News / USA

Kerry's First Trip Abroad Tackles Familiar Issues

Kerry First Trip Abroad Covers Familiar Issuesi
X
March 08, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s first trip abroad last week made news on a couple of issues, but largely covered familiar ground with longtime U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East. VOA’s Al Pessin in London looks at how the trip was perceived in the two regions and what it says about U.S. foreign policy during the second Obama administration.
TEXT SIZE - +
Al Pessin
— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s first trip abroad last week made news on a couple of issues, but largely covered familiar ground with longtime U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East.

Kerry’s first stop was familiar territory for a U.S. secretary of state, number 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British prime minister.

Xenia Dormandy of London's Chatam House said it was a "soft introduction" to his new role delivering American soft power, President Obama's preferred approach to global issues.

“America is choosing to have a different approach," she said. "That's not necessarily about less power. That's about using your power differently."

Kerry took that approach to European allies early in this trip and also applied it to the Syria conflict at a conference in Rome, announcing  the first direct American aid for Syrian rebel fighters, but only food and medical supplies.  

“I am absolutely confident from what I heard in there, from other foreign ministers, that the totality of this effort is going to have an impact on the ability of the Syrian opposition to accomplish its goals,” he said.

But Syrian opposition leaders complained that the aid is not enough to change the desperate situation inside Syria...or at refugee camps in neighboring countries that now hold more than one million people.

And as Kerry moved into the Middle East, dissatisfaction with U.S. policy came even more into focus, even though he stuck to traditional allies like Egypt.

The United States sees itself as a champion of human rights and is a leader in providing humanitarian aid and economic help to struggling countries. But many in the Middle East see U.S. policy in a different light, including Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo, who spoke via Skype.

“As long as they don’t clash with American strategic interests, they don’t care what really happens inside those countries," said Sadek. "And this is the moral question regarding American foreign policy in the area. All they care about is the cheap flow of oil.”

American officials likely would not agree with Sadek on that, but they might agree with his view that U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East, and indeed around the world, remain constant.

And that leads Xenia Dormandy to conclude that the new of secretary of state won’t bring big policy changes.

“You’re going to absolutely see something different in style," she said  "The substance is led by the White House, more than most presidencies. So I think the substance won’t change quite so significantly, but style absolutely.”

For Kerry, four years of difficult and intractable issues lie ahead, coupled with often hostile foreign populations. Along the way he'll look for some opportunities to advance U.S. interests and perhaps to do some good in the world.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid