- By Lara McLeod
On February 20th, Secretary of State John Kerry gave his first major public address at the University of Virginia, a school originally founded by the first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson. This school served as a reminder of an important aspect of Secretary Kerry’s speech: our foreign policy starts with the small issues at home, and ripples outward. In light of current budget issues, Kerry stated that Americans must remember that “small investments [at home] will put forth large benefits on our country and the world.”
Secretary Kerry’s remarks come at a critical time for the nation’s foreign policy. With the sequester quickly
approaching, Secretary Kerry not only endorsed President Obama in his efforts in education, climate control, and budget compromise, but he also implored both Congress and the public to understand that the U.S.’s standing in the world depends on these successes at home. Kerry explained that it is imperative that we ensure our country’s security by sending diplomats across the globe, but the only way for that to happen is if we can reach “a responsible agreement that prevents senseless cuts”. He also placed the responsibility of this challenge on his former colleagues in Congress, asking them to help prevent this sequester in order to make us stronger at home and, in turn, stronger in the world. According to Kerry, without dealing with this looming budget crisis, we will lose countless opportunities to improve our economy and gain allies abroad.
Alternatively, Secretary Kerry also addressed how our foreign policy initiatives can help strengthen our economy at home. Acknowledging that foreign policy ideas generally have a somewhat low approval rating, Kerry stated that the U.S. foreign policy budget spends only just over one percent of national budget a year. Continuing the small investments theme of his speech, Kerry explained that small investments in foreign policy initiatives can reap large benefits. “Our goal is to use assistance and benefits to help nations develop their own potential and become our economic partners.” Thus, what the U.S. does to improve the lives of others abroad will make a noticeable difference for Americans through creation of jobs and economic partnerships.
Foreign policy and economic development go hand in hand. According to Secretary Kerry, it is imperative that we continue to improve our international relations, and continue to aid countries so that they can develop into valuable allies. In order to accomplish this, Kerry urged that a budget compromise must be established at home in order to avoid senseless cuts–because we are an indispensable nation.
“When tragedy and terror visit our neighbors around the globe, many nations give their hands to help, but only one is expected to,” he explained. He believes it is our duty to continue to be that indispensable nation, and we do not have a choice to shirk that responsibility due to the sequester.