Confusion has returned to the White House and US Foreign Policy. The years of Hillary Clinton at State, one could read the tea leaves of an incoherent US Foreign Policy and a Presidency that lost its way. As soon as John Kerry was nominated, a fresh wind was blowing through the State Department and it showed in policy adjustments. Kerry meant to reach goals, get to work and get things done. With the political appointment of Susan Rice as National Security advisor, Obama made a major mistake and it’s already making its mark. On all major issues Russia, Syria and Middle-East peace talks, Kerry and Rice don’t see eye to eye. Will John Kerry survive the meddling of Susan Rice in his foreign policy agenda? If Kerry sees his actions and talks thwarted by Ms. Rice, he’ll put Obama for a choice: her or me! The sooner the better. Knowing the high level of self-confidence by the president, he will attempt damage control but will let John Kerry go “for personal family matters.” See the removal of Donilan, Morell and the political appointments of his personal advisors to key positions. The decisionmaking happens in the Oval Office and nowhere else. Micromanagement is not the way to succeed on policymaking and achievements in the second term. I will be watching and counting …
Rice and Kerry at times have worked closely together. But on some important policy areas they do not see eye to eye.
Kerry has spent his first months in Foggy Bottom working to repair the U.S.-Russia relationship and use that as a mechanism to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria. Kerry believes he has a close personal friendship with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Rice, by contrast has traded public insults with her Russian counterpart at the U.N.
Regarding Syria specifically, administration officials and other close supporters of the White House say Rice in internal meetings has supported a no-fly zone for Syria. But the incoming national security adviser is also wary of arming the more liberal elements of Syria’s opposition.
“Susan is not for arming the rebels, but she leans in on the no fly zone,” said one outside adviser to the White House on foreign policy.
Kerry has voiced several views in recent years on arming the Syrian rebels, but recently he has indicated that Obama would lift his objections to sending such lethal aid to Syria’s opposition if Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, boycotts an upcoming peace conference in Geneva that Kerry has worked with the Russians to arrange.
“There will be some conflict at some point between Kerry, [Secretary of Defense Chuck] Hagel, and Rice. They all come from very different worldviews and different backgrounds,” this source said.
For Rice, who got her start during the Clinton administration and was seared by the world’s inaction in the face of the Rwandan genocide, her worldview in some ways hews closely with liberal internationalism, or a belief that American power can be used to promote American values through multi-lateral institutions like the United Nations.