Biden’s Advisor Anthony Blinken in 2009: Think less of what U.S. can do for Central Europe, get over history

By Ted Lipien

For whatever reason, articles tend to disappear from the Internet. It happened recently to my October 20, 2009 article in Digital Journal “Biden’s advisor: think less of what U.S. can do for Central Europe, get over history.” The original article can still be viewed on Blogger News Network

I wonder whose advice it was to President Biden not to meet with Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya during her recent visit in Washington. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Tsikhanouskaya, but  the lack of invitation to meet with President Biden was a bitter blow to supporters of democracy and human rights in Belarus. The explanation that Biden is a busy man and a meeting with Blinken is just as good as a meeting with the president simply does not hold water. It is not difficult to guess what advice Blinken gave to Biden on Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Washington visit.

Even more disturbing to American supporters of Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and other East Central European countries was the Biden administration’s deal with Germany to complete the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The deal, which American and European critics say rewards Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, faces strong bipartisan opposition in the U.S. Congress. There is no doubt that Secretary of State Blinken was behind the push for the completion of the Nord Stream deal.

My 2009 article may offer some insights into Blinken’s view of how the Biden administration, of which he is a key member, should handle America’s NATO allies and other friendly countries in East Central Europe. What Blinken said in 2009 did not bode well for the security of the United States and Europe.

It seems that Secretary Blinken has not learned any lessons from the failure of President Obama’s “Reset with Russia” as he is now giving advice to President Biden. It is good to see, however, that  not only Republicans but also some Democrats in Congress agree with this assessment.

Biden’s advisor: think less of what U.S. can do for Central Europe, get over history

October 20, 2009

Updated July 25, 2021 to show that Anthony J. Blinken was nominated by President Biden on November 23, 2020; confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 26, 2021; and sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris the following day as the 71st U.S. Secretary of State.

By Ted Lipien

Antony J. Blinken, the 71st US Secretary of State.
Antony J. Blinken, the 71st US Secretary of State.

SAN FRANCISCO Tony Blinken, national security adviser to the vice president, said in a briefing with reporters before Biden left for Europe October 20, that leaders in Warsaw, Bucharest and Prague should think less of what the U.S. can do for them and more about what they can do with the United States.

Sounding more like an “Ugly American” than a member of the administration that promised a new, sensitive approach to dealing with other nations, Blinken said that “The United States is thinking about the region less in terms of what we can do for Central Europe and more in terms of what we can do with Central Europe.” “The countries are no longer post-communist, or in transition; they are full-fledged members of the NATO alliance and the European Union, with serious and substantial responsibilities,” Blinken said.

Eastern Europe’s security concerns, Blinken said, remain a significant U.S. concern, despite a recent change in a proposed missile defense system for Europe. But Blinken cautioned that the trip is not all about missile defense; it involves a broad range of issues including support for U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan, advancing democracy in Eastern Europe, energy and climate change issues, and recovery from the global economic crisis.

Biden’s aide tells East Europeans to get over Cold War history

During the trip, Europe will mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that effectively signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War in Europe and around the world.

“The vice president is going to mark the moment, but his focus is going to be much more on the future than on the past,” Blinken said. “In his view, the real validation of 1989 is less in what we took down and more in what we built and continue to build together: strong democracies, strong partnerships that deliver for people in all of our countries and beyond.”

This comment may reflect the Obama Administration’s thinking that Central European leaders and societies are too focused on history and are too fearful of Russia. Downplaying of the importance of the fall of communist dictatorships is not likely to be well received in Central Europe but will be welcome news in Russia, where officials and pro-government scholars have engaged in a campaign to rehabilitate Stalin and Soviet history.

The White House did not think World War II and Cold War history was terribly important when President Obama chose to announce his decision to cancel the Bush Administration missile defense plans in Poland and the Czech Republic on the day the Poles were observing the 70th anniversary of the invasion of their country by the Red Army. Soviet troops attacked Poland on September 17, 1939 under the secret terms of Stalin’s pact with Hitler, whose armies invaded the country on September 1. President Obama declined the Polish government’s invitation to attend the 70th anniversary observances of the outbreak of World War II, which were held in Gdansk, Poland, the birthplace of the Solidarity labor union.

And now President Obama has decided to ignore another historical anniversary. Biden’s advisor Tony Blinken did not explain the reasons behind the cancellation of President Obama’s trip to attend the 20th anniversary observances in Berlin of the fall of communism in Central Europe. The White House blamed the cancellation on a scheduling conflict, but it is seen as yet another indication that Central Europe and support for resisting the Kremlin’s efforts to reestablish a sphere of influence in the region are low on President Obama’s list of priorities.

As NATO members, Blinken said, each nation is committed to the others’ defense, and all three allies make important contributions with soldiers and civilians to the effort in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq and in the Balkans.

The overall message of Vice President Biden’s advisor, “don’t ask America for more but give more yourselves,” could be viewed in Central Europe not just as harsh but quite arrogant, coming from the Administration that had recently removed important security arrangements that gave the region extra protection against Russian imperial ambitions.

Despite the undiplomatic language of the vice president’s aide that seems to reflect the real intentions of the Obama White House, Vice President Biden himself has shown, at least in public, far greater concern and interest in Central Europe than his boss. As vice president, he won’t be able to deliver much, but he’s the best the Central Europeans can get from the Obama Administration.

Opinia.US reports/analyses may be republished with attribution.

END OF 2009 ARTICLE Biden’s advisor: think less of what U.S. can do for Central Europe, get over history from Digital Journal and Blogger New Network.

Some of the current U.S. and European criticism of the Biden administration’s decisions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline deal with Germany and Russia was summarized in series of tweets from Anders Åslund,  a Swedish economist and a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Similar criticism was voiced by former President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves who was also Estonia’s Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States. From 1984 to 1993, Ilves worked in Munich, Germany as a journalist for Radio Free Europe and the head of its Estonian desk.

A plea to President Biden from members of the bipartisan Congressional Friends of Belarus Caucus to meet with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was ignored.