US: President Biden’s Pick for Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken Confirmed by Senate

Members of the United States Senate have today confirmed the appointment of long-time Biden associate, Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State. The appointment was approved by a vote of 78 to 22. Mr. Blinken’s confirmation was welcomed by lawmakers on both sides of the political divide. He has also been received favourably by the professional association for the US Foreign Service.

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) said in a statement that “Leadership of the Department of State, our nation's oldest cabinet agency, represents a great responsibility…As we have done for his predecessors, AFSA extends our congratulations and welcome to Secretary Blinken. We wish the Secretary and his team the best of luck in the years ahead. AFSA and its members pledge to work alongside them to strengthen the career Foreign Service and protect and enhance the institution that is American diplomacy.”

With Mr. Blinken's confirmation, President Biden now has in place several key members of his national security team in place. In addition to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan who did not require a Senate confirmation, Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines was confirmed on Inauguration Day and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was confirmed on Friday, January 22.

A little girl looks at the ruins of what was once their home, after Cameroon soldiers burnt the entire village settlement

Mr. Blinken comes in as the 71st Secretary of State of the United States of America. He would have as major challenge to restore America's standing in the world and reinvigorate a department where many felt unmotivated during the past four years.

The world is watching to see Mr. Blinken oversee a U-turn from the former administration’s “America First” foreign policy to one that focuses on multilateralism and coalitions, paying greater attention to the conflict areas that have long been neglected, such as the worsening democratic situation in Uganda, the ongoing genocidal war in English-speaking Cameroon, the fratricidal war in Ethiopia.

During his Senate hearing, Mr. Blinken said that the United States’s foreign policy in Africa would become more vigorous. Taking a question from Senator Chris Koons of Delaware, Mr. Blinken stated that attention would be paid to ongoing concerns with developments in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Cameroon.

Talking about Cameroon, Mr. Blinken noted: “including atrocities against the Anglophone population there”.

Ugandan Police brutalize and arrest Opposition leader, Bobi Wine (C) Wall Street Journal

A clip of the incoming Secretary of State’s confirmation hearing has been making rounds on social media, with citizens from Cameroon, Ethiopia and Uganda heaving a sigh of relief that at last some of the continent’s most hardened dictators may soon be called to book.

And where his predecessor Mike Pompeo pledged to bring “swagger,” Blinken called for “humility and confidence.”

He said “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 US,” he said.

“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,” he concluded.