Remarks at the U.S. Institute of Peace's Passing the Baton 2017: America's Role in the World
Secretary of State
MS WOODRUFF: Thank you, Nancy. I’m delighted to be here and, Mr. Secretary, I understand you sprinted across the street. Is that right?
SECRETARY KERRY: My sprinting days are reduced, but I came. I got here. (Laughter.)
MS WOODRUFF: Well, there – you were spied hurrying, I’ll put it that way.
SECRETARY KERRY: “Spied,” right. (Laughter.)
MS WOODRUFF: So the format is that I’m going to engage, ask some questions of the Secretary for about 15 or 20 minutes, and then we’re going to open it up to you in the audience. So be thinking about what you might want to ask him as well. And let’s start.
So Mr. Secretary, the theme is “Passing the Baton.” I hear an echo, are we okay with the sound here?
So let’s start with “Passing the Baton.” How is the transition process going? How much interface is actually taking place between your team and the incoming team? How smoothly is it going?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s going pretty smoothly, because there’s not an enormous amount of it. (Laughter.) There are some people who have been in the building for a period of time, but quite candidly, I think there has not been a lot of high-level exchange at this point in time. I’m still expecting to meet with my successor at some point in the near term, but --
MS WOODRUFF: You haven’t met with him yet?
SECRETARY KERRY: No, I haven’t met with him yet.
MS WOODRUFF: Do you expect to?
SECRETARY KERRY: I do.
MS WOODRUFF: Okay. Anything else you want to say about – (Laughter.) I mean, when you came in, how much of a – I realize it was a different situation when you were coming in from this administration, but --
SECRETARY KERRY: It was – it was a very – it’s like night and day. It’s a different thing when you have the same administration continuing with a lot of people already in place versus a shift of parties and a complete tabula rasa restart. And so I think, in fairness, that there is automatically a focus on hearings and that’s a pretty internal process, so there’s time yet for ample debriefing, et cetera. I think we don’t yet know who a lot of the players are going to be at other levels, so it’s been fairly limited just by definition.
MS WOODRUFF: What are the one or two things that you wish you had known in the very beginning that you only learned later and maybe painfully?
SECRETARY KERRY: I really haven’t stopped yet, Judy, to be able to make that – there’s no one thing that leaps out at me that says, boy, if I’d known this, everything would have been different or something. I don’t think so. We’re living – I mean, what troubles me a little bit is that people are not separating a remarkable transformation that is taking place globally naturally from things that we’re really responsible for. Let me give you an example: Arab Spring. We didn’t start the Arab Spring. We couldn’t have stopped the Arab Spring. There was no way to put a lid on the Arab Spring; the Arab Spring began in Tunisia when a fruit vendor lit himself on fire. And boom – a 30-year dictator was gone. And then suddenly, you had Tahrir Square and you had a bunch of people who have technology at their fingertips who are out there communicating to each other and wanting change. And that’s how Syria began. People forget that.
But as I listen to some of the revisionist commentary, they sort of say, “Well, the Obama Administration didn’t do this or they didn’t do that,” or whatever. There’s no way the Obama Administration doing anything would have changed what was happening in those countries. It happened spontaneously because of where those countries find themselves relative to modernity, to the global economies, to their own governance challenges, and to the centuries-old passions and definitions and differences that have defined those societies for a long period of time. I’ll give you an example in Syria. Syria is not one war. It’s not one simple conflict. I mean, just follow every day what’s happening between Russia and Iran with respect to Syria, but multiply that by Saudi Arabia versus Iran and Iran versus Saudi Arabia; Iran concerns for the entire GCC; Kurds – Kurd aspirations; Kurds versus Erdogan; Erdogan’s aspirations for Syria; Sunni versus Shia; people versus Assad. Israel – I mean, you have this – there are about six different wars that are taking place there, some of them quite real proximate proxy wars.
And so we’re living in a different world. People need to really grab onto that. The new administration needs to grab onto that. It is not a world like the world after World War II where the United States was the only power left standing, fundamentally, and the economies of the world had to be rebuilt and the United States stepped up and rebuilt them, to its great credit. And one of the best investments we ever made in the world was an investment that most Americans were against called the Marshall Plan. Nobody said, “Wow, we ought to go help Japan that just attacked us at Pearl Harbor and we’ve spent four and a half years fighting a war to win; we should rebuild them,” or “We should do the same for Germany.” But we did and look at the value of what came out of that.
