John Kerry's Opening Statement at Confirmation Hearing

Secretary of state nominee emphasizes importance of cleaning up America's fiscal problems to strengthen its position as global leader.
21:20 | 01/24/13

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Transcript for John Kerry's Opening Statement at Confirmation Hearing
Before -- begin. I would like to have the privilege just introduce a very quickly that most of you know. My wonderful wife to Reza has been part of this great journey for -- time. My brother -- who is serving over in the Commerce Department this council there and I trust they know is here and have given them time off. And my daughter. Vanessa and her husband Brian both of whom are working as physicians. At Mass. General -- Boston and another daughter is not here Alexander and three step sons who likewise it spread around the world. But. We are thinking about them -- as we embark on this wonderful journey. For 29 years. I've sat up on the dais where you all are and I've kinda looked down at the witnesses and wondered what they're thinking sometimes. As we question them and -- I don't want this to affect your opening questions. But let me say I've never seen a more distinguished and better looking group -- public officials -- my life. Suddenly I am feeling a lot of sympathy for the folks who sit down here. I want you to know that couple nights ago I was watching godfather -- So be forewarned. If someone suddenly shows up with my long lost brother back in the audience all bets are off folks. And I am. Enormously grateful for that generous comments of the chair. And the ranking member thank you very very much thank you also -- -- tremendous cooperation over the course. Of the last years and providing. That you get me out of here quickly. I will be able to congratulate you more fully when you're officially. Assume their responsibilities. I will tell you all -- -- on this committee the new members. Particularly. That I have enjoyed chairing this committee and working we view as much as anything that I've done. Or been privileged to do it all my career. I think this is one the great committees. Of the United States. And it is the only major committee that I have served on since day one when I arrived in the senate 1985. As you know the committee carries. Special. Consequential responsibilities. With the respect to the security of our nation. And I think each and everyone -- you for the serious consideration that you give and have given. To the challenging issues and for the remarkable cooperation that I had as chairman of the committee. If confirmed. I look forward to continuing to work particularly closely with a -- if you. As we tackle some of the toughest issues and challenges that I've seen in the entire time I've served on this committee. And I particularly welcome the new members in that regard. I'm very grateful to. -- Obama for. Nominating me and entrusting me with this important responsibility. And I am particularly grateful to Secretary Clinton Senator McCain. And senator Warren for their introductions of me just now. I will not take it personally that this may be the one item in Washington seems to unite Democrats and Republicans to get me out of the senate quickly. There. Secretary Clinton particularly. Has served. Above and beyond the call of duty I think everybody on this committee would agree. -- service has been superb and we -- -- -- for a job well done. For tireless efforts on behalf of our nation she is set a very -- mark. For the stewardship of the State Department and her commitment to country and I can pledge to you. That with the consent of the senate. I will do everything in my power summon every energy and all of my focus. To build on -- record and on the president's vision. Senator McCain as he mentioned. Is a long time friend we met here in the senate coming from very different political. -- position some perspectives but you know we found common ground. I'll never forget standing with him in Hanoi. In the cell in the Hanoi Hilton and which he spent number of years there's life. Just the two of us. Listening to him talk about that experience. I'll always be grateful for his partnership in helping to make a real peace with the by establishing the most significant process in the history of our country. Or in any country for the accounting of missing and dead in any war. And then for working to lift the embargo and ultimately. Normalize relations -- old enemy. John had every reason to hate. But he didn't. And instead we are able to help heal deep wounds. And and the war that had divided -- too many people for much too long. And as we talk about war and peace in foreign policy. I want all of us to keep in our minds. As I think we do. The extraordinary men and women in uniform who are on the front lines even as we meet here today. The troops at war who helped protect America. I can pledge to you that as a veteran of war. Iowa -- carry the consequences -- decisions in my mind and be grateful. That we have such extraordinary people to back -- -- Also thank my new colleagues senator Warren for her generous comments she is a long time fierce fighter. For what is just and fair and -- testimony. Has had effect today and helps win votes for my confirmation. She will become the senior senator of our state in a record few legislative days. I spent -- nine years. It's humbling -- -- here they're here but he four U. In this new role as president Obama's nominee for secretary of state. But my approach should to this role if confirmed. Is also deeply informed by the -- -- plus years that I have been privileged to spend in the senate. That perspective will remain with me if confirmed as secretary and -- -- excited by the many ways that we can work together. And