Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Antony Blinken: Another War Hawk Confirmed to the Biden Cabinet

The recent Senate hearing and confirmation of Antony Blinken as Biden’s secretary of state perfectly highlights the hypocrisy and danger of neoliberal foreign policy.

Samuel Karlin

January 28, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: Reuters

A recurring theme of the Biden administration in the period leading up to his inauguration and in the early days of his presidency has been the need to reassert the United States as a leader on the world stage. And so longtime Biden ally Antony Blinken was confirmed as secretary of state on January 27. He is a perfect choice for this mission — in all the worst ways.

Blinken’s Background

Blinken, like the rest of Biden’s national security team, is a true believer in American interventionism. Multiple news outlets have reported that during the lead-up to the Iraq War, Blinken served as an adviser to Biden and was a significant influence on Biden’s support for invading Iraq under the false pretense of weapons of mass destruction. There remain few reported details of the specific ways Blinken influenced Biden’s support for the war, but details from Blinken’s time as foreign policy adviser for the Obama administration could give more insight into his lack of concern for civilians who have been terrorized by U.S. imperialism in the Middle East.

During the Obama administration, Blinken turned out to be even more neoconservative on foreign policy than the heads of the administration. Most notably, he was one of the loudest advocates for the U.S. overthrow of Libyan president Muammar al-Gaddafi, outhawking even Obama and Biden on the issue. U.S. regime change in Libya led to a country so destabilized that there are now open-air slave markets. Blinken is also an unapologetic supporter of Israel and its decades-long oppression of the Palestinian people, saying that he “would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions that it makes. Period. Full stop.”

After spending the past four years as a lobbyist for the military-industrial complex through West-Exec Advisors, a firm he cofounded, Blinken will now lead U.S. foreign policy. The specifics of U.S. interventionism under Biden remain unclear; Trump’s presidency threw off the typical U.S. approach to the world. But Blinken’s Senate confirmation hearing provides a good preview.

Blinken’s Hearing

In his opening statement, Blinken highlighted the neoliberal interventionist ideology that he and the rest of Biden’s national security team embrace. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place … or, maybe just as bad, no one does.”

The message is clear. Blinken and his ilk believe that nothing short of global U.S. hegemony will do, and he has every intention of shaping a world dominated by the interests of the United States — or, more accurately, the interests of America’s capitalist class. Throughout the hearing, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked Blinken about some of the nations toward which the United States has been increasingly belligerent — most notably China, Iran, and Venezuela. Blinken affirmed his plan to be tough on all three. He also, unintentionally, contradicted his performative commitment to human rights several times.

Blinken’s first contradiction concerned Iran. He, like many in the Biden administration, has publicly committed to rejoining the Iran nuclear deal from which Trump pulled out. Blinken, though, repeatedly made clear that he believes the United States should get more concessions out of Iran before doing so. He agreed with Lindsay Graham’s (R-SC) characterization of Iran as “the largest state sponsor of terrorism.” The Iranian state is no ally of the global working class, but neither is Israel nor Saudi Arabia, nor, for that matter, the United States.

Marco Rubio (R-FL) focused his questions for Blinken on Latin America, specifically Cuba and Venezuela. Blinken was quick to express support for Venezuelan coup leader and worldwide laughingstock Juan Guaidó. When asked about U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, a Trump policy that has helped kill 40,000 Venezuelans since 2017, Blinken refused to fully denounce the brutal policy and instead suggested that sanctions be reexamined so that they can more effectively target “regime enablers.”

When asked by Bob Menendez (D-NJ) how the United States should “compete” with China, Blinken advocated approaching China from a position of strength. The U.S. foreign policy establishment has long been engaging in what could be described as a cold war with China, and Biden’s national security team is packed with people who could turn that into a hot one.

