A man, a plan, a plane.

Kerry Talks Tough on Iran, Russia and China

Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the executive editor of Bloomberg News, before which he was a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal.
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John Kerry, an eternal can-do optimist, insists that the U.S. is not in any retreat but is effectively showing global leadership on everything from stopping Islamic terrorists to security for Ukraine to forging new trade opportunities: "We are as energized and flat-out as any administration in, at least, recent history."

In my interview with him for the "Charlie Rose" television program, the secretary of state said Islamic State's advance in Iraq and Syria has been halted since the U.S. started a bombing campaign in early August. He said other Sunni states have vowed to provide whatever it takes in resources and training in this battle.

He also countered criticisms that the American bombing is creating more problems by inciting terrorist acts, pointing out how much graver the danger would be if the U.S. -- with Russian help -- hadn't forced Syria to relinquish all its chemical weapons, which could have fallen into the hands of Islamic State. Kerry remained adamant that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad must go; no coalition government, he said, is possible with him there. Kerry also said now is not the time to consider an independent Kurdish state, and while acknowledging that U.S. relations with Turkey have frayed he insisted they're slowly getting better.

The secretary revealed that he's meeting with Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, on Nov. 9 as both parties try to secure a deal on Iranian nuclear capabilities before a Nov. 24 deadline. He wouldn't give any odds of the prospects for success, but directly warned the Iranians not to think they have more leverage now because they too are fighting Islamic State.

He called on China to contribute more to a global fund to battle Ebola in West Africa, and was cautiously critical of the Chinese for trying to stifle democracy in Hong Kong. More pointedly, he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin not to threaten any other neighboring countries, declaring that the economic sanctions against Russia have cut deeply and that the situation in Ukraine is more secure.

Excerpts of the interview will air on "Charlie Rose The Week" on PBS tonight; the full interview airs later in the evening on "Charlie Rose" and will be rebroadcast on Bloomberg Television.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Albert R Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors on this story:
Toby Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net
Toby Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net