This article was originallay published on DipNote on January 15, 2016.
On January 13, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry addressed students, faculty, and members of the public at the National Defense University, outlining the U.S. foreign policy agenda for 2016. Secretary Kerry drew on themes from President Obama’s State of the Union Address, the final of his presidency. Below are highlights of Secretary Kerry’s remarks laying out the ambitious agenda for the year ahead:
BOLD AND AMBITIOUS FOREIGN POLICY AGENDA
“The President’s agenda for 2016 is bold and ambitious — and that is especially true when it comes to foreign policy. The reason for that is simple: In this extraordinarily complicated time, the demand for U.S. leadership is as high as it has ever been. That is why the United States will remain more engaged in more places around the world than at any other time in our history.
The goal of keeping our country safe is at the core of our foreign policy strategy. Certainly, a big part of that is addressing the immediate crises of the day. But as we plan for the coming year, we are focused on looking for long-term solutions; on laying the groundwork for security and stability in decades to come. In some respects, 2015 was a year of turbulence and tragedy, but we also saw remarkable advances in every corner of the globe.”
“The key word here is “progress.” Our work isn’t over — far from it, but as we look to the year ahead, we have the opportunity to build on what we’ve achieved in a number of critical areas.”
DEGRADING AND DEFEATING DAESH
“We have intensified our campaign — through the 65-member international coalition we have mobilized — to degrade and defeat the terrorist group known as ISIL or Daesh. Our efforts are directed both at Daesh’s core networks in Syria and Iraq and at strangling attempts by the terrorists to establish branches or inspire attacks elsewhere — including the United States.
We have known from the moment we formed our international coalition in the fall of 2014 that success would be measured in a matter of years. In the end, Daesh will be defeated — and the progress we have already made toward that end is undeniable.”
PROVIDING HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO GLOBAL CRISES
“Let me be very clear: we can both maintain the highest security standards and live up to our best traditions as Americans by welcoming those in need of our help to this great country of ours. That is who we are. That is what we do.
The refugee crisis is not just a Syrian problem, nor a Middle Eastern problem, nor a European or African problem. It is a global challenge of historic dimensions that tests our values, our self-confidence, and our very humanity. We must do all we can to respond effectively; and the most effective of response of all involves the pursuit of peace. The reality is there will be no end to this crisis until there is an end to the conflict itself.”
IRAN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION
“The JCPOA is a blueprint for blocking all of Iran’s potential pathways to a nuclear weapon. As it agreed to do, Iran is now well on its way to dismantling critical elements of its nuclear facilities.
I can assure you that we will continue to monitor implementation of the agreement closely to ensure that the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran is removed as a threat to Middle East security and global peace. Implementation Day — the day on which Iran proves it has sufficiently downsized its nuclear program and can begin to receive sanctions relief — will take place soon. And when that happens, it will make us and our partners around the world more safe and secure.”
CLIMATE CHANGE: BUILDING ON THE MOMENTUM OF THE PARIS AGREEMENT
“Agreements only work if they are implemented. Our next priority for 2016 is building on the momentum generated last month in Paris, when nearly 200 nations came together to reach an historic agreement on climate change… because it [the Paris Agreement] is designed to keep pace with technology and get stronger as time goes by, the agreement sends an unmistakable message to governments and the private sector alike: the time is now to undertake a permanent transition to a new and low carbon energy future.”
BOLSTERING THE U.S. ECONOMY THROUGH FREE TRADE
“…Our economy will be further bolstered when Congress approves a trade agreement that includes 40 percent of the global economy — and that is another priority for the coming year. In 2015, after seven years of negotiations, the United States joined eleven other nations along the Pacific Rim in signing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP includes the highest labor and environmental standards of any trade agreement of its size in history. It will support American prosperity by lowering barriers to our exports and creating more jobs that pay higher wages. And it will help to shape trade in the Asia Pacific for years to come. The TPP is a critical component of the U.S. rebalance towards the region, advancing American leadership in the largest emerging market in the world.”
THE U.S. HAS A CRITICAL ROLE TO PLAY ON THE WORLD STAGE
“In spite of the many uncertainties we face, I am optimistic because I know we are a nation of doers, we are resilient, and we are as strong as we have ever been.
If we remain engaged — if we continue to mobilize the help and support of allies and friends across the globe, and make the most of every single foreign policy tool at our disposal — if we think, not just about getting through the next year, but about building new foundations for generations to come, then we can live up to the magnificent legacy that we have inherited and enable those who follow us to do the same.”
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