On January 19, Antony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be the 71st Secretary of State appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his confirmation hearing.
Excerpt from his prepared statement (PDF):
If confirmed, three priorities will guide my time as Secretary.
First, I will work with you to reinvigorate the Department by investing in its greatest asset: the foreign service officers, civil servants, and locally employed staff who animate American diplomacy around the world.
I know from firsthand experience their passion, energy, and courage. Often far from home and away from loved ones, sometimes in dangerous conditions exacerbated by the global pandemic – they deserve our full support. If I am confirmed as Secretary, they will have it.
I am committed to advancing our security and prosperity by building a diplomatic corps that fully represents America in all its talent and diversity. Recruiting, retaining, and promoting officers with the skills to contend with 21st Century challenges and who look like the country we represent. Sparing no effort to ensure their safety and well-being. Demanding accountability – starting with the Secretary – for building a more diverse, inclusive and non-partisan workplace.
Second, working across government and with partners around the world, we will revitalize American diplomacy to take on the most pressing challenges of our time.
We’ll show up again, day-in, day-out whenever and wherever the safety and well-being of Americans is at stake. We’ll engage the world not as it was, but as it is. A world of rising nationalism, receding democracy, growing rivalry with China, Russia, and other authoritarian states, mounting threats to a stable and open international system, and a technological revolution that is reshaping every aspect of our lives, especially in cyberspace.
For all that has changed, some things remain constant.
American leadership still matters.
The reality is that the world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happen: 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. Either way, that does not serve the American people
Humility and confidence should be the flip sides of America’s leadership coin.
Humility because we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad. And humility because most of the world’s problems are not about us, even as they affect us. Not one of the big challenges we face can be met by one country acting alone – even one as powerful as the U.S.
But we’ll also act with confidence that America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on earth to mobilize others for the greater good.
Guided by those principles, we can overcome the COVID crisis – the greatest shared challenge since World War II.
We can outcompete China – and remind the world that a government of the people, by the people, can deliver for its people.
We can take on the existential threat posed by climate change.
We can revitalize our core alliances – force multipliers of our influence around the world. Together, we are far better positioned to counter threats posed by Russia, Iran, and North Korea and to stand up for democracy and human rights.
And in everything we do around the world, we can and we must ensure that our foreign policy delivers for American working families here at home.
Let me conclude with a word about this institution, whose resilience and determination was on full display in the aftermath of senseless and searing violence in these halls. Both the President-elect and I believe we must restore Congress’s traditional role as a partner in our foreign policy making.
In recent years, across administrations of both parties, Congress’s voice in foreign policy has been diluted and diminished.
That doesn’t make the executive branch stronger – it makes our country weaker.
President-elect Biden believes – and I share his conviction – that no foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. You are the representatives of the American people. You provide that advice and consent. We can only tackle the most urgent problems our country faces if we work together, and I am dedicated to doing that.
If confirmed, I will work as a partner to each of you on behalf of all Americans.