Ambassador Antony Blinken
Photo Credits: Meridian International Center
On Tuesday May 19th, Meridian International hosted another series of virtual Insights@Meridian with former Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken, moderated by Margaret Brennan, CBS News’ Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent.
Below are the top takeaways from the conversation.
1. RETURN TO INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND ALLIANCES. The U.S. has historically taken a leadership role in establishing the rules, norms and institutions that govern international cooperation. While these institutions are imperfect and need reform, the absence of U.S. leadership in these bodies, Blinken noted, yields one of two outcomes: another country, such as China, will step in and rewrite the rules, possibly in a way that does not serve U.S. interests; or no one will fill the void and the result will be chaos. If the U.S. is guiding reform efforts for bodies like the World Health Organization, there’s a greater possibility for effective reforms.
2. CHINA DROPPED THE BALL. “China is a great nation, and with that comes great responsibility,” especially considering the virus originated within its territory, Blinken said. China fell short on its duty by withholding information and access for international inspectors in regards to COVID-19. According to Blinken, pursuing policies that demand more of Beijing is not about beating up on China, but about insisting that the country live up to its responsibilities as one of the leading international actors.
3. AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE. As regulations surrounding the pandemic continue to evolve, Blinken conveyed the importance of learning from mistakes made in both the domestic and international response to the crisis in order to better prepare for the next one. He observed that previous administrations set up defenses to predict, prevent and mitigate pandemic threats, but that these defenses have since been dismantled. This is a trend, Blinken asserted, that must be reversed.
4. A FAILED RESPONSE TO SYRIA. Blinken spoke of the personal significance the Syrian conflict has for him, acknowledging that the Obama Administration policy failed, and the current Administration is doing no better. However, there are still areas where the U.S. can affect positive change. He cited American Special Forces near an oil-rich area in northeastern Syria, and America’s capacity to mobilize other countries to assist rebuilding efforts as reasons for hope. While there is no guarantee of success, Blinken declared: “I can guarantee that in a Biden administration, we’d show up.”
5. DIPLOMACY IN AFGHANISTAN. Blinken applauded the diplomatic progress made in Afghanistan led by the Trump Administration. He added that the situation is still complicated, which will make reaching an agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government an even greater challenge. Moving forward, the U.S. needs to retain enough capacity in Afghanistan to prevent a resurgence of terrorismin in order to protect American interests and national security.
For more information on Meridian International Center: https://www.meridian.org/