Secretary of State John Kerry’s first overseas trip began by sending mixed signals before he even left U.S. soil—by not visiting key U.S. allies in Eastern Europe and Israel.
Kerry’s first foreign trip commenced on Sunday and began with a stop in the United Kingdom. He will also visit Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. By choosing to eschew Israel and Eastern Europe, Kerry is sending the wrong signal to the international community. He is also missing an opportunity to solidify strategic partnerships, which have become increasingly brittle under the Obama Administration.
As Heritage’s Luke Coffey explains:
Many Eastern Europeans are confounded by the White House’s lack of interest in the region. This was especially the case after many in Eastern Europe offered unwavering support for missile defense in spite of Russian opposition and strongly supported the NATO operation in Afghanistan, only to be slighted by the White House.
In the realm of international diplomacy, signals matter. In 2005, in her first trip as Secretary of State at the start of President George W. Bush’s second term, Condoleezza Rice visited Eastern Europe and Israel. This sent a clear signal that the U.S. intended to strengthen relationships with partners in the region.
Although Kerry would have done well to include Warsaw or Prague on his agenda, there is much for Kerry to accomplish in Europe. At a minimum, Kerry should back away from support for European integration that empowers Brussels at the expense of European national sovereignty and undermines U.S. interests on the continent.
Signals matter, and those sent by Secretary Kerry’s travel plans denote a second-term continuation of the Administration’s first-term failed foreign policy.