New leaf or old news? Sen. John Kerry confirmed as US secretary of state
The vote was almost unanimous, with three senators voting against Kerry’s appointment and 94 voting in favor. Three senators abstained from the vote.
The 69-year-old was expected to win handily after President Barack Obama nominated him for the role in December of last year. Kerry accepted the post amid applause, and said he was honored by the appointment.
"What a privilege to work with you and now to work with you in a different way. I thank you very, very much," Kerry said to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He called for “fresh thinking” in US policy, and stressed that "American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone."
Kerry earned his reputation as an anti-war politician following his stint as a spokesperson for peace group Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Additionally, in 1991 he voted against US involvement in the first Gulf War. However, over time Kerry’s image as an anti-war advocate morphed into that of a mainstream politician, RT’s Gayane Chichakyan said, referring to the senator’s support of the 2003 Iraq invasion.
And during a 2004 interview in which he was asked whether or not he would have gone to war if the US had known from the start that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, he replied that he would have approved the invasion.
“His record shows when the tide turns – and that tide can turn very quickly – and the drums of war start beating loud and clear again, John Kerry would probably jump on that tide,” Chichakyan said.
Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner voiced doubts over whether Kerry’s appointment as secretary of state would herald significant changes in US foreign policy.
“We can’t say for sure that there will be no change in US policy with a new secretary of state coming into office,” Prysner explained, adding that minor changes could be expected since Kerry will likely bring his own staff to the administration.
“Any changes that do happen will be completely within this unchanging overarching strategic frame work which is to dominate the world’s resources and economies, the entire earth for the US banks and corporation at the expensive of everyone else,” Prysner told RT.
In a similar vein, Brian Drolet from Deep Dish television said that changes would be purely superficial: “There may be some change in style and tone, but there won’t be a change in substance between Kerry and Clinton.”
Drolet described the role of the secretary of state, for all intents and purposes, as having very little influence over US foreign policy given the absence of any significant changes over the last two decades.
“What has really changed? First-strike wars in Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan and now they’re positioning so-called missile defense on the Turkish-Russian border which is essentially a first-strike weapon,” Drolet told RT.
Kerry will face some significant challenges upon assuming the post of secretary of state. Namely, the unresolved US conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, including the terrorist attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi last September that killed a US ambassador. The Syrian conflict also remains unresolved, as various attempts at brokering pace through diplomatic channels have failed to yield results.