In January, President Biden pledged to reverse the disastrous mismanagement of the Department of State during the Trump Administration. He nominated as his secretary of state was Antony Blinken, a highly-experienced foreign policy expert. Blinken has brought to his job years of experience as a senior Congressional staffer, senior official at the National Security Council official and as a former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration. Biden and Blinken have both pledged to restore the foreign policy preeminence of the Department of State, which has been in decline for decades.
Eight months into his tenure, Blinken has successfully lobbied for a significant increase in State’s budget, including funds to expand its staffing. To address the old refrain that the Foreign Service is “pale, male and Yale,” he’s appointed the Department’s first diversity and inclusion officer to attract more minorities and women to its ranks.
But Secretary Blinken has come under harsh criticism, including from some in the Democratic Party, for his handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and especially management of the Special Immigrant Program. Some Republicans have called for him to resign. Many in the media claim that military and security priorities continue to overshadow the traditional role of diplomacy in advancing U.S. foreign policy interests throughout the world.
Ambassador Asquino will evaluate how well Secretary Blinken has done during the first year of the Biden Administration in restoring the Department’s influence and mandate in foreign policy formulation and implementation.
Ambassador Mark L. Asquino is a retired, career Foreign Service Officer. His three decades plus career included postings in Latin America, Europe, Central Asia and Africa. During 2012-2015, he served as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Spain’s only former colony in sub-Saharan Africa. Mark is fluent in Spanish and