Who Will Succeed Hillary Clinton?
By Reem Al-Harmi
Translated By Emily Schlomann
5 December 2012
Edited by Rachel Smith
Qatar - Al-Raya - Original Article (Arabic)
With the sweet taste of winning the presidency for the second time still present, Obama now faces a series of dilemmas facing the American government. Former Director of the CIA David Petraeus resigned after the discovery of his relationship with the author of his autobiography and lost all his hard-earned respect, complicating matters between the White House and U.S. Intelligence. Democrats, including President Obama, are facing off with the Republicans after the bombing of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi last September. This accident has become a tug-of-war between Republicans and Democrats with Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., in the middle of it. Republicans, it seems, aren't satisfied with the U.S. administration's handling of the events in Benghazi.
Rice is close with the President, who praised her abilities and performance after the events in Benghazi. Yet Rice is facing criticism for describing the Benghazi attacks, which killed four U.S. diplomatic staff and the U.S. ambassador, not as a terrorist attack but as a spontaneous action that resulted from demonstrations against a film insulting the Prophet. It will affect her eligibility for the post of secretary of state, which Obama will fill in January, even though she hails from a family with a long history in politics and has prior experience in the political arena. Rice worked in the Clinton administration, though many criticized her performance, specifically in 1994, when Rice hesitated in a conference to use the word "genocide" to refer to what occurred in Rwanda. Rice favored the interests of the then-upcoming presidential elections over humanitarian intervention in Rwanda.
In light of Rice's current situation, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry's chances for the nomination —he currently serves as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee—are growing. Kerry has a long history in foreign policy and is a former presidential candidate. Republicans favor John Kerry's nomination, not because he sees the importance of bipartisan dialogue, but because they could win his seat in the Senate should he become secretary of state. Kerry believes that it's necessary to negotiate with Iran, Hamas and Syria and worked as Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Capitalizing on Kerry's profound experience in U.S. foreign policy could build solid relationships and rapport internationally. Many —even including his opponents — trust him and his political abilities more than Susan Rice, although President Obama seems more interested in Rice taking on the duties of secretary of state, as his remarks have demonstrated. However, Congress may influence the selection process, and nothing is certain yet.
Obama has a difficult decision before him in selecting the next candidate to manage the State Department. Rice’s experience and work as the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African Affairs at the U.N. may not be sufficient, as Africa is not a central theme in American foreign policy. Rice has also been criticized as having a preachy style, approaching the audience as students, and for a choice of vocabulary that is overly severe in contrast to politically "soft" terminology. On the other hand, if Obama doesn't choose Rice, it will look as though he has given in to the Republicans and may leave himself open to criticism from Democrats. As for John Kerry, it's probable that Obama will appoint him to the Defense Department if Susan Rice were to be appointed secretary of state. In any case, American foreign policy is not expected to change significantly, with the exception of its dealings with China and North Korea. The U.S. is now focusing on Asia and is slowly withdrawing from the Middle East. In the midst of all this, Obama must try to satisfy both parties, or else he will face significant obstacles for the next four years. But can he succeed in satisfying everyone?
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