Yesterday afternoon I sat down in front of my TV to watch the live broadcast of John Kerry’s annual address, the day following Obama’s final State of the Union address in Washington. I am fond of John Kerry and Obama and think as Secretary of State, he has achieved a great deal. These are the following points that I took from it:
His initial comment was on the US sailors being returned to US soil that morning, 13th January 2016. I did not know that Mr Kerry was a former sailor. He thanked the Iranian authorities for their cooperation and their quick response: all indications suggested that the sailors were well taken care of. He commented how different things could have been in this situation 3 or 4 years ago, prior to the Iran Nuclear Deal between America and Iran. Whilst many are critical of this, it is true that this kind of issue more able to be peacefully resolved as a result of these recent negotiations which, Mr Kerry said, was ‘testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping people safe’.
John Kerry has been involved in politics some 29 years: Reagan was his first President in 1985. Like Obama, this will be his last address as he will stand down as Secretary of State at the end of this presidential term. 2016 will be his 4th year as Secretary of State.
Contrary to what many see in light of recent eruptions of violence and terrorism in the Middle East and its global ramifications, Mr Kerry does not sense an ‘unraveling of the global fabric’; on the contrary, he sees it coming together. Whilst a great deal of tragedy occurred in 2015, he also bore witness to advances in many areas: barriers that have long divided nations broke down and we now have a global coalition of 65 countries who are working together in the fight against terrorism. Despite recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, both have commented that they will not allow these to take focus away from the Syrian peace talks held in Vienna last November, with more to continue towards the end of this month.
His comments in relation to Daesh were as follows (outlined as a ‘3 pillar’ agenda):
Mr Kerry also drew my attention to a Syrian photographer who had been employed by the government to take photographs of dead people who had been political prisoners in Syria. I had not heard of these famous ‘Caesar photographs’ before which were exhibited in Washington (Europe refused to show the exhibition as the images were considered to be too graphic), so I googled them and was shocked and appalled. It made me angry. This is the link that I found below:
On looking today, further information can be found here:
He also discussed further negotiations on the TPP and TTIP and an improvement in negotiations after a cease in relation with Cuba over the last 54 years.
Columbia was mentioned and how they hope to help them as they seek to negotiate an end to decades long struggle, 50 yrs, with rebel group Farc.
He addressed Afghanistan and the developments that commenced 14 years ago, in 2001. At that time there were less than a million in school. Now there are 8 million, 40% of whom are girls.
Vis a vis Europe, Kerry said that the US would continue to support a democratic and sovereign Ukraine and that NATO’s promise of collective defence would be upheld.
Finally, Mr Kerry quoted Abraham Lincoln:
‘The struggle of today is not altogether for today – it is for a vast future also. With a reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us’.
The address was given at the Defence University in Washington.
As I watched this with great interest, headlines continued to scroll down at the bottom of the television screen:
(Africa has been polo free for one year now. These clinics are trying to ensure the virus doesn’t spread beyond the small areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan in which it remains).
Kerry’s speech was full of hope. And while we hope, we speak, we dream and we sleep, those who continue to hate ravage the innocent few.
I hope for change, I really do; but I think it will be long in coming and I fear for what happens in between.
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