personnel and facilities.”

Blinken Founds a Consulting Firm

In 2017 Blinken entered the private sector for the first time when he founded WestExec Advisors, an international strategic consulting firm focused on geopolitics and national security.

Working at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy

That same year, Blinken worked at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy, a think tank based at the University of Pennsylvania and named after Joe Biden.

Advocating for U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

During the Trump Administration, Blinken advocated the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria, but he criticized then-President Trump’s withdrawal efforts for being excessively swift and reckless.

President Biden’s Secretary of State

In 2020, Blinken worked as a senior foreign policy advisor to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

After being nominated to be U.S. Secretary of State (SoS) by President Biden on November 23, 2020, Blinken was confirmed on January 26, 2021, by the U.S. Senate on a vote of 78 to 22. He was sworn in as the nation’s top diplomat the same day.

Blinken’s Wife Joins the Biden Administration

Blinken’s wife, Evan Ryan, was named as a senior advisor for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris transition team. She later became White House Cabinet Secretary.

Suspending President Trump’s Asylum Policies

On February 6, 2021, the Biden Administration announced that it was immediately suspending former President Trump’s 2019 asylum agreements that barred most would-be asylees from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras from applying for asylum after illegally crossing America’s southern border, unless they had first been unsuccessful in seeking asylum in a “safe third country” (Mexico) which they had traversed on their way to the United States. Blinken said that the U.S. had “suspended and initiated the process to terminate the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with the Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as the first concrete steps on the path to greater partnership and collaboration in the region laid out by President Biden.”

Blinken Warns of the Dangers of Climate Change

Long a believer in the disputed theory of manmade global warming, Blinken said that addressing “the existential threat posed by climate change” would be “a number one priority” for the Biden administration,” and he vowed to re-engage with the Chinese regime to deal with such global threats as climate change and pandemics. As journalist Joseph Klein wrote in FrontPage Magazine in late November 2020: “Blinken seems oblivious to the fact that China has made these problems worse in pursuit of its goal to overtake the United States as the world’s number one superpower. China has continued to increase its greenhouse gas emissions to support its economic growth while expecting the U.S to cut its emissions. And China hid the truth about the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in China, during the outbreak’s early days when the virus could have been prevented from spreading worldwide.”

Pro-Palestinian

Upon taking over as SoS, Blinken favored the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem, on the theory it would be a just course of action and would avoid disruption of Israel’s demographic mix. He also favored restoring: (a) U.S. financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, which had been suspended by the Trump Administration because the money was used to benefit the families of terrorists, and (b) payments to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which had been suspended because they supported Palestinian Authority propaganda.

In 2021, Blinken announced that the U.S. would allow the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, D.C. to reopen.

In April 2021, Blinken announced that the U.S., in a reversal of former President Trump’s policy, would restore $150 million in foreign aid to the UNRWA as part of a broader effort to restore financial assistance to the Palestinians, which would also include an additional $75 million in support to the West Bank and Gaza, plus $10 million for peacebuilding programs through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

On May 13, 2021, the Jerusalem Post reported that Blinken had dispatched Hady Amr, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs, to Israel “to push for de-escalation amid the most intense round of fighting between Israel and Hamas since 2014.”

On May 25, 2021, Blinken announced that the American government would reopen its Consulate General (CG) office in Jerusalem, which, prior to being shuttered by the Trump Administration, had handled U.S. diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority for more than 20 years before it was merged into the American Embassy in Jerusalem. Reopening the CG office would help normalize ties between the United States and the Palestinian Authority.

On May 26, 2021, Blinken announced that U.S. aid was being directed to the Palestinian Authority:

“[T]he United States is in the process of providing more than $360 million in assistance to the Palestinian people. This includes $38 million in new assistance to support humanitarian efforts in the West Bank and Gaza. This new assistance includes nearly $33 million for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of its West Bank and Gaza operations, and an additional $5.5 million to humanitarian partners. This critical assistance will support humanitarian organizations to provide emergency shelter, food, relief items, and health care, as well as mental health and psychosocial support for those who experienced trauma.

“Additionally, working with Congress, the State Department and USAID intend to provide $75 million in additional development and economic assistance over the next year that will support relief and recovery in the West Bank and Gaza. This funding will advance private sector growth and access to basic needs and services, such as providing health care and addressing food insecurity. Pending completion of congressional notification, another $10 million will support programs that support reconciliation work to reduce tension and violence over the long term.

