Editorial: John Kerry's priority must be Syria

 

Share
Related Topics

The terrible car bombing in Damascus underlines the most immediate priority for John Kerry. The new US Secretary of State arrives in London on Monday at the start of his first foreign trip, one that will take him to nine countries across Europe and the Middle East. Whatever else, it will not be a “getting-to-know-you” affair – Mr Kerry knows most of his counterparts well already. And with little need for introductions, Syria will be top of the agenda.

What to expect, then? With a CV that includes 28 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, an unsuccessful presidential run, and discreet service to Barack Obama as a troubleshooter in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan, Mr Kerry brings more direct experience to the job than almost all his predecessors. Secretary of State is the office he has long coveted, and one for which he is well suited.

Amid the speculation over the future of Hillary Clinton, Mr Kerry’s arrival has been low key. Only three weeks into his tenure did he deliver his first major speech, urging the importance of maintaining the US aid programme, despite pressure to cut spending. These days, US foreign policy is ultimately shaped in the White House, and Mr Kerry may well – like Ms Clinton before him – be charged with selling decisions rather than taking them. Nonetheless, his choice of topic gives a clue where his inclinations lie, favouring negotiation and the use of “soft power” over force.

As a decorated Vietnam veteran, Mr Kerry has seen the horrors of war up close. Like Mr Obama, his instinct will be to keep the US out of the Syrian conflagration. During this trip, he will meet his Russian equivalent, Sergei Lavrov, the Syrian opposition, as well as key Arab leaders in Egypt and the Gulf. A few faint hopes have emerged of talks to end the crisis. Failing these, however, the decision for Mr Obama and his new Secretary of State will be whether to arm the rebels – and risk making an already bloody civil war even bloodier still.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world