- Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State, Press Briefing December 22, 2022
By Antony J. Blinken
In the first year of our administration, we focused on rebuilding and revitalizing America’s alliances and partnerships, weaving them together as well in new coalitions of common purpose. As you all saw, we reinvigorated our engagement with NATO, the European Union, the United Nations, the G7, ASEAN, and the OECD. We elevated and strengthened the Quad. We created AUKUS, the US-EU Trade and Technology Council, among many other groupings.
The logic here was simple and straightforward: We’re in a fundamentally stronger position to address the issues that actually affect the lives of the American people when we do so alongside the many countries that share our fundamental interests and values.
In year two, we showed why this was a smart and important investment. Whether we were addressing threats and risks posed by strategic competitors, combating global challenges like the climate crisis and the pandemic, or seizing opportunities to improve Americans’ lives in tangible ways, our alliances and our partnerships proved the vital difference.
We kept up a pretty relentless pace of broadening and deepening our engagement across the world, hosting the Summit of the Americas, the US-Africa Leaders Summit, the first-ever US-Pacific Island Country Summit, the US-ASEAN Special Summit.
We drew enormous power as well as credibility from unprecedented investments in our economic strength and technological edge here at home – the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
So, today, what I wanted to spend a few minutes doing, with your tolerance, is to highlight four of the most consequential areas where diplomacy delivered in 2022.
First, we rallied the world to ensure that Russia’s war on Ukraine is a strategic failure. Since February 24, we’ve brought together dozens of allies and partners to promote security, economic and humanitarian support to the Ukrainian people as they stand up for their country’s democracy, sovereignty, and its independence. Our collective support – including now an additional $1.85 billion in US military assistance the President announced [yesterday] – has enabled Ukraine’s fighters to go on the counter-offensive, liberating their people, and retaking more of their territory.
NATO has never been stronger or more united. The Alliance adopted a new Strategic Concept and added more forces and resources to our collective defense. We doubled the number of battlegroups along NATO’s eastern flank. We’ve increased deployments in the Baltics. We’re on the cusp of adding Finland and Sweden as new members of the Alliance.
We worked with allies and partners to impose the strongest-ever sanctions and export controls on president Putin and those enabling his war of aggression – significantly diminishing the Russian military’s access to funds, to goods, to technologies that are critical to the war effort. By any measure, the Russian war machine is in dire straits. US diplomatic leadership has been indispensable in building and maintaining this unity of purpose and also this unity of action. Meanwhile, we brought our diplomatic muscle to bear on isolating Russia at the United Nations and other international organizations, and to reaffirming global support for the core principles of the UN Charter that president Putin is trying to shed.
Now, we know that a tough winter lies ahead for Ukrainians, as President Putin pursues his new strategy of trying to freeze Ukrainian men, women, children, the elderly to death. We’re working with the G7 and other allies and partners to repair, to replace, and defend Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, including bolstering its advanced air defense through precision systems like the Patriot missile battery that president Biden announced [yesterday].
We are with Ukraine for as long as it takes. That’s the message president Biden delivered personally to president Zelenskyy when he hosted him at the White House. It’s a commitment backed up by robust and enthusiastic bipartisan support in Congress, which was on full display last night.
Maintaining that support is crucial, because president Putin continues to show no interest in meaningful diplomacy. We agree with president Zelenskyy that diplomacy is the only way to definitively end Russia’s war. Until president Putin changes course, the best way to improve the prospects of a just and durable peace, to actually advance the prospects for meaningful diplomacy, is sustaining our strong support for Ukraine.
Second, we accelerated strategic convergence with our allies and partners on the People’s Republic of China. This is crucial, for while Russia poses an immediate threat to the free and open international system, the PRC is our only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to advance that objective.
Back in May, I set out our strategy to meet the challenge posed by the PRC: invest in the foundations of our strength at home; align with our partners and allies; compete with China so that we can defend our interests and realize our vision for the future. Our diplomacy has played a key role in carrying out that strategy.
We set out an affirmative approach for a free and open Indo-Pacific that draws on the views of many of our partners inside and outside the region, and that has in turn informed their own strategies. Together with the European Union we strengthened our complementary toolkits on key challenges posed by the PRC, from economic coercion to human rights. We’ve deepened our cooperation on investment screening and export controls of sensitive and emerging technologies.
For the first time, NATO’s Strategic Concept committed to address the PRC’s systemic challenges to transatlantic security. We deepened the Alliance’s coordination with Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and our other Pacific allies.
We’re united in our commitment to preserve peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and we continue to raise concerns and take joint action around the PRC’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Tibet, the erosion of freedom of speech and the press in Hong Kong.
Even as we competed vigorously with the PRC, we’ve worked carefully to prevent our competition from veering into conflict. We’ll continue to manage this relationship responsibly, building on the candid and productive discussion President Biden and president Xi had in Bali – a conversation I look forward to advancing when I visit the PRC early next year. And we’ll continue to pursue cooperation on issues that demand that the United States and China work together – for the good of our people, but also for the good of people around the world.
