John Kerry on War & Peace

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


2006 Arab Peace Initiative is a re-alignment towards peace

Obama's "new initiative" for the Middle East was spelled out most extensively by John Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and regular emissary to the region, in an important speech at the Brookings Institution on March 4, 2009.

Kerry urges that we face the unpleasant fact that our honorable efforts bring about a political settlement have failed, primarily because of the unwillingness of the Arab states to make peace. Furthermore, all of our efforts "to give the Israelis a legitimate partner of peace," for which Israel has always yearned, have foundered on Palestinian intransigence. Now, however, there is a welcome change. With the Arab Peace Initiative of 2006, the Arab states have finally signaled their willingness to accept Israel's presence in the region. "This re-alignment can help to lay the groundwork for progress towards peace," Kerry said, as we "re-conceptualize" the problem, focusing on the Iranian threat

Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p.201 , Jun 1, 2010

OpEd: War hero unlikely role for former antiwar activist

The right had its shot at grassroots in the aftermath of the Kerry convention of 2004, which unwisely featured the candidate-as-war-hero extolling his service on swift boats during the Vietnam War. War hero was an unlikely role for a world-famous former antiwar activist, but the Democratic Party spent its convention trying to sell the odd notion.

That only lasted until John O'Neill, a swift boat vet himself, saw the Kerry charade and decided to do something about it. He understood that even though he held no office, had no pulpit, and was unknown nationally, his status as a Vietnam veteran willing to speak out gave him an inherent power to affect a political ad casting doubt on Kerry's self-aggrandizing accounts of his war service. Even though the ad only ran in a few small media markets, it had an immediate national impact because it spread rapidly and virally online to tens of millions of people.

Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p.303 , Apr 13, 2010

OpEd: Lied about being in Cambodia on 12/24/1968

Most bizarrely, Kerry was caught telling a big, dirty, stinky lie about being in Cambodia on Christmas Eve, 1968. Over the years, he talked about his alleged 1968 mission to Cambodia repeatedly--in a letter to the Boston Globe, in various media interviews, and in 8 speeches on the Senate floor. It was a memory that was "seared--seared--in me," as he said in the Senate 1986. "I remember Christmas of 1968," Kerry reminisced, "sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia."

No one, not one person, backed him on that claim. So eventually Kerry was forced to retract this one, too. What kind of adult tells a lie like that? (Answer: The kind who carries a home-movie camera to war in order to reenact combat scenes and tape fake interviews with himself.)

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p.100 , Nov 10, 2009

North Korea’s got nuclear weapons due to Bush’s ambivalence

BUSH: We’re training Iraqi soldiers so they can do the hard work. And it’s not only just America, but NATO is now helping, Jordan’s helping train police, UAE is helping train police. We’ve allocated $7 billion over the next months for reconstruction efforts. There’s going to be a summit of the Arab nations. Japan will be hosting a summit.

KERRY: You can’t tell me that that we have a genuine coalition when the most troops any other country has on the ground is Great Britain, with 8,300, and below that the four others are below 4,000, and below that, there isn’t anybody out of the hundreds. You can’t tell me that on the day that we went into that war and it started - it was principally the US, Great Britain and one or two others. That’s it. Today, we are 90% of the casualties and 90% of the costs. Meanwhile, North Korea has got nuclear weapons. Talk about mixed messages. Bush is the one that said, “We can’t allow countries to get nuclear weapons.” They have. I’ll change that.

Source: [Xref Bush] First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL , Sep 30, 2004

Need credible Arab partner to negotiate with Israel

We will never expect Israel to negotiate peace without a credible partner. And it is up to the United States in my judgment to do a better job of helping the Arab world to help that partner to evolve and to develop that effort.
Source: Brent Hurd, Voice of America News , Sep 16, 2004

OpEd: Served his conscience at home after service abroad

Among the myriad gaping differences between veterans of WWII and the Vietnam War was the length of their service. WWII duty ended when the war did. Vietnam was different; for many Vietnam veterans, the tours would last the rest of their lives; after they completed their service they had to come home and serve their consciences for having participated in what they saw as an immoral endeavor.

Unlike WWII, the Vietnam conflict was filled with ambiguity. The war's veterans came back from Southeast Asia having to face new battles--political and social ones they were even less equipped to take on than the firefights in-country. In addition to their noticeable wounds, the Vietnam vets had to confront post-traumatic stress disorder, inadequate VA medical care, forgotten POWS, and the US government's illegal incursions into Cambodia and Laos. It had now become the duty of the war's winter soldiers to put a stop to the horrific errors of the Johnson and Nixon administrations.

Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 27-28 , Jan 6, 2004

Pre-emptive strike ok only when US survival at stake

Q: Under what future conditions would you support a pre-emptive military strike against another nation without wide international approval?

KERRY: Only when the US is so threatened that it is required for the survival of our country or for the accomplishment of some extraordinary humanitarian goal. Look, this administration misled the American people, abused the power that they were given, and has run an ineffective war on terror. Saddam Hussein was way down the list, with respect to the targets, even on the Pentagon’s own list of targets. And what they did was supplant Iraq for the real war on terror, which is Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and terror across the world. The war on terror is less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement operation. And we deserve presidential leadership that knows that and knows how to make America safer, and I will do that.

Source: Democratic 2004 Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa , Jan 4, 2004

Get US more deeply involved in Arab-Israeli peace process

Q: Would you be willing to work with Yasser Arafat on the Arab-Israeli peace process?

A: It’s one of the most important trouble spots in the world around which a lot of the world’s tensions are related and it is imperative for a president to be deeply involved in the peace process. Bush abandoned that involvement for more than a year. I will reengage in the Middle East and work with all parties AND I’ll bring together other nations to help in the process. I believe peace is attainable.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A , Nov 7, 2003

Leadership comes from experience: share the war burden

Q: Please respond to the variety of opinions expressed by your rivals on the Iraq war.

LIEBERMAN: This is a test of leadership. I don’t know how John Kerry and John Edwards can say they support the war but oppose funding. I’ve been over Clark’s record. He took six positions on whether going to war was right.

EDWARDS: Leadership is standing up for what you believe in. I believe Saddam was a threat; I voted for the congressional resolution. Then the president says, “I want $87 billion.” I am not willing to give a blank check.

