As this year is coming to it’s end and US President Barack Obama is getting ready to officially start his second term, focus is on his battle with GOP on fiscal cliff, and departure of his once upon a time biggest enemy Hillary Clinton. As she decided to retire from official politics and pursue different path in her career public is slowly getting more and more interested in her successor Sen. John Kerry. Kerry is lucky this time, more than he ever been because GOP worked for him and cleared a path to become new Secretary of State. First of all they mounted extensive media campaign in which he was proclaimed as one of the best candidates to replace Clinton, and ferociously attacked his opponent Susan Rice.
Rice withdraw her name from the race based on GOP attacks and mounting pressure to explain her comments regarding Benghazi attack. Lot of people are forgetting that Rice was also in problem with US foreign partners who immediately told to the press they’re not comfortable to work with her. That would be extreme problem to Obama administration in moments when US diplomacy must to solve numerous problems, including largest in Syria and ongoing problems in the Middle East.
John Kerry is coming to the State Department from one of the most important position in US government and that’s a position of Chairman of Foreign Relations Senate Committee who’s word is really heard and valued in the world. His advantage over Rice is long-term experience in foreign relations, also possesses military background which could play very important role in his Secretary adventure.
Massachusetts Senator will not have too much time to relax or to get accustomed to his position before problems force him to work hard and cooperate with others. I presume that his first task will be talks to Russia on matters of Syria. Assad regime must to go and there’s no better candidate to find a way to do that than Kerry who was already presidential envoy to Syria, and has personal experience with Assad.
In line with that The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin, puts these on Kerry’s to-do list:
– Get Benghazi attack of his watch. Throw open the files, let Congress have a field day with the Clinton era and suffer no blame for what occurred on her watch. He’ll get points for openness.
– Make a pact with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu: No arguing in public. No surprises in public. It will be good for both of them.
– Apologize for courting Bashar Al-Assad. He and many foreign policy establishment types were wrong. Assad was not a “reformer” and could not be lured away from Syria. We waited for too long before calling for his removal, and frankly we still haven’t done much to bring that around. Admit error and personally reach out to Syrian opposition leaders. Otherwise, Assad’s BFF will have rocky relationship with whatever government follows Assad.
– Figure out how to charm Republicans. Granted, Clinton didn’t do very good job while in the Senate, but part of the key to her ability to deflect blame and stave off scandal was the absence of congressional venom. In fact, she played Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) like a fiddle. Kerry needs to learn to solicit advice (he doesn’t have to take it), share information and flatter his former colleagues. That’s what the job is about, in part. It was in large measure the reason Clinton’s reputation survived as long as it did.
Obama can just hope that Kerry will take burden of diplomatic relations, problems regarding Syria, Iran and Israeli-Palestininan problems on his back opening more space for the president to work on domestic issues. There’s huge chance that Kerry will be another great Secretary of State who’s name will be placed in historic books as positive and role model for future diplomats. But also there’s a chance that he could become very controversial and negative to many, as that is case with former Secretary Kissinger. Let’s hope that he’ll be the former.