Secretary of Stateembarks on his first official tour of Europe this week, starting in the UK. It has been three weeks since Kerry took over from , the hugely popular former US secretary of state.
Kerry is in the UK Monday and is due to visit Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar on this 11-day tour. Syria, Mali and North Korea are expected to be high on the agenda.
Monday Kerry is meeting with British PMand Foreign Secretary William Hague. As Politico reports, Kerry is expected to be more of a policymaker than Clinton, who was known for globetrotting to prop up support for America.
His first European tour, though, looks set to be about strategy and aimed at gathering support.
Oh to be a fly on the wall inside No. 10 Downing Street. The leaders will talk at length, and deals will be made. Afterwards, people will be given a watered-down version of the meeting. Any statement will have been carefully worded and crafted and will include a great deal of propaganda.
The UK credit agency downgrade Friday already has affected the value of British currency. With this in mind, fewer people in the UK will want Prime Minister Cameron or Hague to commit the country to costly conflict.
Britain has sent a small number of military personnel to Mali in support of a French effort to push back Islamist militants. UK forces have been deployed in Afghanistan supporting the US since 2001, and our country has paid a huge price. The cost of weapons and salaries is huge, but more importantly the UK has paid a human price. The number of dead and injured is just the tip of the iceberg. War injuries, such as PTSD and loss of limbs, cost in many ways, not the least of which is broken families.
Finally, if Cameron and Hague are considering any fresh military option they need to look to the Falkland Islands. Neither the American nor French administration support the UK’s stance. Falkland Islanders are due to vote on whether they want to remain a sovereign British country or move over to Argentinian rule. If they vote for the first option, conflict is possible. The last Falklands War took place in 1982. If war happens again neither the US nor France will support the UK.
Of course you may believe that Kerry’s European visit is merely a “getting-to-know-you” event. Trust me, it is not. As the US looks to tackle its issues with the East, it wants Europe to tackle Syria, Mali and the Maghreb region. Once deals are done and promises made, perhaps European leaders will agree.
The question is, will the cash-strapped people of Europe?
Update Monday 3 p.m. GMT:
Kerry has stated that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria "must go." Hague has confirmed that Britain is preparing to "significantly increase" its support for the Syrian opposition.