KERRY: I have the experience of being on the front lines when the policy has gone wrong. Our troops are in greater danger because this president’s been unwilling to share the burden.

CLARK: I want to make it clear that I would not have voted on $87 billion. The best welfare for the troops is a winning strategy. We ought to call on our commander in chief to produce it. He ought to produce it before he gets one additional penny.

Source: Democratic Presidential 2004 Primary Debate in Detroit , Oct 27, 2003

Supported Kosovo action & Powell Doctrine

I fully support the concept of a quick victory when war is deemed unavoidable, but we cannot always choose our opponents for their weakness. Use of force sometimes ahs to be controversial and limited. And we are dangerously distant from our moorings as a nation if we make military or political considerations alone the reason for using or not using force. I supported our military intervention in Kosovo, which was both controversial and limited, though ultimately successful. Many conservative supporters of he Powell Doctrine, including its namesake, opposed this action. But it proved to be the right thing to do in the face of potential genocide and given a carefully weighed proportionate use of force.
Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 42-3 , Oct 1, 2003

Palestinians renounce right of return; get treated equally

But the biggest step each side must take is not really explicitly addressed in that road map. For Palestinians, it’s compromising on the “right to return” to Israel, since that claim inherently rejects the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine in 1948. For Israelis, the test is extending truly equal rights and equal services to non-Jewish citizens -and once terrorism has ended and secure boundaries have been set, creating genuine economic partnership with an independent Palestine.

While the United States should recognize that both parties must be willing to walk the path of peace together, we must also acknowledge that there is no substitute for our own leadership in lighting the path and dealing with potential pitfalls along the way.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 53-4 , Oct 1, 2003

Regrets nothing more that his 2002 vote for Iraq War

After a 2004 campaign in which Kerry seemed as much calculation as conviction, the senator is finally in a liberal space where he feels comfortable: Adamant in urging a timetable for a US withdrawal from Iraq, scathing about what he terms the lies of the Bush administration. The first words he spoke at a Jefferson-Jackson dinner were these: “This war in Iraq is a disgrace.” (Blogging on the Huffington Post last week, Kerry wrote of his 2002 vote for the Iraq war resolution, “There’s nothing -- nothing -- in my life in public service I regret more, nothing even close.”)

When I asked Kerry about the concerns over his laggardly response to the Swift Boat mugging, the senator called that “a miscalculation,” but one he insisted shouldn’t disqualify him from being president. He also had this challenge for his skeptics: ‘‘Who would have come closer to beating a sitting president in time of war who had an enormous fear card to play?“

Source: 2008 Speculation op-ed by Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe , Oct 17, 2006

John Kerry on Afghanistan

Focus on the real war on terror and find bin Laden

KERRY: When Bush had an opportunity to capture or kill bin Laden, he took his focus off of him, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords and bin Laden escaped. Six months after he said bin Laden must be caught dead or alive this president was asked, where’s bin Laden? He said, “I don’t know. I don’t really think about very much. I’m not that concerned.” We need a president who stays deadly focused on the real war on terror.

BUSH: I don’t think I ever said I’m not worried about bin Laden. That’s kind of one of those exaggerations. Of course we’re worried about bin Laden. We’re on the hunt after bin Laden. We’re using every asset at our disposal to get bin Laden. Kerry said this war is a matter of intelligence and law enforcement. No, this is a war as a matter of using every asset at our disposal to keep the American people protected.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry Debate, in Tempe Arizona , Oct 13, 2004

The right war was Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan

BUSH: He talks about a grand idea; let’s have a summit; we’re going to solve the problem in Iraq by holding a summit. And what is he going to say to those people that show up to the summit? Join me in the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place? Risk your troops in a war you’ve called a mistake? Nobody is going to follow somebody who doesn’t believe we can succeed and somebody who says the war where we are is a mistake.

KERRY: The right war was Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan. That was the right place. And the right time was Tora Bora when we had him cornered in the mountains. Everyone in the world knows that there were no weapons of mass destruction. That was the reason Congress gave him the authority to use force, not an excuse to get rid of the regime. Now we have to succeed. I’ve always said that. I have been consistent. Yes, we have to succeed, and I have a better plan to help us do it.

Source: [X-ref Bush] Second Bush-Kerry debate, St. Louis, MO , Oct 8, 2004

Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden is, is forgotten

Iraq is not even the center of the focus of the war on terror. The center is Afghanistan, where, incidentally, there were more Americans killed last year than the year before; where the opium production is 75 percent of the world’s opium production; where 40 to 60 percent of the economy of Afghanistan is based on opium; where the elections have been postponed three times. Bush moved the troops, so he’s got 10 times the number of troops in Iraq than he has in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden is.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL , Sep 30, 2004

Afghanistan incursion justified and not the same as Vietnam

Kerry rejected the leftist argument that America brought the 9/11 attacks on itself, that suicide hijackings constituted a ‘crime’ but not an act of ‘war’ and that US action against an impoverished Afghanistan was comparable to its aggression in Vietnam
Source: Complete Biography By The Boston Globe, p.337 , Apr 27, 2004

Supported 1998 missile attacks against Afghanistan & Sudan

Kerry vigorously backed President Clinton’s decision in August 1998 to launch simultaneous long range cruise missile attacks against terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan and Sudan that were linked to bin Laden. Kerry stated, ‘Those who strike out against us with terror have to understand we will pursue them and do everything in our power to protect American citizens and interests.’
Source: Complete Biography By The Boston Globe, p.332 , Apr 27, 2004

John Kerry on Iraq

1998: respond militarily to Saddam's threat of WMDs

In 1998 Saddam Hussein insisted that international weapons inspectors stop work and leave Iraq. In response, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Iraq Liberation Act, making regime change in Iraq the policy of the United States government and approving nearly $100 million to fund Iraqi opposition groups working for Saddam's ouster.

There was bipartisan support for the operation. A number of senators, including Democrats John Kerry, Carl Levin and Tom Daschle, wrote to President Clinton urging that he "take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."

Source: In My Time, by V.P. Dick Cheney, p.365-366 , Aug 30, 2011

2003: Believed Saddam had deadly arsenal of WMD

As part of the debate on the congressional war authorization, leaders on Capitol Hill asked the intelligence community to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate analyzing Saddam's WMD programs. The CIA compiled the NIE using much of the same intelligence it had been showing to me for the past eighteen months. In a summary sentence later declassified, the NIE concluded, "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."

