William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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KERRY'S FIRST TRIP – WHY? – QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 9:18 A.M. ET:  John Kerry is about to start his first magical mystery tour as secretary of state, billed as a "listening tour."  But seasoned Mideast observer Amir Taheri wonders why Kerry is going at all.  He gives us our quote of the day.  From the New York Post:

Yet, while listening is part of diplomacy, it can’t substitute for policy, especially in the case of the only superpower. Leaders of smaller nations might need the occasional “listening” trip to brush up their knowledge of issues and regions, but a superpower is supposed to have eyes and ears everywhere all the time, thanks to a vast and expensive diplomatic network.

That Kerry might need an educational tour is doubly puzzling, since he’s spent five years chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Most of the people he’ll see have already met and talked with him on several occasions.

Now they’d like to hear what Kerry has to say on issues: They want to know whether the United States is interested in and capable of developing a coherent foreign policy.

For the past four years (notwithstanding Hillary Clinton’s attempts at make-believe diplomacy), the Obama administration has danced around issues in an elliptic exercise in strategic retreat. President Obama has made speeches on issues, then shunned dealing with them. US foreign policy today is shrouded in a fog of contradictions.

Kerry’s stopovers in London, Berlin, Paris and Rome are nothing but photo-ops to foster the illusion of action. The Europeans have already made it clear they expect little from the Obama administration. Several of them, notably Britain and France, are trying to fill part of the gap left by the US retreat.

COMMENT:  Very well said.  We really don't have a true foreign policy.  And with retreads like Kerry and Hagel in power, I'm not optimistic that we'll get one that matters.  Obama seems almost uninterested in the world.  He has become a spiteful incompetent, who rarely gets anything right, and whose leadership is now widely questioned...except by the mainstream media.

February 22, 2013