So my point is simply, Judy, that I think personally that the United States is more engaged in more places simultaneously dealing with more conflicts than at any time in American history, and I believe with consequence, with greater outcomes – changing the policy to Cuba, helping Colombia be able to get to a peace after 50 years of war, working with Argentina and other countries to come in from the cold, dealing with North Korea, with China, working on the South China sea, asserting freedom of navigation rights in the region, and standing up simultaneously to bring Korea, Japan together to change the relationship. I mean, there are many, many things that are happening and have been happening that people don’t take note of daily, but they’re defining American interests.
MS WOODRUFF: But if that’s the case, then how come there is still so much focus on what people interpret as a missed opportunity in Syria? I wasn’t necessarily going to bring up Syria. You did.
SECRETARY KERRY: No, but you should. You should.
MS WOODRUFF: But let’s talk about it because --
SECRETARY KERRY: I’m happy to have you bring it up.
MS WOODRUFF: -- when President Obama made the decision not to act after – as many expected he would after the redline incident. The perception is that the rest of the world came away believing the U.S. could not be relied on, was not a reliable leader in the world.
SECRETARY KERRY: Okay.
MS WOODRUFF: That’s a different picture from the picture you’re painting.
SECRETARY KERRY: So let me take a moment – no, I’m not saying there aren’t people who don’t have some questions, and I’m not saying there aren’t circumstances, particularly with respect to Syria. Syria is going to be debated, okay? I know it’s going to be debated, because I’ve been part of those debates for the last four years and I’ve been on one side of some of that debate and other people have been on other sides and it’s going to be debated. And you all are going to get a chance to sort of make a judgment as to whether or not something different might have been done at some point or another. That’s fair, absolutely fair, and it’s going to happen. And I think there are some things that might have been able to have been done.
But that had nothing to do with the red line and let’s make that absolutely clear, folks. President Obama never retreated from his redline. He never changed his mind about his readiness to bomb Assad to make it clear you don’t use chemical weapons – never. There’s a mythology that’s grown up around this. David Cameron went to the parliament on a Thursday and lost his vote – in a democracy, in our special relationship partner. And so I remember being on a phone call with a bunch of Congress people – about a hundred of them on a briefing phone call and they were saying, “Well, you’re going to come to us, aren’t you? I mean, that’s the Constitution and we need to weigh in on this.” It wasn’t unanimous that everybody said that. There were a lot of people saying that. So what the President decided to do, Judy, was go to Congress to get their permission to do what Britain had denied the prime minister the right to do. And that’s the best way, if you’re going to use force, to go to use it – is have the imprint of Congress supporting you.
But – and then we had a debate, I remember, in the Situation Room. The vast majority of the people – it may have been one dissenter or two – felt that Congress was immediately going to quickly respond because it was so urgent, but it didn’t. In the meantime, I was asked a question at a press conference in London, “Is there any way that Assad could avoid being bombed?” And I said, “Yes, he could get all the chemical weapons out of the country.” I get a call from Lavrov an hour and a half later saying, “That’s a great idea. We should be pursuing that. Why don’t we sit down and talk and see if we can get that done?” And within days, we got it done. We actually sat together, negotiated the methodology – and I remember we sat there and said, “Now, who’s going to effect it? Who’s going to do this? Oh, okay, we’ll – the logical person to do it – entity to do it is the OPCW.”
So we plugged the OPCW in and four months later, the OPCW won the Nobel Peace Prize for removing the weapons from Syria. Would it have been better to bomb them for two days and not get all the weapons out, and today those weapons would be in the hands of ISIL? Or was it better to cut a deal and get all the weapons out? And so if we hadn’t made that deal, folks, I’m confident the President was ready to bomb, but hopefully, we would have done it with the support of Congress.
Now, having said everything I just said, I will readily acknowledge that this notion that the President didn’t follow through took hold and it has cost us, and I acknowledge, yes, it became a perception that became a sort of diplomatic reality and it fed this notion that the Administration wasn’t there to support its ally, but it’s just not accurate.
MS WOODRUFF: A lot of conversation here and at one of the dinners that the institute sponsored last night here around the rest of the world is continuing, is really right now looking for the United States to lead in ways that it hasn’t been. What’s preventing --
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, what does that mean? What does it mean?
MS WOODRUFF: Well --
SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just stop you for one second. When you say, “to lead in ways that it hasn’t been.”
MS WOODRUFF: Is looking for the U.S. to lead.
SECRETARY KERRY: Okay. Judy --
MS WOODRUFF: We are coming out of this very divisive election.
SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah.
MS WOODRUFF: The United States looks absolutely split in half politically.
SECRETARY KERRY: Right.
MS WOODRUFF: How, coming out of this environment, does the – what do you say to the next administration if you have the opportunity? What --
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we won’t lead by walking away from the Iran deal and walking away from China, Russia, Germany, France, and Britain. That will not be leadership. We will not lead by turning our backs on a 186-nation climate change agreement where the world is moving to try to deal with a major problem. I mean, you say, “How are you going to lead?” That’s how you lead.
Now, we’ve been leading. Those agreements came under our Administration. A country was racing towards the possession of a nuclear weapon in a region where, if they were getting it, every other country would have gotten it, or a major country. Would the world be better off with more nuclear weapons in the hands of countries in that region or no? We led that effort. We led the effort by going to China – first trip I made outside of Europe, second trip total for Secretary, I went to China. My staff thought I was a little loony and this was an improbable mission that we were going to get China within two weeks to sign on to a working group to deal with climate change. Well, we did it with the goal of getting China and the United States to be able to stand up together to announce our intended reductions of emissions so that we could lead the world to go to Paris with momentum to get done what couldn’t be done in Copenhagen, if you’ll recall. So we offered leadership on that.
Russia – I don’t want to – I’m not – I don’t want to be pejorative about anything, but Russia went into Georgia, into South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and nothing was done – no sanctions, nothing. We came in and they went into Ukraine and we galvanized Europe and put sanctions in place. And those sanctions have taken a hefty bite out of Russia and made it clear there’s a price to pay for all of this. And against many people’s instincts in Europe who wanted to get rid of the sanctions, we managed to continually roll them over and keep them in place in an effort to try to implement the Minsk agreement.
Now, let me go back to my point. Ebola. There was a prediction that a million people were going to die by Christmas of two years ago. President Obama sent 3,000 troops into Western Africa. We built capacity. We worked with the French, we worked with the British, who each took a country and did an amazing job, and we worked with the global community. Japan anted up suits that protected people. We had an extraordinary – China put people in. We had an extraordinary global effort which we led, and guess what? We ended the scourge and hundreds of thousands of lives were saved. We’re on the cusp of the first generation of AIDS children – of children of AIDS patients being born AIDS-free, because we doubled the effort begun in the Bush Administration on PEPFAR.
I can run around the world. South China Sea – we’ve been asserting the freedom of navigation rights. We’ve been doing that. And we’ve been leading ASEAN in order to maintain clarity about the importance of the freedom of the South China Sea. Same on North Korea – we led the efforts to get three resolutions plussed up in order to put pressure on Kim Jung-un to try to behave – change the behavior. Afghanistan – we had an imploded election, we could have had a complete and total implosion of Afghanistan and the entire enterprise there, but we negotiated, we helped put together a government of national unity which is still there today, and Afghanistan is holding together against the pressures of the Taliban, and we’ve gotten everybody to renew their pledges and to continue the effort.
I mean, I can – whether it’s Power Africa, or Young African Leaders, or Young Asian Leaders, or countless numbers of initiatives we’ve taken – we’ve plussed up the frontline states of NATO. We’ve quadrupled the budget – $3.4 billion going to the frontline states to make it clear they will be strong enough together with NATO to resist any kind of pressure coming from – so yeah, I mean, you can look at Yemen and you can look at Syria, and you can find fault with the problem that is still going on. And I’m frustrated by that, deeply frustrated by that. But as Madeleine Albright once said, and it has guided me in my tenure, we – and I don’t say this with – and nor did she – with any note of arrogance whatsoever – we are, I think, an indispensable nation, if not the indispensable nation. And one of the things I’ve seen reinforced to me is if we’re not helping to lead the effort, it often doesn’t happen.
On the International Syria Support Group, we initiated that. We got Russia and Iran at the table with Saudi Arabia, with Qatar, with the UAE, with Turkey. It was hard. We came up with a formula for resolving the problem of Syria. Lavrov and I negotiated a ceasefire. Unfortunately, that ceasefire required a period – not unfortunately that it required, but it required a period of calm, and five days into it we accidentally bombed 70 Syrian troops and the Russians believed that we weren’t serious, that we were actually harboring Nusrah and we weren’t willing to separate. And then on the weekend, the humanitarian trucks got bombed, and the thing fell apart. But it’s not because we weren’t leading and trying to get to the watering hole, folks. But as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water; you can’t make it drink.
