John Kerry, the former Democratic Sen. from Massachusetts, has a tough job in front of him as the new secretary of state.
The new secretary’s foremost priority should be to allocate the Bureau of Diplomatic Security access to the type of resources they need to protect our ambassadors on foreign soil. To his credit, Kerry was on top of the recent U.S. Consulate bombing in Turkey, making phone calls and official statements. Kerry shouldn’t allow himself to be bullied the same way Hillary Clinton was by the Republican leaders who capitalized on an unfortunate situation and indulged in the blame game even on her last day on the job. If there is a sign of the partisanship ahead for Kerry, this is it.
Kerry’s job doesn’t come with the same kind of baggage that was loaded upon his predecessor. When Clinton stepped in as secretary of state, she was tasked with a lot of damage control. We were involved in two wars, had only a handful of contributing allies and faced constant foreign threats.
Kerry has to adopt more of a transitional approach as the United States’ go-to guy overseas. The world has seen a chain of events in the last four years that makes his job more complex but not necessarily more difficult. All he has to do is observe and adapt before he reports to the commander in chief and the American people.
The Middle East is no longer an al-Qaida ally. The Arab Spring has brought the hopeless youth of regions that were war-torn and under draconian dictatorships closer to democracy than they have ever been. Countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, etc., have governments and leaders that are realizing that they have to step up and crawl into the 21st century along with their Western counterparts, as far as rule of law is concerned. Kerry has to be the guy that sends the message that the United States stands with them.
Kerry’s stroll through the Middle East isn’t entirely a cakewalk. Syria has hundreds of people dying each day. The new Israeli administration, allegedly the most conservative one in a long time, combined with the Palestinians and seemingly maniacal Iranians is not a stew Kerry wants to see cooked. Kerry should realize that maybe twisting Iran’s arm isn’t the right thing to do, and perhaps counseling the leaders of these three countries separately would help maintain peace in the world.
Afghanistan and Pakistan remain the epicenter of the anti-U.S. hatred and Islamic jihad. Kerry should tell the Pakistani prime minister, given that he isn’t arrested on the active corruption charges, that the U.S. will have no more of the “friends with no benefits” situation where they, the Pakistanis, continue to harbor terrorists. The same speech should be repeated in Kabul, ensuring the Afghan government that the U.S. will not offer any more aid and support, especially after we leave officially next year, or 10, depending on which side of the bed President Barack Obama wakes up on.
In the Americas, Kerry has to reach out to the Mexican government, not only about working with their U.S. counterparts to establish an immigration policy that benefits both nations, but also about the drug violence that has claimed numerous lives along the border. With Canada, Kerry has to follow through on the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and make sure that the talks reach the White House and policies are made that ensure resources but in an environmentally friendly way.
Kerry needs to make it clear to the world that the U.S. will no longer be manipulated and lied to. No longer will we make unusual alliances and cut ties with anyone who aims to jeopardize the peace and security of the U.S. and the world.