“This assistance is in addition to the more than $250 million in economic, development, security, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people announced in March and April, bringing planned U.S. assistance to more than $360 million.  All of these funds will be administered in a way that benefit the Palestinian people — not Hamas, which has only brought misery and despair to Gaza. The U.S. government is also firmly committed to ensuring all its assistance is provided consistent with applicable U.S. law, including the Taylor Force Act.”

U.S. foreign aid for “the Palestinian people serves important U.S. interests and values,” Blinken added. “It provides critical relief to those in great need, fosters economic development, and supports Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination, and stability.  It also aligns with the values and interests of our allies and partners.”

Pledging Ongoing Support for the Government of Afghanistan

In April 2021 as well, Blinken visited Kabul, Afghanistan, to assure the Afghan government that America would continue to support it long after the full withdrawal of all remaining U.S. troops, which was scheduled to take place during the ensuing few months. “The reason I’m here … is to demonstrate literally, by our presence, that we have an enduring and ongoing commitment to Afghanistan,” Blinken said from Kabul. He also told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani: “The United States will continue its diplomatic and humanitarian support to Afghanistan and its security and defense forces, and will continue its efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process.” Blinken subsequently announced that in the near future, the State Department and USAID would invest “nearly $300 million” on civilian development programs in Afghanistan.

Appeasing Russia

On May 20, 2021 — two days after the stunning announcement that the Biden administration would waive sanctions on Russia to help the latter complete its construction of the Nord Stream 2 oil pipeline — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov celebrated the “constructive” conversation he had recently held with Blinken, who, according to Lavrov, understood “the need to overcome the unhealthy situation that developed between Moscow and Washington in previous years.” “Today we confirmed our proposal to start a dialogue, considering all aspects, all factors affecting strategic stability: nuclear, non-nuclear, offensive, defensive. I have not seen a rejection of such a concept, but experts still have to work on it,” said Lavrov.

Authorizing U.S. Embassies to Fly “Black Lives Matter” Flags

On May 25, 2021, Blinken gave “blanket written authorization” to U.S. embassies worldwide to fly Black Lives Matter flags and banners, as part of the Biden Administration’s recognition of the infamous, police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Blinken Publicly Criticizes America, or Highlights the Nation’s Failings

Blinken has publicly criticized the United States on numerous occasions. For example:

On May 25, 2021, he tweeted: “On the anniversary of George Floyd‘s murder [sic], we remember that to be a credible force for human rights around the world, we must face the reality of racism at home. By addressing our shortcomings openly and honestly, we live up to the values that we stand for worldwide.

On June 1, 2021, Blinken condemned the U.S. for its alleged “systemic racism,” tweeting: “100 years ago Black Americans in Tulsa were subject to one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our history. Our nation must confront systemic racism, both in our past and at present, openly. @POTUS is leading this Administration’s commitment to doing this difficult work.” Blinken was replying to a tweet from President Joe Biden earlier the same day, in which Biden had said: “100 years ago, the thriving Black community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma was ruthlessly attacked by a white supremacist mob—as many as 300 Black Americans were killed and 10,000 were left homeless.”

After a swastika was discovered carved into the wall of an elevator at the headquarters of the State Department, Blinken wrote a series of tweets on July 27, 2021, where he said:

  • “Hate has no place at the @StateDept. The hateful graffiti has been removed and this incident will be investigated. As this painfully reminds us, anti-Semitism isn’t a relic of the past. We must be relentless in standing up and rejecting anti-Semitism.”
  • “We also know from our own history and from the histories of others that anti-Semitism often goes hand in hand with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other hatreds. None of these ideologies should have a home in our workplace or our nation.”

In July 2021, Politico obtained and reported on a cable in which Blinken had instructed American diplomats deployed at U.S. embassies around the world, to openly admit their own country’s failure to adequately promote human rights and democratic values. The Politico report quoted Blinken saying that U.S. diplomats should: (a) make it “clear that we ask no more of other countries than we ask of ourselves,” and (b) “acknowledge our imperfections,” “openly and honestly” — even though this might be “painful, even ugly” — rather than “sweep them under the rug.”

