Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is retiring this year. Her vacant position opens the door to a whole can of worms where senators reevaluate U.S. foreign policy and confirm officials that will follow the president’s line. The long confirmation hearings are a healthy reminder of the separation of powers and the executive’s limited power.
However, this confirmation will be very brief. There is a clear frontrunner and for obvious reasons.
Senator John Kerry is the right man for the job. Even though he was Obama’s second choice, he is much better than U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice who misled the American public on the Benghazi terrorist attack. Kerry is an individual that has long served his country well.
From Vietnam to the U.S. Senate in the Foreign Relations Committee for 29 years, Kerry has substantial credentials and long standing experience in foreign affairs. The problem is not in his experience. The issue with Kerry lies in his opinion on Iran and his backing of Obama’s critical foreign policy views.
He said on his senate hearing that he will counter Iran with bold action. Kerry declared, “I repeat here today: our policy is not containment. It is prevention and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance.” This if far from a change in policy when it comes to the Bush Administration.
The strain of American imperialism that provoked many military conflicts is well alive. Preemptive strikes are far from over and Iraq appears to be the template for American foreign policy. The issue is that Iraq is the wrong template for our foreign policy. The reason is that today’s foreign policy offsets our national interests and exacerbates the bloated military spending.
This is a bipartisan issue. Both Democrats and Republicans are at fault. This includes Kerry who doesn’t believe in a humble foreign policy. Even though the hawks usually come from the radical wing of the Republican Party and tend to demonize anyone that criticizes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or anywhere the military involves itself, Democrats like Obama favor a continuation of Bush policy and perhaps an extension with Iran.
Let’s just look at the facts.
Drone strikes quintupled under the Obama Administration. These strikes are not helpful in war. Instead of eliminating terrorists, drone strikes incite more acts of terror by provoking civilians that had nothing to do with a terrorist movement, like Al-Qaeda, in the first place. Muslim public opinion around the world has dramatically changed for the worse. It’s hard to credit the negative shift in opinion to drone strikes, but they are a substantial factor.
President Obama is also responsible for extending the Patriot Act even further than Bush. He added a new clause that allows the federal government to kill American citizens suspected to be terrorists without a fair trial. Attorney General Holder said that the government has the right “to defend the United States with lethal force.”
Last but not least, President Obama increased the amount of military deployments across the globe. Back when President Bush was in office, the U.S. focused mainly on Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s Administration followed through by extending drone strikes in Yemen and Kuwait, arming Libyan rebels, and deploying troops to several African nations. Where are the national interests in Libya? Kuwait? Uganda? Yemen?
That’s the main issue with Senator Kerry. He’s going to have to deal with Obama’s military adventurism. Kerry has not come out against drone strikes and the extension of the Patriot Act. He even said on his senate hearing that U.S. foreign policy “is not defined by drones and deployments alone.” It’s true that there are other aspects of American foreign policy, but those two concepts are critical.
American foreign policy must reevaluate itself through this confirmation. Senator Kerry is a good man and should be Secretary of State.
Hopefully, his skepticism of military deployments shows up on his new position and avoids war with Iran. America needs it.