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The Irrelevance of Anthony Blinken

Posted on Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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by Walter Samuel
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Rome had to listen to Nero’s fiddle. Blinken subjected the poor denizens of a Kyiv bar to his skills with the guitar.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has become the subject of mockery again following the bizarre incident where he took the stage and played electric guitar in the Ukrainian capital. It must have been poor compensation for the soldiers who came expecting reassurance that their return to the front line would not be in vain.

Blinken’s real sin was not his music, even though it was by all accounts subpar. It was what he did not provide – namely, hard truths, and a policy.

Instead, Anthony Blinken offered empty words. Except they were words that came from a man viewed as so inconsequential that they went largely ignored by the locals and unreported by a press corps which instead covered his dive bar rendition of a 1989 Neil Young song. If you wanted to know America’s long-term strategy, or even a vision for the next six months, America’s Secretary of State had platitudes galore. Substance, not so much.

Relationships, whether between individuals or nations, are built on honesty. Little white lies are useful when dealing with strangers, but anyone who has ever been in a relationship will rapidly learn that telling a loved one what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear ensures neither longevity nor the well-being of either party. It might be embarrassing to tell a friend that their fly is unzipped. It would be a betrayal to allow them to attend an important event in public unaware.

During Secretary Blinken’s recent visit to Kyiv, he told his hosts what he thought they and their Western supporters wanted to hear. Yes, things might not be going as well as hoped, but he blamed the delay in aid, promising that not only would it not happen again, but that Ukraine could expect indefinite support. He promised tangible steps toward NATO membership for Ukraine at July’s summit.

Part of the reason for the chilly reception Blinken found is that it is unclear if these were even the words Ukrainians wanted to hear.

After more than two years of war, even they want to hear evidence of a concrete plan, not abstract words of encouragement and promises they don’t believe can be kept. Blinken may have felt that by insisting that American support was unwavering, and that Ukraine’s prospect of NATO membership was real, he was reassuring Ukrainians that they might not have to compromise on the latter to reach a settlement. Instead, he convinced too many Ukrainians that America either had no serious plan for ending the war, or had one and was lying to them in order to disguise a plot to reach a deal with Putin following the election.

Blinken in Kyiv, much like Blinken in Riyadh, Blinken in Beijing, Blinken in Jerusalem, and for that matter, Biden in America, has a credibility problem. John F Kennedy liked to discuss a missile gap between the United States and the Soviet Union when he ran for president, but today the U.S. faces a credibility gap. Whether friend or foe, no one takes the words of the United States seriously, and a large part of the reason why is that no one, at home or abroad, seems to take America’s senior diplomat seriously.

Anthony Blinken, to be fair, had the deck stacked against him. The office of Secretary of State ranks first in the cabinet hierarchy, and Thomas Jefferson was the inaugural holder of the office. George W. Bush gave the role to Colin Powell, who many believed could have been America’s first African American president, and Condoleezza Rice, previously Bush’s National Security Adviser and perhaps the figure closest to him in the administration.

Barack Obama’s first Secretary of State was Hillary Clinton, his defeated rival for the 2008 Democratic nomination, and her successor was John Kerry, the party’s 2004 presidential nominee.

Donald Trump’s first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had not held public office, but as CEO of Exxon Mobil, he had in effect run a medium-sized country. Mike Pompeo was a Marine, congressman, and director of the CIA.

Then there is Anthony Blinken.

Who? That was the initial reaction of large parts of the Washington press corps and the American public to his appointment. Blinken was a professional foreign policy staffer, serving on the Clinton National Security Council, and then for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under then-Chairman Joe Biden.

When Biden became vice president, Blinken served as his National Security Advisor before becoming a deputy national security adviser to Obama for two years, and then an assistant secretary of State. What stands out is at no point did he hold elected office or run any agency or staff. He was never Chief of Staff to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden’s vice presidential office, or at the State Department. Every role he held involved working for someone else, usually Joe Biden, including his tenure out-of-office, when he ran the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center from 2017 to 2019.

The office of secretary of State does, of course, contain the word “secretary,” but for a president or prime minister to appoint what amounts to their own longtime secretary to that position is an act usually associated with authoritarian regimes headed by octogenarians. That comparison likely reflects as poorly upon Biden as it does upon Blinken when the latter meets with his counterparts. That sort of appointment indicates that the leader either cannot find anyone else for the role, or cannot trust anyone else with it, or often both – all of which tends to be inauspicious for the longevity of leaders who resort to scraping the bottom of the barrel that low.

