On Sunday evening news broke that President-elect Joe Biden was naming Antony Blinken as his Secretary of State. It wasn’t a shocker—Biden has been close to Blinken who served in deputy positions during the final three years of the Obama administration.
Within hours of the announcement, someone uncovered Blinken’s Spotify page.
The page itself is underwhelming. Blinken—or ABlinken—has only released two songs, both singles from 2018. They’re … not great. He seems like a decent enough guitarist, but between the poor miking and rough melodies they’re a chore to get through. In fairness, though, Blinken profiles as a dad making soft rock. He’s a native New Yorker and is right about the age to have lived through the city’s golden age of music. It makes sense his creative outlet would fall in that field. There are levels to this and most are pretty low anyway—even some of the best dad rockers are pretty rough in general. Everyone needs a creative outlet, especially when they’re working hard winning defense contracts.
Mediocre dad rock is hardly Blinken’s biggest red flag. In July, The American Prospect’s Jonathan Guyer wrote about how Blinken (and several other Obama administration officials) got rich off consultancy after his time in the White House. Blinken and Michèle Flournoy, who co-founded WestExec Advisors, have been pegged for top administration positions for months; Flournoy has been widely speculated as Biden’s pick to run the Pentagon as Secretary of Defense.
— Edward Ongweso Jr (@bigblackjacobin) November 23, 2020
It’s not particularly abnormal for former White House officials to get into consulting or lobbying, but that doesn’t make it any less sketchy. Blinken’s appointment signals Biden’s fairly transparent intention to recreate the Obama administration’s foreign policy. That’s not a bad thing in a vacuum—America’s diplomacy and general standing is in dire need of repair. But it gets a whole lot worse when you remember Obama’s disastrous foreign policy record, particularly in the Middle East, which includes involvement in the Yemeni civil war direct pathway to the current humanitarian crisis there.
Tony Blinken, in Riyadh, April 2015: “Saudi Arabia is sending a strong message […] we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operation centre” https://t.co/KrqtR4D7GE
— Erik Sperling ? #YemenCantWait (@ErikSperling) November 23, 2020
Donald Trump’s obvious warts as president make it a little easier to forget that Obama was a natural extension of the United States’ imperialist foreign policy blob. He didn’t do much differently than any president before him would’ve done, arming and bombing the hell out of certain countries and fomenting coups in others. It wouldn’t matter much if Biden weren’t hiring some of the exact same players that helped him do that. It’s more than worthy of scrutiny, even if some journalists might not seem particularly interested in covering the incoming administration critically. This is a familiar tune, and one that sounds even bleaker than Blinken’s music.