The crisis that defined Blinken’s first year

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In another example, ministry officials noted that the Biden government supported Lithuania through the US Export-Import Bank after China launched a trade war against the tiny Baltic country.

The support was welcomed both by smaller nations caught between the United States and China during the Trump administration and by close allies, who described tension with Washington before Mr Biden was elected.

“It’s a lot easier now because we share so much more of our values ​​and things that we would like to do together,” Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in January at a forum hosted by the Center for American Progress. “Well for me it’s a kind of relief.”

However, many allies fear that everything will be wiped out if US voters elect a new government in 2024 that reflects the Trump administration’s “America First” ideas. It’s one of the reasons why nuclear talks with Iran have caused problems, as Tehran is skeptical about reviving a deal that another government could pull out of.

And the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan did little to allay concerns about American reliability.

Barbara J. Stephenson, another former US ambassador who is now vice chancellor for global affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, called the disjointed evacuation “a major disruption” for the State Department. She said it shows opponents like President Vladimir V Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China “the value of distracting us.”

It even angered Americans, who supported Mr. Biden’s decision to end the war.

“We defended him,” said Dan Caldwell, the vice president of foreign affairs for Stand Together, an advocacy group funded by conservative billionaire Charles Koch. “But this was always done with the conviction that accountability would have to be given later. And now, five months later, you’re still seeing issues with evacuations.”

“It’s just not acceptable,” he said.

Mr Blinken has not only said he was surprised by President Ashraf Ghani’s and Afghan security forces’ withdrawal as the Taliban advanced last August, but that “we inherited a deadline – we didn’t inherit a plan” when he opened the department took over .

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