Reviewing Antony Blinken’s Track Record
Dr. Albert Ellis, one of the world’s top psychologists, suggests that the study of past track records is an essential undertaking for an effective assessment of the future: “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”
This suggestion is also applicable to the assessment of policy formulation by the next US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. Blinken’s close ties with President-elect Biden, dating back to Biden’s chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, make him, potentially, as influential as secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Jim Baker during the presidency of Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush respectively.
Israel policy. Blinken opposes Israel’s annexation of Judea and Samaria, as well as potentially Jerusalem beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines. He considers Israeli land concessions to be a prerequisite for peace. He supports the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza and the pre-1967 Jordan-occupied Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. However, according to Blinken, “US aid to Israel is beyond debate and should never be used as leverage to influence Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. … It’s in the US interest that Israel has the means to secure itself. … Israel’s security is challenged on a daily basis. Israel faces existential threats every single day.”
Palestinian policy. Blinken apparently assumes that a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and East Jerusalem would serve justice and spare Israel a demographic calamity. He ignores the well-documented demographic reality, which exposes the myth of the Arab demographic timebomb. He approaches the Palestinian issue from the human rights angle, notwithstanding the Palestinian track record of anti-Jewish hate-education and incitement, anti-Jewish terrorism, and intra-Arab terrorism. His past policies lead one to conclude that he believes in the centrality of the Palestinian issue to the Arab agenda and the pursuit of Israel-Arab peace.
Libya policy. In the past, Blinken indicated that he believed that the introduction of human rights and democracy to the Arab world would constitute the most effective foundation of peaceful coexistence. In 2011, as the National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden, he urged a US/NATO military offensive against Muammar Gaddafi, in order to stop “Qadhafi’s human rights violations and slaughter of his own people.” The war on the arch-human rights violator Gaddafi transformed Libya into a major platform of arch-human rights violating Islamic terrorists, which is still haunting Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Europe, and Africa.
Sadly, contrary to the well-intentioned Blinken worldview, in the real Middle East, the choice is between pro-Western or anti-Western non-democratic, anti-human rights regimes.
“Arab Spring” policy. The Libya policy was reflective of the worldview of key foreign policy and national security players — including Blinken — who formulated the US Middle East policy during the 2010/2011 volcanic eruption of protests and revolutions, and viewed it through the prism of human rights. He overlooked the complexity of these confrontations (among non-democratic, violent elements) and underestimated the dominant role of Islamic terrorism and inherent intra-Arab domestic and regional brutal power struggles. Along with most of the Western foreign policy establishment, Blinken referred to this wave of violence, which still haunts the Arab Street, as the “Arab Spring,” “youth revolution,” and “march for democracy;” while, in fact, it has been a tectonic Arab Tsunami all along.
Saudi Arabia policy. A reassessment of US policy toward Saudi Arabia, and putting on notice Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (whom he considers “impulsive and reckless”), are expected due to Blinken’s focus on human rights, while underestimating the impact on the intensified anti-Western Shite and Muslim Brotherhood Sunni terrorism, which aim to topple all pro-US and relatively-moderate Arab regimes, establish a pan-Islamic state, and proliferate Islamic terrorism globally.
Blinken may precondition the sale of advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia upon improved human rights (which would increase Chinese, Russian, and European military sales to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf). In addition, Blinken opposes the Saudi involvement in the civil war in Yemen, which has become the most active Iranian beachhead against Saudi Arabia, aiming to topple the Saudi regime. He also has indicated that he objects to the Saudi aggressive policy toward Qatar, which is a strategic ally of Iran’s ayatollahs and Turkey’s Erdogan, and a chief financier of Muslim Brotherhood terrorists — three major threats to the House of Saud.
Egypt policy. In 2009, Blinken supported the human rights-centered US policy toward Egypt, courting the Muslim Brotherhood, which led to its 2012-2013 rise to power after the popular protests that toppled the pro-US president Hosni Mubarak. Blinken’s pledge to renew a US emphasis on human rights violations in Egypt was expressed via November 19 and 20, 2020 tweets, protesting the arrest of three Egyptian human rights activists. However, Middle East reality suggests that, notwithstanding his honorable intentions, Blinken’s only choice is between a pro-US and an anti-US non-democratic Egypt.
Iran policy. Driven by his globalist, multilateralist, joint leadership world view (contrary to unilateral US national security action), Blinken was closely involved in the formulation of the game-changing 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran. Therefore, Blinken will likely seek to reenter the accord, seeking a stronger and longer-lasting agreement, playing down Iranian human rights violations, lifting as many sanctions as possible, which will yield a robust tailwind to Iran’s economy (as documented by the 2015 precedent), and bolstering Iran’s efforts to topple all pro-Western Arab regimes and expand its terror network in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and South and Central America.
Will Antony Blinken learn from past errors by repeating — or avoiding them? Will Blinken adjust his policy recommendations to Middle East reality, or is he determined to export “cancel-culture” to the Middle East, with the well-intentioned aim to introduce human rights, democracy, and peaceful-coexistence into the ruthlessly entrenched Middle East culture?
Yoram Ettinger is a former Israeli ambassador and expert on US-Israel relations and Middle East affairs.