All News & Blogs
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a ceremonial swearing-in at the State Department in Washington.
MANUEL BALCE CENETA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 2/7/2013
WASHINGTON--Secretary of State John Kerry vowed Wednesday that the United States will not retreat from the world stage due to budget constraints or the complexity of global challenges.
Speaking after being ceremonially sworn into office by Vice President Joe Biden, Kerry said his military service in Vietnam taught him the cost of failed diplomacy. He said he was committed to working for peace but would not shy away from defending America, its values or ideals if they come under threat from "extremism, terrorism, chaos or evil."
The U.S. does "exceptional" things on which the world depends and it will continue to do so, the former Massachusetts senator said to applause from a large crowd of current and former lawmakers and national security officials in the State Department's ornate Ben Franklin Room.
"It's well-known that my experience in war shaped my experience of the human costs of failed diplomacy and the cost of conflict itself," he said in the roughly 20-minute speech that was short on policy specifics but long on outlines of his broad foreign policy vision.
"I am proud to take on this job because I want to work for peace, and because the values and the ideals of our nation are really what represent the best of the possibilities of life here on earth," Kerry said.
"But, I make clear today to those listening, while my preference is for a peaceful resolutions to conflict, my journey has taught me that when remedies are exhausted, we must be prepared to defend our cause and do what is necessary to stand up to extremism, terrorism, chaos and evil. And we will continue to do so."
He noted several so-called soft-power projects that he said represented American values, such as U.S. contributions to AIDS treatment and prevention, pushing for the rights of girls and women, and childhood education. Yet, he stressed that successes may be endangered by technological advances, the explosion of youth populations and "unleashed sectarian strife and religious extremism."
"Unless we stay vigilant, these forces threaten to unravel whole nation states and create greater pockets of instability than we have seen in recent times," he said. "This is our challenge."