[Editor’s Note: Below are the major points of a foreign policy address that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in photo below, delivered on February 20, 2013, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. The university was founded by Thomas Jefferson, the U.S’ first secretary of state and the fourth U.S. president. Mr. Kerry’s response to his introduction by Senator Tim Kaine has been omitted along with his recognition of several persons and organizations in the audience. The entire speech can be found on the State Department website, the source of this excerpt.)
Why Kerry Delivered Speech at University of Virginia
Some might ask why I’m standing here at the University of Virginia, why am I starting here? A Secretary of State making his first speech in the United States? You might ask, “Doesn’t diplomacy happen over there, overseas, far beyond the boundaries of our own backyards?”
So why is it that I am at the foot of the Blue Ridge instead of on the shores of the Black Sea? Why am I in Old Cabell Hall and not Kabul, Afghanistan? (Laughter.)
The reason is very simple. I came here purposefully to underscore that in today’s global world, there is no longer anything foreign about foreign policy. More than ever before, the decisions that we make from the safety of our shores don’t just ripple outward; they also create a current right here in America. How we conduct our foreign policy matters more than ever before to our everyday lives, to the opportunities of all those students I met standing outside, whatever year they are here, thinking about the future. It’s important not just in terms of the threats that we face, but the products that we buy, the goods that we sell, and the opportunity that we provide for economic growth and vitality. It’s not just about whether we’ll be compelled to send our troops to another battle, but whether we’ll be able to send our graduates into a thriving workforce. That’s why I’m here today.
I’m here because our lives as Americans are more intertwined than ever before with the lives of people in parts of the world that we may have never visited. In the global challenges of diplomacy, development, economic security, environmental security, you will feel our success or failure just as strongly as those people in those other countries that you’ll never meet. For all that we have gained in the 21st century, we have lost the luxury of just looking inward. Instead, we look out and we see a new field of competitors. I think it gives us much reason to hope. But it also gives us many more rivals determined to create jobs and opportunities for their own people, a voracious marketplace that sometimes forgets morality and values.