in which we must work together. In order to advance America's security interest in a complicated. And ever more dangerous world. I would add that I'm particularly aware that in many ways. The greatest challenge to America's foreign policy. Will be in your hands. Not mind. Because while it's often said that we can't be strong at home. If we're not strong in the world. In these days of fiscal crisis. And as a recovering member of the super committee. I am especially cognizant of the fact that we can't be strong in the world. Unless we're strong at home. And the first priority of business. Which will affect my credibility as a diplomat and our credibility as a nation. As some as we as we work to help other countries create order. The first priority will be that America at last puts its own fiscal house in order. I really can't emphasize to -- enough how imperative mrs. People all over the world -- looking to the United States for leadership. We are known as the indispensable nation for good reason. No nation has more opportunity to advance the cause of democracy. No nation is as committed to the cause of human rights as we are. But to protect our nation and make good on our promises. As well as to live up to our ideals. And meet the crisis of this moment. It is urgent that we show people in the rest of the world that we can get our business done in an effective and timely way. It is difficult enough to solve some of the problems that we face. But I will tell you it becomes impossible or near impossible. If we ourselves replace our credibility and leverage. With gridlock. And dysfunction. I've heard it in my troops and Secretary Clinton has heard it in her trips and any if you travel. We'll begin to hear questions. About whether or not the United States can or will deliver. Moreover more than ever foreign policy is economic policy. The world is competing for resources global markets. Every day that goes by where America is uncertain about engaging in at a Reno or unwilling. To put our best foot forward and win. Unwilling to demonstrate our resolve to lead. Is a day in which we weaken our nation itself. -- -- Is it -- some in the cross party lines. Without partisan diversions. And economic patriotism which recognizes that American strength and prospects abroad. Depend on American strength and results at home. It's hard to tell the leadership of the number of countries that they have to deal with -- IMF. Balance their budget. Create economic order where there is -- if we don't provide it for ourselves. It's also imperative that in implementing pres Obama's vision for the world. As he ends more than a decade of war. That we join together to augment our message to the world. President Obama and every one of us here knows that American foreign policy. Is not defined by drones and deployments alone. We cannot allow the extraordinary good that we do to save and change lives. To be eclipsed entirely by the wrote role that we have to play since September 11. A role that was thrust upon us. American foreign policy is also defined. Buy food security energy security humanitarian assistance. The fight against disease in the push for development. As much as it is by any single counterterrorism. Initiative and it MySpace. It is defined by leadership. On life threatening issues like climate change. Or fighting to lift up millions of lives by promoting freedom and democracy. From Africa to the Americas. We're speaking out for the prisoners of -- lives in North Korea. Or millions of refugees and displaced persons or victims of human trafficking. It is defined by keeping faith with all that our troops have sacrificed to secure for Afghanistan. America lives up to her values. When we give voice to the voiceless. I share with the president the conviction that it is equally imperative. -- we -- a new role in the world of increasing. Failed. And failing states. Burgeoning populations. Of young people. Hungry for jobs. Opportunity. Individual rights. And freedom. Are rebelling against years of disenfranchisement. And humiliation. A fruit vendor in Tunisia who ignited the Arab awakening. -- dignity and respect. He wanted to -- as fruit without corruption and abuse. That's what led him to sell family. The youth of tahrir square who -- Egypt its revolution represented a generational. Thirst for opportunity. An individual participatory rights of governance not. A religious movement. The developed world can do more to meet the challenge and responsibility of these aspirations. With the help of all the members of this committee. I am determined to help present Obama meet this moment it is vital for our nation that we do so. The world is well aware that we face a number of the media dangerous challenges. Particularly in the Middle East and south Central Asia. Given our extraordinary interest in non proliferation. We must resolve the question surrounding -- French nuclear program. The president has made it definitive. We will do what we must do to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and I repeat here today. Our policy is not containment. It is prevention. And the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance. This administration working with congress. And an unprecedented international coalition. Has put into place crippling sanctions on Iran. Mr. chairman you have been a leader in that effort. And I know we'll continue to be. -- Obama has stated again and again. And I want to emphasize this. He and -- prefer. A diplomatic resolution to this challenge. And I will work to give diplomacy every effort to succeed. But no one should mistake our resolve. To reduce the nuclear threat. Nearly 42 years ago. Chairman Fulbright first gave me the opportunity to testify before this committee. During