Secretary of State John Kerry admitted to a Senate committee Tuesday that he "may fail" in his efforts to solve the foreign policy challenges of a nuclear Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the ongoing civil war in Syria, and Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
This response came during a heated exchange with Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) who characterized Kerry’s diplomatic style as "talking very loudly, and carrying a twig."
"Secretary Kerry, I watched with great interest some of your comments. And may I say, I think you're about to hit the trifecta. Geneva II was a total collapse, as I predicted to you that it would be. The only tangible result is that people who went to Geneva for the Free Syrian National Council, their relatives were kidnapped. The Israeli-Palestinian talks are, even though you may drag them out for a while, are finished. And I predict you, even though we gave the Iranians the right to enrich, which is unbelievable, those talks will collapse too," McCain said.
"On the major issues, this administration is failing very badly. On the issue of Ukraine, my hero, Teddy Roosevelt, used to say, talk softly but carry a big stick. What you're doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick — in fact, a twig," McCain continued.
Kerry became irritated by McCain’s assertions and chose to respond defensively.
"I think it's important to do this. Sure we may fail. And you want to dump it on me? I may fail. I don't care. It's worth doing. It's worth the effort. And the United States has a responsibility to lead, not always to find the pessimism and negativity that's so easily prevalent in the world today," Kerry said.
"Finally, on the subject that you raise about Iran, we're talking. The option is you can go to war. A lot of people are ready to drop bombs all the time. We can do that. We have the ability. But this president and this secretary of state believe that the United States of America has a responsibility first to exhaust every diplomatic possibility to find out whether we could prove what the Iranians say, that their program is peaceful," Kerry added.