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'Antony Blinken interview: The secretary of state offers a window into Biden's foreign policy decisions'

The Washington Post

Malcolm Riddell

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CHINADebate

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David Ignatius | The Washington Post

'Antony Blinken interview: The secretary of state offers a window into Biden's foreign policy decisions'
'Antony Blinken interview: The secretary of state offers a window into Biden's foreign policy decisions'
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Interview
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Interview

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BIG IDEA | ‘ “Our goal is not to contain China, hold China back, keep it down,” Blinken underlined.’

This short op-ed is worth reading beyond China as a window into Biden foreign policy. Wish Mr. Ignatius would publish a transcript in full.

‘Secretary of State Blinken outlined Biden’s worldview in a 45-minute interview this week, his first lengthy one-on-one discussion of administration foreign policy.’

  • ‘Nobody has worked longer with Biden on these issues, or knows the president’s mind better, so the interview offered a window on how foreign policy decisions will be made.’

‘As Secretary of State Antony Blinken describes President Biden’s approach to major foreign policy issues, you don’t sense a “doctrine” so much as a pragmatic mind-set:’

  • ‘Solve problems, communicate clearly with friends and adversaries, advance the “rules-based order” one step at a time.’

‘Biden’s approach to China is a similar mix of stressing U.S. interests and exploring areas of cooperation.’

  • ‘Blinken said the message Biden told him to deliver to the Chinese leaders in Anchorage last month was that Chinese actions in Xinjiang, or Hong Kong, or Taiwan, or the South China Sea aren’t simply internal matters, but threaten the rules-based international order.’
  • ‘ “Our goal is not to contain China, hold China back, keep it down,” Blinken underlined.’

‘In a world moving at “hyperspeed,” Biden has embraced very traditional ideas about American global leadership.’

  • ‘ “What he sees time and again is that . . . when we’re not leading,” then someone else, increasingly China, “tries to assert itself in our place” in a way that may harm American interests or values, Blinken said.’
  • ‘ “Or no one shows up,” resulting in “chaos and law of the jungle,” which also hurts the United States and its friends.’

‘Biden’s view of American leadership may expand to new forms of cooperation.’

  • ‘Blinken mentioned a coalition, initially centered on “fellow democracies” and including other key stakeholders, such as global technology companies.’
  • ‘The goal would be to solve “big ticket” problems that can only be addressed collectively, such as pandemics, climate change and disruptive technologies.’

‘Seeking a pragmatic balance between values and interests is a perennial concern of U.S. foreign policy.’

  • ‘Biden’s 21st-century understanding of the limits of U.S. military power, combined with a traditional emphasis on U.S. engagement, may differentiate him from predecessors Donald Trump and Barack Obama, who struggled with the same dilemma but had less experience.’

‘I came away from the conversation with the same image I’ve had since Biden took office — of a genial, white-haired guy driving a Ferrari.’

  • ‘Biden’s ideas about the world are rooted in the past, but they’re tempered by a lifetime of cutting deals — and a very modern version of the art of the possible.’
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