WASHINGTON– U.S. foreign policy this year will focus on the refugee crisis and violent extremism in Syria, and the Islamic State “will be defeated,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech at the National Defense University Wednesday.
The changing nature of national security threats, Kerry said, is one of the main challenges the U.S. faces in defeating terrorist groups like the Islamic State.
“They are non-state actors who have a very different sense of the stakes,” he said.
Nevertheless, Kerry was adamant about the outcome of the fight.
“Mark my words as a matter of fact: Daesh (a slang name for the Islamic State) will be defeated,” said Kerry.
The secretary of state presented a three-fold strategy to deal with the new threats that included degrading Islamic State efforts through a 65-nation coalition, preventing foreign fighters from joining the group and expanding the focus on the refugee crisis.
Kerry emphasized the progress that has already been made in the fight against ISIL, another name for the Islamic State, including cutting off the terrorists’ supply line and taking over 40 percent of Islamic State territory in Iraq. ISIL has not been able to take over a major city since last May when it seized control of Ramadi, an Iraqi provincial capital that was retaken by Iraqi forces last month.
To prevent violent extremism from spreading, Kerry stressed the importance of drying up terrorist groups’ resource revenue, rebutting terrorist propaganda and managing their use of social media in an effort to curb recruitment.
The refugee crisis is another big focus in 2016. Kerry called it “the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War” and announced that the U.S. has plans to expand its refugee admissions program to help families from Syria as well as Central America.
“Let me be very, very clear. We can both maintain the highest security standards and live up to our best traditions as Americans by welcoming those in need of help to our great country,” said Kerry.
After his speech, the secretary of state met with a group of refugees and staff members at a refugee resettlement center in suburban Washington to “emphasize how welcome they are in our nation.”
The implementation of the Iran nuclear deal is also a top agenda item this year, according to Kerry. He emphasized the continued monitoring of Iran’s nuclear facilities and praised the agreement, saying that it was the first time the U.S. had spoken to Iran in 35 years.
He also thanked Iran for swiftly releasing the U.S. sailors they had held after two Navy ships drifted into Iranian waters due to mechanical failures.
Kerry’s final priority was more long-term: curbing climate change.
Last month, nearly 200 nations participated in a U.N. conference on climate change. These talks resulted in the Paris Agreement, a global pact for the reduction on carbon dioxide emissions.
“Curbing climate health is not only essential to our environment, our health and our own security, but addressing climate change is also pushing us to take advantage of one of the single biggest economic opportunities our world has ever seen,” he said.
Kerry noted that an increasing number of jobs are being created in the mass energy production sector and that by 2035, energy investment will reach close to $50 trillion.