Politics

Here’s Where Biden’s Secretary Of State Pick Tony Blinken Stands On China, Iran, Russia, And More

(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman General Assignment Reporter
Font Size:

President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is a longtime Democratic foreign policy adviser and a vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

Blinken is a veteran of the Clinton and Obama White Houses, and his stated positions on China, Russia and the Middle East often diverge from the foreign policy initiatives implemented in the last four years by President Trump. (RELATED: Biden Transition Fails To Disclose Tony Blinken’s Involvement In Lucrative Consulting And Private Equity Firms)

Here is where Blinken has stood on the key foreign policy challenges the Biden administration will face:

China

Blinken has stressed on multiple occasions that he believes President Trump has emboldened China by weakening America’s relationship with allies and undermining its own democracy. 

“President Trump has helped China advance its own key strategic goals. Weakening American alliances? Check. Leaving a vacuum in the world for China to fill? Check. Abandoning our own values and giving Beijing a green light to trample on human rights and democracy in places like Xinjiang or Hong Kong? Check… debasing our own democracy… and so reducing its appeal compared to China? That’s what I call check-mate,” he told Bloomberg in July.

“At this point, unfortunately, we have to recognize the reality and no longer treat Hong Kong with the fiction that it’s autonomous,” he added. (RELATED: Biden Introduces Foreign Policy Team, Says World Is ‘Looking Forward’ To America Leading Again)

Blinken suggested that an effective strategy to deal with China’s actions in Hong Kong would be to incentivize American companies to leave and possibly remove Hong Kong from certain international bodies. 

He went on to criticize Trump for wanting to pull out of the World Health Organization, which he says leaves “room for China to fill the vacuum and dominate the organization.” The WHO has faced significant criticism from President Trump and others for allegedly being too close with China to effectively combat the COVID-19 outbreak. 

On the issue of trade, Blinken has previously said pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was a mistake and that China would fill the gap left by America’s absence. He told Bloomberg that America’s economic opening with China “benefitted us too, in terms of affordable products for our consumers … and, indeed, for American jobs.” 

President Trump has criticized Chinese trade tactics and attempted to alter America’s economic relationship with China through tariffs on Chinese goods and new trade deals. (RELATED: ‘Polite & Orderly Caretakers Of America’s Decline’: Marco Rubio Pans Likely Biden Cabinet Picks)

Russia

Blinken also accused Trump of “doing Putin’s bidding in undermining Ukraine” in the Bloomberg interview. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in spring 2014, while Blinken was deputy national security adviser. 

At the time, Blinken helped craft the sanctions the Obama administration placed on Russia for taking Crimea, but he later admitted that the Obama administration’s efforts to find an “off-ramp” for Russia were unsuccessful. In 2017 he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times (NYT) calling on the Trump administration to arm Ukrainians against Moscow. 

Blinken supported the investigation of alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in 2016, saying that Russia wanted to undermine Americans’ confidence in our institutions. He criticized President Trump for firing James Comey, saying Trump was doing “Russia’s work.” He previously said “The president’s ongoing collusion with Russia’s plans is really striking.” The investigation and subsequent Mueller report found no significant evidence of Russian collusion with Trump. 

Middle East

Blinken is a strong defender of the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal. “By blowing up up [sic] the Iran nuclear deal President Trump puts us on a collision course with Iran,” he said in May 2018 when President Trump withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). (RELATED: Sen. Hawley Slams Biden Cabinet Picks — Calls Them ‘Corporatists’, ‘War Enthusiasts’)

He told Jewish Insider the Biden administration would continue strong non-nuclear sanctions as a “hedge against Iranian misbehavior in other areas.” The Trump administration has imposed new sanctions on Iran multiple times since withdrawing from the JCPOA. 

Regarding Syria, Blinken found some common ground with Trump, once again writing an op-ed in the NYT defending the president’s missile strikes on Syria in response to Bashar Al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons. When it comes to withdrawing troops from Syria, though, Blinken told Jewish Insider he disagreed with President Trump’s decision to do so in 2019 without consulting Israel first. 

Blinken was reportedly a key player in crafting the Obama administration’s Syria policy, according to Politico, and defended arming Syrian Rebels against the Assad regime in an interview with CNN. The Syrian Civil War, which is still ongoing today, broke out during Obama’s first term in the White House. 

Blinken also reportedly advocated American intervention in Libya, where he was among the “vocal minority” within the Obama administration who advocated for the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, Politico reported. Libya devolved further into conflict following the removal of Gaddafi from power, and a civil war is still ongoing. 

Blinken praised the Trump administration’s brokering of deals between Israel and Persian Gulf states like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in his interview with Jewish Insider. (RELATED: ‘Do What Needs To Be Done’: Trump Directs His Administration To Begin The Transition Process With Biden)

He has also said that the U.S. should not tie military aid to Israel to domestic issues it may or may not agree with, such as annexation in the West Bank. In 2016, he tweeted that he was proud to have served in an administration that “has done more for Israel’s security than any before.” 

North Korea

Blinken wrote an op-ed in the NYT in 2018 to say that the best model for a North Korean nuclear deal would be the Iran agreement reached by the Obama administration. He has frequently stated that Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA undermines America’s credibility and makes it harder for Washington to get Pyongyang to agree to a deal. 

As of 2016, Blinken saw North Korea as a potential area of cooperation with Beijing, saying both China and the U.S. had a shared interest in regional stability. Blinken is expected by experts to be open to direct negotiations with Kim Jong Un, but would likely approach such talks alongside allies South Korea and Japan, according to the Korea Times. President Trump has met directly with North Korean leadership on multiple occasions.