U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke passionately and pointedly about the power and purpose of American diplomacy at a key inflection point in history during remarks delivered Wednesday at the new Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
"One era is ending," Blinken said, "a new one is beginning, and the decisions that we make now will shape the future."
Blinken spoke as part of the Brzezinski Lecture Series, hosted by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and named for Zbigniew Brzezinski, a national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and longtime professor of foreign policy at SAIS who died in 2017. The lecture series honors his legacy as a scholar, policy adviser, and statesman by bringing the world's most preeminent thinkers to Johns Hopkins SAIS to address the growing international challenges of our time.
Today, we find ourselves "at the end of the post-Cold War era … that ushered in remarkable progress," Blinken said. "Several of the core assumptions that shaped our approach to the post-Cold War era no longer hold, [and] decades of relative geopolitical stability have given way to an intensifying competition with authoritarian … [and] revisionist powers."
Challenges like Russia's war against Ukraine, China's efforts to reshape the world order, climate change, and food insecurity are too big for the U.S. to solve alone, and diplomacy is more important than ever, Blinken told the assembled crowd.
"At the core of our strategy is reengaging, reimagining, and revitalizing our global alliances and partnerships … so our interdependence is a source of strength, not vulnerability," said Blinken, who in 2017 was named by SAIS as Herter/Nitze Distinguished Scholar at its Foreign Policy Institute.
"When we strengthen international institutions, and when they deliver on their core promises to ensure security to expand opportunity to protect rights, we build a broader coalition of citizens and countries who see the international order as something that improves their lives in real ways and deserves to be upheld and defended," Blinken said. "So, when the Beijings and Moscows of the world try to rewrite or rip down the pillars of the multi-lateral system, when they falsely claim that the order exists merely to advance the interest of the West at the expense of the rest, a growing global course of nations, and people, will say and stand up to say no."
Blinken was the inaugural speaker in the 375-seat main theater at the Hopkins Bloomberg Center, the university's new state-of-the-art building in the heart of the nation's capital. The 10-story facility is home to SAIS as well as D.C.-based academic programs from across the university, a place where trusted academic experts, global leaders, and policymakers will convene and where Hopkins students will be set on a path toward becoming future civic leaders.
"It's really a great honor for me to welcome Secretary of State Antony Blinken as our inaugural speaker in this magnificent auditorium at our new home for SAIS and Johns Hopkins at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue," SAIS Dean James B. Steinberg said at the outset of Wednesday's event. "It's especially fitting that our first speaker here be the U.S. secretary of state. From our beginning, SAIS has been committed to close ties between the world of ideas and the world of action, a vision that inspired our founders, Paul Nitze and Christian Herter, and continues to inspire us today."