WASHINGTON – "In today's global world, there is no longer anything foreign about foreign policy," US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday, in his first official speech since taking office.
"How we conduct our foreign policy matters more than ever before to our everyday lives," Kerry said, speaking at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
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Kerry's speech focused on the domestic side of foreign policy, as well as the innate benefits it derived from foreign aid spending, which any cut in would be detrimental to some of the United States own interest, such as minimizing the chances of Iran getting its hands on a nuclear weapon.
Foreign aid, he stressed, allows Washington to work with America's international partners to ensure that "Iran never obtains a weapon that would endanger our allies and our interests.
Secretary of State John Kerry (Photo: AP)
Kerry stressed that the US spends less than 1% of the federal government's budget on foreign assistance programs. "This figure is usually wildly overestimated by the public and often reviled by politicians looking to score points on budget restraint," he noted.
Kerry further noted that "The amount of money spent on conflict stabilization efforts – about $60 million per year – is comparable to the amount of money earned by a Hollywood film, 'The Avengers,' in a single day on opening weekend.
"The difference is the folks we have on the ground doing this job are actually real superheroes," Kerry said.
Americans must invest more in foreign aid and diplomacy in order to protect US security and to cultivate American prosperity, he noted. "Deploying diplomats today is much cheaper than deploying troops tomorrow."
He also said that the greatest challenge to US foreign policy is not emerging China or Middle East instability – but Congress.
"We can’t be strong in the world unless we are strong at home," he said, calling the budget impasse President Obama is facing in Congress "a threat."
Kerry's speech precedes his first official trip as secretary as state. He is scheduled to visit Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Turkey before heading to the Middle East, where he will visit Egypt, Qatar the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Kerry will visit Israel prior to Obama's visit, in late March.
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