Secretary Kerry's Unintentional Irony

Written by Alexander J. Segal on

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On January 16, 2017, Secretary of State John Kerry criticized President-Elect Donald Trump's criticisms of German Prime Minister Angela Merkel's refugee and migrant policies. The President-Elect referred to Merkel's policy on this issue as a “catastrophic mistake.” Now, while the President-Elect did not provide specific complaints, I am inclined to agree with him that the migrant/refugee policies of Merkel have endangered the national security of European Union member states and have, ironically, endangered the European Union itself [see blog]. Interestingly, Secretary Kerry did not criticize the substance of President-Elect Trump's critique, but something quite different:

“I thought frankly it was inappropriate for a president elect of the United States to be stepping into the politics of other countries in a quite direct manner … and he will have to speak to that.”

- Secretary of State John Kerry1

On behalf of those of us with memories extending beyond the last couple of weeks, I must ask Secretary Kerry to clarify his comments. Was it not Secretary Kerry, who after perpetrating the backstabbing of our ally, Israel, at the United Nations Security Council [see blog], who delivered a scathing critique of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, going as far as to draw false equivalence between Prime Minister Netanyahu's alleged intransigence and that of the terror organization, Hamas? Was it not Secretary Kerry's State Department that gave a significant grant to One Voice, an organization run by former Obama Campaign operatives that proceeded to aid the opposition to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel's most recent election?2 Was it not President Obama who specifically criticized Likud when he was running for office in 2008, notwithstanding the fact that Likud was not even in the governing coalition at the time? Even if one takes Secretary Kerry's comments to be referring to the fact that President-Elect Trump made his comments as a President-Elect, and not as a President, he would still have to account for the statements of President Obama during his campaign and transition regarding Israel, as well as regarding Iran and Syria, both of which he sought better relationships with.

The word “irony” comes to the English language by way of Greek and Latin. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the first known use of the English word “irony” was in 1502.3 Suffice it to say, irony had a long run. In his final act as Secretary of State, John Kerry laid irony to rest.

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  1. Reuters, “Kerry criticizes Trump for remarks on German refugee policy,” news.trust.org, (Jan. 16, 2017)
  2. Chapman, Michael W., “Obama State Dept: $350K For Campaign Infrastructures Used Against Netanyahu In Israel Election,” cnsnews.com, (Dec. 12, 2016)
  3. Merriam-Webster, “Irony,” merriam-webster.com, n.d. (retrieved Jan. 16, 2017)