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4. The Russia Problem
Like a good surrogate, Kerry went after Mitt Romney on the campaign trail, often focusing on the Republican candidate’s perceived weakness on foreign policy.
In his most memorable speech, which the Obama campaign actually turned into a poster, Kerry responded to Romney's claim that Russia is America's "number one geopolitical foe" by saying, "Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska; Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.”
Setting aside that you can actually see Russia from an Alaskan island (and it was Tina Fey, not Palin, who said she could see it from her house), Russia can in fact be considered a "geopolitical foe." The complex relationship between the U.S. and Russia is best illuminated in the international machinations around Syria. The U.S. and its Western allies have been thwarted in their years-long attempt to get the United Nations to take stronger action on Syria. By whom? Russia and China, who have vetoed all efforts. The two even helped found, in 2001, a NATO-like clone of their own, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, meant to counterbalance American hegemony. The Russians, for their part, welcomed Kerry before he was even officially nominated, stating their preference for him over Susan Rice, who as UN ambassador has tangled with Russia over Syria throughout the crisis. Kerry, on the other hand, while doing his part to support the possibility of U.S. intervention in Syria, also visited Syria five times in the two years before the rebellion started, praising Assad and expressing confidence that Syria would move forward toward “a legitimate relationship with the United States” under the dictator’s rule.
Nevertheless, the interventionist fervor which Obama, Clinton, Rice, and Kerry all share will continue to fuel an adversarial relationship with countries like Russia and China, which have no interest in acceding to the goals of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, no matter how dressed those goals might be in the language of accomodation. Not acknowledging geopolitical foes won't make them disappear when the fundamentals of U.S. interventionism breed them, irrespective of any rhetoric.