White House “trying to rein in” John Kerry?
posted at 4:01 pm on June 24, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
Are the one-man diplomatic stylings of newly-appointed Secretary of State John Kerry perhaps getting a little too grandiose, even for the White House’s liking? So reports the Associated Press, and it is certainly true that, in just the first four months of his tenure, John Kerry has made for himself a schedule that keeps him all kinds of busy traveling hither and yon. Kerry’s long-term ambitions for the top job at State were hardly ever a secret, and it sounds like he might be taking himself just a bit too seriously in some White House officials’ estimation:
Since succeeding Hillary Rodham Clinton as America’s top diplomat, Kerry has issued several as yet undelivered — and perhaps undeliverable — pledges to allies and rivals alike, proving a source of concern for Obama’s policy team. It is trying to rein in Kerry somewhat, according to officials, which is difficult considering Kerry has spent almost half his tenure so far in the air or on the road, from where his most dissonant policy statements have come.
The White House quickly distanced itself from both Kerry’s North Korea remarks and has now, since President Barack Obama’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Northern Ireland this past week, seen up close the strength of Moscow’s resistance to Kerry’s Syria strategy. …
In Jordan last month, Kerry announced a sketchy $4 billion economic revitalization strategy for the West Bank that would accompany his peace plan. No details were provided, and U.S. officials even sent reporters to aides of U.N. peace mediator Tony Blair for more information. …
On Mideast peace, Kerry is largely fighting the battle alone. Since Obama’s visit to Israel in March, Kerry has gotten almost no public displays of support from the president, with the White House appearing reluctant to stake political capital in an endeavor that so often has proved a disappointment.
As the AP suggests, it’s tough to rein in somebody who isn’t around very much, and Kerry has certainly been out on about across the globe, delivering policy prescriptions for China and North Korea, Russia and Syria, Israel and the Palestinians — but it sounds like other administration officials are worried that a lot of talk won’t necessarily translate into a lot of action.
Kerry has also been a longtime advocate for intense international climate-change cooperation, and was talking a big game about the matter in India this weekend ahead of President Obama’s pending climate-change announcements. Via Politico:
Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged fast-growing India to work with the United States on global warming before it’s too late. “The irreversible climate challenge is speeding towards us, crying out for a global solution, `’ he said.
Kerry spoke on climate change in a speech in New Delhi, the second stop on his two-week swing through the Mideast and Asia, just two days before President Barack Obama is to unveil his long-awaited plan for the United States on the issue.
“The world’s largest democracy and its oldest one must do more together, uniting not as a threat to anyone, not as a counterweight to a region or some other countries, but as partners building a strong, smart future in a critical age,” Kerry said in a reference to how India is often viewed as a counterbalance to China.
Well… at least he and President Obama are on the same page on that front, I suppose.