When Susan Rice, the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, withdrew her name from consideration for the post of secretary of state last week, rumors abounded that next in line would be Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.). That rumor was confirmed on Friday, putting in place the first change in President Obama’s second term as Kerry is set to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary.
This is a position that Kerry has coveted ever since Obama was elected in 2008. It was Kerry who first introduced Barack Obama and launched his political career in 2004 by inviting him to give the keynote speech at the Democratic convention. He endorsed Obama in January 2008, and when the position of secretary of state went to Clinton, Kerry put his head down and went to work for the president, carrying out several diplomatic missions for him, including behind-the-scenes trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria to “engage” the political powers there.
The only problem with Kerry, according to David Sanger, writing for the New York Times, is that he is a white male, and Kerry “would be the first white man to serve in the post since Warren Christopher left the job in early 1997. His successors have been Madeleine K. Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Mrs. Clinton.”
Other than that, Kerry fits the mold perfectly. A graduate of Yale, where he majored in political science, Kerry joined Skull and Bones, the secret society that has had unheralded but remarkable influence in American political affairs for decades. Antony Sutton, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, wrote a major investigative work covering Skull and Bones, America’s Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull & Bones, which he considered his most important work. Far from being a campus fraternity, Skull and Bones is a recruiting tool to absorb the best and the brightest into the insider establishment. Other members of the Skull include Tafts, Rockefellers, Pillsburys, and Bushes, and many have become senators, judges, Cabinet secretaries, and even presidents (i.e., George W. Bush).
By itself that would almost be enough to qualify him for the position. But Kerry’s voting record as senator from Massachusetts sealed the deal, as he opposes privatizing Social Security, supports abortion (even though he was raised as a Roman Catholic), approves same-sex marriage, opposes capital punishment, and supports gun control laws. He voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), along with Most Favored Nation status for China. His Freedom Index rating, based on his voting record in the Senate, is 13, indicating a complete disregard for any of the limitations the Founders built into the Constitution, which qualifies him perfectly for the position.
Green liberals naturally are delighted that nothing will change and that some things might actually get better under Kerry at State. Lisa Hymas, writing for Grist.org, a “green” blog, says that Kerry will “be the most ardent climate hawk ever to hold the office.” She then quoted from an interview Kerry had with Grist in 2007. Said Kerry at the time: “Global climate change is a security issue on a planetary scale.” And in a Senate speech last June, Kerry said that “climate change is one of two or three of the most serious threats our country now faces, if not the most serious.”
As secretary of state, opines David Goldwyn, a supposedly internationally respected energy consultant (according to Hymas), Kerry “would not only put climate change in the top five issues he raises with every country, but he would probably rethink our entire diplomatic approach to the issue.”
It’s helpful to remember that he pushed “cap and trade” legislation, which would have required "nothing less than a reorganization of society and technology that will leave most remaining fossil fuels safely underground," according to Larry Lohman in New Scientist magazine. Happily, such legislation failed, with no thanks to Kerry.
On the matter of the Keystone XL pipeline, Kerry has obfuscated his green-at-any-cost ideology while chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2011:
There’s a lot at stake here and I’ll do my best to leave no question unanswered including every possible economic and environmental consideration before a final decision is made.
But Joe Romm, writing at Climate Progress, is certain where Kerry stands on the issue:
I’m not sure Kerry could become Secretary of State fast enough to influence the Keystone XL pipeline decision, but it is hard to believe he would not have raised this issue with the President, since a go-ahead decision would immediately undercut the Administration’s credibility on the climate issue both at home and abroad.
For further proof that Kerry’s position as secretary of state will change nothing, one needs only to note Hillary Clinton’s remarks at the influential, internationalist Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in July, 2009. First, she acknowledged that the CFR is the center of influence in the American government:
I have been often to, I guess, the mother ship in New York City, but it’s good to have an outpost of the Council right here down the street from the State Department. We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future.
Then she proceeded to expound on America’s role as interventionist in other countries’ affairs, all in the name of “solving problems”:
We have the chance, and a profound responsibility, to exercise American leadership to solve problems in concert with others. That is the heart of America’s mission in the world today.
She specifically ignored any limitation placed on such intervention by the Constitution:
The question is not whether our nation can or should lead, but how it will lead in the 21st century. [Emphasis added.]
And then she spelled out the agenda:
We want to reverse the spread of nuclear weapons, prevent their use, and build a world free of their threat. We want to isolate and defeat terrorists and counter violent extremists while reaching out to Muslims around the world.
We want to encourage and facilitate the efforts of all parties to pursue and achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East….
We want to combat climate change, increase energy security, and lay the foundation for a prosperous clean-energy future.
She has no problem working closely with avowed enemies of the United States:
We will also put special emphasis on encouraging major and emerging global powers — China, India, Russia and Brazil, as well as Turkey, Indonesia, and South Africa — to be full partners in tackling the global agenda. [Emphasis added.]
I want to underscore the importance of this task, and my personal commitment to it. These states are vital to achieving solutions to the shared problems and advancing our priorities — nonproliferation, counterterrorism, economic growth, climate change, among others.
She is comfortable with current U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan:
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, our goal is to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies, and to prevent their return to either country.
She is following the lead of President Obama, as will Kerry, on nuclear weapons:
President Obama is committed to the vision of a world without nuclear weapons and a series of concrete steps to reduce the threat and spread of these weapons.
And on his green agenda:
Our Administration is also committed to deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, with a plan that will dramatically change the way we produce, consume and conserve energy.
Now we must urge every other nation to meet its obligations and seize the opportunities of a clean energy future.
She summarized the agenda for herself and for incoming Secretary Kerry nicely:
We are both witness to and makers of significant change. We cannot and should not be passive observers. We are determined to channel the currents of change toward a world free of violent extremism, nuclear weapons, global warming, poverty, and abuses of human rights.
About the only thing that will change when John Kerry takes the reins at the State Department is that he is male, and taller.
Photo of John Kerry: AP Images