The intelligence had an impact on members of Congress. Sen. John Kerry said, "When I vote to give the president of the US the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat."

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.240-241 , Nov 9, 2010

Bush-McCain stategy in Iraq is policy to stay, not to win

Q: [to McCain]: What should be the US strategy in Iraq for the next year?

McCAIN: The US strategy in Iraq should be to defeat al-Qaeda, to reverse the increasing influence of Iran in Iraq, & to move towards the goal of military security & a functioning government.

Q: General Petraeus testified that in order to do that we will lose, on the average, two US men or women per day, 15 will be wounded per day, at a cost of $300 million per day. Is it worth it?

McCAIN: The strategy that we’ve now adopted is now succeeding. If we abandon it and go, the consequences will be genocide, and chaos in the region

KERRY: The Bush-McCain strategy of escalating our troops in the middle of a civil war has no relationship directly to what you need to do to resolve the civil war. A policy of putting more troops in and staying is a policy for staying. It is not a policy for winning or for changing the equation. This is making us weaker in the war on terror. It is emboldening Iran, empowering Hamas & Hezbollah.

Source: [Xref McCain] Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” , Sep 16, 2007

No al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2002; we invaded under false pretense

Q: What about a phased withdrawal over the course of the next year?

McCAIN: The consequences of a set date for a withdrawal would cause us to have severe national security implications not only in Iraq but the region.

KERRY: On the word “withdrawal:” [McCain implies that] a fixed date withdrawal is somehow going to abandon Iraq. We’re not talking about abandoning Iraq. We’re talking about changing the mission & adjusting the mission so that the bulkier combat troops are withdrawn, within a year, but that you are continuing to provide the basic backstop support necessary to finish the training, so they stand up on their own, and you are continuing to chase al-Qaeda. There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq before we attacked. So we are in Iraq today on false pretenses, in the middle of a civil war.

McCAIN: You are advocating going back to the failed tactic of before. And whether al-Qaeda was there before or not, al-Qaeda is there now. Iraq is now the central front in the war against al-Qaeda.

Source: [Xref McCain] Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” , Sep 16, 2007

Reduce US military presence in Iraq; and bring in neighbors

KERRY: [to McCain]: We’re not talking about abandoning the place. Why do the Republicans have a complete inability to envision a foreign policy, as we used to have, which plays to our strengths and builds alliances with other countries? Bring the United Nations back in. Bring the neighbors into this. Have a standing summit in a standing conference where we resolve these differences as best as can be. The US can’t do it alone. And we have to change the equation so we regain leverage and initiative. That’s not walking away, that’s walking forward and putting us in a stronger posture.

McCAIN: In my study of military history, I never heard of a withdrawal and a reduction of military presence as being a winning strategy. The fact is that we are succeeding. That’s the thing that the Democrats won’t realize. And of course I’m saying it’s a recipe for failure. Of course history teaches that if we announce withdrawal, we will fail and we will see catastrophic consequences.

Source: [Xref McCain] Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” , Sep 16, 2007

Would have given Clinton the power to use force if necessary

BUSH: I went to the UN. But as we learned in [the Iraq Survey Group Report], Saddam was gaming the oil-for-food program to get rid of sanctions. He was trying to get rid of sanctions for a reason. He wanted to restart his weapons programs. We all thought there was weapons there. Kerry called him a grave threat. I wasn’t happy when we found out there wasn’t weapons, and we’ve got an intelligence group together to figure out why.

KERRY: I’ve never changed my mind about Iraq. I always believed Saddam was a threat. I wanted to give Clinton the power to use force if necessary. But I would’ve used that force wisely, not rush to war without a plan to win the peace. I would’ve brought our allies to our side. I would’ve fought to make certain our troops had everybody possible to help them win the mission. Bush rushed to war, pushed our allies aside, and Iran now is more dangerous, and so is North Korea, with nuclear weapons. He took his eye off the ball, off of bin Laden.

Source: [X-ref Bush] Second Bush-Kerry debate, St. Louis, MO , Oct 8, 2004

Iraq is diverting our attention from the real war on terror

I believe in being strong, resolute and determined. I will hunt down and kill the terrorists, wherever they are. But we also have to be smart. Smart means not diverting your attention from the real war on terror in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden and taking if off to Iraq where the 9/11 Commission confirms no connection to 9/11 itself and Saddam Hussein, and where the reason for going to war was weapons of mass destruction, not the removal of Saddam Hussein. Bush has made a colossal error of judgment
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL , Sep 30, 2004

Iraq wasn’t the center of the war on terror before invasion

Iraq was not even close to the center of the war on terror before Bush invaded it. He made the judgment to divert forces from under General Tommy Franks from Afghanistan before the Congress even approved it to begin to prepare to go to war in Iraq. He rushed the war in Iraq without a plan to win the peace. That is not the judgment that a president of the US ought to make. You don’t take America to war unless have the plan to win the peace. You don’t send troops to war without the body armor they need.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL , Sep 30, 2004

It’s getting worse by the day in Iraq

I don’t know if Bush sees what’s really happened on there. But it’s getting worse by the day. More soldiers killed in June than before. More in July than June. More in August than July. More in September than in August. And now we see beheadings. And we got weapons of mass destruction crossing the border every single day, and they’re blowing people up. And we don’t have enough troops there.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL , Sep 30, 2004

The US has no long-term designs on staying in Iraq

KERRY: I will make a flat statement: The US has no long-term designs on staying in Iraq. Our goal in my administration would be to get all of the troops out of there with a minimal amount you need for training and logistics as we do in some other countries in the world after a war to be able to sustain the peace. But that’s how we’re going to win the peace, by rapidly training the Iraqis themselves. Even the Bush administration has admitted they haven’t done the training, because they came back to Congress a few weeks ago and asked for a complete reprogramming of the money.

BUSH: You can’t change the dynamics on the ground if you’ve criticized the brave leader of Iraq. The way to make sure that we succeed is to send consistent, sound messages to the Iraqi people that when we give our word, we will keep our word, that we stand with you, that we believe you want to be free. And I do. I reject the notion that some say that if you’re Muslim you can’t free, you don’t desire freedom.

Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL , Sep 30, 2004

90 percent of our Army is in Iraq instead of fighting terror

BUSH: I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. Secondly, to think that another round of resolutions would have caused Saddam Hussein to disarm, disclose, is ludicrous, in my judgment. It just shows a significant difference of opinion. We tried diplomacy. We did our best. He was hoping to turn a blind eye. He would have been stronger had we not dealt with him. He had the capability of making weapons, and he would have made weapons.

KERRY: 35 to 40 countries in the world had a greater capability of making weapons at the moment the president invaded than Saddam Hussein. And while he’s been diverted, with 9 out of 10 active duty divisions of our Army, either going to Iraq, coming back from Iraq, or getting ready to go, North Korea’s gotten nuclear weapons and the world is more dangerous. Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons and the world is more dangerous. Darfur has a genocide. The world is more dangerous. I’d have made a better choice.

Source: [Xref Bush] First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL , Sep 30, 2004

Wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time

I said this from the beginning. I said, Mr. President don’t rush to war, take the time to build a legitimate coalition and have a plan to win the peace. You’ve about 500 troops here, 500 troops there and it’s American troops that are 90 percent of the combat casualties and it’s American taxpayers that are paying 90 percent of the cost of the war. It’s the wrong war, in the wrong place at the wrong time.“
Source: Patricia Wilson, Reuters , Sep 5, 2004

Never fight a war without enough troops and a plan to win

We guarantee every man and woman in our armed forces that you will always be the best-led, best-equipped, and most respected fighting force in the world. You will be armed with the right weapons, trained in the right skills, and fully prepared to win on the battlefield. You will never again be sent into harm’s way without enough troops, nor asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace, and given assignments which have not been clearly defined and for which you are not professionally trained.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 17 , Aug 10, 2004

Intelligence information should not be manipulated

Q: How will you demand the truth and an end to this conspiracy of deceit of Bush on the war?

A: There is nothing more serious than the intelligence information that we receive and it should never be manipulated to mislead the people. We have to have an investigation to know to a certainty whether the Bush’s claims were hype, whether we were misled, and whether the CIA was serving the political purposes of the administration. Bush has the responsibility of coming clean.

Source: MoveOn.org interview , Jun 17, 2003

Preferred diplomacy, but supported invading Iraq

Q: On March 19 Pres. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. Was that the right decision at the right time?

KERRY: I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, and when the president made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him.

Q: Gov. Dean, you’ve criticized Sen. Kerry on the campaign trail saying he’s tried to have it both ways on the issue of Iraq.

DEAN: I’m delighted to see Saddam Hussein gone. I appreciate that we have a strong military in this country, and I’d keep a strong military in this country. But this was the wrong war at the wrong time because we have set a new policy of preventive war in this country. Sooner or later we’re going to see another country copy [that policy].

Q: But do you believe Kerry is still trying to have it both ways?

DEAN: That’s not up to me to judge that. That’s up to the voters to judge that, and I’m sure they will.

Source: [X-ref to Dean] Democratic Debate in Columbia SC , May 3, 2003

John Kerry on Iraq Criticism

War in Iraq was founded & perpetuated on lies, like Vietnam

It was right to dissent from a war in 1971 that was wrong and could not be won. And in 2006, it is both a right and an obligation for Americans to stand up to a president who is wrong, and to end the war in Iraq. I believe now, just as I believed then, that the best way to support the troops is oppose a course that destroys their lives and dishonors their sacrifice. I believe now, just as I believed in 1971, that it is profoundly wrong to think that fighting for your country overseas and fighting for your country’s values at home are somehow contradictory. They are in fact two sides of the very same patriotic coin, and that’s what I felt when I came home from Vietnam--convinced that our political leaders were waging war simply to cover up their own past mistakes and that the reason to be there was that we were already there, that more have to die because many already had. War is no excuse for its own perpetuation. And a war in Iraq founded on a lie can never be true to America’s character.
Source: Annual 2006 Take Back America Conference , Jun 14, 2006

Ending Iraq war requires summit including Iran & Syria

What we need now is not a scare tactic to America; we need honest discussion of how you really resolve [the Iraq war]. And I say, to give Iraq its best hope for a peaceful future, the administration must convene a summit that includes the leaders of the country, its neighbors, including Syria and Iran, the representatives of the Arab League, NATO, the United Nations, and the European Union and forge a comprehensive political solution. That is the only way to resolve the issues of the Middle East.
Source: Annual 2006 Take Back America Conference , Jun 14, 2006

Bush rushed to war without having a plan to win the peace

Bush stood right here in this hall four years ago, and he was asked a question by somebody just like you, under what circumstances would you send people to war? His answer was, with a viable exit strategy and only with enough forces to get the job done. He didn’t do that. He broke that promise. We didn’t have enough forces. Gen. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told him he was going to need several hundred thousand, and guess what-he retired Gen. Shinseki for telling him that. Bush hasn’t listened. I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I talked to them to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam accountable. I came away convinced that if we were ready to work at letting Hans Blix do his job and go through the inspections, that if push came to shove, they’d be there with us. Bush just arbitrarily brought the hammer down and said nope, sorry, time for diplomacy is over, we’re going. He rushed to war without a plan to win the peace.
Source: Second Bush-Kerry debate, St. Louis, MO , Oct 8, 2004

Iraqi war is a catastrophic mistake

Bush made a huge mistake, a catastrophic mistake not to live up to his own standard, which was build a true global coalition, give the inspectors time to finish their job and go through the UN process to its end, and go to war as a last resort. I ask each of you just to look into your hearts, look into your guts. Gut check time. Was this really going to war as a last resort? Bush rushed our nation to war without a plan to win the peace. And simple things weren’t done. That’s why Senator Lugar says incompetent in the delivery of services. That’s why Senator Hagel, Republican, says, beyond pitiful, beyond embarrassing, in the zone of dangerous. We didn’t guard 850,000 tons of ammo. That ammo is now being used against our kids. Ten thousand out of 12,000 humvees aren’t armored. I’ve visited some of those kids with no limbs today because they didn’t have the armor on those vehicles. They didn’t have the right body armor. I’ve met parents who’ve on the Internet gotten the armor to send their kids.
Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO , Oct 8, 2004

