A candidate to become the next Secretary of State, Antony Blinken is a Francophile who speaks fluent French and even has a baccalauréat from a French lycée in Paris. Joe Biden is expected to announce his nomination on Tuesday, November 24, according to several U.S. media outlets.
A well-known figure in international circles, this close confidant of the President-elect was Deputy National Security Advisor, before becoming Deputy Secretary of State between 2015 and 2017 under the presidency of Barack Obama. Described as Biden’s “alter ego,” this 58-year-old New Yorker spent part of his life in France. His mother Judith moved with him and her new husband, Holocaust survivor Samuel Pisar (and father of the Franco-American President of Project Aladdin, Leah Pisar), to Paris in the 1970s. Young “Tony” – he was 9 years old – studied at the very selective École Jeanine Manuel (EABJM), an international school considered one of the best high schools in France and which also saw the attendance of the children of Nicolas and Cécilia Sarkozy, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, and members of the Bouygues family.
Robert Malley, CEO of the International Crisis Group, who studied at the same high school as Antony Blinken, told the Financial Times that his French years, which coincided with the end of the Vietnam War, forged the diplomat: “Tony was an American in Paris – both terms are important. He was very conscious of being American and he believed in American values. But he also understood how foreign policy could affect the rest of the world because he lived abroad and saw how others looked at the United States. At the time, the country was not particularly popular in Europe, especially in France. Tony navigated between these two worlds.”
“I found myself very early in my life playing diplomat, trying to explain the United States to my classmates,” Blinken said at a parliamentary hearing. It’s a good thing. If he is confirmed by the Senate, as is required for any appointment as Secretary of State, he will have to use his diplomatic skills to revive relations with Europe, which have been damaged after four tumultuous years.