Refusing to Acknowledge Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

Testifying before House and Senate committees in June 2021, Blinken was asked whether the Biden Administration, like the Trump Administration before it, recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a strategic enclave along Israel’s borders with Syria and Jordan. Blinken replied evasively: “As a practical matter, Israel has control of the Golan Heights, irrespective of its legal status, and that will have to remain unless and until things get to a point where Syria and everything operating out of Syria no longer poses a threat to Israel, and we are not anywhere near that.”

Defending a Return to the Iran Nuclear Deal

Testifying before the House and Senate committees in June 2021, Blinken was asked to clarify the Biden Administration’s position on nuclear diplomacy with Iran. The 2015 nuclear deal — to which the Biden Administration was committed (and which the Trump Administration had abandoned) — had placed temporary restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities and, in exchange, had given Iran an open road to a military nuclear capability by 2030 and $150 billion in sanctions relief. The lawmakers asked Blinken to explain how canceling Trump-era economic sanctions on Iran would achieve the goal of limiting Iran’s nuclear activities, given that Tehran had been breaching the deal’s limitations on its nuclear activities all along. They also wanted to know if Blinken could guarantee that money from sanctions relief would not end up in the coffers of Iran’s terrorist Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Blinken responded to all of the questions with a non-sequitur: “Its [Iran’s nuclear] program is galloping forward … The longer this goes on, the more the breakout time gets down … It’s now down, by public reports, to a few months at best. And if this continues, it will get down to a matter of weeks.” In light of the dimensions and urgency of the Iranian nuclear threat, he continued, the United States needed to immediately return to the 2015 deal in order to “put the nuclear problem in a box.”

Disbanding the Commission on Unalienable Rights

In June 2021 as well, Blinken disbanded the Commission on Unalienable Rights, which had been created by the Trump Administration in July 2019. Specifically, Blinken objected to what he perceived as the Commission’s excessive emphasis on religious liberty, which he considered to be no more important than LGBT and abortion rights.

Claiming to Support Cuban Freedom Protests, but Refusing to Allow Cuban Refugees into America

When Cuban protesters took to the streets of their own country in the summer of 2021 to protest the Communist dictatorship in the largest demonstrations Cuba had seen in decades, Blinken said that the U.S. government supported their cause: “The United States stands with the Cuban people seeking freedom and respect for their human rights. Violence against peaceful protestors is abhorrent. We urge restraint and respect for the voice of the people.”

Despite that, the Biden administration slammed the door on the possibility of accepting communism-hating refugees from Cuba who, if they became U.S. citizens, would be likely to vote Republican. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — himself a native Cuban whose family had fled the Castro tyranny in 1960 — took to Twitter to scold his former countrymen, writing July 13, 2021: “The time is never right to attempt migration by sea. To those who risk their lives doing so, this risk is not worth taking. Allow me to be clear: if you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States.”

Blinken Knew of Possible Afghanistan Collapse As Early As July 2021

A classified State Department cable from July 13, 2021 indicates that Blinken had already been warned by American military authorities that in the event of a swift U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban would likely seize control of the country and plunge it into violent chaos. As the Wall Street Journal reported in August 2021:

“About two dozen State Department officials serving at the embassy in Kabul sent an internal memo to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and another top State Department official last month warning of the potential collapse of Kabul soon after the Aug. 31 troop withdrawal deadline, according to a U.S. official and a person familiar with the cable. The cable, dated July 13 … represents the clearest evidence yet that the administration had been warned by its own officials on the ground that the Taliban’s advance was imminent and Afghanistan’s military may be unable to stop it.”

Numerous Members of WestExec Advisors Get Key Positions in the Biden Administration

By July 29, 2021, more than 15 former members of WestExec Advisors, the consulting firm that Blinken had founded in 2017, had been placed in key, highly influential Biden administration positions. Among them, in addition to Blinken, were such notables as:

  • Jen Psaki, White House press secretary
  • Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence
  • David S. CohenDeputy Director of the CIA
  • Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General
  • Chris Inglis, National Cyber Director

Mild Criticism of Communist China

In July 2021, Blinken offered mild criticism of Communist China for cracking down on journalists. “The United States is deeply concerned by the increasing trend of surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of foreign journalists in China,” he tweeted July 29. “The People’s Republic of China can and must do better.”

