Antony Blinken | Secretary of State, Biography, & Facts | Britannica
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Antony Blinken

United States government official
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Also known as: Antony John Blinken
Antony Blinken
Antony Blinken
April 16, 1962 (age 61) Yonkers New York

Antony Blinken, in full Antony John Blinken, (born April 16, 1962, Yonkers, New York, U.S.), American government official best known as the 71st U.S. secretary of state (2021– ). U.S. president-elect Joe Biden nominated Blinken in November 2020, and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 26, 2021. He held foreign policy adviser roles for three U.S. presidential administrations, and he served as deputy secretary of state under Pres. Barack Obama from 2015 to 2017.

Early life

Blinken was born in Yonkers, New York, to Judith (née Frehm) Blinken, who would later be appointed as a UNESCO special envoy for cultural diplomacy (2017– ), and Donald Blinken, a venture capitalist who later served as the U.S. ambassador to Hungary (1994–97). Blinken’s parents divorced in 1971, and Judith married Holocaust survivor and lawyer Samuel Pisar that same year. Blinken moved with his mother and stepfather to Paris, where he attended an international school, graduating with a French baccalauréat degree in 1980. Blinken attended Harvard College; he served as coeditor of the student newspaper The Harvard Crimson and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies in 1984. Praeger Publishers released his Harvard senior thesis in the book Ally Versus Ally: America, Europe, and the Siberian Pipeline Crisis in 1987. He went on to earn a law degree from Columbia Law School in 1988.

Early career

Blinken’s career in public service began when was hired as a special assistant in the Bureau for European and Canadian Affairs at the U.S. State Department in 1993. He joined the National Security Council staff in 1994 under Pres. Bill Clinton, a role that he held until 2001, and he also served as a foreign policy speechwriter for Clinton. In 2002 Blinken married Evan Ryan, who later became a State Department official, and from 2002 to 2008 he served as the Democratic staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he became a friend of Senator Biden. At the start of the Obama administration in 2009, Blinken advised Vice President Biden on national security, and he served as Obama’s deputy assistant from 2009 to 2013. He was appointed deputy national security adviser in 2013, and he served as deputy secretary of state from 2015 to 2017. After Obama left office in 2017, Blinken cofounded WestExec Advisors, a Washington, D.C.-based political strategy consulting firm.

Secretary of state

The Biden administration sought to create a foreign policy legacy distinct from that of former president Donald Trump’s administration, which had frequently criticized American allies and partners in Europe and Asia. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III visited Japan and South Korea in March 2021 and worked with their diplomatic counterparts to affirm the importance of U.S. alliances with those countries.

In February 2020 the Trump administration, in an agreement with the Taliban, had initiated the process to draw down the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, a move largely viewed by foreign policy experts as impulsive. After carrying out the controversial plan negotiated by the previous administration, the Biden administration was criticized for the chaotic troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, which coincided with a Taliban military campaign to seize control of the country. The House Foreign Affairs Committee subpoenaed Blinken in March 2023 for a dissent cable related to the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In April 2021 Blinken attended meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials in Anchorage, Alaska, which were intended to ease tensions between the U.S. and China, but the talks highlighted significant policy disagreements between the two countries. In introductory remarks, Blinken characterized the U.S. relationship with China as “…competitive where it should be, collaborative where it can be, adversarial where it must be.”

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 galvanized a robust U.S. reaction, including unprecedented sanctions against Russia levied in concert with a broad coalition of allies and partners. Blinken and Austin made an unannounced trip to Kyiv, Ukraine, in April 2022 to meet with Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelensky. The meeting focused on security and military assistance Ukraine would need to defend itself against the Russian invasion. Blinken made another trip to Kyiv in September 2022 to announce that the Biden administration would provide an additional $2.8 billion in military aid to Ukraine and neighbouring European countries that could be threatened by Russian aggression.

James O'Brien