Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry defiantly defended his diplomatic efforts, saying that while ambitious, they were better than doing nothing.
While the purpose of Tuesday’s hearing was to pick through the State Department’s budget, it was Kerry’s record that came under scrutiny as his old colleagues on the committee accused him of taking on too many responsibilities with too few results.
“I think you’re about to hit the trifecta,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told Kerry, naming three of the most complicated issues Kerry took on: the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the Iranian nuclear program and the Middle East peace talks.
Kerry said McCain gave a “premature judgment about the failure of everything,” and noted, on Middle East talks, that the Israelis and Palestinians were still at the negotiating table.
“It’s stopped. It is stopped. Recognize reality,” McCain curtly told his former colleague.
Kerry invited McCain and other critics to lay blame at his feet.
“Sure, we may fail. And you want to dump it on me? I may fail. I don’t care. It’s worth doing. It’s worth the effort,” he said.
Earlier in the hearing, Kerry rejected a claim by Sen. Jim Risch that American foreign policy was “spinning out of control” and listed some of what he said were clear successes around the world.
“We’ve helped negotiate a truce in South Sudan and helped pull that country back from the brink of civil war. We’ve helped to create a framework for the disarming of M23 in the Great Lakes region of Africa. We are engaged in helping the French to quell the Boko Haram and other people in the region of Mali and elsewhere,” Kerry said.
McCain said the United States needed to show progress in some of the more big-ticket foreign policy agenda items.
“You can talk about Mali and you can talk about other places in the world, but on the major issues, this administration is failing very badly,” McCain said.