While international experts equate Clinton with “people to people” diplomacy, some cite another “P” word for Kerry – patrician. But they add that, in the world’s diplomatic circles, that won’t necessarily be a drawback.
Kerry may be known for a certain “aloofness,” but “it’s not particularly germane to being secretary of State if you’re seen as the type who has beers with the guys at the local tavern or you’re seen as patrician,” says James Dobbins, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corp. in Arlington, Va., and a former US envoy to Afghanistan.
“In fact in international terms, being seen as a patrician is not a disadvantage,” he adds. “A dignified person with some or substantial familiarity with the elites of the world is not at a disadvantage at all.”
Some foreign-policy experts with diplomatic experience say Kerry is “the right man at the right time” because the tough international issues he’ll face – ranging from Iran’s nuclear program to Syria’s civil war and a rising China – require a serious “issues person” who can hit the ground running.