Washington • Secretary of State John Kerry warned Wednesday against creeping American isolationism, making the case that U.S. global leadership is essential in uncertain times as he hosted a rare public reunion of five of his predecessors.
Speaking at the groundbreaking of a new museum celebrating the achievements of American diplomacy, Kerry said the United States looks inward at its peril and that U.S. engagement is needed more than ever. Kerry was joined at the State Department ceremony by his predecessors: Henry Kissinger, James A. Baker III, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Of the seven living ex-secretaries of state, all of whom are honorary directors of the U.S. Diplomacy Center, only Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz were not present.
"American leadership and engagement should not be up for debate in the first place," Kerry said, listing Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, South Sudan, Libya and North Korea as among the trouble spots that Washington must address. "I'm not saying that we can or should do any of it alone; that's not the proposition, but the world and I think most people here understand will not do it without us."