Exit Memo: Secretary Kerry Underscores the Impact of U.S. Global Leadership

As we look back on the past eight years, President Barack Obama asked each member of his Cabinet to write an Exit Memo on the progress we’ve made, their vision for the country’s future, and the work that remains in order to achieve that vision. Fulfilling this request, Secretary of State John Kerry shared today, his Exit Memo assessing the U.S. Department of State’s diplomacy and development achievements during the Obama Administration. 

The memo reflects on the dire set of challenges the Obama administration inherited in 2009 amid the economic crises and a diminished standing with many of our allies and partners around the world. “Over the past eight years, President Obama laid a stronger foundation for American leadership in the world-- recognizing that our power is rooted not just in our unparalleled military might, but also in our economic vitality and innovation, the depth and breadth of our global relationships, and the strength of our values,” the Secretary wrote.

He commended the efforts of the 70,000 dedicated public servants who spend their days advancing the cause of peace and security noting, ” All over the world, our diplomats work to keep the American people safe, strengthen our global leadership, enhance relations with our foreign counterparts, expand opportunities for our citizens and our businesses, and defend and advance universal values.”

And he highlighted the significant achievements we have secured under President Obama's leadership that have made our country safer and improved the lives of millions of people around the world, acknowledging that we’ve done this with only one penny on the dollar of the federal budget -- an incredible bargain for the American people, but also “an amount that seems increasingly insufficient to address the global challenges we face.”

[State Department photo]

Secretary Kerry outlined steps this administration has taken to keep Americans safe and protect national security. He highlighted efforts such as withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, countering terrorism and violent extremism, verifiably preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, confronting North Korea’s nuclear program, preventing the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction, and combatting the threat climate change poses to the future of our planet and our national security.

His memo highlights the indispensable role the United States plays in helping to de-escalate and ultimately end conflicts around the globe. “Just as we have used military force when we must to defend the American people and our way of life, we have made it a priority to prevent the escalation and spread of armed conflicts that not only cause untold humanitarian suffering, but also, in many cases, threaten U.S. national security interests.” He went on to describe efforts the United States has taken to reduce violence and support peace in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Ukraine, Colombia, and a number of other nations around the world.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after the Secretary delivered opening remarks, and prior to the President's remarks at the 2016 Chief of Missions Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 14, 2016. [State Department Photo]

Secretary Kerry reiterated the ways in which this Administration has worked hard to rebuild and strengthen our alliances internationally. He pointed to our leadership at the United Nations, our effort to reinforce our transatlantic alliances, and to rebalance our foreign policy to reflect the growing importance of the Asia-Pacific region as well as many other examples. Secretary Kerry noted “Our allies and partners are force-multipliers, enabling us to make progress on multilateral issues where acting alone would not achieve our objectives.”

Secretary Kerry also underscored the importance of defending universal values abroad our progress on a range of issues related to democracy and human rights, such as advancing gender equality, LGBTI rights, embracing our responsibility to help refugees, addressing  human trafficking, and elevating the fight against global corruption among other issues.

Secretary Kerry’s parting thoughts in the memo acknowledged there is more work to be done, but also shared his belief, “Despite the problems we face in the world, I firmly believe that we should look to the future with every ounce of the optimism that has always inspired and energized our nation. I’m not going to say that we’ve solved every problem...But I remain an optimist and a believer in persistent American leadership and diplomacy – active, assertive, astute diplomacy.”

He concluded by stating, “American greatness is a fact but not an entitlement. It cannot be taken for granted. It must be demonstrated and earned by every generation. It demands the best from us, and the best within us. The world will be watching to see whether we – the American people – remain up to that challenge. There is not a scintilla of doubt in my mind that the answer is yes, but we will have to work at it, together, and make the investments that leaders have a responsibility to make.”

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Comments

Comments

mehbub k.
|
New York, USA
January 5, 2017
Hey, our president of u.s.a * barak Obama * did great job for u.s.a / whole world *
Sharif S.
|
New York, USA
January 8, 2017
Dear Secretary Kerry, Thank you for the Grand Paragraph! I am proud that I am an American. Yes! "American greatness is a fact but not an entitlement. It cannot be taken for granted. It must be demonstrated and earned by every generation. It demands the best from us, and the best within us. The world will be watching to see whether we – the American people – remain up to that challenge. There is not a scintilla of doubt in my mind that the answer is yes, but we will have to work at it, together, and make the investments that leaders have a responsibility to make." Thank you for the grand paragraph! Thank you for you done everything for America!
Tom B.
|
Virginia, USA
January 8, 2017
Thank you for your service. I was fortunate enough to work with State Department Officials on my military tour in India last year: 2016. During this tour I gained a great appreciation on what the State Department does for the American people and the Citizens of India. The whole team was true US Ambassadors and a great example on what we stand for in our principles. It was a great experience for someone like myself with a lot of DoD experience but little State Department experience. Best wishes to Ambassador Verma. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry disembarks at LaGuardia Airport in New York, N.Y., on April 19, before a bilateral meeting. [State Department photo]
Posted by DipNote Bloggers
January 5, 2017

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