"In his nine months in office, Kerry's State Department has one striking accomplishment to its name. It has achieved a new level of media savvy in promoting itself and plugging its highest official as a rock star, a world leader in his own right (complete with photo-ops and sophisticated image-making). In the meantime, the secretary of state has been stumbling and bloviating from one crisis to the next, one debacle to another, surrounded by the well-crafted imagery of diplomatic effectiveness. He and his errant statements have become global punch lines, but is he truly to blame for his performance?" Asia Times
Kerry is a man obsessed with himself. He has consistently focused on his personal profile at the expense of doing the country's business. The Egyptians, Saudis, Syrians, Afghans, etc. are all laughing at him. How long can this continue? pl
Agree with PL’s analysis of Kerry!
“He has consistently focused on his personal profile at the expense of doing the country’s business. The Egyptians, Saudis, Syrians, Afghans, etc. are all laughing at him..”
Who does that sound like?
I am no fan of Kerry, his predecessor and his boss but in their disfunctional, jerky, ad-hoc sort of way they have accidently created a very good record in the Middle East for the US in the last five years:
1. We are gone from Iraq and will soon be gone from Afghanistan
2. No US troops have been committed in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan or Syria.
3. Relations with most countries have not gotten worse except that the US has put some distance between us and the Israelis and the Saudis. A good thing in my mind.
4. A significant start has been made to “kiss and make up” to Iran.
5. Osama bin Ladin is dead.
6. The negative side consists of Benghazi, poor military operations in Afghanistan, which, whether we like it or not are unimportant.
The real worry in the ME is the dangers the pundits and critics are always warning about but never happen. Accidental diplomacy seems to be working.
I find it hard after Kerry’s horrible election campaign to ever take him seriously again. … to not dive to deeply: in every statement there is a little error … (Henry Miller)
But I also have to admit I “loved” some of his blunders.
This is an interesting question, I asked myself too yesterday:
“Did Goldberg set Hagel up? I think Goldberg knew that Hagel would back off the Kerry statement, but could not have known that he would turn Bibi boaster. The unexpected Ma’ariv headline just will assure Israelis that the tactics of their Prime Minister are welcome by the Americans.”
Hillary was no better, probably a reflection on their boss and not themselves.
They both accepted their role. pl
What dangers are those? Things have gone badly enough. pl
Is this really about Kerry?
Or is it about the elites and the offices in which they have occupied?
If you don’t think so, just wait for the next election/next administration. it will be the same group of corrupt characters with different names.
The system has no legitimacy. Only the facade of the elections restores the perceived legitimacy for some time.
Unless the public realizes the corporate sponsored elites are not the same as ‘we the people, by the people, for the people’, this charade will continue.
To go further on my input, I really think the American problem is that we have a fallacious view of our ability to influence and change the world to our own view of how we think it should be. I think we would be much better off generally setting an example within and reflecting it rather than trying to force things on others.
Yes, we need to try to persuade the Egyptian military to find a way to support peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims.
And we ought to persuade the Israelis that they cannot expect our unqualified support if they do not seriously work to co-exist effectively with the Palestinians. The same goes for the Palestinians.
We also need both our Democratic and Republican parties to work together to provide a peaceful, meaningful environment benefiting our society writ-large. Right wing (Republican) versus left wing (Democratic) is part of an ignorant approach that, if continued will sell us down the drain.
I do not think that your number 3 regarding distance with Israel and SA is valid.
Number 4 is also wishful thinking in my opinion.
r whitnan: The only reason we are “gone” from Iraq is because the Iraqis refused to let us stay. The only reason we did not attack Syria is because the Congress and the American people and the UK Parliament “went off the reservation.”
Yes it is about Kerry. It is about individual human responsibility. These people make free choices to do the things they do. pl
Apropos #2 , just in time to wrap up the wildly successful Afghan campaign – gee, was Tora Bora really so long ago – comes this hardly foreseeable banana peel:
Pressure to shut NATO supply routes in Pakistan over drone strikes
Seems to me there are U.S. military personnel on the drone bases in Pakistan
w/r/t # 3, you need to get out more. See the above. The intelligence obsession is seen as malevolent, governance in general a spectacle worthy only of sadness and derision, Obama a laughable fraud with zero credibility. Putin man of the year. Stephen Harper is incensed over Keystone XL basically saying to the President “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
BTW Kerry wants the 2016 nomination for the DEMs!
I think with the present bunch in charge at the WH this can go on for a while. Think Fast and Furious, think IRS and the Tea Party, Benghazi. The only reason the O Care mess is getting any coverage is because it’s hard to hide the fact folks medical insurance rates have gone to the moon.
I never thought very much of John Kerry. I suspect he might be pondering a run in 2016 if Clinton juggernaut falters, a lot can go wrong in 2014. Somebody as egotistical as John Kerry might think he has a shot.
I’ve never been a big believer in conventional wisdom, and the Clinton’s have their fair share of enemies. As much as a mess as things are he might be able to pull it off.
No troops were committed to Syria? That was the US Congress (which refused to authorize another war) along with Russian President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov’s idea and efforts to have President Assad agree to give up chemical weapons. It was definitely not Kerry, Clinton (Hillary) or Obama’s doing.
Thanks for often pointing this out.
Thanks for the link to the interview, which I found deeply depressing. Among the depressing features was a reference to Churchill:
‘We were talking at a small table in Hagel’s E-Ring office. A portrait of Winston Churchill, who coincidentally is Netanyahu’s hero (but not Obama’s), hangs on the wall.’
