Good Riddance, John Kerry
Every time a member of the Obama administration makes a statement about domestic or foreign affairs, one is reminded why Donald Trump was elected president last month. Many of those who voted for him despite concerns about his unconventionally brash persona did so in the hope that his picks for top jobs would compensate for his own lack of experience in Beltway politics.
So far, it appears, this was more than a smart gamble. But one of the highest positions, which has yet to be determined, is that of chief diplomat. The list of Trump’s possible candidates now includes former Gov. Mitt Romney, former CIA Director David Petraeus, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis.
But let’s face it: Even Bozo the Clown would be better than Secretary of State John Kerry.
To be fair to Kerry, he was following the foreign policy spelled out by Obama four years earlier: that America was about to embark on a new path, reaching out to enemies who would suddenly transform into friends when faced with a more gentle and multicultural America – one that “leads from behind.”
Nevertheless, it was Kerry who did most of the shuttling, predominantly to the Middle East, alternating between his many trips to Europe to grovel before his Iranian counterpart, and visits to Israel, where he expressed severe displeasure with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not behaving similarly with the Palestinian Authority.
In what was hopefully one of his last public appearances in his role this week – at the 13th Annual Saban Forum in Washington, DC, where he delivered the keynote address — Kerry highlighted the disaster that constituted his tenure, without an iota of remorse – other than in his failure to force Israel to create a Palestinian state.
On the third and last day of the conference – hosted by the Brookings Institution and titled “Challenges for the Trump Administration in the Middle East” — Kerry reiterated his position in an on-stage interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.
“I come to you as somebody who is concerned for the safety and the security of the state of Israel — for the long-term ability of the state of Israel to be able to be what it has dreamt of being, and what the people of Israel, I believe, want it to be,” he said, implying that it has not lived up to that dream.
He then professed his concern for the Jewish state, claiming to “want to see this thing develop into the full-blossomed beacon that Israel has the potential of being.” Indeed, he went on, “Israel has all these skills,” in so many realms “that it could be sharing with Egypt, with Jordan, with the Emirates, with Saudi Arabia, with all of these countries…. But the issue is, how do get from here to there?”
Netanyahu could have pointed out that attempting to get “from here to there” has been his guiding principle – one that he has been putting into practice with every Arab and African country that is open to it. This year alone, he has forged friendly relations and cooperation with Cairo. He has even made enormous strides with the Saudis, who consider Israel an ally in preventing Iran from acquiring the nuclear weapons that Kerry and his boss handed the mullahs on a silver platter.
Nevertheless, Kerry asserted with almost palpable disgust, “There will be no separate peace between Israel and the Arab world…I’ve heard several prominent politicians in Israel sometimes saying, ‘Well, the Arab world’s in a different place now. We just have to reach out to them, and …then we’ll deal with the Palestinians. No. No, no and no. There will be no advance and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and without the Palestinian peace.”
He continued by lambasting settlements, while claiming he understands that they are not the root cause of the conflict, saying he “cannot accept the notion that they do not affect the peace process — that they aren’t a barrier to the capacity to have peace.”
And here was the clincher. He said he knows this, because “the Left in Israel is telling everybody they are a barrier to peace and the Right that supports it, openly supports it, because they don’t want peace.”
And there you have it. Kerry’s utter gall. His accusation that most Israelis oppose peace. Not that we long to live without fear of being stabbed, car-rammed, torched, blown up by bombs and hit by rocket-fire by hate-filled terrorists bent on our annihilation. Not that we have relinquished most of the West Bank and all of Gaza to those killers. Not that every territorial withdrawal has been accompanied by an escalation in violence against us.
Netanyahu also addressed the Saban Forum, via video feed. His remarks were decidedly different from Kerry’s. He stressed the danger of the Iran nuclear deal; reminded everyone that the Palestinian Liberation Organization was created in 1964, three years before the Six-Day War, which led to Israel’s taking control of the territories it is accused of “illegally occupying.” He also pointed out that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about settlements or Palestinian statehood, but rather part of the “battle between modernity and medievalism.”
If Netanyahu is waiting with bated breath for Trump’s inauguration in January, it is with good reason – if only never to have to hear from the insufferable Kerry, who quipped that his wife complained over the years about his spending more time conversing with the Israeli prime minister than with her.
Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.