John Kerry, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts and former presidential candidate, has been officially confirmed as U.S. President Barack Obama’s next Secretary of State and incumbent Hillary Clinton will step down at the end of this week.
Mr. Kerry, who lost out to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, won unanimous support from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate voted 94-3 in his favour. Three Republicans Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz from Texas, and Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, voted no. He has served in the Senate since 1984.
Welcoming the result Mr. Obama said, he was “pleased” that Mr. Kerry had been confirmed with “overwhelming bipartisan support,” and from his decorated service in Vietnam to decades in the Senate as a “champion of American global leadership,” Mr. Kerry’s distinguished career had prepared him to guide American diplomacy.
Mr. Kerry was picked after Mr. Obama’s initial prospective nominee, U.S. representative to the United Nations Susan Rice, came under fire from his Congressional opposition for her handling of the September 11 attack against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Mr. Kerry has played a key role in numerous foreign policy engagements of the U.S. For example after the killing of Osama bin Laden Mr. Kerry played a key role in diplomatic efforts in Pakistan to secure the return of the tail-section of the helicopter abandoned by U.S. forces during the strike in Abbottabad.
He however assumes the mantle of Secretary at an important time for Washington, even as negotiations are set to resume next month with Iran, humanitarian conditions are precarious and deteriorating both in Syria as well as in Mali and the Maghreb, and stability in West Asia is far from certain after recent developments in Egypt and Israel.
Described by some as a staunch liberal, Mr. Kerry has also often acknowledged the importance of China as a growing economic power. He was quoted saying to the Foreign Relations Committee that “China is, you know, the other sort of significant economy in the world and obviously has a voracious appetite for resources around the world, and we need to establish rules of the road that work for everybody.”