According to an article just published by Jacob Heilbrunn on the recent unveiling of a bust of Churchill in the Capitol, he ‘has literally become an idol’ among American political leaders. It opens:
‘Winston Churchill returned to Washington, DC yesterday. The former British Prime Minister was the star of the show at the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, where a bust dedicated to him was unveiled before worshipful legislators, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid. Even Roger Daltrey of the Who was summoned to sing a dedication – “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – to Churchill.’
(See http://nationalinterest.org/blog/jacob-heilbrunn )
My own sympathies in relation to the arguments of the Thirties are very much with Churchill. But the ‘appeasement’ strategy was based upon a quite rational view of the interests of the British Empire and of Germany. With any German leader other than Hitler, it might very well have worked. It might help if Americans actually reflected more on the intractable dilemmas faced by British imperial strategists in the Thirties.
The notion that every enemy is Hitler reincarnated has been the bane of American foreign policy thinking since 1945. While Stalin was a murderous and Machiavellian tyrant, and the Soviet system a total disaster, the notion that it was some kind of reincarnation of Nazi Germany was nonsense.
In retrospect, it is clear that time and again in the Cold War we fooled ourselves by failing to grasp that very often the Soviets were playing a traditional Russian game of bluffing people into failing to realise how weak they were.
Having fallen into precisely the same trap with Saddam Hussein, it appears that many in Washington and London are once again simply assuming that the refusal of Iran to abandon its enrichment programme indicates that it is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.
Moreover, it appears that Americans have hardly begun to cotton on to the fact that they have been systematically fooled by the Israelis. If Chuck Hagel really ‘made sure to absolve Netanyahu of the charge that he’s intent on subverting the nuclear talks’, as Goldberg says, then he is either ‘appeasing’ the Israeli lobby, or displaying a naivety worthy of Chamberlain.
What is also obscured by this craven idolatry of Churchill is that ‘appeasement’ was a key part of British imperial strategy, rather than some kind of cowardly alternative to ‘deterrence’ and ‘compellence.’
All are instruments of policy, and the art of politics is to judge which instruments, or combinations of instruments, are appropriate in a specific situation. Often, ‘appeasement’ and ‘deterrence’ are best practiced in combination: which was actually what Chamberlain was trying to do after Munich.
Indeed, it was precisely because the British practiced ‘appeasement’ and the Germans did not that the twentieth century did not turn out a German century, as it might very well have done – particularly given the extraordinary dynamism and creativity of the Second Reich.
Confronted by the rise of American and Japanese naval power, we ‘appeased’. Confronted by the rise of German, we decided on confrontation – but accepted that the corollary was that we had to ‘appease’ both France and, more remarkably, Russia.
Another run for President in 2016. Makes total sense to me. Amazing really, what an outsized ego can do for a politician. Looks like it’s going to be Hillary or Kerry vs Christie or Bush.
Good luck with that. He and Hillary can fight it out.
Good Lord. Isn’t it pretty much conventional wisdom that if you run for President, get your party nomination, and then get wiped out in the general election that you’re pretty much done?
Yes it is about Kerry. It is about individual human responsibility.
Yes, Col. it is, however. Do we not have a pattern here:
Clapper we don’t spy.
Bush, WMD in Iraq.
Powell, Mobile lab charade in UN.
Billy willy, I do not know that woman.
and the list goes on, it seems personal responsibility has no place amongst the politician, nor does the public hold them accountable.
At least, “I am not a crook” got the boot.
All splash and no water; a mile wide and an inch deep; a grand appearance outwardly absolutely nothing on the inside. Take your choice.
Thanks David, I liked your response. Although:
“particularly given the extraordinary dynamism and creativity of the Second Reich.” ?????
“If Chuck Hagel really ‘made sure to absolve Netanyahu of the charge …”
For whatever reason, I doubt he did. He was aware that “goldbug” has the ability to start a really vicious smear campaign it feels. I often ask myself if the ability to control the contemporary narrative via the historical narrative to one’s own advantage is not the ultimate power. I haven’t read one single article by him no matter what the context, arts or politics that has impressed me, quite th opposite …
I definitively respect Churchill, but I instintively dislike every idolatry, much more if it seems to have an ideological bend. Which this surely seems to have: “No sports!”, I use that too. 😉
Very, very long ago I read an article by a neocon that turned Bismarck into a hero, a stylite too. … The argument went somewhat like this, the stout conservative had after all introduced social security regulations, not the socialist had. Obviously this too was some type of inner appeasement in a time of social unrest, to pick up your core argument. What they ignore are his paranoid anti-Catholic Kulturkampf and the accompanying laws, or his expulsion of the Jesuits and other orders, his attemps at Germanization of national minorities and the Anti-socialist laws. Idolatry as you suggest, does erase the context.
I really dislike this nitpicking for an ultimately ideological use. Paradoxically while being aware in university I occasionally wondered if it would not be safer concerning grades to simply rehash received wisdom. It’s also much less work. 😉 Yes, we may all be nitpicking to a certain extend, no doubt.
As you may realize my ultimate interest is not so much politics or power but narratives. Maybe I have to get a better grasp of the special US culture War. Could it be the Churchill idolatry fits guite well in the larger context?
Would this help my to get a better grasp of US political dynamics?
Thanks for the Jacob Heilbrunn link. this is from the McCatchy article he links to:
“I’m looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again,” Romney said last year at a London fundraising event, a jab at what pundits had called a worsening trans-Atlantic partnership between the nations due to a negligent attitude from the Obama administration. Romney’s remark touched a nerve in the White House and became a public relations mess between London and Washington. It ended with a White House apology.”