POLITICS
01/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Kerry Officially Takes Over Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Sen. John Kerry was officially announced as the next chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday. And his office sends over the following press release, issued as the Senator himself travels through Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South Asia.

"I am honored to serve as Chairman of a committee which I know from my own experience as a young man can impact the course of our security and help advance our values and interests in the world. It's particularly a privilege to join in the committee's rich history of bipartisan cooperation alongside my colleague and our distinguished Ranking Member, Dick Lugar. Whether it was under the Republican Chairman Vandenberg or the great Democratic Chairman William Fulbright, this committee has always stood for the best of American foreign policy. I look forward to working with all members of the committee to help strengthen America's hand in Afghanistan and Pakistan, work towards global climate change solutions, and end the war in Iraq responsibly. We have a big agenda ahead of us, just as our country faces big challenges across the globe."

In Kerry's innermost circles, the ascension to the Foreign Relations Chair is likely viewed as a nice consolation prize. The big kahuna was the post of Secretary of State, for which the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee was certainly pining. Now, however, Kerry will be tasked with conducting the hearings that will confirm Hillary Clinton in that role. And he will be dealing with a vice president who used to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee himself, as well as a president who believes foreign policy is his strong suit.

All of which would suggest that Kerry's responsibilities, compared with chairs past, will be diminished during the years ahead. That, of course, won't be the case. Going forward the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is going to face Herculean tasks, not just on the Iraq War -- in which levels of expenditures and policy will be largely dictated by the Status of Forces Agreement recently signed by the U.S. and Iraqi Authorities -- but Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, NATO, Russia and a whole host of other fronts as well. The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder recently penned a post on how an emerging global financial crisis could engender a whole host of foreign policy dilemmas.

Certainly, there will be a lot of foreign policy cooks in the new administration. But there will also be a wide range of challenges to confront. And Kerry, through his past work on Foreign Relations, his presidential candidacy, and his general interest in topics like counterinsurgency and combating terrorism, is well-tasked for the role he will now play.