Mitchell Reports | February 04, 2013
>>> john kerry has taken over the state department today reeling from a scathing review of how it handles security in the field in the wake of the benghazi attack that killed ambassador chris stevens and three other americans.
>> so i pledge to you this. i will not let their patriotism and their bravery be obscured by politics, number one. number two, i guarantee you -- i guarantee you that beginning this morning when i report for duty upstairs everything i do will be focused on the security and safety of our people.
>> ambassador nicolas burns. the director of the future of depp lomasy project. great to see you. john kerry , a big change from hillary clinton . not so much in policy, but in sort of direction, stature, coming from the senate more so than from the political world . he has come from a world of foreign policy . will the white house be running the show?
>> the secretary of state is superbly well qualified. he spent nearly 29 years in the senate. always a member of the foreign relations committee . he has been a life-long student of foreign affairs after living with his parents in germany after the second world war . he is remarkably well connected to international leaders, and just knows these issues front wards and backwards. i think he is well prepared. you notice, andrea, that he called two sets of leaders over the weekend. many middle east leaders and also asian leaders. he is focused on those two regions. that's where he is going to be test veried early on.
>> other secretaries of state have tried to engage much more verying russly, many of the, than hillary clinton did, in the northeast diploma as where i. she, of course, had the challenge of the arab spring, and that sidetracked a lot, but also the white house getting off on very bad foot with prime minister netanyahu. do you think committee fulfill his hope to really make a difference in terms of the israeli palestinian track, and as you point out, those were among his first calls this weekend.
>> that signalled an interest that secretary kerry has in this conflict, and there are a lot of people who believe that the obama administration needs now to get going with another diplomatic initiative. as you said, andrea, they started out way back in 2009 with senator george mitchell as their envoy in a very aggressive way, and then really didn't do much after that policy could not be sustained. they need to get back to that. they also need to attend, of course, the syrian civil war . further calls over the weekend by senator john mccain that the administration should do more to arm the rebels and help the rebels, and other people, of course -- from the munich security conference that was held over this past weekend, and then, of course, you have the news from iran that appears to be accepting the invitation to engage in talks with the united states and the other permanent members of the security council . there's a very big, very tough agenda ahead of this new swuf state.
>> and, in fact, there was some reporting over the weekend that hillary clinton had tried to move the white house to be more aggressive on syria on arming the rebels, and that john kerry is actually more in sync with mccain on that and with a more aggressive posture of leadership for the u.s. on syria.
>> well, i think the administration is going to have to ask itself whether its present policy can work because assad is just strong enough to survive, and the rebels are not strong enough to win this battalions, and more than 60,000 people, many of them civilians, have been killed. a stalemate does not further the interests of the united states . i think they're going to have to reexamine this policy and perhaps look at options that would put us in a more aggressive position not to put american soldiers on the ground, but to begin to arm at least those factions of the rebel alliance that are truly democratic and not tied to terrorist circles, and there are real concerns there. it's a difficult prospect, but i think they have to look at that, and perhaps even reconsider the efficacy of a no flight sfloen that would take ka president assad's advantage over the rebel fighters.
>> nicolas burns, thank you very much, ambassador. great seeing you again.