WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden will name Antony Blinken, a veteran foreign policy official and longtime confidant, as his secretary of state, according to a source familiar with the decision.
Blinken, who held top-level national security and State Department positions during the Obama administration, has worked side-by-side with Biden on foreign policy issues for nearly two decades.
Biden has called Blinken a “superstar” and once said he could do “any job.” By choosing Blinken for one of the most coveted jobs in the Cabinet, Biden is aiming to install an alter-ego at the helm of the State Department.
But the move may disappoint some who wanted Biden to nominate Susan Rice, another longtime foreign policy hand and a Black woman, to lead the State Department. Biden has pledged to appoint a diverse Cabinet and tapping Rice would have sent an early signal of his commitment to fulfilling that pledge.
The American-born, Paris-raised Blinken is a safer pick when it comes to Senate confirmation. Rice would have faced a Republican grilling over her initial statements about the 2012 Benghazi attacks that left four Americans dead.
Biden is also expected to name Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman who held a top diplomatic post in the Obama administration, as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, according to multiple reports.
A spokesman for the Biden campaign declined to confirm Thomas-Greenfield or Blinken’s nomination.
Blinken will be tasked with carrying out a weighty agenda. Asked about Biden’s foreign policy vision in a Sept. 15 podcast interview with CBS, Blinken said he could sum it up in three words: “leadership, cooperation and democracy.”
Blinken argued that “the world just doesn’t organize itself” and that America needs to take a leadership role.
“When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one or two things is likely to happen,” Blinken said. “Either some other country tries to take our place – but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values – or no one does. And then you get chaos or a vacuum filled by bad things before it’s filled by good things. Either way, that’s bad for us.”
The 58-year-old Blinken was Biden’s staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for six years, starting in 2002. When Biden became vice president, Blinken became his national security director – before President Barack Obama elevated him to higher positions, including the No. 2 job at the State Department.
Blinken “knows everything about the president-elect’s perspectives on national security and foreign policy,” said Wendy Sherman, who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs in the Obama administration.