Secretary of State John Kerry visited IU as part of the celebration of the recent opening of the Global and International Studies Building.
“Life today is always busy, so I’m always appreciative when people take a moment to think about our country, think about the world and the direction we’re going,” Kerry said.
Kerry is the first sitting secretary of state to visit IU since Warren Christopher visited in 1995.
Kerry’s visit followed a formal dedication of the new school Wednesday, which established the building on campus. The motto attached to the school is “in order to change the world, we must first seek to understand it.”
Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the SGIS, said seeking to understand other societies is essential for the future of the world. Kerry helps with the understanding of these foreign policies, Feinstein said.
Following an introduction from IU President Michael McRobbie, Kerry stood to address the audience.
In his introduction, McRobbie mentioned how Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president in the 2004 election.
“If I hadn’t lost, I wouldn’t be secretary of state and I wouldn’t be taking on what I believe is one of the best jobs in the world,” Kerry said.
Kerry broke down his speech as an outline of United States foreign policy in a changing world.am
“Foreign policy is economic policy and economic policy is foreign policy,” Kerry said. “The world is more integrated than ever before.”
In order to allow international relations to develop, you have to understand each other and you have to listen, Kerry said.
“We are living in extraordinarily complicated times,” he said.
Far more lives were lost on a regular basis in the course of the 20th century than people are currently witnessing in terms of trends, even with the violence people see, Kerry said.
Kerry specifically addressed foreign plans regarding the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Iran agreement, climate change and international terrorist organizations.
“We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, and there is absolutely no justification for these reprehensible attacks,” Kerry said. “And we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend its existence.”
Kerry said how critically important it is to restore calmness as soon as possible. He said he expects to be traveling to the Middle East in the coming days to reach common ground in the effort to stabilize the situation.
President Obama made a public announcement prior to the speech that the U.S. will retain 5,500 troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2016.
“Our continued military presence there is essential to give the new government of national unity the support that it needs to implement reforms and defend its population against violent extremists who seek to impose their will,” Kerry said.
Within the arena of international economics and trade, the U.S. joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership earlier this month.
Kerry said the deal was a definite plus economically and as a genuine breakthrough in bringing disparate nations together to raise the international standards of labor and environmental norms.
This point transitioned into the fear of “globalization.”
“By voting for this trade agreement, Congress can reinforce the message that the United States is and will remain a leading force for prosperity and security throughout the Asia Pacific,” Kerry said.
The challenge of the global environment is what Kerry defined as a second critical area where the world is coming together.
Kerry said although the scientific debate of not having the background to understand what global warming really was is still around, it is not legitimate anymore.
“Are you telling me that the fact that you’re not a scientist means you can’t say that the Earth spins and that clean air is better than dirty air?” Kerry asked. “You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know that 14 of the 15 warmest years ever recorded have taken place in this century.”
The final challenge addressed by Kerry was the fight against international terrorist organizations.
Regarding groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Kerry said the U.S. is working in every multilateral forum in the fight against violent extremism.
“These terrorists are so depraved they give new meaning to the word ‘evil,’” Kerry said.
We must hasten the decline of these groups and we are, Kerry said.
Kerry then spoke specifically to the students in the audience.
“Would you like to spend the next 40 years complaining about the world or would you like to change it?” Kerry said.
Kerry reached out to students and told them they were needed in all of their diversity to bring people together.
“I hope we will go out of here with the purpose of creating an ever-stronger global community, open to all, demanding of each, intimidated by none,” Kerry said.