Third, we mobilized broad-based coalitions to deliver solutions to the shared global challenges that so many of us face, including on food security, on health, energy and climate, and inclusive economic growth – challenges that have a real impact on the lives and the livelihoods of the American people, and that we cannot solve effectively alone.
We led the global response to an unprecedented global food security crisis – driven by COVID, climate, and conflict – worsened significantly by President Putin’s war.
In 2022 alone, we contributed $11 billion in humanitarian and food security assistance. We hosted a food security ministerial and summit with the African Union and the European Union to marshal the resources needed to save lives in the immediate, but also to help countries build their own capacity for resilient, sustainable agricultural production.
We made significant strides in ending the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic – providing nearly $20 billion for the global response, and distributing more than 670 million doses of safe, effective vaccines to over 115 countries.
We launched and led the Global Action Plan, which brought together dozens of countries to get shots in arms, to bolster health supply systems, to combat misinformation and disinformation.
We also took steps to ensure that the world is better prepared to prevent, to detect, and respond to future outbreaks. We worked with the G20 to create a new World Bank fund to help countries strengthen their pandemic preparedness. We will train 500,000 health workers over the next five years across our own hemisphere in Latin America. We’ll invest $4 billion in health workers in Africa by 2025.
On climate, we leveraged historic investments at home and abroad to accelerate the clean energy transition and adapt to the effects of a warming climate. This is not just our responsibility; we also see it as a once-in-generations opportunity to create good-paying jobs for Americans.
We forged new regional partnerships to make our economies more resilient, more sustainable, more prosperous, more inclusive – including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, whose members represent 40 percent of global GDP, and the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.
Together with the G7, we launched the $600 billion Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, or PGII, to develop a high-standard, transparent alternative for infrastructure investment in low- and middle-income countries.
Fourth, we used the power of American diplomacy to advance peace and prevent and mitigate conflict. Together with my counterparts from Israel, Morocco, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, I took part in the historic Negev Summit to advance integration and normalization in the Middle East.
We brokered a historic agreement between Israel and Lebanon to resolve their long-standing maritime boundary dispute. We supported African-led talks that led to the cessation of hostilities between Ethiopia and Tigrayan forces. We helped bring about a framework agreement to put Sudan back on the path toward civilian-led democracy. We helped secure – and later extend – a truce in the Yemen conflict.
And we brought home unjustly detained Americans from Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Burma, Afghanistan, Haiti, and other countries. We will keep working every single day to bring home Americans who are wrongfully detained around the world, while taking steps to deter and prevent this abhorrent practice going forward.
As we look ahead to 2023, we will continue to use all of our diplomatic tools to drive these priorities, and many others – including maintaining our commitment to the people of Afghanistan, particularly those who supported the US mission there over 20 years, as well as to stand up for the rights of women and girls.
We will also be intensely focused on coordinating international efforts to combat the scourge of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.
Now, I focused a lot on how we’ve worked with allies and partners in 2022 to confront today’s biggest challenges. But even as we did that, we also took major steps here in this building to ensure that the state department is positioned and empowered to meet today’s challenges, and tomorrow’s.
We launched a new Bureau for Cyberspace and Digital Policy. We notified Congress of our intent to create a new Bureau on Global Health Security and Diplomacy. We stood up a China House to lead the development and coordination of our policy toward the PRC. We expanded our diplomatic presence in the Indo-Pacific and brought on the biggest cohort of Foreign and Civil Service officers in over a decade. And we made significant strides toward attracting and retaining a workforce that reflects one of our nation’s greatest strengths – our diversity.
Before I conclude, I want to acknowledge the “we” behind all of the hard-earned progress that we’ve made. That starts with the individuals who make up the department of state, particularly our foreign and civil service officers, and our locally employed staff. They’re the ones who executed on this vision – day in, day out. And not just on the issues I highlighted today, but across every facet of our foreign policy – working together with our colleagues from across the US government, working as well with our foreign partners.
I could not be prouder of my teammates. I also couldn’t be more humbled by the opportunity to serve alongside them. To all of them, to their families, whose love and support and sacrifice allows them to provide this service, I simply want to say thank you.
I also want to thank Congress for its partnership. By our count, the department had more than 3,200 briefings, meetings, and calls with Congress over the past year. I personally participated in more than 60 of those.
I’m especially grateful to members of both parties who have worked with us to confirm 91 nominees this year – a tally we hope to add to in the weeks ahead. Because when we have our team on the field, we deliver.
Finally, I’d like to thank all of you, the members of our press corps. The work that you do is indispensable to our democracy. And while it’s not always easy answering your questions, the accurate information that you provide is a public good. It’s as basic and as simple as that. It helps our citizens understand the forces that are shaping their lives. It empowers them to engage meaningfully in their communities, their country, the world. It’s one of the reasons that we fight so hard for a free and independent media around the globe, and it’s why I’m deeply grateful to you for the work that you do.
When I first started in this job, many people were asking if America would – or even could – lead again around the world. Or, for that matter, whether the world wanted us to.
In 2022, I think we answered those questions. We showed that the United States is ready and able to lead on the fundamental challenges of our time. And countries around the world demonstrated why they want to be our partners in building a world that’s more free, more open, more secure, and more prosperous.