Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona told Secretary of State John Kerry that he was conducting America's foreign policy by talking tough while wielding "a very small stick, in fact, a twig," The New York Times reported
The comments occurred while Kerry was appearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Tuesday to discuss the State Department's 2015 budget request.
McCain said U.S. foreign policy on Syria, the Arab-Israel conflict, Ukraine, and halting Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, was floundering under Kerry's stewardship, The Hill
The United Nations-backed Geneva peace conference on Syria "was a total collapse, as I predicted to you that it would be," McCain said. Palestinian-Israeli negotiations "may drag" on for a while, but substantively, they are "finished."
"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," McCain said. "I think you're about to hit the trifecta."
Kerry replied, "It's interesting that you declare [Palestinian-Israel talks] dead, but the Israelis and the Palestinians don't declare it dead."
"We'll see," McCain broke in.
"Well, yeah, we will see," Kerry retorted.
"It has stopped. It has stopped. Recognize reality," McCain shot back.
In reply to McCain's paraphrasing of President Teddy Roosevelt on the need to speak softly but carry a big stick, Kerry said, "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."
Kerry also faced criticism from Democrats, including New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the committee chairman, The Associated Press reported. Referring to Iran's Arak Plutonium plant, Menendez said, "Originally we were told that's going to be dismantled. Now we are told we are going to find a different purpose for it. It continues to morph into different areas."
In response to Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, who said U.S. foreign policy seemed to be "spinning out of control," Kerry listed a number of successes, including helping to negotiate a truce in South Sudan and working with the French to stabilize Mali, ABC News
"You can talk about Mali and you can talk about other places in the world, but on the major issues, this administration is failing very badly," McCain said.
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