As secretary of State, Blinken has done little to alleviate suspicions that Biden has no real idea what he wants to achieve on the global stage. Yet he is also unwilling to allow anyone else to act. Blinken’s recent stop in Kyiv is typical of an itinerary which for three years has involved flying to foreign capitals in order to provide assurances that Joe Biden remains deeply committed to whatever they care about, and that they can count upon the full, yet unspecified support of the United States to achieve whatever they happen to be doing.

Blinken has been unwavering in his assurances to Israel that the United States stands 100 percent behind the Jewish state in a military campaign and suggested that it would not be in the world’s interest for the war to end before Hamas was eliminated. Until, that is, the Biden administration decided that the military campaign must be brought to a close and Blinken informed Israel that the elimination of Hamas was impossible.

A secretary of State who was a true ally to Israel would have informed Israeli politicians of growing pro-Palestinian sentiment within the Democratic Party. He would have also advised Israel to accelerate the campaign, or to settle for something short of the elimination of Hamas. A figure of stature in the role would have been able to insist to Joe Biden the importance of doing so. Blinken has evidently done neither.

Instead, Anthony Blinken insisted that the United States remained 100 percent committed to the elimination of Hamas and 100 percent confident in Israel’s ability to do so right up until the moment Joe Biden, not Anthony Blinken, let slip to CNN that the U.S. had halted weapon shipments in response to Israel acting on those guarantees. The best read was that Biden had not shared his intentions with Blinken, nor considered him worth consulting. Blinken’s duty was not to convey the position of the United States, or Anthony Blinken, but of Joe Biden – until Joe Biden happened to change his mind.

What must Israel do to appease Joe Biden? Well, to the extent that he has a vision, the president has clearly not shared it with Blinken, merely some of his grievances. Blinken insists Israel “needs a clear and concrete plan for Gaza’s future,” while making clear “We do not and will not support Israeli reoccupation of Gaza” and “ do not support Hamas governance in Gaza.”

What possible “plan” could reconcile these mutually exclusive impulses? Joe Biden has no idea, but until Israel solves Biden’s conundrum, their weapons will not arrive. Unless Biden suddenly changes his mind, in which case odds are Blinken will be among the last to know.

This has served to render Blinken’s assurances worthless to foreign interlocutors, and his presence, as in Kyiv, an interminable bore that distracts from the business of forming a policy without benefit of knowing what Joe Biden intends or desires from them.

The Ukrainians know that American support is neither indefinite nor assured. They just watched an aid package take over six months to pass. Israeli leaders can watch television and access social media. Some of them even partake in both. They know what message Democrats are sending domestically in the U.S. They can compare that message to the one brought by Anthony John Blinken and conclude which they should follow. Xi Jinping must be doubly impatient when Blinken tries to lecture him about whether it is in China’s interests to aid Russia precisely because he knows the very fact Biden sent Blinken means the U.S. president has nothing of substance to say or a policy to announce.

It might seem harsh that Blinken has become symbolic of Joe Biden’s lack of vision, of Joe Biden’s lack of reliability, and of Joe Biden’s unwillingness to devolve decision-making to genuinely independently-minded allies either at home or abroad.

If Joe Biden had a vision, he would be able to identify someone of independent standing who shared it, and could execute it on the global stage, as Nixon did with Henry Kissinger and George H.W. Bush did with James Baker. If Joe Biden was willing to let someone else pursue policy, he would have appointed figures of stature, not Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Merrick Garland, and Anthony Blinken.

Instead, Blinken is trapped in a purgatory of his own making. Having spent his entire career acting as a messenger for others, for the past two decades one Joseph Robinette Biden, he now finds himself traveling the world, making excuses for lacking any message to deliver.

No matter how skillful the strings, or how iconic the track, renditions of Neil Young cannot disguise the fact that Anthony Blinken played because he had nothing to say. Nor, under Joe Biden, does the United States of America on the world stage.

Walter Samuel is the pseudonym of a prolific international affairs writer and academic. He has worked in Washington as well as in London and Asia, and holds a Doctorate in International History.