MS WOODRUFF: You’ve touched on just about every place I was going to ask you about. So thank you. (Laughter.) And I do want to take questions from --
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I have a lot more in reserve. (Laughter.)
MS WOODRUFF: But before we do, what most endure – what are you absolutely confident most endures that this Administration has done globally on the world stage? And what are you most worried about?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m – I really believe common sense is going to win out. I mean, it doesn’t make sense to – let me give you an example: the Iran nuclear agreement. There were in 19,000 centrifuges spinning, producing enriched material. Now there are 5,000, which is what is allowed. There was a 12,000 kilogram stockpile from which you could have made 10 to 12 bombs if you enriched it. Now there is a 300 kilogram stockpile, limited to 300 for the next 15 years, and it is physically impossible to build a bomb with 300 kilograms of material. Iran is limited to 3.67 percent enrichment. You cannot build a bomb at 3.67 percent enrichment. So with the 130 additional inspectors who are in Iran, watching what’s happening, I’m absolutely confident about the route to a weapon being blocked.
Now, if that were just arbitrarily undone, we’re going back to a place of conflict almost immediately. We’ll also reduce our credibility in the world, because I suspect the Russians and the Chinese and the French and the Germans and the British will just continue the deal. And we’ll be sitting there outside with our credibility grossly damaged, and with Iran saying, “Well, we lived by the agreement, but now the United States isn’t willing to, so we’re going to do what we’re permitted to do.” And then you’re right back where you were, where we had pressures on us to go bomb Iran. Believe me, there were pressures.
So it doesn’t make sense, and I believe reason will win out. Same thing on the Paris Agreement on climate change. I mean, look, I’ve been following the climate issue since 1980-whatever. And I’ve been to most of the Conference of the Parties and I think I understand the science pretty well. Almost unanimously, scientists now know that human beings are causing the problem of climate change. Look at the storms in the west coast today. Last year, we had $27 billion spent on storms, on the – it’s a huge increase over the past. Every year we spend $55 billion in America to cope with acute asthma that comes from air quality, which comes from coal-fired and fossil fuel-fired plants. So from a health point of view, from a national security point of view, from an environmental point of view, from every bit of science that is coming at us, we need to deal with climate change.
So again, I don’t think that in the end people are going to move away from that, because it’s real, and the rest of the world is moving towards it. And the bottom line is there are millions of jobs to be created in the transition to a clean energy, alternative energy society. And if we don’t pursue it, I guarantee you China, India, other countries are going to pursue it, and they will pursue it to our detriment and loss economically and otherwise.
MS WOODRUFF: Just quickly with China, what are you confident will endure and what are you worried may change?
SECRETARY KERRY: I think China, we proved that – I think the climate thing will endure with China, absolutely. And I think that the management of this complicated relationship with China has been very effective. I think the Chinese would tell you that – that we have managed to cope with differences by understanding them, defining them, and putting them in a place, and making a conscious decision that we didn’t want them to flare up into a conflict, while finding the things where we could cooperate most effectively, whether it’s North Korea, where we incidentally think China could do more, or climate change, or development issues, or health issues, or other issues, the Iran Nuclear agreement. By the way, China is being extremely helpful on the Iran Nuclear agreement, helping to design the new plutonium reactor so it cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium. And they’ve assumed leadership role on that. I mean, this has been a new kind of partnership.
And Russia likewise. Even as we see this tension with Russia and obviously this horrendous invasion of our democratic process, we were able to cooperate with Russia on getting the chemical weapons out of Syria, on getting the Iran Nuclear agreement done, on creating the marine – the largest marine protected area in the world in Antarctic, on dealing with the airlines emissions reductions agreement, on dealing with the Paris Agreement, on dealing with the Kigali agreement, on refrigerants. So we’ve actually found a way even with Russia in the midst of this conflict to make progress. And that’s an important message.
MS WOODRUFF: But clearly a moment of great tension right now with Russia.
All right, let’s take questions from the audience. If you want to stand up, they’re going to bring a microphone to you quickly. And give me your name. Yes, sir, over here. Here. Let’s go here first.
QUESTION: Yeah, Secretary. Baru Kaswari. You gave a great response to the U.S. leadership and the accomplishments. But the fact that question was asked and was asked in the last few months and in the world, the question is: Should more have been done to get this message across to the people here and internationally, what you just said?
SECRETARY KERRY: I think we probably should have spent more time messaging on it to a degree, although I’m not sure with the current framework of communications that that would have made that much difference. One of the greatest challenges we all face right now, not just America – that every country in the world is – we are living in a fact-less political environment. And every country in the world better stop and start worrying about authoritarian populism and the absence of substance in our dialogue, if you call it that.
