State Department Defends Secretary Blinken Over Celebrating Kissinger's 100th Birthday

A spokesperson gave an awkward reply when asked why Blinken showed up to Henry Kissinger's birthday blowout.

A State Department spokesperson defended Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s appearance at the 100th birthday party of perhaps his most notorious predecessor, Henry Kissinger, awkwardly setting aside allegations of vast 20th century war crimes.

Kissinger was fêted Monday evening at the New York Public Library, which rolled out a red carpet for the private event. The guest list was not made public.

Blinken did not respond to a Vox reporter’s question outside the venue: “What is there to celebrate about Henry Kissinger?”

During a press briefing Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel was reminded of Kissinger’s efforts to carpet-bomb Cambodia, to aid the overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected government and to permit a Bangladeshi genocide, among other accusations.

“What does Secretary Blinken like about Henry Kissinger?” asked Washington Post reporter John Hudson.

Patel said he would not comment on a “private, closed-press event.”

“That being said,” he continued in what became a long-winded reply, “the secretary has a relationship with a number of his predecessors and has remained in touch with them over the course of his tenure as secretary, and there is, of course, important perspective to be gained through those conversations with predecessors.”

Continuing further, Patel said that Kissinger was “someone who the secretary has had the opportunity to engage with at a number of instances throughout the secretary’s tenure.”

“The secretary has a good, cordial relationship with a number of his predecessors and has had the opportunity to engage with them at a number of events over the past two years since Secretary Blinken has been secretary.”

He noted that “of course” there were “differences” in policy opinions between President Joe Biden’s administration and the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, whom Kissinger served from 1973 to 1977. Still, Kissinger “obviously has a very storied and experienced career when it comes to national security and foreign policy,” Patel said.

Blinken has a history with Kissinger, having interviewed him for his senior thesis while studying at Harvard in the 1980s.

But Biden appears to be keeping him at a distance. Kissinger told The New York Post last year that Biden has been the only president who has not invited him to the White House since his tenure as secretary of state.

Popular in the Community