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Ray Doyle LFP, WA
Ray Doyle LFP, WA
29 days ago

Is there anyone in the biden administration who is not irrelevant? Gore and kerry are in the administration; what do they do? yellen is a fool. buttingay is a fool. Biden is a fool. who in the biden administration is not an idiot?

Tom
Tom
29 days ago

To say blinken is worthless is an understatement. He is little more than a pawn in the obiden clown train.

George Ruben Rivera Jr
George Ruben Rivera Jr
29 days ago

Why Blinken vs those who are strong and competent? Easy! He is controllable. While not the classical DEI hire racially, he is a paragon of political DEI – Blinken will follow instructions, will NEVER be a leader, and as far as his position he Didn’t Earn It. Blinken is the perfect laptog to his Deep State Masters.

anna hubert
anna hubert
29 days ago

Secretary of state Vice president and the President himself are but puppets Three blind mice

Joe
Joe
29 days ago

One look at this sniveling sack of crap from across a room or at the conference table, and our enemies know they are dealing with an incompetent “please don’t hit me” coward.

Robert
Robert
29 days ago

Never have seen an administration with the most useless people in key positions! Blinken certainly cannot live up to his predecessor Mike Pompeo, who I would like to see as Trumps VP.

BEA
BEA
29 days ago

Mr. Blinken is another American joke on other peoples and us. But I do feel so sorry for us, the American Taxpayer. SAD!

BruceM
BruceM
29 days ago

Anthony has got to stop blinken’ all the time, just as Janet needs to stop yellen’! These people are out of control.

PaulE
PaulE
29 days ago

Blinken, like ALL the other members of the Biden administration, including Biden himself, fulfills his role of echoing the constant cries of appeasement to any and all adversaries of the United States. Which is of course why our allies, the very few we still have left after 3 1/2 years of Team Biden rule, no longer respect or trust us and why our adversaries no longer fear us. Blinken acted the exact same way when he worked in the Obama / Biden administration. So why should anyone have expected anything different when he was named to this position by those running Old Joe? The shocker is that the American people have just sat by for nearly four years and allowed this administration to create so much damage and destruction the entire time.

Thinking
Thinking
29 days ago

Blinken strummed while the Ukraine burned. And as with everything in Obiden’s administration, badly at that. Blinken was a puppet from the first meeting in Alaska with the Russians back in 2021. Blinken has no mind of his own. And if he did dictator Joe would overrule him. No reports are ever televised that Blinken made a statement. Only his jam session in Kiev was noted. In the middle of a war mind you.

uncleferd
uncleferd
29 days ago

It seems Blinken and numerous other unipressive people were hand-picked for the purpose of not upstaging “President” Biden…. though he has been upstaged regularly by numerous deceased people who were highly successful contributors to our democratic republic.

Misty
Misty
29 days ago

“Ukraine could expect INDEFINITE support???????” Who the hell is he to keep throwing our tax dollars at something we have no skin in or want any? Another Vietnam or Iraq that we do not want nor want to fund. Either Ukraine accounts for all the money and weaponry we have already sent, or seeks a compromise/end with Putin himself. We can no longer be the world’s babysitter and bail out countries that are poorly run, corrupt, and show no accountability for any aid they get. Done. I commend Israel for having a plan (eliminate Hamas) and not listening to the woke senile idiot living in the White House or the corrupt NATO or ICC. The only real way to eliminate terrorism is to take out every last one.

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
29 days ago

AS THE STOMACH TURNS. Kyle L.

Granny26
Granny26
29 days ago

As long as the demonrats CONTROL the elections, we will never have anyone decent in the administration.

Will
Will
29 days ago

Every time I see Anthony Blinken, I think of Tim Conway. Then, I remind myself that this is serious stuff, and Blinken really *IS* incompetent.

John Bass
John Bass
29 days ago

Since day one of Bidens presidency, every time I see Blinken on the news he reminds me of Neville Chamberlain…weak, pathetic and naive.
Great article btw, it speaks volumes about diaper Joes administration.

Barrett T Smith
Barrett T Smith
29 days ago

Blinken is about as manly as Admiral Levine.

