John Kerry: Invest in Foreign Policy

Kerry's first speech as secretary of state makes case for value of government spending on global affairs.
6:06 | 02/20/13

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Transcript for John Kerry: Invest in Foreign Policy
So before I leave this weekend. To listen to our allies and partners next week throughout Europe and the Middle East. And in the coming months across Asia Africa and the Americans. I want it to first thought we knew. About the challenge that we face here at home. Because our engagement with the rest of the world begins. By making some important choices together. And particularly. About our nation's budget. Our sense of shared responsibility. That we care about something bigger than ourselves. Is absolutely central to the spirit of the school. It's also essential spirit of our nation. As you well know one -- Sullivan remind you moment ago our first secretary of state founded this great university. Students at his day when he did it could basically only study law or medicine religion. That was about it. But Thomas Jefferson. Had a vision and he believes that the American people needed a public place to learn a diversity of disciplines. Studies and science space. -- -- off on -- philosophy. He built this university. In the image of what he called the -- double freedom of the human mind. Today those of you who study here to teach year along with the taxpayers. Contributors and parents who believe. It your potential. You are all invested. In mr. Jefferson's vision. Now think for a moment about what that means. Why do you spend that many days in the -- dollars takes earn education here or anywhere. Why did Jefferson -- want this institution to remain public. And accessible not just to Virginians. But as a destination from everywhere. I know. That he wasn't thinking just about you're getting a degree and job. It was about something more. Jefferson believed we couldn't be a strong country without investing in the kind of education that empowers us to be good citizens. That's why founding this university. Is among the few accomplishments. That Jefferson listed on his epitaph that you wrote for himself. To him this place and its goal was a bigger part of his legacy. That serving as secretary of state -- even as president neither of which made the cut. Gest says Jefferson understood that we need to invest in education in order to produce -- citizens. I joined President Obama today in asserting with the urgency. That our citizenry it deserves a strong foreign policy to protect our interest in the world. A wise investment. In farm policy. -- yield for a nation the same return that education dollars for a student. And no investment that we make. -- -- -- -- -- Puts forward such a sizable benefit for ourselves and for our fellow citizens of the world. That's why I wanted to have this conversation -- today. Which I hope is that conversation that extends well beyond the borders. Charlottesville well beyond this university to all Americans. When I talk about a small investment in foreign policy in the United States I mean it. Not so long ago someone hold the American people and -- How big is our international affairs -- most. Pegged it at 25%. Of our national. And they thought it ought to be -- way back to 10%. Of our national budget let me tell you. -- good that we were true I take 10% and -- heartbeat folks. Because 10%. Is exactly. Ten times greater than what we do invest in our efforts to protect America around the world. In fact our whole farm policy budget. Is -- over 1% of our national budget. Think about it and that over 1%. Little bit more. Funds all of our civilian. And foreign affairs efforts every embassy every program that saves a child for dirty drinking water from aids or reaches out to build a village. And and bring America's values every person. We're not talking about pennies on the dollar. We're talking about one -- plus a bit. On a single dollar. So where you think this side here comes from that we spent 25% of our budget but today it's pretty simple. As a recovering. Politician. I can tell you that nothing gets a crowd clapping faster and a lot of places than saying. I'm going to -- as -- -- get them to stop spending all that money over there -- And sometimes they get lot -- decision. If you're looking for an applause line it's about is guaranteed applause lines you yet against what. It does nothing to guarantee our security. It doesn't guarantee a stronger country. It doesn't guarantee a sounder economy or a more stable job market. It doesn't guarantee that the best interest of our nation are being served. It doesn't guarantee that another young American man or woman. Won't go and lose their life because we weren't willing to make the right investments here in the first place. We need to say you know. To the politics of the lowest common denominator. And of simplistic slogans. And start making real choices that protect the interest of our country that's --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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