Biden secretary of state pick Blinken admitted Obama administration 'failed' in Syria

Joe Biden’s foreign policy outlook ‘troubling’: Goodwin

New York Post Columnist Michael Goodwin reacts to Joe Biden announcing his first key Cabinet choices.

Anthony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for secretary of state, admitted earlier this year that the Obama administration “failed” in Syria — although he also panned the Trump administration for “pulling out” of the country entirely.

“The last administration has to acknowledge that we failed, not for want of trying, but we failed,” Blinken said on CBS News in May. “We failed to prevent a horrific loss of life. We failed to prevent massive displacement of people internally in Syria and, of course, externally as refugees. And it's something that I will take with me for the rest of my days.”

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During that administration, Blinken served as deputy secretary of state and as a principal deputy national security adviser to former President Obama, having also served as Biden’s national security adviser.

President Obama struggled with how to deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was engaged in a civil war with rebels and would go on to use chemical attacks against his own citizens in the process.

Obama famously said that the use of chemical weapons by Assad would be a “red line,” but when Assad used sarin gas, Obama never retaliated. President Trump would eventually launch strikes on military targets in 2017 and 2018 in response to further chemical attacks.

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In his interview, Blinken noted the Syrian refugee crisis began in 2015 and caused a migration crisis in Europe.

“We failed to prevent massive displacement of people internally in Syria and, of course, externally as refugees. And it's something that I will take with me for the rest of my days. It's something that I feel very strongly,” he said.

However, he also criticized the Trump administration for giving up “leverage” with its more hands-off approach to Syria.

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“So, you know, what happened, unfortunately, since then is that a horrific situation was made arguably even worse. And to the extent the United States had any remaining leverage in Syria to try to effectuate some more positive outcome,” he said. “Unfortunately, the Trump administration has more or less turned that up to pulling out entirely in Syria has taken away significant leverage."

Blinken was one of a number of Cabinet and other appointments named by Biden this week, which included a number of former Obama administration officials.

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Biden announced Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security, and Avril Haines to serve as the first woman to lead the intelligence community. He on Monday also announced former Secretary of State John Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate, and will sit on the National Security Council.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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