a difficult and divided time for our country. Today I can't help but recognize that the world itself that. Was in many ways simpler. Divided as it was a long bipolar Cold War antagonisms. Today's world. Is more complicated than anything we have experienced. From the emergence of China to the Arab awakening. Inextricably linked economic health environmental and demographic issues. Proliferation poverty pandemic disease refugees. Conflict ongoing in Afghanistan. Entire populations. And faiths. Struggling with the demands of modernity. And the accelerating pace of technological innovation invading all of that shifting power for nations states to individuals. With the end of the Cold War Henry Kissinger pointed out in his superb book on diplomacy. He said. None of the most important countries which must build a new world order have had any experience with the multi state system that is emerging. Never before has a new world order had to be assembled from so many different perceptions. Or and so global scale. Nor has any previous order had to combine the attributes of the historic balance of power system with global democratic opinion. And the exploding technology. Of the contemporary period. That was written in 1994. And it may be even more relevant today. So this really is a time for American leadership. -- time for fresh thinking. The time to cross party lines that divide and come together in the interest of our nation. The time to find ways to work together to maximize the impact of all of America's resources. Including. The great resource of this committee and of the United States senate. If I'm confirmed one of the first things and I intend to do. Is sit down with senator Menendez and senator corker. And invite all the members of this committee to come together. Hopefully at a time where there's no eruption and we can actually really dig in and -- And talked about how we can have a constructive dialogue and collegial relationship. Because even as we pride ourselves on the separation of powers. And the unique oversight role that the committee plays. The challenges in the world are so enormous that we would do our country a disservice. If we didn't identify the ways that we can help each other. To confront the unique set of questions. Globally. If you couldn't remain. I would take office as secretary. Proud that the senate is in my blood. But equally proud. That so too. -- the foreign service. My father's work under presidents both Democrat Republican. Took me in my siblings around the world for personal journey that brought home sacrifices. And the commitment the men and women of the foreign service make every day on behalf of America. I wish everyone in the country. Could see and understand firsthand the devotion loyalty. Amazingly hard and often dangerous work. That the diplomats on the front lines do for our nation. There's is a service. Which earns our country an enormous return on investment. I will be proud and honored to represent them and I work hard. To augment our public diplomacy so that the story is -- at home and abroad. Everyone on this committee knows well that the road ahead is tough. But I believe justice deeply that global leadership. Is a strategic imperative for America it is not a favor that we do for other countries. It amplifies our voice. It extends our reach. It is that cheated jobs. The fulcrum of our influence. And it matters it really matters to the daily lives of Americans. It matters that we get this moment right for America. And it matters that we get it right for the world. One discussion that I particularly look forward to beginning with you. My colleagues. And with our country. Is about the commitment that we make in our foreign affairs budget. Less than 1% of the entire budget of government. At a time that the world is getting smaller. That our economy depends on its relationship with every other country in the world. That we face a more global market than any time in our history. So not just in my briefings at the State Department that in my conversations with business leaders. In my trips to crisis areas to war zones to refugee camps. And in some of the poorest countries on earth. I've been reminded of the importance of the work that our State Department does to protect. And advance America's interests. And do the job of diplomacy. In a dangerous world. And particularly. I think there is more that can be done to advance our economic capacity and interest. In this debate and in every endeavor. I pledged to work very closely with this committee -- chairman mr. ranking member. Not just because it will be my responsibility. But because I will not be able to do this job effectively. Nor -- our country get what it needs to out of these initiatives. Without your involvement than you're ideas going forward. So thank you mr. chairman and members of the committee. I know there's a lot of ground to cover. Well you know it's a message -- it. When I first came to Washington and testified I obviously was testifying as part of a group of people who came here to have their voices heard. And that is above all what displaces about so I respect. I think the woman who was voicing her. Concerns about that part of the world and every one of you've traveled there -- some -- of their recently sir McCain you're just there. You're in a refugee camp and I know you heard this kind of thing. People measure what we do. And in a way that's a good exclamation point to my testimony. So mr. chairman I know there's a lot of ground to cover and as a veteran of the committee I know we do better room having a good dialogue so I look forward to having that dialogue thank you.

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

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