America’s ability to promote democracy around the world has been unquestionably damaged by “recent events,” particularly the deadly U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a new interview published Tuesday.
Blinken told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly that since becoming President Joe Biden’s top diplomat last month, he’d been subjected to “gentle” digs from foreign counterparts when “raising concerns with (them) about something going on in their country.”
But he also hailed the United States for tackling the thorny issues brought up under the presidency of Donald Trump out in the open “for the entire world to see,” suggesting it was a testament to the strength of its democracy.
“There is no doubt that our ability to wave the banner of democracy and human rights to some extent has been tarnished by recent events, especially the egregious attack on the Capitol on January 6,” Blinken said. “On the other hand, what’s so powerful about it is that our democracy is resilient. Members of Congress came back to the buildings that had been under siege. They stood up for the Constitution. They stood up for the institution.”
Blinken noted that the U.S. was “grappling with this ongoing problem” in public, saying, “Unlike in some other places, we’re not trying to sweep it under the rug. We’re not trying to ignore it. We’re not trying to deny it. We’re confronting it.”
“Sometimes it’s ugly, sometimes it’s painful,” he added. “But it’s also incredibly powerful. And so what I tell colleagues around the world and people that we’re already engaged with — albeit too often by telephone, instead of being able to do it in person, because of COVID — is that our democracy is strong, it’s resilient.”