Saddam Hussein didn’t attack us, Osama bin Laden did

Saddam Hussein didn’t attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. Al Qaida attacked us. And when we had Osama bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, 1,000 of his cohorts with him in those mountains. With the American military forces nearby and in the field, we didn’t use the best trained troops in the world to go kill the world’s number one criminal and terrorist. They outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, who only a week earlier had been on the other side fighting against us, neither of whom trusted each other. That’s the enemy that attacked us. That’s the enemy that was allowed to walk out of those mountains. That’s the enemy that is now in 60 countries, with stronger recruits. Bush also said Saddam Hussein would have been stronger. That is just factually incorrect. Two-thirds of the country was a no-fly zone when we started this war. We would have had sanctions. We would have had the U.N. inspectors. Saddam Hussein would have been continually weakening.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL , Sep 30, 2004

John Kerry on Vietnam

2004: Swift Boat ad "Sellout" devastated campaign

In August 2004, the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" stormed to national prominence, criticizing Kerry's antiwar campaign during the 1970s and raising questions about his military record. But by August 4, the group had raised $500,000--enough to start running an ad called "Any Questions?" in which 13 veterans said Kerry was "not being honest" and was "lying about his record."

On Aug. 20, the Swift Boat Veterans announced their second ad, "Sellout," which featured footage of Kerry speaking before Congress in 1971, when he accused the American military of atrocities in Vietnam. Kerry had said, "They had personally raped; cut off ears; cut off heads; randomly shot at civilians; razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan."

"Sellout" was devastating because it featured Kerry's own Brahmin-accent words slandering his Vietnam comrades. The ad raised disturbing questions from Kerry's character that would not go away.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.388-390 , Mar 9, 2010

2004: attacked Rove and Cheney for draft deferments

I was placed at the front of the line to be drafted during the first 4 months of 1972. Then, on January 31, 1972, the Secretary of Defense announced no one would be called up. 30 years later, my draft status was inserted in the 2004 presidential campaign

Kerry personally attacked Dick Cheney and me as people "who went out of their way to avoid their chance to serve when they had the chance." Kerry admitted he didn't know the details of my draft record but refused to apologize, saying, "I'm just not going to be accused of not being strong on defense, period." His campaign unleashed three surrogates to carry the message, including former senator Max Cleland.

It was a real insight into John Kerry. He spoke without knowing the facts, and he sounded as if he were attacking as unpatriotic the 15 million men who received student deferment during the Vietnam War. And he concentrated his fire on an aide rather than on the other candidate. Any day Kerry spent attacking me was a day he wasted.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p. 29-30 , Mar 9, 2010

OpEd: Kerry's attitude was "I'm a vet! I know war & peace!"

In May 2004, a group of Swift Boat Veterans held a press conference in front of an old photo of a bunch of Swift Boat officers, including Kerry, that the Kerry campaign was using to tout his military experience. One by one, the officers stood up, 17 in all, pointed to their own faces in the campaign photo, and announced that they believed Kerry unfit to be commander in chief.

Ironically, even if it were true that the Swift Boat Veterans were lying, it undercut Kerry's main selling point anyway. Kerry's message was "I'm a veteran! Don't talk to me about war and peace!" An ad by 200 Swift Boat Veterans who served with Kerry saying that he was unfit to be commander in chief completely destroyed Kerry's presumptive credibility as a veteran, whether you believed the 200 Swift Boat Veterans or not. Either they were telling the truth, and Kerry wasn't fit, or they were not, in which case military service isn't much of a trump card. Yes, Kerry had served in Vietnam. But so had they.

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p. 98-99 , Nov 10, 2009

Veteran biography strategy failed with “Reporting for duty”

The Kerry team decided to feature his war record during the convention acceptance speech. Kerry mounted the platform to speak. He saluted and began his speech by saying, “Lieutenant Kerry reporting for duty.” The move turned out to be a huge blunder and set the stage for the real battle: the establishment media vs. the bloggers and the New Media.

It turned out that his record in Vietnam was not all he said it was. Now the Internet and the participatory politics would strike again. The first ad the Swift Boat vets bought accused Kerry of lying to get his medals. The second charged that when he returned he turned on his former mates and joined Jane Fonda in her antiwar crusade.

Kerry’s advisors pooh-poohed the ads, failing to see how damaging they could be. But the ads began to swim through the arteries and veins of the new alternative media. Bloggers alerted one another, talk radio shows reported the accusations, the story spread underground and online.

Source: Condi vs. Hillary, by Dick Morris, p.207&208 , Oct 11, 2005

Nothing in Vietnam realistically threatened America

In 1971, John Kerry, disillusioned, returned to the US and helped found the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, on behalf of whom he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

"In our opinion and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam which could happen that realistically threatens the US. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life to the preservation of freedom, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is the kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart.

"We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that most people didn't even know the difference between communism & democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them. They practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Viet Cong, North Vietnamese or American.

Source: A Patriot's Handbook, by Caroline Kennedy, p.465-466 , Apr 13, 2005

Vietnamese villagers say Swift Vets’ account is incorrect

In the controversy over Sen. John Kerry’s service in Vietnam, there is one group they have not heard from: the Vietnamese who were there that day. Members of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group have charged that on Feb. 28, 1969 the Viet Cong fighter that Kerry killed was a teenager named Ba Thanh who was alone, who was not part of a numerically superior force, and who was already wounded and running away when Kerry shot him.

Nightline interviewed the Vietnamese villagers, who say they saw: “Firing from over here. Firing from over there. Firing from the boat,” Vo Thi Vi said, adding that the boat was unleashing a barrage of gunfire as it approached. Her husband, Tam, said the man who fired the B-40 rocket was hit in this barrage of gunfire Then, he said, “he ran about 18 meters before he died, falling dead. When the firing started, Ba Thanh was killed,” Tam said. “And I led Ba Thanh’s comrades, the whole unit, to fight back. We worked with the city soldiers to fire on the American boats.”

Source: Andrew Morse, ABC News “Nightline” , Oct 14, 2004

Kerry’s C.O. says Kerry deserved his Silver Star?