There’s a long, well-defined history of what happens when you have economic fear and pressure, and a level of exploitation of those fears, coupled with sectarian or ethnic exploitation, and a kind of simplistic sloganeering politics.
MS WOODRUFF: What can the U.S. do about that?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we’re going to have to fight for it. I think a lot of people are struggling with the, “what do you do about it?” If policy is going to be made in 140 characters on Twitter and every reasonable measurement of accountability is being bypassed and people don’t care about it, we have a problem. And it’s not just our problem here in the United States; it’s all over the world. I mean, do you realize that in the entire presidential campaign here in the United States of America there wasn’t one question asked about climate change? In three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, not one question. It’s stunning. What are you going to do about the environment? What are you going to do about climate change? Not once. So we’re – I just – this is a huge problem, folks, and we’re all going to have to figure out how we are going to restore a measure of accountability to our system.
MS WOODRUFF: Do you think that can be done?
SECRETARY KERRY: I might add – I mean, this whole issue of the norms of how we go through a nominating process. We have a whole bunch of hearings that are taking place without any – and I’m stepping beyond my bailiwick, but it’s quite amazing to me when I think of the hoops I have to jump through with respect to paper submitted, and documentation, and tax returns, and a whole bunch of things. Suddenly, that’s gone poof, and it’s not as important.
So I think we have a lot of reckoning to do in our country in the next days and months, and I can assure you that when I’m out of this office, I’m going to spend time along with a lot of others trying to focus on it.
MS WOODRUFF: You think a lot of people are getting a free pass coming in the incoming administration. Yes or no? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Oh, I thought I got by that one. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I can bail you out. Greetings, Secretary Kerry, I’m a high school teacher from North Carolina. And you just talked about how when we use a medium like Twitter, we strip important issues of their complexity. So I have a question that comes directly from my students. One, they want to know: What’s an important international issue that you’d like for them to study? And two, they want to know: After they study it, will you Skype with them? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: I’d like them to study the EU – Europe, right now. And I’d like them to study Brexit and how they think it works, and then I’d be delighted, because I’ll no longer be Secretary when I Skype with them. (Laughter.) Okay?
MS WOODRUFF: So – so no – you will Skype, but no tweeting, is that right? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: I think they should do – I mean, I think there are some big questions on the table sort of – China, Russia, spheres of influence is a big, big question. Global governance – failed states – increasing numbers of failing states, and corruption – huge issue. And where is the accountability going to come from that creates better governance, greater stability, more response to citizens in various places? Those are worth studying, all of those things, the new platforms of communication. How is democracy going to move faster and more efficiently given the increasingly hard task of building consensus without the consumption of facts?
I mean, these are – I run through a list like this. There – these are all things that just leap out at me as I come out of this job. There are some fascinating, challenging issues out there, and the more input we can get from young people, the better it will be.
MS WOODRUFF: Another question right here.
QUESTION: Thank you. So I’m a former refugee from Kosovo, now a U.S. citizen, so I want to ask a question about refugees in the world, which is the biggest number since World War II and expecting more because of climate change and conflicts around the world. What is the perspective of the refugees in what this country should be doing with allies?
And the second, Mr. Secretary: What worries you the most by leaving the office? What are you going to lose sleep as – not because of this administration, but where the world is today?
SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah. What worries me the most is that I won’t be there. (Laughter.)
MS WOODRUFF: You mean because nobody else can do the job?
SECRETARY KERRY: No, I’m joking. I’m just joking.
MS WOODRUFF: Okay.
SECRETARY KERRY: Honestly. No, that’s the other thing you learn in life and in this business – there are always other people who can do every job, and it’s a good thing to learn.
I believe the answer to your question is partly found in what I decided a number – a little way back, about a year and a half, two years ago. We had just written our whatever number of check to cover the cost of refugees in Syria, and I think – and we are the largest donor. The United States of America is proudly the largest donor in the world to the global challenge of refugees. And I say global, because Turkey puts many billions of dollars into taking care of the refugees who are in Turkey, but we contribute to other countries to take care of them everywhere. And I said – I just said to myself, you know, this is crazy. We can keep writing checks and we can keep more refugees pouring into Europe and Europe is going to see its politics vastly altered by this. And so writing checks is not a solution.
