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{Update1} It was refreshing to hear John Kerry explain and give an analysis of US Foreign Policy and the troublespots in Middle-East and across the globe. He is admired by his colleagues and he reached a position in the Obama administration where he can and will make a difference. You know I haven’t been a fan of Hillary Clinton and a stark difference one day makes before the Senate Commission.

Senator John Kerry touches on Iran, American foreign policy, our own ‘fiscal house’ at confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON DC (Boston.com) — More than four decades after he testified before the panel as a Vietnam War veteran-turned protestor, Senator John F. Kerry returned to the witness chair before the Foreign Relations Committee for his nomination to be secretary of state.

Kerry’s prepared statement opening the hearing focused on his view that foreign policy is increasingly geared toward global economics. He also touched on Iran – sure to be a hotbed of international diplomacy given its advancing nuclear program – saying, “our policy is containment, not prevention.”

    “American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone. The world is competing for resources in global markets. Every day that America is unwilling to engage in that arena…is a day in which we weaken the nation itself.”

Much of the hearing centered on the United States’ changing relationship with the Islamic world, especially given the recent Arab Spring-induced regime changes in nations including Libya and Egypt.

    “There is a monumental transformation taking place. This is the biggest upheaval of that part of the world since the Ottoman Empire… came apart.”

Despite a previously open window of reform in Syria, those prospects are “ancient history,” Kerry said. The Obama Administration must try harder to broker a deal for a peaceful transition of power from President Bashar al-Assad to a new government.

In his opening statement, Kerry made reference to his long journey to this moment that began in 1971 in front of the panel then chaired by Senator William Fulbright. But he also stressed the world is far different — and in many ways more complex.

    “Nearly 42 years ago Chairman Fulbright first gave me the opportunity to testify before this committee during a difficult and divided time for our country. Today I can’t help but recognize that the world itself then was in many ways simpler, divided as it was along bi-polar, Cold War antagonism. Today’s world is more complicated than anything we have experienced — from the emergence of China, to the Arab Awakening; inextricably linked economic, health, environmental and demographic issues, proliferation, poverty, pandemic disease, refugees, conflict ongoing in Afghanistan, entire populations and faiths struggling with the demands of modernity, and the accelerating pace of technological innovation shifting power from nation-states to individuals.”

Original title: John Kerry Breezing Through Senate Hearing

CSpan Live coverage Nomination hearing John Kerry for Secretary of State

I have watched and listened to large parts of the hearing and am very impressed. Kerry will make a great Secretary of State, knows the issues, met leaders across the globe and has an astute knowledge and ideas where the US can deliver change for democracy and human rights. Kerry explained how resolving the Israel/Palestine issue is at the heart of the Middle-East and beyond. President Obama is committed to the two-state solution for peace with a secure state of Israel. From the hearing, the Keystone pipeline will be a fact this spring.

John Kerry voices support for Chuck Hagel at confirmation hearing – live

Kerry is now talking about climate change and energy policy. He says the US needs to go after the global energy market. Kerry seems rather to be enjoying himself, declaiming authoritatively on topic after topic. No fatigue whatsoever. He shows acute interest in and depth of knowledge on every aspect of foreign policy. He’s cruising for the cabinet.

Kerry says al-Qaida is changing, but the rest of al-Qaida is dispersing.

    “We have taken out a huge proportion of the leadership of core al-Qaida. You don’t want to be number three or number four in line, because they’re disappearing as soon as they get the job.

    “Osama bin Laden is quoted in documents from Abbottabad as urging his cohorts to go to other places. To get away from the airplanes, get away from the drones. And he specifically ordered al-Qaida to disperse. And they did.”

As Clinton did yesterday, Kerry points to Somalia as an anti-terror “success story.” “We have been able to drive al-Shabaab back and see a government emerge,” he says. “We can change these things, but it takes a [sustained] effort, it doesn’t happen overnight.”

The Washington Post has the text of Kerry’s opening statement.

Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho tells Kerry, “I want you to know while Teresa and you are out globe-trotting, Vicki and I will look carefully after your Idaho property.”

Risch asks Kerry about relations with Russia.

    “Hopefully we can get the relationship with Russia back to a place. I think it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that’s slid backwards a little bit in the last couple years.”

Kerry says the US needs Russian cooperation with respect to Syria. He says there has been successful cooperation on the START treaty, on the P5-plus-1 talks with Iran and on sanctions against Iran.

“Senator, I appreciate your candor on acknowledgment of the slippage,” Risch says.

Corker asks Kerry about his meeting Syrian President Bashar Assad, with whom he dined in 2009 in Damascus. Kerry said there was a chance at the time to steer Syria in the right direction, but it never came to fruition.

    “If the moment somehow doesn’t ripen properly or get seized, you miss opportunities. I remember Assad said to me, I have 500,000 kids turn 18 every year, and I don’t have jobs to put them in.”

Kerry warns of dwindling time to cut an Israel-Palestine peace deal. He says the “the door or window on a two-state solution could shut on everybody and that would be disastrous.”

    “I’ve been through seven prime ministers, nine in all. Two of them were the same… we need to try to find a way forward.”

Kerry says that 29 years in the Senate has shown his support for Israel. Likewise, he says, “I will not step back from my understanding of the plight of Palestinians and others who are caught up in the swirl of this.”

Jerusalem Post – Kerry wants to hit ground running on peace talks

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