Politics
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to U.S. embassy employees during a reception in Mexico City May 21, 2014. Impatience with the Venezuelan government is growing over its "total failure" to show good faith in talks to resolve the country U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to U.S. embassy employees during a reception in Mexico City May 21, 2014. Impatience with the Venezuelan government is growing over its "total failure" to show good faith in talks to resolve the country's political crisis, Kerry said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Carolyn Kaster/Pool (MEXICO - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3Q9KB  

Amid Iraq Crisis, Kerry Recites Poetry

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Jihadis are advancing on Baghdad, and yet the nation’s foreign policy chief today flew to London for the chance to recite a poem by Maya Angelou.

“Out of the huts of history’s shame / I rise / Up from a past that’s rooted in pain / I rise,” Secretary of State John Kerry intoned at the “Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.”

Kerry’s poetic foray capped off his scheduled speech at the long-planned summit, where activists and diplomats met to push for new spending programs to curb rape in warfare.

“Thousands of years after rape was written into the lexicon of warfare, we know that it is time to write it out and to banish sexual violence to the dark ages and the history books where it belongs,” Kerry declared.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq, the advancing jihadis were forcing Iraqi women back into shrouds and chopping people’s heads’ off.

But the jihadis’ advance through western Iraq is Iraq’s problem, according to Kerry’s boss, President Barack Obama.

“It is up to Iraqis as a sovereign nation to solve their problems,” Obama said midday, before heading to a political outreach event in North Dakota.

The jihadis’ advanced through Iraq isn’t the only foreign policy crisis that is wracking Muslim countries.

Taliban leaders say they’ll overthrow the Afghanistan’s government once Obama pulls out U.S troops, Iran is still building nuclear weapons, Libya still doesn’t have a working government, and Syria is still being torn apart by civil war.

Egypt’s economy hasn’t healed from the removal of a dictatorship and the election and removal of an Islamic theocracy, while loose weaponry from Libya is fueling wars in Mali and Nigeria.

But on June 13, the nation’s secretary of state was focused on sexual assault.

“Make no mistake – we can end sexual warfare conducted against innocent people… [and] establish new norms that respect women, girls, men, and boys,” Kerry said.

“How do I know that? Because we’ve done it again and again and again when we’ve chosen to…. [for example, after World War One] except for the most depraved exception that we’ve seen once or twice since, chemical and biological weapons were banned from the battlefield within a decade of that war,” said Kerry.

Actually, chemical weapons have been used in many wars since World War I, including during the current Syrian civil war.

But at least lawyers can help in this campaign to end sexual violence, said Kerry, a former lawyer.

“I was a young prosecutor back in the late 1970s, early ‘80s, when a lot of people still didn’t believe that violence against women was a crime. But guess what? We chipped away at that old thinking… we ended an era of anachronisms by actually speaking out loudly and created one of the first victim/witness assistance programs in the nation,” he said.

Movie-makers can help too, Kerry said. “I… want to thank Angelina Jolie, the UN special representative,” he said. “We’ve all watched her play many remarkable roles. But perhaps her most lasting legacy actually comes from a role that she plays in real life, and that is the role of fierce and fearless advocate” for the victims of sexual assault.

“My friends, I do have faith that we can really win this fight,” he declared.

“Sometimes I know it seems daunting, but hope is always stronger than fear. And nothing should give us more hope than the example of… the extraordinary poet Maya Angelou,” he said, prompting applause.

“I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide / Welling and swelling I hear in the tide / Leaving behind nights of terror and fear / I rise / Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear / I rise,” Kerry continued.

Meanwhile in Iraq, the jihadis posted videos showing them beheading their enemies.

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