U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is often perceived as one of the "good ones" — the less hawkish of top American officials, who does not simply promote and defend his country's military adventurism but reaches out to others, beyond polarizing rhetoric.

His unremitting efforts culminated partly in the Iran nuclear framework agreement in April, followed by a final deal a few months later. Now he is reportedly hard at work again to find some sort of consensus on a way out of the war in Syria, a multi-party conflict that has killed over 300,000 people. His admirers see him as the diplomatic executor of a malleable and friendly U.S. foreign policy agenda under President Barack Obama.

In reality, this perception is misleading; not that Kerry is a warmonger like President George W. Bush's top staff, such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Those two were the very antithesis of any rational foreign policy, such that even President George H.W. Bush described them with demeaning terminology, according to his biographer quoted in The New York Times. Cheney was an "Iron-ass" who "had his own empire ... and marched to his own drummer," H.W. Bush said, while calling Rumsfeld "an arrogant fellow" who lacked empathy.