News / USA

Picking the Next US Secretary of State

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file)U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file)
x
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she will step down from her job as President Barack Obama prepares for his second term.

Secretary Clinton announced her decision earlier this year, telling State Department employees that she needs a break.

"I will certainly stay on until the president nominates someone and that transition can occur, but I think after 20 years of being on the high-wire of American politics and all of the challenges that come with that, it would be probably a good idea to just find out how tired I am," said Clinton.

Since the president's re-election, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says that is still the plan.

"You’ve heard her say many times that she intends to see through a transition of a successor and then she will go back to private life and enjoy some rest and think and write and all those things," said Nuland.

So who will President Obama choose to replace her?

U.S. Senator John Kerry (file photo)U.S. Senator John Kerry (file photo)
x
U.S. Senator John Kerry (file photo)
U.S. Senator John Kerry (file photo)
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is a leading contender.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, he is active in U.S. policy abroad, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan. As a former presidential candidate, he has some of the celebrity that Clinton uses to advance U.S. goals.

He is the man who President Obama chose to help practice debating Republican candidate Mitt Romney, and the Obama campaign used Kerry in an anti-Romney video.

"Romney just says things that are not true or irresponsible and is willing, for politically expedient reasons, to put at risk our foreign policy," said Kerry.

Kerry's obstacle may be his Senate seat. Any president who chooses any senator for a Cabinet post considers whether the ruling party can keep that seat in the legislature. Especially in a chamber with such a small majority as the current Senate.

Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown lost a tightly-contested race for re-election this week. That close-fought campaign puts Brown atop candidates to win the commonwealth's other Senate seat if Kerry leaves for the State Department.

Ambassador Susan Rice at U.N. (Aug 2012 photo)Ambassador Susan Rice at U.N. (Aug 2012 photo)
x
Ambassador Susan Rice at U.N. (Aug 2012 photo)
Ambassador Susan Rice at U.N. (Aug 2012 photo)
​U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is another leading contender to replace Clinton.

Much of the diplomacy in New York mirrors what is happening on the world stage, so being U.N. ambassador is good training for secretary of state. Madeleine Albright made the move.

But nominating Rice may raise criticism from Senate Republicans over the Obama administration's handling of the September terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

There is no evidence linking Rice to any of the decisions about security in Benghazi. But Rice was the face of the Obama administration on Sunday talk shows following the attack and she repeated the claim that the violence grew from demonstrations against an Internet video defaming Islam's Prophet Muhammad. That version of events has since been retracted.

"There are still many unanswered questions surrounding the terrorist attack by militants, and I think that might be the greatest liability," said Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at Washington's Cato Institute. "But that said, she does remain a strong contender for the position and we will see sort of what might happen with her Senate confirmation."

U.S National Security Adviser Tom Donilon (file photo)U.S National Security Adviser Tom Donilon (file photo)
x
U.S National Security Adviser Tom Donilon (file photo)
U.S National Security Adviser Tom Donilon (file photo)
Another leading candidate to replace Clinton is Tom Donilon, the current U.S. National Security Advisor. It is a job at the center of the president's foreign-policy-making apparatus held by Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice before they were secretaries of state.

Donilon is a veteran of the Bill Clinton administration where he worked on NATO expansion and the 1995 Dayton Accords that ended fighting in the former Yugoslavia.

"He was deeply involved in President Obama's counter-terrorism policies," said CATO analyst Malou Innocent. "He also does have the president's ear in many respects. I think what he lacks, however, is the star power that Secretary Clinton had. He does not have the eminence internationally that someone like Clinton would have and something that you would expect in terms of relations with other nations."

There is no timetable for Secretary Clinton stepping down. But President Obama could nominate a replacement before the end of the year in hopes of having that person in place when he takes his second oath of office in January.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs