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“Kerry is not going to have an easy term”

Yurii Shcherbak on the new US secretary of state and Clinton’s record
04 February, 18:05

Last week, the US Senate approved John Kerry for the post of state secretary. Kerry, who is 69 now, is one of the most respected and well-known American foreign politics experts.

“John’s outstanding career, from his valorous military service in the Vietnam War, to decades he spent in senate, prepared him for the post of the leader of American diplomacy,” said the US President Barack Obama, who was the one to offer this candidacy. “John earned the respect of leaders around the world, trust of democrats and republicans in the senate, and I am sure that he will be an excellent state secretary.”

Voice of America informs that Massachusetts senator Kerry, who ran for president in 2004, will become the ninth state secretary from the state of Massachusetts and fourth former Foreign Relations Committee chairman on this post.

In his turn, during the foreign committee hearing, Kerry assured that his actions would not contradict the policies carried out by Obama’s administration, and that he intended to continue with the tactics chosen by his predecessor Clinton.

Meanwhile, Russia treats Kerry’s appointment with optimism, since he supports the improvement of relations between Washington and Moscow.

The new US secretary of state took office and replaced Hillary Clinton on February 1.

The Day asked former ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, writer Yurii SHCHERBAK to comment upon Kerry’s assignment to the post of the US secretary of state:

“US foreign policy is a very inertial, complicated, and conservative mechanism which cannot change instantly with the arrival of a new person. The US policies are determined by the president, Senate, and the House of Representatives (Congress). The secretary of state is one of executors of these policies, but not one of their creators. So, we should not expect any drastic changes. Also, because of Putin’s aggressive anti-Western policy, relations between Russia and the United States reached a deadlock. They moved from that uncertain category which was called ‘reload’ to another one. It is possible that Obama, who does not have to bother with being elected now, will choose a more harsh policy in relation to Russia. But judging from his character, he needed an illusion of solving some problems. And perhaps, he should not open a new front of a half-cold war with Russia, because the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is yet to come. Lately, the issues of North Korea and Iran became more escalated. Considering all this, Kerry’s rhetoric might differ from that of his predecessor. But in general, I think he will act in accordance with Obama’s instructions and will not go beyond the determined bounds of American policy.

“Russia is not the main problem for the United States right now, since its importance, especially the economic one, decreased significantly. Everyone knows that this is a completely authoritarian country, and it is unlikely that Obama would aggravate relations with it. Besides, when it comes to the quality of military force and economic strength, Russia falls behind the United States, China, and the European Union.

“Ukraine does not occupy an important place in the present-day US foreign policy. And this is not only because of our current political regime, but because this sector of Eastern Europe, which also includes Poland and Hungary, is not in the focus of American policy. And it is going to remain like that unless some geopolitical change or catastrophe takes place.

“So, Kerry is very far from the record set by Hillary Clinton, who traveled all around the world. At the moment she holds an absolute record among all American secretaries of state as to the number and quality of her visits. But even her enormous activity changed little in the general world picture. All Obama’s illusions that the Arab Spring would bring happiness, satisfaction, prosperity, and, first of all, democracy to Arab nations, were shattered. This phenomenon only strengthened Islamic fundamentalism, and Egypt is an example of that. At the moment, this problem, and also Iran’s nuclear threats to Israel will be the main ones for the US.

“Therefore, Kerry is not going to have an easy term. He will have to spend at least a year to get a full understanding of situation and see all the pitfalls of policies carried out by the US government. The killing of the US ambassador to Libya was a horrible blow to the US foreign policy. But it is going to become more and more complicated to guarantee security to American embassies and interests. That is why I think that the newly appointed secretary of state Kerry will face a lot of hardships.”

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