That’s when I decided to try to put together the International Syria Support Group and bring people to the table and say, “We have got to end the war in Syria.” And the solution to the problem of all these refugees, in my judgment, is a macro policy that we need to embrace – all of us in the developed world and developing world even.
Now, I’m going to step way out here. I believe we need urgently a new Marshall Plan, which is focused on the most critical states in the world, in certain locations, particularly Middle East, North Africa, South Central Asia, where we have got to push back against a huge youth bulge. There are about a billion and a half children in the world under the age of 15. Somewhere upwards of 400 million of them will not go to school, and that is a problem for all of us.
I remember talking to one of my fellow foreign ministers in Northern Africa – I won’t say which country – and I asked him. I said, “You’ve got a pretty large Muslim population here. How do you manage it?” Are you concerned about it? And he said to me, “We’re scared stiff about it. We’re worried about it.” And I said, “Why?” He said, “Well, the extremists pay money to grab these young kids – 13, 14, 15 – and they separate them from their families and they indoctrinate them, and then, once they’re fully indoctrinated, they don’t need to pay them anymore; they send them out to be the next recruiting wave, and they get the next wave.” And he said, “They have a 35-year plan.” Then he said, “We don’t even have a five-year plan.”
And that’s the problem, folks – that if we have a whole bunch of countries in which a bunch of people are simply going to be left to the devices of people who have a very different mission from the rest of us, we’re going to inherit that, because of our role of leadership, because there are no borders, because we’ve seen already what happens with the internet and how you can proselytize and mobilize and inspire.
So we have to counter it. That’s one of the things we have quietly done in this Administration. We now have lowered to a trickle the number of people being recruited by Daesh, ISIL. And we’ve done it by opening different centers in different places that are communicating in the indigenous language with indigenous population reaching out by putting new images up, by countering the narrative, and it’s a very proactive, major engagement. But still, if you don’t get those kids into school, if you don’t provide economic opportunity, if their lives don’t improve, in a world in which almost every human being has access through that little rectangular instrument we all carry around, they all can see what everybody else in the world has, which also means they know what they don’t have.
So that is a massive tool of change which we saw in the course of the Arab Spring. So I think we’ve just seen the first wave of this. If we continue to have dictators change constitutions and try to stay in office, if we continue to see a moving away from the fundamental order and structure that the world worked so hard to create ever since World War II and which we have organized ourselves around – we have to care about those things. And so when you asked me one of the things I worry about, I worry that this next administration, when you talk about America first, yeah, we all understand where that – what that means and comes from, but if it means turning away from these other things, we have a problem.
So I think that – I mean, I can give you an example. The State Department has a $51 billion budget; 22 billion of that goes to USAID. Everything we do in foreign policy in the United States of America is about one penny on the dollar of what we spend, and I think that’s insanity in the world that we live in today.
So we’ve got to plus it up. Now, people say, “Oh, how can we afford it? We have a deficit. We have this and that. We need to take care of things here.” We are taking care of things here at home when you take care of these other issues, because we spent a couple of trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan because of things that came from somewhere else to affect us here. So if we don’t decide that there’s no longer an over there and an over here, there’s just an everywhere and we’re all connected, we’re in trouble.
And so I’m for investing because in the long run, that investment pays off a hundred million different ways and it saves us money and it saves us the treasure of sending our young people to some other country where we have to fight because we didn’t do what we could have done early on and preventively. So I think this is the big challenge for all of us. We need to do more and we need to get other countries – China can do more.
By the way, China has agreed to cooperate with us on co-development in the world. This is another defining thing that has come out of this management of our relationship. So we could actually co-develop in certain places and leverage, I think, other countries to come to the table and be involved.
But no one is immune from this. We need to work together to come up with better pedagogy for teaching, to get more teachers, to get more health structure in place in countries, because that builds stability. And I think that that’s the way we will make the greatest difference to our security in the long run.
MS WOODRUFF: Mr. Secretary, thank you. I’m told that we are out of time. It sounds like you’re saying these are some of the issues, though, that you want to work on after you leave office.
SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah. I’m trying to find out how – what the best way of doing that is, but yes.
MS WOODRUFF: You going to start your own organization?
SECRETARY KERRY: No, I don’t want to start my own thing. I – I want to find the right thing to do within the context of something that’s there, I think. I did that when I came back from Vietnam, and you spend as much time trying to keep the telephones working and the office open as you do trying to get done what you want to do. So I’m – I’ve learned a little. I think I’ve learned something.
MS WOODRUFF: Secretary of State John Kerry, thank you very much. (Applause.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.