FILE - In this March 1, 2013, photo, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at Ankara Palace in Ankara, Turkey. With the smile of a seasoned politician, a flair for languages and a vast repertoire of personal anecdotes, Kerry schmoozed and cajoled his way through Europe and the Middle East on his first trip abroad as America's top envoy over the past 10 days. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool, file)
John Kerry is going to have a rough tenure as secretary of state. But let’s face it, whoever came after Hillary Clinton was going to have to deal with a foreign affairs press corps that has been sleeping for four years. From the moment Hillary entered Foggy Bottom, political reporters have treated their beloved secretary of state with kid gloves.
Watching media outlets now play catch-up on just how dangerous the world really is makes you feel a bit sorry for Kerry. Suddenly the State Department reporters have realized that Iran is about to get a nuclear weapon, GITMO is still open, North Korea is invigorated, the Russians are actively out-maneuvering us, Syria is in flames and the French are leading the fight against Al Qaeda.
The mainstream media decided long ago that Hillary Clinton was going to be a fabulous global leader regardless of how she performed. Liberal outlets from the New York Times to Foreign Policy magazine are now busy cleaning up Hillary’s failed record. Robert Mackey and Mark Landler of the Times have dutifully given Hillary a news makeover, while Foreign Policy magazine is out with a new piece blaming Obama for the foreign policy failures because he froze Hillary out.
Following Obama’s final election and with Hillary building toward one in 2016, the media are giving their presumptive Democratic nominee all the successes and forcing Obama to fall on his sword for the failures.
The political press, like foreign policy reporters, has been all too willing to help Hillary build her global credentials by ignoring the world’s problems, and more importantly the fact that she did little to deal with them. Although secretary of state for just a month, Foreign Policy says John Kerry has already managed to ruin the U.S.-Russian relationship. The magazine’s headline: “Russian Foreign Minister Won’t Return Kerry’s Call” -- never mind that it was Hillary Clinton who spearheaded a “Russian reset” that emboldened Russian leaders.
Following Clinton’s antagonizing and patronizing Russian policy shift last December, when she accused Vladimir Putin of attempting to “re-Sovietize the region,” American and Russian leaders have publicly cited increased tensions between the two nations. Yet somehow it is Secretary Kerry’s fault that the Kremlin won’t return his phone calls.
Problems with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, too, escalated during Clinton’s tenure at State. His anti-Israel rhetoric over the last four years certainly isn’t new. Yet Erdogan’s latest comments saying Zionism is a crime against humanity remind us of his actions during the Gaza Flotilla incident in 2010, in which a skirmish with Israeli commandoes left nine Turkish citizens dead.
Yet instead of helping the Israeli and Turkish governments weather the episode with relations intact, Secretary Clinton was notably absent from the international arena at the time, even skipping, along with Ambassador Susan Rice, the United Nations’ emergency session addressing the incident. Kerry, on the other hand, quickly condemned Erdogan’s recent comments and yet hasn’t received the press’ laud atory praise that Clinton did.
While the State Department reporters traveled the world with Hillary for the last four years talking about the importance of the participation of women in the political process, Iran was building a bomb, Assad was killing 70,000 of his people, North Korea was testing a missile that can now reportedly reach Los Angeles, and China and Japan have reached the brink of war over a set of small, uninhabited islands. On each of these issues Secretary Clinton did little to meliorate the situation, ceding America’s influence to the ineffective international community or ignoring the problem altogether.
Though they asserted so in criticism, one can only hope that the Foreign Policy Journal is correct in writing that Secretary Kerry is “not a Clinton on U.S. Foreign Policy.”
Nevertheless, as she prepares her 2016 presidential campaign, America’s political reporters are content to claim Hillary Clinton a successful secretary of state despite the fact that they struggle to show evidence to prove the point. Is there one single priority foreign policy issue that Hillary Clinton resolved or can be credited with for doing the heavy lifting?
It just isn’t plausible for reporters to claim that so much fell apart in the one month John Kerry has been in charge at State.
Richard Grenell served as the spokesman for 4 U.S. Ambassadors to the U.N. including John Negroponte, John Danforth, John Bolton and Zalmay Khalilzad. He currently writes from Los Angeles where his pieces can be seen at www.richardgrenell.com. Follow him on Twitter@RichardGrenell.