When it came to human rights, Blinken showed little concern. This was most notable in his response to Mitt Romney (R-UT) regarding the strong U.S. ally in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who could possibly help the United States in confronting China. Modi, a Hindu nationalist, has overseen and encouraged massive human rights violations against India’s Muslim population and is currently using police violence in an effort to shut down a mass movement of striking farmers.

A Champion of U.S. Imperialism

Blinken justifies U.S. intervention with a kind of morality that is nothing but posturing. Denouncing Iran while enabling Israeli oppression of Palestinians, or viewing Modi as a great ally in countering China’s “human rights violations,” is really all about securing and expanding U.S. economic influence.

The United States has seen its hegemonic economic influence in the world decline. The Trump administration foolishly believed that through more aggressive economic warfare it could achieve U.S. influence in regions where China has somewhat of a foothold. China is the greatest threat to U.S. foreign policy and U.S. capital not because it violates human rights, but because its economic influence is on the rise.

Whether it’s Trump’s approach to “American leadership” or restoration through the “old” approach with Biden, the brunt of U.S. violence — be it economic or military — is always borne by the working class. Blinken, throughout his career, has shown his willingness to risk any possible harm to the world’s most vulnerable populations in pursuing even the most haphazardly planned attempts to establish greater U.S. influence abroad.

Facebook Twitter Share

Samuel Karlin

Samuel Karlin is a socialist with a background in journalism. He mainly writes for Left Voice about U.S. imperialism and international class struggle.

Guest Posts

Victory for the UAW at Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga Represents a Potential Turning Point for Labor

Following a year of strong union struggles, a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee has voted to unionize with the UAW. This victory, in the traditionally anti-union South, shows that the terrain of labor struggle in the U.S. is shifting.

Joey Eichler

May 17, 2024

University of Michigan Campus Protestors Are Keeping the Focus on the Genocide in Gaza

For the past two weeks, the encampment at the University of Michigan has been a site for collective learning and broad public information campaigns.

Ryan McCarty

May 8, 2024

Statement: The People’s Art Institute Denounces Chicago Police Attack on Student Encampment

On May 4, the administration of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) sent Chicago Police Department (CPD) and SWAT police to attack a student encampment. We republish the encampment’s statement recounting the events and denouncing the repression.

Echoes of Resilience: Even Beyond Gaza Palestinian Families Are Torn Apart

A nurse from Nablus in the West Bank talks about how the war has affected work and even in vitro fertilization.

MOST RECENT

A Russian tank fires toward Kharkiv on the May 10 offensive against Ukraine.

Russia’s Offensive in Ukraine May Be a Turning Point in the War

Russia’s May 10 offensive in Ukraine may be a turning point in the dynamics of the war, and the specter of Ukraine’s defeat is exposing the cracks that divide the Western powers.

Claudia Cinatti

May 21, 2024
Signs and banners at the picket line in front of the UC Santa Cruz in May, 2024. UC student workers are beginning a historic strike for Palestine, against genocide.

University of California Student Workers Begin Historic Political Strike against Repression and Genocide

This week, student and postdoctoral workers at the University of California began a historic strike in response to the brutal, violent repression of students, faculty, and staff protesting for Palestine. The action marks an important escalation of the labor movement’s struggle in defense of Palestine and the right to protest.

Olivia Wood

May 21, 2024
Protesters carrying Palestinian flags march on a street in front of a line of cops

Activists, Including Left Voice and Detroit Will Breathe Members, Arrested at Protest of Biden in Detroit, Free All Arrested and Drop All Charges

Detroit police brutally arrested activists who were protesting outside of Biden's speech to the NAACP.

Left Voice

May 19, 2024
Tents at the Rutgers University in NJ during the Palestine encampment in May, 2024

What the Movement for Palestine Can Learn from the Rutgers Encampment Deal

The Gaza solidarity encampment at Rutgers New Brunswick ended in a deal between the administration and a negotiations team at the camp. It’s been a highly controversial decision. The experience at Rutgers shows the need for a truly democratic, bottom-up fight for Palestine.

Jason Koslowski

May 17, 2024