In another demonstration of why elections are so important, Secretary Blinken will be making a stop at Athens this week during which he will rub elbows with an array of officials after hobnobbing at a mostly pointless security parley at the Bayerischer Hof hotel at Munich. Whether Mr. Blinken will reconnoiter with the commander-in-chief in Poland after President Biden delivers an address there on Tuesday was not immediately known.
At some point the American taxpayers who pay the Yonkers-born statesman’s salary may begin to wonder how much of this global gallivanting is productive and how much is for naught. Despite Chinese spy balloons and the Superbowl, a war is still raging in Europe, and as the Sun’s Dean Karayanis points out, President Biden has no exit strategy on Ukraine — or, if he does, neither he nor his Secretary of State deigned to disclose it to the American public.
Then again, too, it’s hard to explain something when it isn’t there. The more unsettling question is what role Mr. Blinken has had, even if it was only a secondary one, in instrumentalizing Mr. Biden’s totally reactive policy to the events in eastern Europe that preceded Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine nearly one year ago. As the former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, also a former director of central intelligence, recently told Sky News, the Russian invasion did not happen on President Trump’s watch.
Contrast that with the Biden administration’s ambiguous prescription for giving support to Ukraine “as long as it takes” — a persistent refrain that Mr. Blinken’s State Department confirms will be part and parcel of Mr. Biden’s speech this week at Warsaw.
Mr. Blinken, who was reared at Paris and is undeniably gifted in many ways, including reading carefully scripted remarks from a teleprompter, lacks both Mr. Pompeo’s pugnacity and President Trump’s audacity. That the enduring absence of either will serve only to appease our enemies is the easiest argument anybody could make.
Even in his sparring with Communist China, which he did to a degree at Munich, Mr. Blinken comes up short. With respect to the spy balloon fiasco, the secretary faux-lashed his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, with a pro forma “this irresponsible act must never again occur.” Goodness gracious. Language like that would no doubt have Chairman Mao shaking in his jackboots.
Perhaps the plush confines of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, where a nice double room costs about $675 for one night when one doesn’t have a government rate, are simply not conducive to the necessary kind of rhetorical rough-and-tumble that might actually stand a chance of putting Beijing in its place.
Before anyone can evaluate what Mr. Blinken accomplishes at a clubby conference like the one in Bavaria, he is already jetting off to the next one, even if it does not have a brand name attached to it. Après Deutschland, according to the State Department, he flew to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey “to see firsthand U.S. efforts to assist the Turkish authorities responding to the devastation caused by the February 6 earthquakes” and subsequently at Ankara thanked “the Government of Türkiye for its support for cross-border aid to affected areas of Syria.”
At Athens, Mr. Blinken “will meet with Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis, Foreign Minister Dendias, and leader of the opposition Alexis Tsipras to discuss defense cooperation, energy security, and our shared commitment to defend democracy.” The secretary will also “launch the fourth round of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue.”
It is heartening that Mr. Blinken will be picking up the slack on that important communication,secretary-pompeo-travels-to-greece-to-advance-security-peace-and-prosperity/”> which Secretary Pompeo initiated in 2018. No doubt it will be constructive; Greece is one of America’s strongest allies and a key member of NATO’s eastern flank. Defense cooperation between the two countries has probably never been stronger.
All the more reason that Mr. Blinken’s pass through Athens will likely be short on substance but rich in photo opportunities. That will be especially so if he elects to stay at the city’s storied Hotel Grande Bretagne, where the President’s campaign strategist sister, Valerie Biden Owens, was recently photographed.
The big news in the East Mediterranean last week came neither from Greece nor Turkey but from the scenic, ammo-rich isle both are perpetually on the brink of going to war over: Cyprus. Last week the ethnically divided island — specifically, the Greek Cypriot sector — elected a new president, Nikos Christodoulides. A former Cypriot foreign minister, Mr. Christodoulides has called for the “need for a more active, leading involvement of the EU, within the framework of the United Nations” to solve the Cyprus problem. He is planning to fly to Brussels soon to press his bet.
That is a miscalculation, because the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus has only perpetuated — it’s more than 40 years old now — a costly stalemate on the island. The last time the EU averted or solved a diplomatic crisis may never be known. The truth is only Washington has the power to bring a lasting settlement to the most strategic piece of Levantine real estate west of Jerusalem (that is one reason why our embassy there is enormous).
A more enterprising state secretary would have recognized that, modified the script, and flown to Nicosia for a little sit-down with Mr. Christodoulides. One thing the American people can count on, though, is this: when the leader you are following has lost his way, there will still be photo opps aplenty to cover it up.
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