Obama nominates John Kerry as next US Secretary of State: Expected to shape foreign policy issues
President Barack Obama on Friday afternoon 21 December at the White House announced that he is nominating Senator John Kerry as the next U.S. secretary of state with the departure of the incumbent Hillary Clinton in January next year.
Mr. Kerry who entered the Senate in 1985 and has been on the powerful foreign relations committee since then and assumed its chairmanship four years ago when Senator Joe Biden left the Congress to become Obama's vice president is a veteran foreign policy expert who has an independent mind and arrives at sober observations and analyses with all facts and data before him is known to those who have associated with him for decades as a person who never get succumbed to undue influence.
President Obama, it is said, tapped him to shape his administration's foreign policy agenda with new frontiers, such as Syria, opened for American deliberations.
Mr. Kerry is no stranger to President Assad of Syria as he has travelled to that country several times during the first Obama term, and considered the best American to have close rapport with the Syrian strongman if necessity arise.
The son of a diplomat, Mr. Kerry is a decorated Vietnam veteran who was critical of the war effort when he returned home to the United States. He ran for president as the Democratic candidate in 2004, losing the election to George W Bush.
As the nation's top diplomat, Kerry will not only be tasked with executing the president's foreign policy objectives, but will also have a hand in shaping them. The longtime lawmaker has been in lockstep with Obama on issues like nuclear non-proliferation, but ahead of the White House in advocating aggressive policies in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere that the president later embraced.
Kerry would immediately join Obama's White House national security team, with Obama expected to choose a new defense secretary and director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the coming weeks.
The 69-year-old Kerry already has deep relationships with many world leaders, formed both during his Senate travels and as an unofficial envoy for Obama. The president has called upon Kerry in particular to diffuse diplomatic disputes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, two countries that will be at the forefront of Obama's foreign policy agenda early in his second term.
“In a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role,” President Obama said during a joint appearance with Kerry in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.
“Over these many years, John has earned the respect and confidence of leaders from around the world.
He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,” the president added. “He has earned the respect and trust of his Senate colleagues – Democrats and Republicans. It is fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers, or grasp more foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry.”
The outgoing secretary, Hillary Rodham Clinton, did not attend as she recovers from a concussion after fainting last week following a bout with a virus.
But in a statement Secretary Clinton said: "He will bring decades of service to our country and deep experience in international affairs. The son of a career Foreign Service Officer, diplomacy is in his blood. As a decorated veteran, he knows what it takes to defend our nation and our values. As a leader in the Senate, he understands how to build coalitions and craft compromises. As a statesman respected around the world, he will be able to sustain and extend America’s global leadership.
"John Kerry has been tested – in war, in government, and in diplomacy. Time and again, he has proven his mettle.
"Over the past four years, now as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Kerry has been my trusted partner on major foreign policy challenges facing our nation. He helped us end the war in Iraq and advance a responsible transition in Afghanistan, co-authored key assistance legislation for Pakistan, won ratification of the New START Treaty with Russia, led the way on climate change, and helped us navigate a fast-changing Middle East."
President Obama gave a tribute his outgoing secretary of state Clinton: "Over the last four years, Hillary has been everywhere -- both in terms of her travels, which have seen her represent America in more countries than any previous Secretary of State, and through her tireless work to restore our global leadership. And she’s looking forward to getting back to work, and I am looking forward to paying tribute to her extraordinary service in the days to come."
Recognizing Senator Kerry overall contribution to the American nation Mr. Obama said: "In an extraordinarily distinguished Senate career -- and as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee -- John has played a central role in every major foreign policy debate for nearly 30 years.
"As we turn the page on a decade of war, he understands that we’ve got to harness all elements of American power and ensure that they’re working together -- diplomatic and development, economic and political, military and intelligence -- as well as the power of our values which inspire so many people around the world.
"As John has said, we are an exceptional nation “not because we say we are, but because we do exceptional things.” And I’d say that one of the more exceptional things we’ve seen in recent decades was when John helped lead the way, along with folks like John McCain and others, to restore our diplomatic ties with Vietnam. And when he returned to the country where he and so many others had fought so long ago, it sent a powerful message of progress and of healing."
- Asian Tribune -