WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday urged the nation to step up its engagement with the rest of the world on matters of trade, climate change and security, and to increase foreign aid. It is a message that clashes in many ways with the policies President-elect Donald Trump has spoken about introducing.
In a speech to a women's foreign policy group, Kerry said the United States must resist the urge to "turn inward and search for ways to fence off our own safety and our prosperity." Without mentioning Trump at any point, he called it "folly" to imagine that you can build a better future by hiding from the real world.
Summoning the Marshall Plan as an example of America "at its best," Kerry said the U.S. with its $18 trillion economy had far greater capacity to alleviate suffering and spur development in the world. He noted that the plan that helped rebuilt Europe after World War II cost the equivalent of $120 billion in today's money, and a far greater portion than the 1 percent of the national budget currently devoted to international programs.
"We need to be asking ourselves how much more we can accomplish," he said.
Kerry trumpeted his own accomplishments on international agreements to combat climate change and curtail Iran's nuclear program — deals that Trump has often derided. And he said the U.S. should step up peace mediation, military support for allies, engaging of foes and money for refugees — areas of activity Trump spoke about reining in during the presidential campaign.
Kerry reserved some of his sharpest words for opponents of free trade. Unlike Trump and his defeated opponent, Hillary Clinton, Kerry has steadfastly supported President Barack Obama's stalled effort to pass the 12-nation Asia-Pacific trade agreement.
"We're running around hearing people battle a dragon called trade," Kerry said, blaming technology for most job losses in the U.S. and a lack of social support for the difficulties people have in finding new employment.
"You tell me how the economy of the United States is going to grow if 95 percent of the world's customers live in another country," he said. "But we're going to start knee-jerkingly just closing off some of that because we're blaming other people?"