|May 4, 2016: In this edition
Secretary of State John Kerry: The role of religion in foreign policy
Two secretaries of state — one current, one former — took to the stage in a packed house at Rice’s Stude Concert Hall April 26 for a Baker Institute event focusing on religion and foreign policy.
Secretary of State John Kerry was introduced as a man who “knows that true leadership lies in the willingness to address precisely those complex and contentious problems that discourage the fainthearted” by former Secretary James A. Baker, III, the honorary chair of the Baker Institute.
“We cannot understand the world if we fail to comprehend and honor the central role that religion plays in the lives of billions of people," Kerry said in a 45-minute address, his first speech focusing exclusively on the topic of religion and foreign policy.
“My basic argument is straightforward,” he said. “The more we understand religion, the better we are able to engage religion, the more effective our diplomacy will be. … We don’t make contacts for the sake of having interesting conversations; we do so to make progress on our foreign policy and security goals, to make America safer.” This approach has traditionally not been a focus of U.S. diplomatic strategy, he said.
Within his first months in office in 2013, Kerry established the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, headed by U.S. Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs Shaun Casey, as part of the Obama administration’s initiative to encourage interfaith cooperation. In U.S. embassies around the world, diplomats have been encouraged to understand and reach out to religious groups. Rice alumna Liora Danan ’03 serves as the office’s chief of staff and was in attendance at the speech. Casey and Danan met with William Martin, the Baker Institute’s Harry and Hazel Chavanne Senior Fellow in Religion and Public Policy, and other religion scholars at the university and local civic leaders the day after Kerry’s address.
He underscored how religion can have either a positive or a destabilizing influence on world affairs. “It is part of what drives some to initiate war, others to pursue peace,” said Kerry, who pointed out that extremist groups such as the Islamic State have carried out atrocities under the veil of religion.
Kerry also noted that people are more likely to become radicalized if they have experienced political repression or corruption. Long-range policy efforts to defeat terrorism should focus on boosting employment as well as entrepreneurial and educational opportunities — initiatives that can determine “whether young people feel a greater stake in building their countries up rather than tearing them down,” Kerry said.
Addressing domestic politics, Kerry cautioned against current presidential campaign rhetoric attacking members of the American Muslim community and associating them with the violent actions of extremists.
“Muslims have lived in the United States since the founding of our country,” Kerry said. “They have fought on our side in every single one of our wars. They make their homes in every region, including right here in Houston. They pursue a broad range of occupations. In other words, they are Americans.”
The event, part of the institute’s Shell Distinguished Lecture Series, was open to Rice University faculty, staff and students as well as members of the Baker Institute Roundtable and Emerging Leaders.
Prior to the event, Secretary Kerry held a private meeting with former President George H.W. Bush and Secretary Baker.
Click here to watch Kerry’s full remarks.
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- The Importance of Transatlantic Relations: Challenges of a World in Turmoil. His Excellency Peter Wittig, Germany's ambassador to the United States, is the featured speaker for this event. 6:30 pm May 11
- Roundtable Emerging Leaders Exclusive Reception with the Honorable James A. Baker, III. At this special event, former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, will reflect on his public service under three U.S. presidents and the founding of the Baker Institute. A reception will follow. This event is open to Emerging Leaders, Emerging Leader University members and their guests only. 5:30 pm May 17
- How Might Obamacare Change in 2017? Vivian Ho, director of the Center for Health and Biosciences, will discuss the current status of the U.S. health care system under Obamacare, and consider what modifications might be expected under a new Democratic or Republican administration. Noon June 3
- The 2016 Battle for Control of the White House: National Trends and Consequences for Texas. At this Roundtable Young Professionals event, political science fellow Mark Jones will offer a nonpartisan take on the presidential election and how it will shape Texas’ future. 6:30 pm August 23
- Stem Cell Tourism Near and Far: Achieving a Compromise for the Patient. This panel discussion will examine the FDA’s efforts to combat stem cell tourism in the U.S. and why the clinical trial process is the gold standard for understanding the impact of therapeutic interventions. The dialogue also will highlight options for better cooperation and collaboration between scientists, clinicians and the FDA to expedite proven therapies. 7:30 am September 22
For a complete list, visit our event page.
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Research and News
- Project on Middle East Political Science, Conversation 64, by Marwa Shalaby, fellow for the Middle East and director, Women's Rights in the Middle East Program. May 2
- Energy Subsidy Reform in the Persian Gulf: The End of the Big Oil Giveaway, by Jim Krane, Wallace S. Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies, and Shih Yu (Elsie) Hung, research associate, Center for Energy Studies. April 28
- Lessons from the Plaza Accord after Thirty Years, by Russell A. Green, Will Clayton Fellow in International Economics. April 27
- The Foreign Policy of the PT (Workers’ Party) Government in Brazil: It’s Time for an Assessment, by Pedro da Motta Veiga, nonresident fellow, Latin America Initiative. April 27
- After Paris, A More Fluid Approach To Climate Change?, by John H. Matthews, secretariat coordinator for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, and Regina M. Buono, Baker Botts Fellow in Energy and Environmental Regulatory Affairs. April 26
- Peronism's Remarkable Comebacks, by Mark P. Jones, fellow in political science and the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies. April 25
For a complete list, visit our research library.
Baker Institute Blog
- Women’s-only transportation in Dubai, by Ariana Marnicio, research analyst, Women’s Rights in the Middle East Program. May 4
- Ebola, Zika and a globalizing Texas, by J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director, Center for Strategic and International Studies' Global Health Policy Center, and Peter J. Hotez, fellow in disease and poverty. May 3
- Extraordinary aspects of Peru's recent elections, by Porfirio Barrenechea, 2011 Americas Project fellow. May 2
- Is Japan manipulating the yen through negative interest rates?, by Russell A. Green, Will Clayton Fellow in International Economics, and Masaaki Yoshimori, contributing expert, International Economics Program. April 27
- Currency conspiracy? No new Plaza at play, by Russell A. Green, Will Clayton Fellow in International Economics. April 26
For a complete list, visit our blog.