Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the incursion of Gaza, and the escalating crisis in Ukraine following the attack of Malaysian airliner MH17.
He strongly defended the Obama administration's foreign policy decisions during these two international emergencies and repeatedly reiterated the legitimacy of Israel's military action.
Unbeknownst to Kerry, cameras were rolling at Fox before the show, capturing a phone call with an aide in which he sardonically described Israel’s offensive in Gaza as “a hell of a pinpoint operation.” He then added, “We’ve got to get over there. I think we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.” On air, Fox’s Chris Wallace addressed the call, asking Kerry if he thought the Israeli pushback was going too far. He responded, “I think it’s very difficult in these situations. You have people who have come out of tunnels, you have a right to go in and take out those tunnels. We completely support that and we support Israel’s right to defend themselves against rockets that are continuing to come in...”
Catch the full exchange at the 10:45 minute mark:
When questioned about enforcing stricter sanctions on Russia, Kerry responded:
“The president imposed a greater cost on Vladimir Putin the day before this shoot down took place. And what we are doing now is trying to bring our European counterparts along because [just] 4 percent of Russia's trade is with the United States. Fifty percent of their engagement is with Europe.
So, we are trying to encourage our European friends to realize this is a wake up call and hopefully they will also join us in these tougher sanctions.
The president is prepared to take additional steps, and we are discussing with the Ukrainians right now what they need, what else we can do...”
Kerry spoke to the botched investigation of the MH17 plane wreckage, saying:
They promised unfettered access. And the fact is that, right now, they had 75 minutes on Friday, [and] yesterday, three hours. There were shots fired in the area. The separatists are in control. And it is clear that Russia supports the separatists, supplies the separatists, encourages the separatists, trains the separatists. And Russia needs to step up and make a difference here."
When Stephanopoulos mentioned that critics say the president has not been forceful enough regarding America's current role in foreign affairs, Kerry asserted:
"The fact is that the United States of America, George, is more engaged in more places in the world, and, frankly, I think, to greater effect, than at any time in recent memory. And I can't think of a time when the United States has been engaged in more places, where people are worried not about our staying, but they don't want us to leave and they recognize that American leadership is critical."
Note: CNN failed to include in their clip the moment when Crowley asked, "So as I understand it, what you are saying is that the U.S. is comfortable with Israeli actions thus far – but you would like to see a ceasefire?"
Kerry then snapped back, "Candy – Candy, please. No country, no human being is comfortable with children being killed, with people being killed, but we’re not comfortable with Israeli soldiers being killed either, or with people being rocketed in Israel.
So in war, it’s very difficult. There tends not to be a sort of equilibrium in terms of these things. The fact is that we’ve asked Israel and Israel has said we will try to reduce whatever we can with respect to civilian involvement, and civilians have been warned to move well ahead of time.
The fact is that Hamas uses civilians as shields and they fire from a home and draw the fire into the home, precisely to elicit the kind of question you just asked. We need to have a ceasefire."
Schieffer began his interview by questioning Kerry on whether we have definitive proof that the Russians were directly involved in the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet. Kerry said:
"What we have is a lot of evidence that points in the direction, that raises very, very serious questions, including the fact that a few weeks ago, we have [a] 150-vehicle convoy coming from Russia, going into the east of Ukraine with tanks, artillery, multiple rocket launchers, armored personnel carriers, turned over to the separatists.
We know that there are Russians who are leaders of the separatists. Some, not all. Some. And we know that the Russians have armed the separatists, trained the separatists, support the separatists, and have, to date, not publicly called on the separatists to stand down or to be part of the solution."
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has reported that John Kerry will soon travel to Cairo to push for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.