Secretary John Kerry pushes for bigger U.S. role in Syria and Af - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Secretary John Kerry pushes for bigger U.S. role in Syria and Afghanistan

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Secretary John Kerry Address Secretary John Kerry Address

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling for more international cooperation on issues like the conflict in Syria, which has created a severe refugee crisis throughout Europe.

Kerry discussed the role the U.S. can play in shaping global affairs during a speech at Indiana University Thursday morning. He was quick to address president Obama's decision to keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to help stabilize the country. Kerry believes it's critical that the U.S. continue play a support role there.

"Our continued military presence there is essential to give the new government of national unity the support that it needs to implement reforms and defend its population," Kerry said.

Kerry argued the U.S. must remain active in defeating terrorism around the world.

"We are a nation of doers. We have to always be willing to invest in American leadership, not because it feels good but because it makes a difference, " Kerry said.

He believes the decision to beef up U.S. forces in Afghanistan will do just that. Global affairs experts at Indiana University agree.

"That is an excellent solution. In fact, I would say we need more troops there," said Dr. Jamsheed Choksy, an Indiana University Eurasian Studies Professor.

"I think there was some sense that the forces were pulled out of Iraq too fast, so they are anxious now not to repeat the mistake," said Nick Calluther, an Indiana University International Studies Professor.

Kerry used the speech at Indiana University to blast recent Russian military action in Syria. The Russian government claims it has bombed Islamic state militants, while Kerry argues Russia instead defends embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

"The point we have made to the Russians is that it would be totally self-defeating, to the point of farce, to try at the same time to prop up Bashar al-Assad and his murderous regime," Kerry said.

Choksy argues Kerry's words must come with concrete action.

'I wanted him to talk more about Russian re-engagement in the Middle East. That's a big issue," Choksy said.

Choksy wants to see the U.S. step up.

"The world expects us to do a better job. That's the real answer. They count on us to be there," Choksy said.

He says unless the U.S. can convince Russia to remove Assad, the Syrian problem will find no solution.

"The U.S. has stepped back. In a sense, one almost feels the U.S. is waiting to see what the Russians do or don't do," Choksy said.

Meantime the conflict in Syria has created a major refugee crisis in Europe.

"The United States has proudly contributed more than $4.5 billion in aid, and the president has just pledged another $400 million." Kerry said.

Kerry argues the U.S. should take in at least 100,000 Syrian refugees, an initiative Illinois senator Dick Durbin also supports.

However, Kerry argues the ultimate solution must come from the political arena.

"But the reality is there will be no end to the refugee crisis until there is an end to the conflict itself," Kerry said.

Kerry will head abroad in the next few days to participate in talks about how to handle the refugee crisis in Europe.

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