“It’s tragic that, in these countries now, the United States is not only not the model, it’s the enemy,” Schneider said. “Losing our soft-power position of moral authority is really regrettable.”
She added that she’s counting on Kerry to address that with a “multi-layered approach” that draws on his record of engaging actors beyond just his governmental counterparts.
Only the day before his nomination, Kerry presided over a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Benghazi attacks. Though everyone in the room was aware that his nomination was likely imminent, it wasn’t mentioned once as senators quizzed senior State Department officials on an independent panel’s findings that security was “grossly inadequate” at the U.S. posts in Benghazi.
However, Kerry offered a preview of his vision for the State Department in opening remarks that focused on the necessity of striking a balance between a proudly “expeditionary” diplomatic corps and the need for greater security in high-risk posts around the world. He pointedly and repeatedly mentioned the need for Congress to approve sufficient funding for the State Department, one issue of contention as Republicans balk that too many resources there are squandered without enough oversight.
“There will always be a tension between the diplomatic imperative to get ‘outside the wire’ and the security standards that require our diplomats to work behind high walls, concertina wire and full body searches,” Kerry said at the hearing. “We do not want to concertina-wire America off from the world. Our challenge is to strike a balance between the necessity of the mission, available resources and tolerance for risk.”
Lesley Clark of the Washington Bureau contributed.