WASHINGTON — The State Department said today that Secretary of State John Kerry “absolutely” made the world a safer place, with press secretary John Kirby arguing that his work on climate change enhanced national security.
“Our foreign policy priorities, our foreign policy achievements have helped make the American people safer,” Kirby told reporters at the daily briefing after being asked to assess Kerry’s term. “Look at the Iran deal for instance. We now have a deal in place and it is being implemented by all sides, that will preclude Iran from ever, ever achieving nuclear weapons capability. And there’s an inspection regime in place that’s the most rigorous ever enacted.”
“…Look at the Paris agreement. You know, what, more than 140 nations signed up for a robust — the most historically robust climate change agreement that, if everybody meets their obligations, has a real chance of getting us to slow the global warming rate and get below that two degrees centigrade level.”
Kirby, formerly Pentagon spokesman under Secretary Chuck Hagel, stressed that the Defense Department “has said and called climate change a national security threat.”
“That’s not just the State Department, the Pentagon has said that. And so, thanks to Secretary Kerry’s leadership at working through the Paris agreement and really helping bring people to the table and getting it signed, we’re on a path now to reduce the threat posed by the rising temperatures on the planet,” he said.
Kerry also made the world safer by fighting the Ebola outbreak, Kirby added, “where they were predicting a million deaths” in Africa.
“And the president made some courageous decisions to put military troops on the ground down there and other experts to try to stem that because that epidemic could have spread wildly, not just throughout the continent, but perhaps throughout the world, causing untold instability and insecurity,” the spokesman continued.
“Look at Secretary Kerry’s leadership in mounting a now 67, 68 member coalition to counter Daesh in Iraq and Syria. That coalition was fashioned here by the State Department, by Secretary Kerry… It’s the largest international coalition I think that’s ever existed and it’s having real success and real progress on degrading and defeating this group.”
Kirby concluded that Kerry has made Americans “safer here at home and safer abroad, and obviously that’s an extension of the foreign policy agenda that this administration has pursued.”
Asked if there was an area in which Kerry could have done a better job, Kirby said “our diplomatic efforts have not been successful in terms of getting us to a political transition where the voice of the Syrian people can be heard and can realize a better, safer, unified Syria.”
“That doesn’t mean that that over the next few weeks, and I remind, he still has a month in office that he’s not going to keep at it and keep trying to get us there,” Kirby added. “But I think he would tell you that that’s one area that he wishes we could have been more successful a lot sooner.”