John Kerry: The Hardest Working Man in the Diplomacy Business

john kerry


While CNN busies itself covering every non-development in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 (I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Newt Gingrich. He makes for amazing treadmill grist.), the world continues to turn. And as much of the nation’s news apparatus is rightfully preoccupied with a triumphant conclusion to Obamacare’s first enrollment test, it’s been another busy week for foreign policy.

Such is one of the many perversities plaguing the Obama era. Every time the beleaguered POTUS wants to shine the spotlight on domestic issues, international unrest just won’t have it. Thankfully, he has arguably the modern era’s most unflappable State Department leader by his side. There seems to be no number of hairy, potentially history changing crises that Kerry cannot attack at once.

Secretary of State John Kerry is a busy fellow. Last week the former Presidential candidate was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for what I am sure were tense discussions regarding the years-long Syrian conflict, ongoing negotiations with Iran and a host of other topics. Apparently a glutton for punishment, Kerry was halfway home this past weekend before turning his plane around and heading for Paris.

According to a report from Matthew Lee of the Associated Press, “Kerry [was] to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Sunday evening at the Russian ambassador’s residence. Kerry spoke to Lavrov on the flight to Shannon after President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in a call on Friday to have their foreign ministers meet to discuss a possible diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine situation.”

Seriously, if the only channel one watches is CNN, it’s easy to become transfixed by the Flight 370 black box countdown and Richard Quest’s virtuoso ability to make floating jellyfish sound like a break in the search. But change the station. There’s plenty of other stuff not happening.

John Kerry is definitely the ‘don’t put off until tomorrow that which can be done today’ sort. I like this Kerry, the urgent, sincere, and dare I say bold Secretary who can juggle multiple serious imbroglios without misplacing a strand of that lovely silver hair. Would that he had been half so interesting in 2004.

Apparently opposed to a good night’s rest, Kerry was up and at it early Monday morning. According to a report from Shira Schoenberg of The Republican, “As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry jetted to Israel on Monday in an attempt to revive faltering peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Israeli members of parliament visiting Boston reacted with mixed emotions, ranging from cautious optimism to strong pessimism.” That’s right. Kerry can mix it up with naysaying Israeli lawmakers talking to the press on two different continents. Boom.

And because North Korea needs to make sure the world still knows it exists every few months, the communist nation exchanged fire with its neighbor to the South in the early part of the week. While North Korea’s aggression in the event, according to Kashmira Gander of The Independent, is attributable to “an expression of Pyongyang’s frustration at making little progress in its recent push to secure international aid,” The White House and the State Department are expected to formulate some type of official response. Kerry’s got this.

Obviously some of my remarks have been semi-serious, but my respect for John Kerry’s energy and leadership is completely genuine. Others might have deemed following the celebrity and competence of Hilary Clinton’s turn in the Cabinet a daunting task not worth the undertaking. But Kerry accepted the challenge and even afterward, could easily have chosen to play it safe. Instead, with everything else on his international plate (and by extension ours), the man continues fighting the good two-nation, Israeli/Palestine fight. He seems completely unburdened by previous decades of failure to achieve a solution, and if he doubts his own eventual success, it doesn’t show.

I don’t mean to suggest that the combustible situations unfolding across the globe aren’t deadly serious. They are and it’s precisely because so much is at stake in so many regions that I am grateful for Kerry’s cool-headed, thoughtful, yet unwavering direction. He may not know it all, but he’s a thinker, a statesman, not a trigger happy cowboy. I think he’s found his calling.

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