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  • Amanda Newman

Blinken: A Stabilizing Force in American Diplomacy

In the complex web of geopolitical affairs, the role of the Secretary of State is critical, and Antony Blinken, the 71st U.S. Secretary of State, brings experience, linguistic proficiency, and a diplomatic family history that has contributed to stabilizing our nation internationally.

What is a Secretary of State?

The Secretary of State is the chief foreign affairs adviser to the President of the United States, overseeing the nation's diplomatic affairs, representing its interests abroad, and carrying out their duties through the State Department and the Foreign Service of the United States. Before becoming the Secretary of State in 2021, Blinken had already been an influential figure in the US’s foreign affairs.

Blinken started his governmental career under Clinton’s presidency in the 1990s, serving as his Special Assistant and Senior Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council. He has also held various key positions, including Deputy Secretary of State under President Obama. With this extensive background, Blinken has been a key influence on the current Biden Administration's approach to international relations. One of Blinken's unique strengths lies in his impeccable French fluency, which has proven invaluable in fostering diplomatic ties with Europe. Blinken spent part of his childhood in France, studying at the École Jeannine Manuel, a bilingual school in Paris, where he became proficient in French. In an interview in 2018 with FranceInter, a major French radio station, he helped communicate the US’s position regarding past Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, advocating for a two-state solution in order to preserve democracy in the Middle East. Blinken’s linguistic aptitude facilitates effective communication and collaboration, enhancing the United States' ability to navigate the complexities of global politics.

Moreover, Blinken's family background bolsters his diplomatic endeavors. His stepfather, Samuel Pisar, was a Holocaust survivor and a renowned international lawyer. This connection has given Blinken a unique perspective on the importance of diplomacy in preventing conflict and promoting peace— a lesson that resonates in his approach to contemporary global issues.

Past Secretaries of State have also had enduring impacts on shaping U.S. foreign policy. Henry Kissinger, who served under Presidents Nixon and Ford, played a vital role in the historic diplomatic opening with China in the early 1970s, transforming the political landscape between both international superpowers. Likewise, other Secretaries of State, like Dean Acheson and George Marshall, have left long-lasting effects on American diplomacy. Acheson's efforts post World War II were instrumental in creating NATO, while Marshall's plan catalyzed Europe's post-war recovery.

From navigating the challenges posed by a rising China, addressing conflict in the Middle East and Ukraine, and highlighting climate change and global health crises, Blinken’s diplomatic strength is crucial in safeguarding U.S. interests and boosting international cooperation. As the 71st Secretary of State, Blinken follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, continuing the legacy of American diplomacy. His French fluency and family connections only add to the arsenal of tools he employs in the pursuit of a stable and prosperous future for the United States on the world stage. In the hands of Blinken and his forebearers, the role of Secretary of State remains a critical force for stability and progress in our ever-changing global landscape.

You can watch the interview with FranceInter by clicking HERE.

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