Antony Blinken’s Past: Will It Catch Up With Him?
When last week Antony Blinken emerged as the candidate likely to be tapped by Joe Biden to be his nominee for either National Security Advisor or Secretary of State, those of us in the camp dissenting from the ‘bash Russia’ policies on Capitol Hill during the Trump years groaned at the thought of the same policy being now enthroned in the Executive Branch by one of its most prominent spokesmen. Blinken had long served Biden as an advisor, had been in the Obama Administration as Undersecretary of State and was known to be one of those actively promoting imposition of stiff sanctions on Russia as from its 2014 takeover of the Crimea.
When he was interviewed a couple of days ago by Stephen Sackur on the BBC’s Hard Talk show, Blinken gave mixed signals on what Russia policy will be under Joe Biden. He reiterated his long held stance that Russia would have to pay a tougher price for its [alleged] massive and malign intervention in the American political process during the 2016 presidential election. At the same time, he said that there were areas such as disarmament and climate change where the United States and the Russian Federation should cooperate. Clearly there was nothing about the way he handled Sackur’s questions to suggest he shares the opinion of former CIA Director John Brennan that Russians are incurable liars and low life because it is in their DNA.
A lot of attention has been given in the press in recent days to Blinken’s background from childhood on up. We are told, for example, that he is one of the most “European” American foreign policy specialists in memory. Not quite a Henry Kissinger, but then not a bumpkin either.
Though our journalists are quick to speak of the “fluency” of the leading personalities in our foreign policy community, as for example the supposedly Russian-fluent Susan Rice, in the case of Blinken the bouquet to him over fluency in French is very possibly justified. In 1971, at the age of nine, he left behind the exclusive Dalton School in Manhattan and moved with his divorced mother to Paris, into the household of his new stepfather, the internationally celebrated French lawyer Samuel Pisar. There he entered the Ecole Jeannine Manuel. But before jumping to conclusions about young Blinken’s studying all those years in French, I point out that the Ecole describes itself as “a French bi
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