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Kerry: 'We Don’t Do Foreign Policy By Polls'

12:10 PM, Jun 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Secretary of State John Kerry tells Fox News's James Rosen that the Obama administration does not "do foreign policy by polls." That, the sescretary of state said, is "a good thing."

The claim came in a response to a question about the American public not approving of President Obama's job on foreign policy. "The latest New York Times/CBS news poll finds nearly 6 in 10 Americans disapproving of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy, including nearly a third of Democrats. This is not just one snapshot poll. If you look at the realclearpolitics.com average of major reliable polls on this subject, the handling of foreign policy, NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Fox News poll, all of them produce the identical result. So clearly, right now it is a fact that Americans are expressing disapproval of the President’s and your performance," said Rosen. "Are you humbled by that?" 

Kerry replied, "Well, look, it’s a good thing that we don’t do foreign policy by polls. That would be a tragedy and a huge mistake."

But, Kerry added, it is "inevitable" people would be questioning the president's foreign policy chops. "Let me just finish. It is inevitable that with a certain amount of upheaval all around the world that people are going to stand back and they’re going to question it. A huge amount of what is happening is not happening because the United States is there or because the United States isn’t there; it’s happening because people in these places want something different. That’s what the Arab Spring was all about. Tahrir Square didn’t happen because of or the lack of the United States; it happened because young people wanted a new future and wanted to throw off the yoke of a dictator. Same thing in Tunisia, same thing in Syria. And the fact is that people in these regions have to make choices too."

But the secretary of state refused to "doubt the judgment of the American people."

"No, I’d never doubt the judgment of the American people. But I think it’s inevitable that people will have a sense of dissatisfaction when things are in upheaval. And what I am trying to convey is that we are as involved as we ever have been at any time, in the crises of North Korea working to denuclearize, Iran to prevent them from having a nuclear weapon, Syria to help the moderate opposition to deal with a dictator who is killing his own people. These are complicated things," said Kerry.

But after saying that polls don't dictate American foreign policy, Kerry then said that Americans don't want troops in foreign wars, which limits the tools the administration has to solving the world's problems.

"American people also don’t want American troops going into these places to fight the wars for these people. So there are very limited tools, very limited tools. And I believe we’ve just had a huge success in being able to get chemical weapons out of Syria. I think that right now we’re working hard here in Iraq to be able to pull together a unifying government, a competent government that’s prepared to be able to try to deal with some of the issues here," said Kerry.

"So my real test will not be what the American people make a judgment about today. It will be what they make a judgment about when we finish, and then we’ll see what the legacy is."

Rosen responded, "It sounds like you like the polls you like and you don’t like the polls you don’t like."

"No, I just don’t pay attention to polls. If I paid attention to polls, I would have quit in Iowa a long time ago. I don’t pay attention to polls," said Kerry, an apparent reference to his failed presidential bid in 2004.

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