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Thu Jan 3, 2013, 08:57 AM

John Kerry, the dealmaker-in-chief

http://bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/01/03/john-kerry-dealmaker-chief/H8MUWF94iHfmdYdr0VNYGP/story.html

WHEN SENATOR John Kerry is confirmed as secretary of state later this month, he will encounter a number of complex tests as America’s top diplomat. The first is his challenging inbox, which includes the Afghanistan war, Iranian and North Korean nuclear threats, an increasingly violent Middle East, the lingering euro debt crisis, and China’s challenge to American power in Asia. It may well be the most daunting agenda a secretary of state has faced in a generation.

Kerry will also inherit a bruised State Department reeling from the Benghazi attacks and the tough Accountability Review Board judgment of “systemic failures” in diplomatic security. Facing further cuts in an already depleted State Department budget, Kerry will need to move fast to rebuild morale in the foreign service.

Kerry has a third challenge — to fill the shoes of Hillary Clinton, who is universally regarded as a highly effective secretary of state and Gallup’s most admired female leader of 2012. Clinton deserves all the accolades she has received. Enormously popular with the rank and file at State, she has broadened our diplomatic engagement by emphasizing women, development, and social issues, and brought energy, leadership, and compassion to our foreign policy.

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Kerry’s conservative critics accuse him of being too much of a realist, too willing to negotiate with rulers like Syria’s Bashar Assad. But that misses the point about the core role we ask each secretary of state to play — to promote liberty and human rights for sure, but also to deal with the world as it is, even if that means meeting unsavory characters from time to time in defense of American interests.

Kerry can’t lead every negotiation. But, at some point in 2013, he will have to decide whether to take ownership of the effort to end Syria’s civil war, stop Iran’s nuclear weapons drive, wind down the Afghan war, and respond to Chinese troublemaking in the South and East China Seas. He understands diplomacy and has the unique experience of decades of foreign policy leadership in the Senate. He will need that and more as he begins the toughest job of his impressive career.

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Response to Mass (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 09:31 AM

1. these were the sentences I liked the best:

Despite these very real tests, Kerry has an opportunity to be a pivotal secretary of state. No one is better prepared by temperament or unrivaled global experience to be America’s foreign policy vicar.

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Response to Mass (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:05 AM

2. Here is an excellent editorial about questions that should be asked of a SoS nominee

Here is a subset of the questions listed, all of them excellent questions.

http://www.thenation.com/article/171980/tough-questions-john-kerry

§ Presidential war making: Are there any limits to the president’s war powers in the so-called “war on terror”? Contrary to expectations, Obama has broadened the Bush administration’s view that the congressional resolution authorizing the pursuit of Al Qaeda after 9/11 gives the president the right to attack any suspect group in any country as long as there are terrorists—in other words, forever. That prerogative is said to include the power to kill anyone (including US citizens) that the president decides poses a terrorist threat to the United States. How would you reconcile this position with the Constitution? How would you suggest that Congress enforce accountability on a president who targets and kills innocent people by mistake?

§ Climate change: Do you consider global warming a clear and present danger to our national security? In his first inaugural address, Obama raised the hope that we would begin to “roll back the specter of a warming planet.” Yet the United States was essentially AWOL in the recent climate negotiations in Doha, and thus a key contributor to their failure. Do you plan to change course?

§ Global economic recovery: Does mass unemployment in the United States, recession in Europe and Japan, and continued trade conflict with China require new international policies from the United States? Washington is pivoting toward more austerity at home, while economic growth here and abroad is faltering. We are headed for a synchronized global recession with new trade and currency wars, when what we need is a synchronized global recovery. What steps would you recommend to revive sustainable economic growth as a part of our global policy?

§ Militarization of US foreign policy: How can the State Department reclaim from the military its proper role as the lead agency of US policy abroad? The militarization of foreign policy has continued unabated in the first Obama term. Regional military commanders act in effect as proconsuls who have far greater weight than ambassadors in regions around the world. Many countries know the United States only for its military bases, its military trainers or its drone attacks. Our foreign assistance budget is a global disgrace, while military spending is higher than it was at the height of the Cold War under Ronald Reagan. What commitments have been made, if any, by the president in terms of correcting this wrongheaded imbalance? § Presidential war making: Are there any limits to the president’s war powers in the so-called “war on terror”? Contrary to expectations, Obama has broadened the Bush administration’s view that the congressional resolution authorizing the pursuit of Al Qaeda after 9/11 gives the president the right to attack any suspect group in any country as long as there are terrorists—in other words, forever. That prerogative is said to include the power to kill anyone (including US citizens) that the president decides poses a terrorist threat to the United States. How would you reconcile this position with the Constitution? How would you suggest that Congress enforce accountability on a president who targets and kills innocent people by mistake?
...

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Response to Mass (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:10 AM

3. I think corpmedia has oversold Clinton's 'effectiveness'. I think she made some serious mistakes

along the way, especially with Syria.

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Response to blm (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 04:09 PM

4. Yeah, I was scratching my head about that CW

I'm not saying she was a bad SoS. I just can't think of one signature accomplishment during her tenure. Rice at least had that UN resolution on Libya to tout.

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Response to beachmom (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 04:23 PM

5. Same way people say she's a fighter till you ask them to name one battle she led in the senate

throughout her time as senator. She never led ONE battle against Bush, and, in fact, she sided with Bush's military positions and leadership instead of the Dem's 2004 nominee.

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Response to blm (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 05:13 PM

6. Political memories can be short.

I have seen a few comments about her hawkish POV, however, as well as her lack of impact on policy (though mostly mentioned with respect to structural limitations of the post), both in connection with the Rice-Kerry debate.

I also think it must have something to do with level of expectations. Since her appt was (so far as I could tell) a surprise, I think fewer people might have expected her to do a distinguished job. Because she did better than expected, her solid performance (and I do think it was solid, even as I agree with the comments here about her shortcomings) was described as "excellent" instead of "good".

If she decides to run for President, those memories would come back pretty quickly, I think.

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Response to blm (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 09:45 PM

7. I will say this, she worked so hard she wore herself out.

Last edited Sat Jan 5, 2013, 01:03 PM - Edit history (1)

Was she effective? I think that answer will come in time.

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