Easing Restrictions on Requirements for Afghans’ Refugee-Status Eligibility

On August 2, 2021, the State Department announced that, as a result of the violence that was expected to overrun Afghanistan following the imminent withdrawal of all remaining U.S. troops from that country, it was expanding eligibility criteria in order to allow many thousands of at-risk Afghans and their families to qualify for U.S. refugee status and to eventually become American citizens. “In light of increased levels of Taliban violence,” explained the State Department, “the U.S. government is working to provide certain Afghans, including those who worked with the United States, the opportunity for refugee resettlement to the United States. This designation expands the opportunity to permanently resettle in the United States to many thousands of Afghans and their immediate family members who may be at risk due to their U.S. affiliation but who are not eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) because they did not have qualifying employment, or because they have not met the time-in-service requirement to become eligible.” Blinken, for his part, told reporters: “We know that there are Afghans who don’t qualify [for SIVs] but who helped us and deserve our help. So today, the State Department is announcing a new resettlement program for Afghans who assisted the United States but who do not qualify for Special Immigrant Visas.”

Praising “Muslim Frontline Workers” for Their Efforts in Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic

Blinken singled out what the State Department called “Muslim frontline workers from diverse populations from around the world” for praise in an August 3, 2021 tweet, after having met with 11 of them on a Zoom call. “I enjoyed a meaningful conversation with Muslim frontline workers today,” he tweeted. “I was glad for the opportunity to thank these heroes, who embody the spirit of the recent Eid al-Adha holiday, for their brave and compassionate service to others during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Said State Department spokesman Ned Price: “Secretary Blinken, joined by Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya, underscored the importance the United States places on engaging with these valued civil society partners, and expressed appreciation for the contributions and sacrifices these leaders have made working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep people safe. The Secretary emphasized that their selfless efforts to ensure the public good during a time of terrible loss and suffering was a clear and vibrant manifestation of the recent Eid al-Adha holiday spirit.”

Paying Tribute to the Late Richard Trumka

On August 5, 2021, Blinken paid tribute to the late union leader Richard Trumka. “We mourn the passing of @AFLCIO President Richard Trumka, a tireless champion of labor rights,” Blinken tweeted. “I was honored to discuss international workers’ rights with him just last month. We will uphold his legacy by continuing to support the rights of workers around the world.”

Denying the Biden Administration’s Disastrous Withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Blaming Former President Trump for the Chaos

On August 15, 2021 — a time when violent chaos had resulted from the Biden administration’s mishandling of America’s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan — Blinken appeared on ABC’s This Week. During the course of that program, video was shown of military helicopters evacuating American personnel from the U.S. embassy in Kabul — scenes that were reminiscent of America’s chaotic departure from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Asserting that the situation in Kabul was “manifestly not Saigon,” Blinken said: “This is standard operating procedure in any such situation. There are plans in place if we’re leaving an embassy compound, relocating our people to another place, to take all these steps…. This is exactly what we would do in any of these situations. Again, this is being done in a very deliberate way, orderly way. It’s being done with American forces there to do it in a safe way.”

In an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press that same day, Blinken blamed former President Donald Trump for the disastrous situation in Kabul. Anchor Chuck Todd said, “There’s a lot of back seat driving on this. Why do this in the summer? Fighting in Afghanistan is seasonal. Why not delay the withdrawal to the winter and give the Afghan security forces a chance when we know the Taliban retreats in the winter? The idea that you accept a bad deal by Trump, but you’ll turn back other bad deals by Trump, I mean what was wrong with delays six months?” Blinken replied:

“Because we inherited a deadline negotiated by the previous administration. That deadline was May 1st. The idea that we could have maintained the status quo beyond May 1st if the president decided to stay, I think, is a fiction. Here is what is likely to have happened had the president decided to do that. During the time from when the agreement was reached to May 1st, the Taliban had stopped attacking our forces, stopped attacking NATO forces. It had not sought to take over the entire country by going at these major provincial capitals. Come May 2nd. If the president [Biden] decided to stay, all gloves would have been off. We would have been back at war with the Taliban attacking our forces. We would have had about 2500 forces in, counted with air power. That would not have been sufficient to deal with the situation. I would be on your show right now explaining why we were sending tens of thousands of troops back in Afghanistan restarting a war we need to end.”

