Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, is so dull that a “major news organization” scrapped a profile of him after its journalists struggled mightily to find relevant “spicy anecdotes.” For senior Politico foreign-affairs correspondent Nahal Toosi, this raises the question of whether Blinken is “too nice to be secretary of state.”
Particularly when it comes to reprimanding Israel for its war of self-defense against the Hamas terror organization, Toosi figures Blinken is ill-served by being “famously polite, even in informal settings.”
“If Blinken openly signaled his anger, maybe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wouldn’t so easily oppose his call for a future Palestinian state,” Toosi wrote. “Maybe a Blinken more obviously furious about the conflict would mean pro-Palestinian activists—like the ones protesting outside his house—could find more sympathy for a U.S. position they see as unflinchingly pro-Israel.”
More than half of Israelis oppose a Palestinian state in exchange for ending the war and normalizing with Riyadh, per one recent poll. Another indicated that 66% of Israeli Jews oppose a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
When Toosi ran her theory—of Blinken’s excessive civility—by Washington insiders, “responses ranged from disdain for my questions to disdain for Blinken’s performance,” she wrote. When she pressed one source on Blinken pressuring Israel, an adviser to the secretary of state “shot back” at her, “Do you think Hamas should stay in power in Gaza?”
One official told her that Blinken is “the most human human.” Another said, “he’s not a ball hog.”
Experts who spoke with JNS, and who were willing to be named, questioned the article’s main premise.
“The issue with President Biden’s disastrous foreign policy is not that his secretary of state is a nice, polite person,” said Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation.
The issue, Roberts told JNS, is that “the global turmoil we face is being caused by Biden’s insistence on appeasing enemies like China and Iran, while isolating a great ally like Israel” and “opening America’s borders and forcing a woke agenda on our military here at home.”
The Politico article, Roberts noted, characterizes Israel as “the source of the administration’s ‘biggest headaches.'”
David May, research manager and senior research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former senior AIPAC research analyst, told JNS that many of Blinken’s critics “are upset about American policy protecting Israel, not the secretary himself.”
“Washington should be supporting its ally, not threatening Jerusalem or constricting its ability to defend itself,” May said. “Israel understands the dangers it faces, and no amount of yelling will shake the Israeli government’s resolve to defend its people.”
Washington does risk, given the gap between its words and actions, presenting itself as weak to its enemies, according to May.
“Our failure to respond swiftly and forcefully to unprovoked attacks on U.S. forces and international commerce emboldens our foes and endangers the United States and its allies,” he said.
Blinken got to answer the question on Tuesday as well during a press conference in Doha, Qatar with Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the Qatari prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.
“Before you travel to Israel and meet Netanyahu, I’m going to ask the same question that Politico asked today: Is Mr. Antony Blinken too nice to be secretary of state?” asked Saber Ayoub, of Al Araby TV, via an interpreter.
“I’ll let others speak to my character,” Blinken responded. “And all I can say is that most people who assume the position that I have the great privilege of assuming now don’t get there by being nice all the time.”