An alternative headline? John Kerry now more Pro-American than Lindsay Graham.
Asked about the Kerry-Rice split on Egypt policy, Graham said, “I’m in the Susan Rice camp.”
It’s not really a Rice-Kerry split. It’s a split between the radicals in the White House and the rest of the government. And Kerry, like Hillary, is in the peculiar position of being to the right of the Center for American Progress radicals running the show.
I bet that’s not something he thought could ever happen.
Before Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent trip to Cairo, National Security Adviser Susan Rice told him to make strong statements in public and private about the trial of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. On his own, Kerry decided to disregard the White House’s instructions.
The tension between the national security adviser and the secretary of state spilled over into public view in the past week, when Rice laid out her critical appraisal of the Egyptian government, which contradicted Kerry’s assessment that Egypt was “on the path to democracy.” The now public rift has been simmering behind the scenes for months and illustrates the strikingly divergent Egypt policies the White House and the State Department are pursuing.
Why was Susan Rice ordering Kerry to say anything at all is a good question.
Susan Rice is an amateur trainwreck who owes her position to her timely support for Obama. Her record under the Clintons was terrible and Obama made her his National Security Advisor as much out of spite at the backlash over Benghazi as anything else.
Rice has no real leverage to give those kinds of orders.
“John Kerry doesn’t agree with Susan Rice on big portions of our Egypt policy, and he made a deliberate and conscious decision not to mention Morsi in his Cairo meetings,” an administration official told The Daily Beast. “Susan Rice wasn’t happy about it.”
That doesn’t mean that Kerry hates the Muslim Brotherhood. He agrees that it should be included, but he thought that the MB and Obama were unrealistic in wanting to see Morsi back in power.
The Muslim Brotherhood has slowly come around to that point of view.
Well before Kerry and Rice disagreed publicly on Egypt, the White House and the State Department clashed privately over the administration’s Egypt policy. During a months-long administration review of U.S. military aid to Egypt, the State Department and Defense Department pushed internally to preserve most of the assistance, while the White House insisted most military aid be suspended, pending more progress by the Egyptian government.
“There are real differences in the fundamental approach to Egypt between Susan Rice and John Kerry,” said one Washington Egypt expert with close ties to the administration. “We wouldn’t have had any aid suspension at all if it had been up to John Kerry and Chuck Hagel.”
That much has been obvious for a while. But again, it shows what a mess things are when Kerry is suddenly the conservative voice of reason.
In Egypt, officials are receiving diverging messages from the U.S. government’s various parts, causing confusion as they try to decide how to react to recent U.S. actions. For example, the administration has not told the government of Egypt what exactly it must do to get the partial aid suspension lifted, said a source close to the Egyptian government.
Smart power. That’s not what it looks like.