Antony Blinken, Biden's Choice for Secretary of State, is an Old Friend of India
File photo of Antony Blinken (Reuters)
However, Blinken has also indicated how the relationship with India is not going to be all milk and honey. He too will be forced to raise uncomfortable domestic issues with India, albeit privately.
- Last Updated: November 24, 2020, 22:22 IST
- FOLLOW US ON:
President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Antony 'Tony' Blinken as the next secretary of state of the United States. Blinken, an old State Department hand, has for over a decade now been the chief of the foreign policy brains trust of the former vice president. He was the former national security adviser to the vice president when Biden was the resident of the US Naval Observatory. Blinken had earlier served as staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was its chairman. Later, Blinken served as deputy secretary under John Kerry. Blinken started off his career as a foreign speech writer to President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s. His father was an ambassador to Hungary around that time.
As a long-time foreign policy adviser to Biden, Blinken has also helped shape Biden’s own views on the Middle East, China, Europe, Iran and India. He helped navigate the choppy waters of the Senate when the Indo-US nuclear deal was ratified there. It was particularly important because while there was bipartisan support for the deal, it had to be pushed through despite some democratic opposition on the far left. Obama was one of the earliest skeptics of the deal.
Blinken, earlier this summer, had spoken at the Hudson Institute when he was asked about how he sees relations with India. This is what Blinken had said when asked about how much of a priority India would be for a Biden administration. “I think from Vice President Biden’s perspective, strengthening and deepening the relationship with India is going to be a very high priority. It’s usually important to the future of the Indo-Pacific and the kind of order that we all want; it’s fair, stable, and hopefully increasingly democratic and it’s vital to being able to tackle some of these big global challenges.”
Blinken had also mentioned in that speech how Vice President Biden played a key role in getting India on board the Paris Climate accord because without India and China, the agreement itself would have been meaningless.
“We then worked hard to persuade India that it would be more prosperous and more secure if it’s signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement. We succeeded. It wasn’t easy. It was for all the reasons that you cited. It was a challenging effort but Vice President Biden was one of the leaders of the effort to convince our partners in India and they did. I think that’s a reflection, again, of the fact that we cannot solve common global challenges without India as part of the deal,” Blinken said.
One of the top priorities for the new Biden administration would be to join the international agreements and commitments and organisations which the Trump administration had America pull out of. Most notably, the top 3 on this list would be the Paris Climate Accord, the World Health Organization and the JCPOA with Iran.
But Blinken also gave an insight into how the relationship with India is not going to be all milk and honey. He too will be forced to raise uncomfortable domestic issues with India, albeit privately. “We obviously have challenges now and real concerns, for example, about some of the actions that the government has taken particularly in cracking down on freedom of movement and freedom of speech in Kashmir, some of the laws on citizenship, but you’re always better engaging with a partner and a vitally important one like India, when you can speak frankly and directly about areas where you have differences.”
Clearly South Block mandarins will be keen to engage the incoming secretary of state so that both sides get off to a good start.