Secretary of State John Kerry accepted his Diplomat of the Year award last night at a Foreign Policy magazine dinner by reminding the audience that “if solutions were really obvious, then you wouldn’t need a diplomat to find them.”
Kerry focused on “divides that have been holding back America and the world.”
“First, here in the United States, we have to do everything that we can in order to narrow the divide between those who have never met a trade agreement they liked and those who automatically choose the other side,” he said, promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “…The second divide that needs closing is between those who believe that a truly ambitious, meaningful, durable, global agreement on climate change is vital to our future, and those who don’t think we need it and can’t afford it.”
“…The good news is the momentum is building. Around the globe, mayors and governors are getting involved, civil society is mobilizing, religious authorities are weighing in, and the private sector is opening a whole new green frontier – so the time has come, frankly, to bring the former skeptics into the fold. There is nothing liberal or conservative, there’s nothing Republican or Democrat, there’s nothing global north or global south about the potential consequences of climate change.”
The third “divide” that has to be closed, Kerry said, “is between those who supported the recent nuclear agreement with Iran and those who did not.”
“Now, obviously, I was a supporter,” he quipped. “I am convinced the agreement will make every region – every country in the region, the region itself, including our key allies, safer. And at the time that the deal was negotiated, not everybody saw it that way. I understand that. I respect that.”
The “fourth divide” involves “the fight against international terrorist organizations” and making sure “kids are prevented from falling into the hands of these false proselytizers of religion who distort Islam and spread evil.”
“My friends, we have to be united, because consider what happens when people are not. Daesh would never have seized territory in Iraq if the Sunni Muslim minority had felt fully represented in their country’s institutions. And Daesh wouldn’t have gained a foothold in Syria if the population there hadn’t been forced to rise up against the brutal repression of Bashar al-Assad,” Kerry said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“The price now being paid for these divisions is the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II and the rise of a terrorist organization with global pretensions that has no vision for the future for anybody but kills, kills at random, kills because of who you are, kills because of what you believe, kills people who try to protect culture and history, rapes, uses rape not just as an instrument of war but as an instrument of life itself. They plunder and they destroy and then they brag about it. In response, we have to come together across the boundaries of ethnicity, religion, nation, and culture to defend the fundamental values of decency and law and everything that we have worked to achieve since the end of World War II. That is true throughout the Middle East. It’s true in Nigeria, Somalia, Libya, and in all of our countries.”
Kerry said the challenge of diplomats is to “create the largest possible periods of time about which no future war movies will be made, no epic battle diaries kept, no new cemeteries or genocide memorials dedicated.”
“Tonight I ask everyone to step back and envision such an era, a time when good people can walk unafraid through the streets of Jerusalem and Hebron, Juba, Bangui, Aleppo, and Mosul, and each of the many other areas that have known conflict and grief for far too long,” he said.