Antony J. Blinken, the 71st U.S. Secretary of State, 2021 U.S. State Department Photo.

Antony J. Blinken, the 71st U.S. Secretary of State, 2021 U.S. State Department Photo.


October 20, 2009

Updated July 25, 2021 to show that Anthony J. Blinken was nominated by President Biden on November 23, 2020; confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 26, 2021; and sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris the following day as the 71st U.S. Secretary of State.

This article was also published in October 2009 by Digital Journal but is no longer available on the Digital Journal platform.

By Ted Lipien

SAN FRANCISCO Tony Blinken, national security adviser to the vice president, said in a briefing with reporters before Biden left for Europe October 20, that leaders in Warsaw, Bucharest and Prague should think less of what the U.S. can do for them and more about what they can do with the United States.

Sounding more like an “Ugly American” than a member of the administration that promised a new, sensitive approach to dealing with other nations, Blinken said that “The United States is thinking about the region less in terms of what we can do for Central Europe and more in terms of what we can do with Central Europe.” “The countries are no longer post-communist, or in transition; they are full-fledged members of the NATO alliance and the European Union, with serious and substantial responsibilities,” Blinken said.

Eastern Europe’s security concerns, Blinken said, remain a significant U.S. concern, despite a recent change in a proposed missile defense system for Europe. But Blinken cautioned that the trip is not all about missile defense; it involves a broad range of issues including support for U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan, advancing democracy in Eastern Europe, energy and climate change issues, and recovery from the global economic crisis.

Biden’s aide tells East Europeans to get over¬† Cold War history

During the trip, Europe will mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that effectively signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War in Europe and around the world.

“The vice president is going to mark the moment, but his focus is going to be much more on the future than on the past,” Blinken said. “In his view, the real validation of 1989 is less in what we took down and more in what we built and continue to build together: strong democracies, strong partnerships that deliver for people in all of our countries and beyond.”

This comment may reflect the Obama Administration’s thinking that Central European leaders and societies are too focused on history and are too fearful of Russia. Downplaying of the importance of the fall of communist dictatorships is not likely to be well received in Central Europe but will be welcome news in Russia, where officials and pro-government scholars have engaged in a campaign to rehabilitate Stalin and Soviet history.

The White House did not think World War II and Cold War history¬†was terribly important when President Obama chose to announce his decision to cancel the Bush Administration missile defense plans in Poland and the Czech Republic on the day the Poles were observing the 70th anniversary of the invasion of their country by the Red Army. Soviet troops attacked Poland on September 17, 1939 under the secret terms of Stalin’s pact with Hitler, whose armies invaded the country on September 1. President Obama declined the Polish government’s invitation to attend the 70th anniversary observances of the outbreak of World War II, which were held in Gdansk, Poland, the birthplace of the Solidarity labor union.

And now President Obama has decided to ignore another historical anniversary. Biden’s advisor Tony Blinken did not explain the reasons behind the cancellation of President Obama’s trip to attend the 20th anniversary observances in Berlin of the fall of communism in Central Europe. The White House blamed the cancellation on a scheduling conflict, but it is seen as yet another indication that Central Europe and support for resisting the Kremlin’s efforts to reestablish a sphere of influence in the region are low on President Obama’s list of priorities.

As NATO members, Blinken said, each nation is committed to the others’ defense, and all three allies make important contributions with soldiers and civilians to the effort in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq and in the Balkans.

The overall message of Vice President Biden’s advisor, “don’t ask America for more but give more yourselves,” could be viewed in Central Europe not just as harsh but quite arrogant, coming from the Administration that had recently removed important security arrangements that gave the region extra protection against Russian imperial ambitions.

Despite the undiplomatic language of the vice president’s aide that seems to reflect the real intentions of the Obama White House, Vice President Biden himself has shown, at least in public, far greater concern and interest in Central Europe than his boss. As vice president, he won’t be able to deliver much, but he’s the best the Central Europeans can get from the Obama Administration.

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