Former Obama administration official Antony Blinken is President-Elect Joe Biden’s choice for Secretary of State, a transition official told reporters. Biden’s transition team has said that the President-Elect will begin announcing major cabinet selections on Tuesday. But in advance of that, it looks like he will tap Blinken to be the country’s chief diplomat. He previously served as deputy national security advisor under President Obama, and later as deputy Secretary of State under the same administration.
Blinken has also worked for nearly 20 years alongside President-Elect Biden. As a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden relied on Blinken as his top aide.
Blinken is a defender of global alliances, and will likely prioritize mending relations between the US and its friends abroad. Many such partnerships have become tense under the current administration, but Biden has vowed to regain the trust of America’s allies. As Secretary of State, Blinken will likely steer the US into rejoining the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal, and the World Health Organizations (all pacts from which the Trump administration has withdrawn).
And of course, the entire world continues to face a relentless pandemic. In the year ahead, Blinken will have to navigate international cooperation over the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
This summer, Blinken seemed to criticize the “America First” philosophy of President Trump’s foreign policy. Rather, he spoke about the many challenges faces the world that no single government could possible overcome alone.
“Simply put,” he said, “the big problems we face as a country and as a planet, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s a pandemic, whether it’s the spread of bad weapons—to state the obvious, none of these have unilateral solutions. Even a country as powerful as the United States can’t handle them alone.”
Blinken has also spoken about America’s obligation to be a moral compass to the world. “In time of crisis or calamity,” he said in a 2015 speech, “it is the United States that the world turns to first and always.” In the same lecture, he emphasized the importance of leading by example. “American leadership has a unique ability to mobilize others and to make a difference,” he said.