A group of veterans has launched a television ad campaign and a book, “Unfit for Command,” that questions the basis for some of Kerry’s combat medals. But yesterday, a key figure in the anti-Kerry campaign, Kerry’s former commanding officer, backed off one of the key contentions. Lieutenant Commander George Elliott said in an interview that he had made a “terrible mistake” in signing an affidavit that suggests Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star, one of the main allegations in the book. Elliot’s affidavit contradicted earlier statements by Elliott, who during Kerry’s 1996 Senate campaign defended Kerry on similar charges.

Kerry won the Silver Star for his action on Feb. 28, 1969, in which he shot a Viet Cong soldier who had been carrying a rocket launcher. All of Kerry’s crewmates who participated said last year that the action was necessary and appropriate, and it was Elliott who recommended Kerry for the Silver Star. [Lt. Col. Elliot later repudiated this story. -- Ed.]

Source: Michael Kranish, Boston Globe, p. A1 , Aug 6, 2004

Man Kerry rescued says Kerry deserved his Bronze Star

The book “Unfit for Command” raises questions about the action of March 13, 1969, for which Kerry was awarded a Bronze Star and his third Purple Heart. On that day, Kerry rescued James Rassmann, who went overboard as a result of an explosion. Rassmann appeared by Kerry’s side during the Iowa caucus campaign and at the Democratic National Convention, telling the story of how Kerry pulled him out of the water while his boat was under fire. [The book claims Kerry’s wounds were self-inflicted, from a grenade he tossed into a rice cache].

Rassmann said there were two separate events: One was earlier in the day, when he and Kerry blew up a rice cache. The second involved a mine explosion as Kerry and Rassmann were on patrol, which knocked Rassmann overboard and injured Kerry’s arm. Rassmann stood by his recollection that he was under fire when rescued by Kerry. Those questioning Kerry’s medals, Rassmann said, are “angry about John speaking out against the [Vietnam] war.”

Source: Michael Kranish, Boston Globe, p. A1 , Aug 6, 2004

Only veteran to testify to congress about Vietnam

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with journalists from around the world reporting his every word -the pressure was on. And the opportunity was immense. Kerry felt it his duty to articulate the fears and laments & anguish of an entire generation-the Vietnam generation, those who had actually been there-in his 2 hours of testimony. After all, he would be the only veteran to testify. “I wanted to give voice to our concerns,” Kerry explained, looking back, “to put a stop to the charade.“

The solidarity that Kerry felt toward the veterans in the chamber-”brothers,“ as he called them-was palpable. Kerry’s testimony proved unflinching. From the outset he lambasted America’s foreign policy leadership and to challenged Congress to end what he described as an immoral war. Kerry’s testimony indicted not just presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon and their administrations, but the entire US foreign policy establishment since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed in 1964.

Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 5-7 , Jul 13, 2004

Accused US government of war crime, not veterans

“Kerry’s voice added a new dimension to the criticism of the Nixon administration,” Senator George McGovern reflected. “For an oratorical Kerry, how the South Vietnamese were victims in the war, shifted gears claiming that the American GI’s were also victims-that taxpayers’ money was going to support corrupt local dictators throughout Southeast Asia.”

What quickly became clear was that Kerry was accusing the US government of war crimes, as ordained through such policies as free fire zones, harassment-and-interdiction fire, search-and-destroy missions, carpet bombings, and the execution of prisoners. He scorned the rationale that one had to destroy a village in order to save it, and excoriated the effects of that policy on the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people. As Kerry pointed out, they understandably saw U.S. liberators not as liberators like the GI’s of World World II, but as colonialist intruders even worse than the French before them.

Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 8 , Jul 13, 2004

Before enlisting, believed in the US saving face in Vietnam

At a Yale speaking event. Kerry boldly chose Vietnam as his topic, though he declined to offer any proposals for ending the conflict. Instead he outlined the history of Vietnam.

Kerry claimed that he had originally supported a complete US withdrawal on the grounds that the South Vietnamese government had fallen into disarray, anti-Americanism pervaded Southeast Asia, the Johnson administration’s policies were failing, and the domino theory was a myth. That said, Kerry that he had come to realize how important it remained for the US not to lose face, and that Johnson had to either score a military victory or negotiate a peace. “In the future, the US must fix goals which are tenable,” the Yale junior intoned. “These goals should recognize priorities that correspond minutely with our best national interests. We should concern ourselves with other ideologies and attempt to apply a policy which is both sensitive and compatible with the expressed desires and cultures of the people involved.”

Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 55-56 , Jul 13, 2004

Condemned early Vietnam protests as “irresponsible”

On Oct. 21, 1965, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey came to Yale as opposition to the Vietnam War was heating up. A senior named John Kerry presented him with a petition signed by 550 people condemning demonstrators who “impugn the integrity of U.S. leaders and political institutions through irresponsible protests,” The Yale Daily News reported.

“All but a few of our fellow students realize that a reasonable debate on foreign policy must be kept free from fanaticism or emotional posturing, and must show a fundamental loyalty to our political institutions,“ the petition declared. ”A position of protest justifies no one in an attempt to impede troop movements at home, to undermine morale abroad and to encourage our generation to repudiate its military duties.“

Five years later, Kerry led one of his generation’s most searing protests against the war, asking the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ”How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?“

Source: Todd S. Purdum, New York Times , Jul 6, 2004

Anti-Vietnam but not left-wing anti-war

While some members of the antiwar [Vietnam] group viewed Kerry as an opportunist, others realized Kerry--erudite and clean-cut--was the ideal foil for those who viewed the group as hippie traitors or even Communists.
Source: Complete Biography By The Boston Globe, p.118-119 , Apr 27, 2004

Kerry saves life under fire, awarded Bronze Star

[During an attack on Kerry’s Swift Boat in Vietnam], James Rassmann was thrown into the water, dodging bullets. He grabbed a netting and tried to pull himself up. But he was too weak. Kerry, who had been hit in the arm and was bleeding, reached down with his good arm and pulled Rassmann to safety. Kerry saved his life, Rassmann said, and ‘he deserved the Silver’ [Star instead of the Bronze Star he received].
Source: Complete Biography By The Boston Globe, p.106 , Apr 27, 2004

Word “atrocity” is too strong, though it reflected anger

Kerry said that his use of the word “atrocity” was “inappropriate” and that the language he had used “reflected an anger. It was honest, but it was in anger. It was a little bit excessive.” He also said he never intended to cast a negative light on the soldiers with whom he served. In 1971, Kerry also testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and recited a litany of atrocities he said had been reported to him by other soldiers.
Source: CNN.com , Apr 25, 2004

