Niagara Gazette

Columns

June 16, 2013

SINGER: Two who are right for the job

Niagara Gazette — What a happy occurrence that on his second try to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, President Obama called on John Kerry for this demanding position in government. Sometimes you have to be lucky, and the U.S. certainly was in this choice.

During the brief time he has occupied the post, Mr. Kerry has radiated more authority with other powers, and done more to get off the dime via diplomacy, especially by opening out to the Russians concerning the quagmire of Syrian civil war, than Ms. Clinton did — or apparently, could do. Will authentic peace talks be possible for Syria? Everything conspires against them–Assad wanting badly to retain power, rebels (having lost so many family members and friends) wanting to keep the revolt going, certain Middle East powers throwing arms into the fray–and yet, Kerry seems to have created at least the possibility of a resolution to the conflict, however bad the odds.

Of course his predecessor, Ms. Clinton, is a very bright and accomplished person in her own right — no question. She globetrotted as extensively as any secretary of state ever did. But Kerry seems to be taken more seriously abroad, and seems emphatically less of a ditherer when it comes to foreign policy. (And by the way, I’m not referring obliquely to the Benghazi tragedy that occurred on Ms. Clinton’s watch. Nor am I referring to more trivial matters, such as her constantly changing hair styles, the taints she might still be daubed with stemming from her husband’s presidency, etc. I am simply referring to her record as secretary of state.)

Another John, Senator McCain, has also done some globetrotting of late, including into an ultra-dangerous Syria, in order to discuss with rebels there what might be done to alter a lethal, mudstuck dynamic. He seems more openly pro-rebel than Kerry, but both also seem aware of how interventions from abroad can induce a drop from frying pans into the proverbial fire, as has somewhat been the case in a now more Islamicized Egypt, where the Obama administration dived in perhaps too blithely. As they say: Don’t ask–besides Egypt, think of the Shah of Iran’s fall back in the ‘70s — you may get! I.e., something worse...

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