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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

McCain blasts Kerry’s ‘trifecta’ of disasters -- By Peter Sullivan, The Hill

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday accused Secretary of State John Kerry of presiding over a “trifecta” of foreign policy disasters.

McCain lambasted his former Senate colleague at a hearing in which Kerry faced wide-ranging criticism about the administration’s handling of crises in the Middle East and Ukraine.

“I think you’re about to hit the trifecta,” McCain declared.

“Geneva II [a Syrian peace meeting] was a total collapse, as I predicted to you that it would be. ... The Israeli-Palestinian talks, even though you may drag them out for a while, are finished,” McCain said. “And I predict to you that, even though we gave the Iranians the right to enrich, which is unbelievable, that those talks will collapse too.”

Kerry hit back: “It’s interesting that you declare it dead, but the Israelis and the Palestinians don’t declare it dead,” Kerry said of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

“We’ll see,” McCain interrupted.

“Well, yeah, we will see,” Kerry shot back.

“It has stopped. It has stopped. Recognize reality,” McCain retorted.

When McCain said the administration was failing to carry “a big stick,” as President Teddy Roosevelt famously advised, Kerry punched back, “Your friend Teddy Roosevelt also said that the credit belongs to the people who are in the arena that are trying to get things done, and we’re trying to get something done.”

The secretary of State provoked laughter from the packed audience when he began his response to McCain’s long list of grievances by saying calmly, “Let me begin with the place that you began, with your premature judgment about the failure of, uh, everything.”

The tough talk from McCain, a fellow Vietnam War veteran whom Kerry considered asking to be his vice presidential running mate, underscored the difficulties the former senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate is now enduring.

Since taking office last year, he has dived into a series of challenges with the attitude of someone who knows he is in his last job, racking up frequent flier miles shuttling between the Middle East and Europe to convince the Israelis and Palestinians to start talking; stop Russia from a further invasion of Ukraine; resume nuclear talks with Iran; and try to get Syria to give up its chemical weapons as agreed.

Republicans are skeptical that Kerry is making progress on any of those issues, and there have been whispers that in his pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, he has his eye on a Nobel Prize.
Kerry is also taking friendly fire from Democrats. With the Middle East talks teetering on collapse last week, administration officials anonymously sniped at him to the press.

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