Served in Vietnam as "winter soldier" not "sunshine patriot"

After this breathless recounting of US violations of the Geneva Conventions, Kerry went after the denigrators of those who opposed it. He took direct aim at Vice President Spiro Agnew, who had delivered a gloves-off speech at West Point the year before in which he declared that "some glamorize the criminal misfits of society while our best men die in Asian rice paddies to preserve the freedom which most of these misfits abuse." Kerry glared right at the 5 senators and charged Agnew with distorting the antiwar view and those who held it. After all, he was no drugged-out counter-culture wandering hippie guru, and neither were the other antiwar veterans sitting behind him. They were not the "summer soldiers and sunshine patriots" Thomas Paine had sneered at in December 1776, but true winter soldiers, American patriots who had put their lives on the line in the Cold War battle against Soviet and Chinese Communist expansionism.
Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 15-16 , Jan 6, 2004

Vietnam was genocide, but no point calling it “war crimes”

Q: Thirty years later, you stand by [your 1971 statement that you and other soldiers committed atrocities in Vietnam]?

A: I don’t stand by the genocide. I think those were the words of an angry young man. We did not try to do that. But I do stand by the description--I don’t even believe there is a purpose served in the word “war criminal.” But I stand by the rest of what happened over there.

We’ve got to put this war in its right perspective and time helps us do that. I believe very deeply that it was a noble effort to begin with. I signed up. I volunteered. I wanted to go over there and I wanted to win. It was a noble effort to try to make a country democratic. But we misjudged history. We misjudged our own country. We misjudged our strategy. And we fell into a dark place. All of us. And I think we learned that over time. And I hope the contribution that some of us made as veterans was to come back and help people understand that.

Source: 2001 interview on Meet the Press with Tim Russert , May 6, 2001

War crimes by leadership policy, not personal atrocities

O’NEILL [to Kerry]: We have to deal with the moral question of war crimes. Coming back to this country and confessing, “I committed war crimes” and running for the Congress saying, “All three million of us committed war crimes,” is exactly what he said.

Q: Did you see war crimes committed?

KERRY: I personally didn’t see personal atrocities in the sense that I saw somebody cut a head off or something like that. However, I did take part in free fire zones and I did take part in harassment interdiction fire. I did take part in search-and-destroy missions in which the houses of noncombatants were burned to the ground. And all of these, I find out later on, are contrary to the Hague and Geneva Conventions and to the laws of warfare. So anybody who took part in those, is in fact guilty. But we’re not trying to find war criminals. What we’re looking for is an examination of our policy, particularly by the leaders, to examine the policy at the highest level.

Source: Debate with John O’Neill on The Dick Cavett Show , Jun 30, 1971

Vietnamization just changed the color of the bodies fighting

O’NEILL [to Kerry]: There is no one in this country who likes war, least of all those of us who fought in the Vietnam war. Any rational man can see that the Vietnamization program of the president has done more to end this war than all the demonstrations and hate of the last 10 years in this country.

KERRY: You should change [your group’s] name from Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace to Vietnam Veterans for a Continued War because that in fact is really what Vietnamization is. It is nothing more than a way of getting the United States out of Vietnam by changing the colors of the bodies in that country. It’s a military solution in a problem that requires a very sophisticated political solution. In the end [it may] intricate us into a much deeper war. [At best it will] allow us to withdraw in time for the elections of next year when the president can say, “Yes, indeed, we did withdraw,” at which time more Americans will have lost their lives and more Vietnamese will have lost their lives needlessly.

Source: Debate with John O’Neill on The Dick Cavett Show , Jun 30, 1971

US actions in Vietnam were counter to Geneva Conventions

O’NEILL [to Kerry]: Can you tell me about any war crimes that occurred in [our] unit, Coastal Division 11? I never saw anything, and I’d like you to tell me about the war crimes you saw committed there.

KERRY: Did you serve in a free fire zone?

O’NEILL: I certainly did serve in a free fire zone.

KERRY: [Reading] “Free fire zone, in which we kill anything that moves - man, woman or child.” This practice suspends the distinction between combatant and non-combatant and contravenes Geneva Convention Article 3.1.

O’NEILL: Where is that from?

KERRY: Geneva Conventions. You’ve heard about the Geneva Conventions. Yes, we did participate in war crimes in Coastal Division 11 because we took part in free fire zones, harassment, interdiction fire, and search-and-destroy missions. [Didn’t you] see huts along the sides of the rivers that were totally destroyed? You never burned a village?

O’NEILL: No, I never burned a village, that’s absolutely correct. We’d never do anything dishonorable.

Source: Debate with John O’Neill on The Dick Cavett Show , Jun 30, 1971

Objected to war policy while in Vietnam, and after

O’NEILL [to Kerry]: [If you saw war crimes] I think that you would have done something about it then. [You only complained when you ran] for Congress.

KERRY: The members of Coastal Division 11 when I was in Vietnam were fighting the policy very hard, to the point that many of the members were refusing to carry out orders on some of their missions; to the point where my commanding officer was relieved of duty because he pressed our objections. After I received my third wound, I was told that I could return to the US. I deliberated for about two weeks but I finally made the decision to go back because I felt that I could do more against the war back here. I requested that I be released from the Navy early because of my opposition, and I was granted that release, and I have been working against the war ever since then.

O’NEILL: I served in Coastal Division 11 for 12 months. I never saw any moral protest there. I think that the story Mr. Kerry has told is in large measure prevarication.

Source: Debate with John O’Neill on The Dick Cavett Show , Jun 30, 1971

Vietnam didn’t threaten US; US war crimes did

Many very highly decorated veterans have testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war.

We call this the Winter Soldier Investigation. The term Winter Soldier is a play on words of Thomas Paine’s in 1776 when he spoke of the summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough. We feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of the crimes that threaten this country, not reds & not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.

Source: Winter Soldier speech to Senate Foreign Relations Cmte , Apr 23, 1971

Vietnam war was criminal hypocrisy and tore apart US

There is nothing in South Vietnam which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart.

We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by a people who had for years been seeking their liberation from colonial influence. We found most people didn’t even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. We found also that all too often American men were dying in those rice paddies for want of support from their allies. We saw first hand how monies from American taxes were used for a corrupt dictatorial regime.

