At Yale, Kerry warns against isolationism

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Secretary of State John Kerry returned to his alma mater, Yale University, on Sunday to warn graduates against pessimism and cynicism and encourage an increasingly interventionist foreign policy for the United States.

Kerry painted a contrast between his speech and the speech he gave in 1966, when he graduated from Yale and railed against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

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“In 1966 I had suggested an excess of isolation had led to an excess of interventionism,” he said. “We cannot allow a hangover from the excessive interventionism of the last decade to lead now to an excess of isolationism in this decade.”

Kerry, who represented Massachusetts in the Senate for 28 years and ran for president in 2004, told the graduating class that people outside the U.S. do not fear America’s presence. “They worry about what would happen in our absence,” Kerry said.

After telling some inside Yale jokes and taking a jab at a Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, calling Yale’s most diverse graduating class “Donald Sterling’s worst nightmare," Kerry urged students to resist the temptation to be discouraged by the world.

“None of our problems are without solutions,” he said. “But neither will they solve themselves.”

He said solving the problems comes down to willpower and not “refusing to fall prey to the cynicisms and apathy that have always been the moral enemy of progress.”