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Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Tony Dokoupil of CBS Mornings

QUESTION:  Also here this morning, somebody who helped with that speech, Secretary of State Antony Blinken.  And he joins me now.  Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for being here.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good to be with you.

QUESTION:  Late last evening, I walked down to Omaha Beach myself, and I saw there at one of the memorials a note from the next generation, from this generation, that said, “Thank you for our freedom.”  Is that what this is about today?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Very much.  There’s a debt, a debt that we can’t possibly repay to those who came here in defense of freedom.  And had they not come here, had they not summoned the courage, the common purpose to do what they did, we probably wouldn’t be here today.  We see that in the fallen behind us.  We see it in the extraordinary veterans who are here today, veterans of the Normandy landings.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  D-Day helped win World War – helped win World War II, and World War II helped bring into existence the world we live in today.  The rules, the order – Secretary Austin talked about this in his speech.  I was able to hear some snippets of it.


QUESTION:  It now can appear at times like that order is shaking, particularly when we see war in Ukraine and now, just overnight, Vladimir Putin saying, oh, if you’re going to arm Ukraine to strike us, we’re going to arm your enemies to strike you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  The order is challenged, but the order is strong.  We see it in the extraordinary resolve now of more than 50 countries, for example, who are helping to defend Ukraine, defend Ukraine against the aggression being brought by Russia and Mr. Putin.  We see it in solidarity not only in Europe but all across the world, including in Asia – countries standing up in defense of freedom, in defense of the very rules that you mentioned that were established after World War II.  And there’s a – there was a purpose behind that.

After two world wars, we wanted to do everything possible to make sure that there wouldn’t be a third.  And at the heart of that is an international order, an understanding that one country can’t simply violate the territory of another by force, change its borders by force, seize its land, try to dominate its future.  If we don’t stand up for those rules in our time, then we risk seeing what happened in the time that we’re commemorating today.

QUESTION:  What’s remarkable is that what you just said has been the position of American presidents, Republican and Democrat, for decades now.  But what we see at home in Gallup polling is that the majority of Americans – two-thirds in fact – are not satisfied with America’s role in the world.  Now, that can mean a lot of things, but one thing it definitely means is that there is some disagreement about what we should be doing out there to maintain security.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, there was disagreement before World War II as well, and that’s not new.  And of course the world is an incredibly dangerous place.  It’s an incredibly challenged place.  But we’re all the stronger in being able to meet those challenges because we have a unique ability to bring other countries together.  The Alliance that we have today – just the NATO Alliance – is stronger.  It’s larger than it’s ever been.  It’s better resourced.  And what I hear when I’m going around the world is country after country looking to the United States, looking for engagement, looking for leadership.  And it’s – it’s really what our comparative advantage is because our adversaries, they don’t benefit from these alliances.  They have to coerce other countries into helping them.  Maybe they have to bribe them, in effect, into helping them.  We have voluntary alliances.

And, Tony, back in the day after World War II, there was something called enlightened self-interest.  We went off – yes, partly altruism, but mostly because it was in our interest to do it.  Preventing something bad from happening, that meant that we wouldn’t have to deal with something much bigger later.  Getting new allies, new partners, that benefitted us.

QUESTION:  Are you able to confirm right now and just level with the American people about the use of American weapons inside Russia?  I know the rules for engagement by Ukraine using our arms were loosened recently by the Biden administration, and we understand that there have now been strikes in Russian territory with American weapons.  Is that true?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Look, we’ve adjusted.  We’ve adapted all along.  What the President said the other day was because Russia was massing its forces on the Ukrainian, launching attacks against Ukraine from just over the border in a place that the Ukrainians couldn’t get to them without the authorization to use our weapons to do so, that we needed to adjust to that, to adapt to that.  And so our weapons, the weapons of others, are being used in this case to go at the Russians as they’re mounting attacks on Ukraine.

QUESTION:  Madeleine Albright called America the indispensable nation.  And so on a day like this, I wonder if you could complete the following sentence for me: If not for America, then what?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  If not for America, chaos, lawlessness, and ultimately the things that we take for granted, the democracy that we take for granted, that would be in jeopardy.  Look, this day really resonates for me, Tony, because 80 years ago my dad had just left college to sign up for the Air Force, and he was getting ready to fly.  My stepfather was somewhere else.  He was in a concentration camp of some hundreds of miles from here.  And the forces that came to Normandy 80 years and then started that march that ultimately, 11 months later, ended World War II, they wound up liberating my stepdad from the concentration camps.  That’s what America stands for, for so many people around the world.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  And as we were talking about earlier, we’re all children of their sacrifice, this D-Day generation.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We are.  We are.

QUESTION:  Secretary Blinken, thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good to be with you.

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-with-tony-dokoupil-of-cbs-mornings/

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