Biden’s Secretary Of State Pick Signals No Fundamental Change In Foreign Policy
When it comes to US imperialism, a “return to normal” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for the position of Secretary of State, had his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, which was described by PBS as “relatively non-contentious.” Although nothing is certain as of this writing, Karen DeYoung also wrote in The Washington Post that he “appear[ed] to be sailing to confirmation.” DeYoung noted that even Lindsey Graham, who had previously opposed Blinken, this time called him an “outstanding choice,” and voiced his intention to vote in favor of the confirmation. Biden and Blinken have also been said to have a “‘mind meld’ on foreign policy,” so it seems worth examining his positions either way.
Of these positions, one of the most troubling is his saying to Marco Rubio that he “very much” agrees with “a number of the steps that were taken toward Venezuela in recent years,” and that this includes “recognizing Mr. Guaidó.” This comes almost two weeks after the EU pulling their support from Guaidó, saying that they “can no longer legally recognize” the opposition leader “after he lost his position as head of parliament,” as reported by Reuters.
Blinken also expressed support for continued sanctions against Venezuela, suggesting that we may need to “look at how we more effectively target the sanctions that we have so that regime enablers really feel the pain,” and that the US should be “seeking to increase pressure.” It should be noted here that US sanctions against Venezuela have been responsible for “tens of thousands of deaths,” according to a 2019 report from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research.
Also concerning was that he told Rubio, one of the key figures behind the Trump administration’s crackdown against Cuba, that he would “welcome the opportunity, if confirmed, to come and talk to you” when the subject came up in the hearing. Although Blinken and Rubio have previously been at odds over US policy regarding Cuba, Blinken later told Rubio that he “could have done a better job in engaging with you and consulting with you in advance.”
To give credit where it’s due, Blinken did reiterate the Biden administration’s intent to seek a return to the Iran nuclear deal, but also warned that they were “a long way from” any guarantee of terms. Another positive note was his statement that the administration “would cease arms sales and support to Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen,” as DeYoung reported in WaPo.
Not all of the news regarding US policy in the Middle East from the hearing is good, however, as Blinken also “promised an enduring U.S. commitment to Israel’s security,” and responded with a simple “No” when asked if he considered Israel a “racist nation.” He has also previously stated in a Meridian Online interview that he could “guarantee that in a Biden administration, we’d show up” in Syria, and said that “the U.S. needs to retain enough capacity in Afghanistan to prevent a resurgence of terrorism in order to protect American interests and national security.”
Biden’s other cabinet picks for foreign policy positions include Avril Haines, who was involved in the Obama-era drone-strike program and helped cover up CIA torture; and Samantha Power, who has previously been a strong defender of both Saudi Arabia and the war in Iraq. For Secretary of Defense, he’s gone for retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III, who most recently served on the board of directors at Raytheon.
When it comes to US foreign policy, a “return to normal” is the last thing we need, especially when you consider what passes for normal in this crowd.