John Kerry, one of the leading and most well-respected voices on foreign policy and national security, will be a welcome addition to the legacy of Secretaries of State who have endorsed a smart power agenda. During his tenure in the Senate, Senator Kerry has been a leading champion of the International Affairs Budget and a long time friend of the USGLC. As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry has consistently advocated the positive impact that the International Affairs Budget has in the world, noting that, “Foreign aid is an investment in our national security. It is not a gift to other countries. It is a very, very small investment that provides an enormous return in so many different ways in terms of advancing the interests of our country, of our citizens.”1
Kerry became Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2009, filling the position previously held by Vice President Biden. He has consistently embraced and articulated a strong vision for America’s role in the world, noting that, “America’s global leadership is a strategic imperative for us.” He has played a leadership role on a range of issues, including most recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, traveling overseas at times at the behest of the Administration. He has been a key ally to President Obama on Capitol Hill, and even served as the President’s debate preparation partner during the 2012 campaign.
On issues of concern to the smart power agenda, Senator Kerry has played a leadership role in ensuring adequate resources for our civilian agencies, and defeating efforts to cut foreign assistance. In 2008, he co-led a successful effort with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) that restored more than $4 billion in funding for the International Affairs Budget. He led several bipartisan letters to the President calling for full funding for the International Affairs Budget and this year, he marshaled a bipartisan coalition to resoundly defeat a proposal to cut off U.S. assistance to several countries in the Middle East and south Asia.
On a policy front, Senator Kerry has played a key role on humanitarian issues, including efforts to fight global poverty, HIV/AIDS, and violence against women. He was the leading sponsor of the International Violence Against Women Act, as well as the legislation that authorized the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2002. A leader on foreign assistance reform, Senator Kerry introduced the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) Act of 2012, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent in October. The legislation directs the Secretary of State, in consultation with State and USAID officials, to undertake a QDDR every four years.
Senator Kerry spoke at the USGLC’s 2012 annual conference saying, “The work we do with the money that we have in that little old tiny one percent probably buys us more than any other sector of the budget in the United States of America, when you think of what we get in various parts of the world for what we do.”2
Senator Kerry’s distinguished career includes his decorated Navy service with two tours in Vietnam, as well as serving as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.
Did you know…
John Kerry’s father, Richard Kerry, served as a Foreign Service Officer that took him to Berlin, Germany and Oslo, Norway.
Kerry on Smart Power
“I believe that our DNA is defined by the Marshall Plan. It is defined by America’s commitment to PEPFAR. It’s defined by America’s willingness to go to the help of other nations – whether it was World War I or II or in other times in our history. Our DNA is to pursue the higher moral ground and to indeed be guided by some sense of aspiration.”3
“Foreign aid is an investment in our national security. It is not a gift to other countries. It is a very, very small investment that provides an enormous return in so many different ways in terms of advancing the interests of our country, of our citizens. And because of foreign aid, in many parts of the world we have relationships and we have programs, we have initiatives, joint ventures that make Americans safer every single day.”4
“Without a robust international affairs budget, our war effort in Afghanistan will be undermined and fragile progress in Iraq will be jeopardized. This budget also provides vital humanitarian assistance. It fights hunger and the scourge of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in poor countries around the world. It prevents the spread of cholera in Haiti, distributes food to refugees in northern Kenya, and finances shelter for flood victims in Pakistan.”5
“This is not a time for America to pull back from the world. This is a time to step forward . . . The international affairs budget lays the foundation for our ability to fulfill our responsibilities abroad . . . We can either pay now to help brave people build a better, democratic future for themselves, or we will certainly pay later with increased threats to our own national security.”6
“So [current global challenges] really do present a brave new world for which we have to dramatically redesign our foreign policy. If we are to meet these challenges, this much is clear: development and diplomacy have to retake their rightful place alongside defense at the heart of American’s foreign policy. And yet today, for all of our past successes, there’s a growing realization that our diplomatic and development capacities are simply not prepared for the task ahead. And when you consider our meager investment in it, it’s easy to understand why. We have voted repeatedly with our dollars to bolster our defense institutions while completely neglecting our civilian capacity. Ladies and gentlemen, that has to change.”7