Blinken Was on Vacation When Kabul Fell to the Taliban

As the Taliban swarmed into Kabul on August 15, 2021, to put the finishing touches on their conquest of Afghanistan, Blinken, President Joe Biden, and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki were all taking vacations. As The Washington Post reported:

“In June, U.S. intelligence agencies had assessed that the Afghan government would hang on for at least another six months. By August, the dominant view was that the Taliban wasn’t likely to pose a serious threat to Kabul until late fall.

“American officials may have been urging [Afghan president] Ghani to show greater urgency. But their own actions suggested no immediate cause for alarm, with officials surrendering to the customary rhythms of Washington in August. On the Friday afternoon before Kabul fell, the White House was starting to empty out, as many of the senior staff prepared to take their first vacations of Biden’s young presidency. Earlier in the day, Biden had arrived [for his vacation] at Camp David, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken was already in the Hamptons.

“But by Saturday, the fall of Mazar-e Sharif — site of furious battles between pro and anti-Taliban forces in the 1990s — convinced U.S. officials that they needed to scramble. How quickly was a subject of dispute between the Pentagon and State Department.”

Claiming That the U.S. “Can Work With and Recognize” the Taliban

In a CNN interview on August 15, Blinken said that the Biden Administration “can work with and recognize” a Taliban government in Afghanistan that respects women’s rights and “doesn’t harbor terrorists.” “A future Afghan government that upholds the basic rights of its people and that doesn’t harbor terrorists is a government we can work with and recognize,” Blinken stated. “Conversely, a government that doesn’t do that — that doesn’t uphold the basic rights of its people, including women and girls; that harbors terrorist groups that have designs on the United States or allies and partners — certainly, that’s not going to happen.”

Blinken Forgets Who Is the President of Afghanistan

In an August 22, 2021 interview on CBS’s Face the Nation, Blinken, discussing the crisis in Afghanistan, said: “Go back a week. The government fell. And by the way, I was on the phone with President [Hamid] Karzai the day before, when he was telling me his intent, as he put it, ‘to fight to the death.’ Well, the next day, he was gone.” But Hamid Karzai had been Afghanistan’s president from 2001-2014. The president to whom Blinken was now referring was Ashraf Ghani, who had fled the country as the Taliban took control of Kabul.

Vowing to Try to Rescue the Hundreds of Americans Who Remained Stranded in Afghanistan

After the final American military plane had departed Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai International Airport a few hours before dawn on August 30, 2021, the Pentagon acknowledged that hundreds of Americans seeking evacuation had been left behind. Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), placed the number “in the low hundreds.” “There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” said McKenzie, calling it a “tough situation” and noting that even if U.S. troops had remained in Afghanistan for an additional 10 days, “we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out … and there still would’ve been people who would’ve been disappointed.”

On August 30 as well, Blinken that the United States would continue to try to rescue the Americans remaining in Afghanistan by either working with Afghanistan’s neighbors or by means of charter flights out of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, which was now in the hands of the Taliban. “The protection and welfare of Americans abroad remains the State Department’s most vital and enduring mission,” said Blinken. “If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they want to stay for now and then in a week or a month or a year, they reach out and say, ‘I’ve changed my mind,’ we will help them leave.”

Blinken Says U.S. Will Work with Taliban & Is Condemned by Retired Marine Corps Bomb Technician

On August 30, 2021, Blinken said: “If we can work with a new Afghan government [led by the Taliban] in a way that helped secure [U.S.] interests … and in a way that brings greater stability to the country and region and protects the gains of the past two decades, we will do it. But we will not do it on the basis of trust or faith. Every step we take will be based not on what a Taliban like government says, but what it does to live up to its commitments. The Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support. Our message is, any legitimacy and any support will have to be earned.”

In response to Blinken’s remarks, retired Marine Corps bomb technician Johnny Joey Jones, a double-amputee, said: “I don’t trust politicians or trust this type of diplomacy any further than can I throw it – and a guy with no legs can’t throw real far. I will tell you I believe in the men and women I served with I believe in the pureness of our intent: And when the secretary of state stands up there and tells me that the people who killed my brothers and took my legs can earn our trust? Well, thank God this is television news and not just a casual conversation because I would have words for him nobody wants to hear.”

Further Reading: “Antony Blinken (InfluenceWatch.org, State.gov, Jewish Virtual Library)

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