Secretary of State John Kerry took a swipe at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during a discussion at a summit hosted by the United Nations Foundation and Mashable on Sunday.
Speaking at the Social Good Summit ahead of UN General Assembly week, Kerry criticised Trump for not believing in climate change and subtly rebuked some of his key campaign positions.
“We need leadership that understands” climate change, Kerry said in his talk at the 92nd St. Y in New York City. “It’s astounding to me that we’ve had people running for president … who don’t even acknowledge that climate change is taking place.”
Kerry also negated the idea that trade deals are hurting the US economy.
Trump has insisted throughout his campaign that bad trade deals have cost US jobs, and promised to cancel deals that “rip off” America.
“We have learned you can’t shut off the world,” Kerry said. “95% of the world’s customers live in other countries. People are fighting this concept of trade, but trade is not the problem.”
He continued: “It’s how we treat workers who are dislocated by transition or what we do with people to be able to not just see the upper 1% of American income earners doing well while everybody else is either struggling to hold where they are or falling behind. That’s a problem of our tax code, it’s a problem of our political finance system and a whole lot of other things, but not the fault of trade itself.”
Kerry said the US needs better safety nets “to help people go to school, get ongoing education, find a job at age 45 or 50 or whatever it is, be able to move into another sector.”
Kerry also made the case that US involvement in the world is crucial — another divergence from Trump’s platform, which some experts have characterised as isolationist. While Trump has advocated for stronger ties with countries like Russia, he has run on a platform of putting “America first.”
“What we need, frankly, is a larger commitment by the United States to help lead other countries,” Kerry said. “At the end of World War II, we did the Marshall Plan. And people were not for it, by the way. Harry Truman had to work like hell to get that through.”
He said that people should view diplomacy less as “dropping bombs on people and being engaged in war” and more as “helping to educate people and build healthcare capacity and create stability and show people how technology can lead to transparency and governance.”