Tom B
Tom B
29 days ago

Mike Pompeo was an Army Officer – graduated from West Point. Calling him a Marine is a compliment! Semper Fi

Sparks
Sparks
29 days ago

Joe Bribem surrounds himself with incompetence, mainly because the smartest man he knows is a crack addict.
Bribem and his fools are only as relevant as devout communist Obama will allow. Zero Bama sits in his basement in his underoos directing the destruction of America as he promised.
Obama is pure evil, Biden is just stupid.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
29 days ago

After November and Biden loses miserably (knock on wood) maybe he and Joe Scarborough can start a band… I even have a bame for it: “Miss Information”. And Joe needs a job so, with all his experience saving lives as a lifeguard, an18-wheel commercial trucker, a constitutional law college professor, and legendary defeater of Corn Pop, there should be no problem finding him one! And Kamala, with her experience… BAND GROUPIE?

johnh
johnh
28 days ago

The Secretary of State has historically been one of the most powerful cabinet positions in USA.Biden & Blinken keep changing stances on Ukraine & Israel & only create confusion. Both Biden & Blinken need to stop telling Israel what to do against hamas & back both of these countries

John Shipway
John Shipway
29 days ago

Blinkin is just as fake as is his supposed boss. Take for example his most recent trip to Kiev trying to keep a lid on what happened with the billion dollars plus from the US alone, sent to build defensive structures along the northern border. Russian troops simply walked in seeing nothing but the feet of Uke soldiers fleeing like Nazi rats from a fire. Ukraine got their “most corrupt nation on earth” reputation from years of theft such as so evidenced.
The evening before his departure, little Blinkin preened before cameras while dining on pizza and followed that up with a visit to a dive bar literally decorated with Nazi memorabilia and in what the media claimed to be a “spur of the moment” act, Blinkin jumped on stage and joined the house band that AMAZINGLY just happened to have a left handed guitar for the southpaw entitled sniveling idiot to play. Weird that ALL the band members were right handed…….I guess they bought a left handed guitar in case someone got a broken arm or………well, we shall wait for Karinee La Pierre to explain that.
Keep on fighting to the last Ukranian. My God this administration is evil to a demonic degree.

illrede
illrede
29 days ago

So the logic puzzle is this:

As he lacks an independent background and possesses no political power of his own, Anthony Blinken would be an acceptable choice for Secretary of State if and only if he and his president shared certain fundamental sensibilities and concepts.
If Anthony Blinken’s sensibilities and concepts are President Biden’s, then President Biden does not know what he wants, on a day to day basis.

chrisford1
chrisford1
24 days ago

One thing the article does not discuss is the possibility that Secretary of State was Blinken physically walking around the “Dirty 51” letter where Blinken got 51 sigs on a laptop he knew was hunters because HE was in the pics HUnter took on AF2 along with Nuland and CIA employee Michael Ciaramella (aka the ‘whistleblower’).
Blinken, a slimy Gewish Neocon, saved Bidens election by creating a disinformation masterpiece.

observer
observer
24 days ago

I’d say that the US foreign policy reflects its internal political and social chaos that was caused by steady but ever-accelerating decline. The US had decades-long troubles to determine who was their friends or foes and what would be the best course of actions. It was all possible to unfold because of steady loss of intellectual depth and capacity among political actors of both parties and because of moral relativism. That’s a background that would explain perpetual involvement in unnecessary failed wars with huge losses of treasure and manpower and perpetual crisis in relationships with other nations. The current situation with Ukraine is a perfect illustration of mental block that prevented right option of preventing that war by making logical and sane agreement with Russia. Instead, war was chosen that has devastating destructive consequenses and will only get worse. Ignoring legitimate interests of nuclear superpower and providing weapons that killed thousands of its troops, destroyed its hardware and killed civilians in its proper is more than just extremely dangerous. Unlike any other foes in previous wars, Russia is more than capable to inflict severe damages or even catastrophic ones if this runaway war wouldn’t be over. And the history of relationships with Israel has always been one of betrayal going back to the 50th… In short, the whole situation could be described as one of the behavior of a powerful dinosaur whose brain and vision were shut down most of the time…

JB bale
JB bale
25 days ago

Blinken was never in the room when Obama was around. He and Sullivan are a danger to the country. Joe Biden says don’t and no one listens.

insight piece. Thank you

Robert L Theriot
Robert L Theriot
28 days ago

I believe the Secretary of State’s first name is Antony, not Anthony. Check your records.
S

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