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Kerry’s First Speech as Secretary of State: ‘No Longer Anything Foreign About Foreign Policy’


In his first major remarks as America’s top diplomat, secretary of state John Kerry said that he was delivering the address in the United States rather than overseas “to underscore that, in today’s global world, there is no longer anything foreign about foreign policy.” He pointed to the issue of climate change as a key example of a shift in the nature of foreign policy caused by globalization; “No nation can stand alone” on the issue, he said.

Speaking at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Kerry argued that climate change poses a significant foreign-policy challenge to the United States and warned of rising seas, superstorms, and droughts.  Kerry, who has previously voiced his support for an international agreement to combat climate change, also urged collective action to develop clean energy technologies. 

This is not the first time Kerry has spoken about the magnitude of the threat posed by global warming. During his Cabinet confirmation hearing, he described climate change as a “life-threatening issue,” and argued in an August speech on the Senate floor that it presents a threat as dire as that posed by Iran’s effort to acquire nuclear weapons. “This issue is of as significant a level of importance because it affects life itself on the planet,” Kerry said. 

The secretary of state also slammed Congress for generating public opposition to foreign aid and lamented that the State Department lacks a “Grover Norquist pushing a pledge to protect it.” “We don’t have millions of AARP seniors who send in their dues and rally to protect American investments overseas,” he said. He insisted that a diplomatic presence in the world is economically prescient: “Deploying diplomats today is much cheaper than deploying troops tomorrow.” 


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