Mitchell Reports | February 01, 2013
>> kerry will be sworn in later today . he will inherit a long list including the threat of a nuclear iran . joining me is a scholar with the endowment for national peace. aem a davidson, the senior editor with the new yorker making sfwleen. thank you both. thank you very much. just as john kerry is heading to the state department , he is being sworn in privately this afternoon as hillary clinton exits, and she's going to be speaking at around 2:30, and we'll have that, of course, all live. he has apparently told "the boston globe " in a farewell interview as he went around massachusetts visiting points of his public career, he has told "the boston globe " that president obama offered hem a job a week before susan rice withdrew. this is a different timeline. david , what does this tell us about the doings of washington? we know that she first got herself into difficulty the second week of september after the benghazi attack on those five talk shows that blew p the following week when she was called to the hill, and then she was sort of twisting for quite a while. now we're told by john kerry himself to the boston globe that he had the job before perhaps susan rice knew that it was not going to be hers.
>> i don't know when susan rice knew it, but, of course, the white house 's objective in all of this would be to get out of a bumpy, awkward situation as smoothly as possible. if they were going to do that, they would want to know who the replacement was, have the replacement in place, make sure all of that was handled, as they handled her exit. it's not that surprising that a few days before we heard about it, they were working on it.
>> amy, the issues that he now faces, we had the suicide bombing today in turkey. iran announce says that it is ramping up its centrifuges at its main nuclear facility , newly re-elected benjamin netanyahu with a smaller mandate and perhaps a little bit handcuffed in terms of his aeblt to take on iran , but this week showing that he is not at all reluctant to go into syria and take out what we believe was a convoy of missiles headed hezbollah. this is -- these are only some of the issues of the cyber attacks that have been attributed to china against a number of corporations aring, including now the "new york times" and wall street journal . what do you think is first and foremost on john kerry 's plate?
>> i think that some of that is just going to be dictated, as you said, by crisis, by how much happens, how much quickly between israel and syria or what exactly happened in turkey today. i think that a big difference between what he was facing and what clinton was facing when she took the job is that obama is less interested now in the debate about what he wants to do in places like afghanistan. now he has more of a sense and wants to act a little more quickly. also, kerry has such a different task than hillary in the sense that his career, his run for the president is really behind him, and hers might now be ahead of her. they have a different -- they are coming to the job in a different way, and it's a different task -- set of tasks within the cabinet from obama 's perspective as well.
>> now, one of the things that was very clear was that hillary clinton did not have a clear running room on policy making from the people around the president who were the close national security advisors. kerry would likely have even less. david .
>> yeah, i think that's right. kerry 's job i think will be to serve obama 's legacy, and he is going to have to work within an obama system that four years in is fairly well defined . the big issues are run out of the white house . they're run by a small group of people around the president, but it will be interesting to see how kerry changes the mix a bit. for example, you were just talking about hillary clinton and women's issues. kerry has been a leader on climate issues. will he be able to tip the scales a little bit in that direction and actually build on what the president said in his inaugural address about making climate a priority?
>> kerry has said he wants to focus on the middle east , and that has been a deficit in terms of the israeli-palestinian track. certainly, i mean, the arab spring made it much more difficult, much more complicated, but some would argue made it more necessary.
>> well, yeah. the middle east is also one of the drains that can suck all the oxygen out of the room. you know, you could get involved in it and get sucked down all these different kind of rabbit holes that exist in the middle east . syria , israel , palestine, egypt, iran , iraq which could, you know, get rough, afghanistan, which is a problem. all of those things are, i guess, threads that he could pull on that could leave him not enough time to deal with the trans-atlantic relationship, to deal with china, to deal with our neighbors like mexico where their priority issues. to deal with rebuilding the international institutions that need to be rebuilt. i think he has to be a bit careful not to fall into that trap.
>> finally, what about iran and whether we are going to be caught up in something that israel launches or that we have to launch with israel . what do you see lying ahead in terms of a military option against iran ?
>> well, i think that if you look at the hagel hearings yesterday, which were very much about this, it seems that a lot of that is also going to be about the relationship with israel right now and about the pressures that obama has from the republicans and also from his own party and also a little bit about what the iranians are ready to do. i think that it's a different moment, though, when i don't see kerry spending the time that hillary did going from country to country sort of trying to gather or change america's image in the region as much, but i think that kerry might have a better chance of working also with the senate in terms of questions about sanctions and about other options besides the military option.
>> amy davidson , david , thank you very much. transition day at the state department . on a