'American leadership still matters': Blinken

President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be secretary of state, Antony Blinken, pledged on Tuesday that he will work to revitalize damaged American diplomacy and build a united front to counter the challenges posed by Russia, China and Iran.

At his confirmation hearing a day before Democrat Biden takes over from Republican Donald Trump, whose four-year tenure was marked by unilateral American action that often upset allies, Blinken said he would work with them and with humility.

Blinken, 58, a veteran foreign policy hand and close confidant of Biden, also explained why U.S. leadership is vital for the world, while promising a foreign policy that will deliver for the American people.

"When we're not engaged, when we don't lead, then one of two things happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values. Or no one does, and then you get chaos," Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Video Transcript

ANTONY BLINKEN: We'll engage the world not as it was, but as it is. A world of rising nationalism, receding democracy, growing rivalry from China and Russia and other authoritarian states, mounting threats to a stable and open international system, and a technological revolution that is reshaping every aspect of our lives, especially in cyberspace.

But for all that has changed, I believe some things remain constant. American leadership still matters. The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we're not engaged, when we're not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that's [INAUDIBLE] to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does, and then you have chaos. Either way, that does not serve the American people.

I believe that humility and confidence should be the flip sides of America's leadership coin. Humility, because we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad. And humility because most of the world's problems are not about us in the first instance, even as they affect us. And no single country acting alone, even one as powerful as the United States, can fully and effectively address these problems.

But we'll also act with confidence. With the confidence that America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on Earth to mobilize others for the common good. Guided by these principles, I believe we can and we will overcome the COVID crisis, the greatest shared challenge since World War II. We can outcompete China and remind the world that a government of the people, for the people, can deliver for its people.

We can take on the existential threat posed by climate change. We can revitalize our core alliances, force multipliers of our influence around the world. Together, we are far better positioned to counter threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea, and to stand up for democracy and human rights. And in everything we do around the world, I believe that we can and we must ensure that our foreign policy is actually working to deliver for American working families, here at home.