FLASHBACK: John McCain Warned of ‘Unqualified’ Antony Blinken — ‘Dangerous to America’

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens to a reporter's q
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A recently resurfaced video showing late Senator John McCain warning colleagues of an “unqualified” and “dangerous” Antony Blinken, who served as deputy national security advisor under President Barack Obama at the time, specifically blasting Blinken’s desire to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The nearly two-minute clip, which comprises excerpts from December 2014, depicts McCain approaching the Senate floor to oppose Blinken’s nomination as deputy secretary of state.

“Madam President, I rise to discuss my opposition to the pending vote concerning Mr. Anthony ‘Tony’ Blinken, who is not only unqualified, but, in fact, in my view, one of the worst selections of a very bad lot that this president has chosen,” McCain began. 

“I hope that many of my colleagues will understand that not often do I come to the floor to oppose a nomination of the president of the United States because I believe that elections have consequences,” he continued. 

McCain is also seen slamming Blinken, deeming the then-deputy national security advisor a danger to the United States.

“In this case, this individual has actually been dangerous to America and to the young men and women who are fighting and serving it,” he said. 

McCain also noted Blinken’s role in “conceptualizing and furthering” a failed foreign policy.

“U.S. foreign policy is in shambles,” he said. “It’s at best a strategic, and at worst, anti-strategic.”

Quoting Blinken himself, McCain then described his concerns that the then-Obama official would push for a complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, leading to a “replay” of war-scarred Iraq:

“I’ll move on to Afghanistan. Mr. Blinken said, ‘We’ve been very clear, we’ve been consistent. The war will be concluded by the end of 2014. We have a timetable and that timetable will not change.’ This is why I’m so worried about him being in the position that he’s in because if they stick to that timetable, I am telling my colleagues that we will see the replay of Iraq all over again. We must leave a stabilizing force behind of a few thousand troops or we will see again what we saw in Iraq.”

Seven years after McCain’s opposition to Blinken’s nomination, the latter serves as Secretary of State, with many claiming the events from this week proved the necessity of McCain’s warning.

Blinken has come under fire from critics in recent days for the country’s lack of preparation and foresight when withdrawing troops this week that saw the Taliban’s rapid reconquest of Afghanistan.

On Thursday, a classified State Department memo from last month was revealed to have warned Blinken and other top officials of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan following a U.S. troop withdrawal, indicating that the Biden administration was well aware of the strong possibility of the collapse of Kabul that occurred earlier this week.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


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