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The Crisis That Defined Blinken’s First Year

In another example, department officials noted that the Biden administration swooped in to assist Lithuania, through the U.S. Export-Import Bank, after China launched a trade war against the tiny Baltic country.

The assistance has been welcomed, by both smaller nations that were caught between the United States and China during the Trump administration, and close allies who described a strain with Washington before Mr. Biden was elected.

“It’s much more easy now, because we share so many more of our values and the things we would like to do together,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde of Sweden said in January at a forum hosted by the Center for American Progress. “So for me, it’s kind of a relief.”

Yet many allies fear it will all be overturned if U.S. voters choose a new government in 2024 that echoes the Trump administration’s “America First” ideas. That is one reason the Iran nuclear negotiations have struggled, given Tehran’s wariness of reviving a deal that another administration might again terminate.

And the chaotic departure from Afghanistan did little to ease concerns about American reliability.

Barbara J. Stephenson, another former American ambassador who is now the vice provost for global affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, called the disjointed evacuation “a huge disrupter” for the State Department. She said it demonstrated to adversaries like President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China “the value of distracting us.”

It even angered Americans who supported Mr. Biden’s decision to end the war.

“We defended him,” said Dan Caldwell, the vice president for foreign policy for Stand Together, an advocacy group funded by the conservative billionaire Charles Koch. “But that was always done under the belief that later on, there needed to be accountability. And now five months later, you’re still seeing issues with evacuations.”

“That is just unacceptable,” he said.

Mr. Blinken has said not only that he was surprised by the retreat of President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan security forces as the Taliban advanced last August, but that “we inherited a deadline — we did not inherit a plan” when he took over the department.

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