Antony John Blinken is an American government official who served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State from 2015 to 2017 and Deputy National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2015 under President Barack Obama. He previously served as a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies , Democratic Staff Director of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations , and a member of the Obama–Biden presidential transition, active from November 2008 to January 2009, among other positions.
From 2009 to 2013, Blinken served as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President. From 2002 to 2008, he served as the Democratic Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During the Clinton Administration, Blinken served in the State Department and in senior positions on the National Security Council staff.
Blinken is now a global affairs analyst for CNN and is reported to be President-elect Joe Biden's choice for Secretary of State.
Early life and education
Blinken was born on April 16, 1962 in New York City, New York, to Jewish parents, Judith and Donald M. Blinken. He attended the Dalton School in New York City until 1971, when he moved to Paris, France, where he attended École Jeannine Manuel. He moved there with his divorced mother and her new husband, attorney Samuel Pisar, who had survived both the Auschwitz and Dachau camps in the Holocaust.
Blinken attended Harvard University, where he worked on The Harvard Crimson and co-edited the weekly art magazine. After earning his bachelor's degree, Blinken reported for The New Republic. He earned his J.D. degree at Columbia Law School in 1988. After graduation, he practiced law in New York City and Paris. During the 1988 presidential campaign, Blinken worked with his father Donald in fundraisers for Michael Dukakis.
Clinton and Bush administrations
Blinken has held senior foreign policy positions in two administrations over two decades. He served on the United States National Security Council staff at the White House from 1994 to 2001. From 1994 through 1998 Blinken was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Strategic Planning and NSC Senior Director for Speechwriting. From 1999 to 2001 he was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European and Canadian Affairs.
In 2002 Blinken was appointed staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a position he served in until 2008. He was also a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In 2008, Blinken worked for the presidential campaign of Joe Biden, and was a member of the Obama-Biden presidential transition team.
From 2009 to 2013, he served as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President. In this position he also helped craft U.S. policy on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Iranian nuclear program.
On November 7, 2014, President Obama announced that he would nominate Blinken for the Deputy Secretary post, replacing the retiring William Joseph Burns. On December 16, 2014, Blinken was confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State by the Senate by a vote of 55 to 38.
Of Obama's 2011 decision to kill Osama bin Laden, Blinken said 'I've never seen a more courageous decision made by a leader'. A 2013 profile described him as 'ne of the government's key players in drafting Syria policy', for which he served as a public face.
Blinken was pivotal in the formulation of the Obama administration's response to the 2014 Crimean Crisis. In a speech at the Brookings Institution in June 2014, Blinken emphasized that a wide and expansive sanctions regime was critical, focusing on Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle and the Russian public at large. The first prong is necessary to deter oligarchs from risking American-based assets, while the latter prong is necessary to 'demonstrate to the Russian people that there is a very hefty fine for supporting international criminals like .'
In 2017, Blinken co-founded WestExec Advisors, a political strategy advising firm, with Michèle Flournoy, Sergio Aguirre, and Nitin Chadda. WestExec's client work includes analyzing potential acquisitions and investments for geopolitical risk, and offering insight on regulatory matters, policy changes in the U.S. and key international markets, industry-specific and macroeconomic trends, and political intelligence. WestExec also helps clients expand market access in China 'while safeguarding against trade tensions between the U.S. and China'. WestExec's clients have included Google's Jigsaw, Israeli artificial-intelligence company Windward, and 'Fortune 100 types.' In an interview with The Intercept, Flournoy explained WestExec seeks to employ 'people recently coming out of government' with 'current knowledge, expertise, contacts, networks.'
Blinken is also a partner of private equity firm Pine Island Capital Partners. According to the firm's website, Blinken worked on the D.C. partners team, which works 'in tandem with the investment team to source deals, conduct analyses, win bids, close transactions, and directly advise' the firm's portfolio companies. Pine Island's chairman is John Thain, the final chairman of Merrill Lynch before its sale to Bank of America. Blinken recused himself from Pine Island Capital Partners in 2020 to serve as a senior foreign policy advisor with the Biden campaign.
Blinken is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In a 2016 speech at the CFR, Blinken advocated for internationalist and multilateralist policies.
Blinken was a foreign policy advisor for Biden's 2020 presidential campaign. On June 17, 2020, Blinken said that Biden 'would not tie military assistance to Israel to things like annexation or other decisions by the Israeli government with which we might disagree.' On November 22, 2020, Bloomberg News and The New York Times reported that Biden had selected Blinken as his nominee for Secretary of State.