Source: Winter Soldier speech to Senate Foreign Relations Cmte , Apr 23, 1971

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake

Each day someone has to give up his life so that the US doesn’t have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can’t say they we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon won’t be, and these are his words, “the first President to lose a war.”

We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? But we are trying to do that, and we are doing it with thousands of rationalizations.

We have come here to Congress, not to the President, because we believe that this body can be responsive to the will of the people, and we believe that the will of the people says that we should be out of Vietnam now.

The Marines say they never leave even their dead. [Our leaders] have left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude. They have left the real stuff of their reputations bleaching in the sun.

Source: Winter Soldier speech to Senate Foreign Relations Cmte , Apr 23, 1971

US soldiers committed atrocities in Vietnam, including me

Q: You’ve said that our policies in Vietnam are tantamount to genocide. Do you consider that you personally as a Naval officer committed atrocities in Vietnam or crimes punishable by law in this country?

A: There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I used 50 calibre machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare, contrary to the Geneva Conventions, and all of this is ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the US. And I believe that the men who designed the free fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, are war criminals.

Source: Interview on Meet the Press prior to Senate testimony , Apr 18, 1971

John Kerry on Voting Record

Voted for Iraq war in 2002, but voted against 2004 funding

The 2004 presidential nominee voted to authorize military force. But he subsequently voted against additional funds for the effort and has said the authorization vote was his biggest legislative mistake.
Source: People’s Daily (China), “Contenders views on the war” , Nov 23, 2006

No regrets on war vote-but regrets on Bush breaking promises

Q: Do you regret your war vote?

KERRY: No. I do not regret my vote. I regret that we have a president who misled America and broke every promise he made to the US Congress. We did not give the president any authority that the president didn’t have. Did we ratify what he was doing? Yes. But we changed the dynamics by getting him to agree to go to the UN and to make a set of promises to the nation. Promise number one: He would build a true global international coalition. Number two: he would honor the UN inspection process. And number three -- and this is most important -- He said he would go to war as a last resort. He broke every single one of those promises.

Q: Would you leave now?

KERRY: No, I would not leave now. I think that you can’t leave now. The impact of leaving now on the war on terror, on the Middle East, would be disastrous. The Arab community has an enormous interest in not having a failed Iraq as its neighbor.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC , Feb 26, 2004

Vote for war was needed to push Saddam on inspectors

Q: You’ve been saying that you voted to authorize the president, President Bush, to threaten the use of force in Iraq. In fact, as Senator Graham pointed out, you voted to authorize the use of force at President Bush’s discretion. To some it may seem that you’re trying to get out of a vote that’s now unpopular with many in the Democratic Party. Is that the way we should perceive it?

KERRY: Absolutely not. The vote is the vote. I voted to authorize, it was the right vote. And the reason I mentioned the threat is that we had to give life to the threat. If there wasn’t a legitimate threat, Saddam Hussein was not going to allow inspectors in. If there hadn’t been a vote, we would never have had inspectors. And if we hadn’t voted the way we voted, we would not have been able to have a chance of going to the UN.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate , Sep 9, 2003

$87B for Iraq only when internationalization is addressed

Q: Will you vote yes or no on the president’s request for $87 billion to continue the effort in Iraq?

KERRY: I will do what we need to do to protect troops. But I am not going to vote for an open-ended $87 billion without questions answered about an adequate effort with respect to the international community [and other matters].

And if you don’t get the answers that you’re looking for?

KERRY: I would be prepared to vote no.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate , Sep 9, 2003

Voted YES on redeploying non-essential US troops out of Iraq in 9 months.

Vote to transition the missions of US Forces in Iraq to a more limited set of missions as specified by the President on September 13, 2007: S.AMDT.3875 amends S.AMDT.3874 and underlying bill H.R.2764:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LEVIN: "The amendment requires redeployment be completed within 9 months. At that point, funding for the war would be ended, with four narrow exceptions:"

  1. Security for US Government personnel and infrastructure
  2. Training Iraqi security forces
  3. Equipment to US service men and women to ensure their safety
Targeted operations against members of al-Qaida.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. McCAIN: "This year, after nearly 4 years of mismanaged war, our military has made significant gains under the so-called surge. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since [2003]. Improvised explosive device blasts now occur at a rate lower than at any point since September 2004.

"Al-Qaida's leadership knows which side is winning in Iraq. It may not be known in some parts of America and in this body, but al-Qaida knows. We are succeeding under the new strategy.

"Given these realities, some proponents of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq have shifted their focus. While conceding, finally, that there have been dramatic security gains, they have begun seizing on the lackluster performance of the Iraqi Government to insist that we should abandon the successful strategy and withdraw U.S. forces. This would be a terrible mistake."

Reference: Safe Redeployment Of US Troops From Iraq Amendment; Bill S.AMDT.3875 to H.R.2764 ; vote number 2007-437 on Dec 18, 2007

Voted NO on designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists.

Vote on a "Sense of the Senate" amendment, S.Amdt. 3017, to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act), that finds:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LIEBERMAN: Some of our colleagues thought the Sense of the Senate may have opened the door to some kind of military action against Iran [so we removed some text]. That is not our intention. In fact, our intention is to increase the economic pressure on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps so that we will never have to consider the use of the military to stop them from what they are doing to kill our soldiers.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. BIDEN. I will oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment for one simple reason: this administration cannot be trusted. I am very concerned about the evidence that suggests that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities inside Iraq. Arguably, if we had a different President who abided by the meaning and intent of laws we pass, I might support this amendment. I fear, however, that this President might use the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity as a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit. [The same was done with the Senate resolution on Iraq in 2002]. Given this President's actions and misuse of authority, I cannot support the amendment.

Reference: Sense of the Senate on Iran; Bill S.Amdt. 3017 to H.R. 1585 ; vote number 2007-349 on Sep 26, 2007

Voted YES on redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008.

Begins the phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq within 120 days of enactment of this joint resolution with the goal of redeploying by March 31, 2008, all US combat forces from Iraq, except for a limited number essential for protecting US and coalition personnel and infrastructure, training and equipping Iraqi forces, and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations. Such redeployment shall be implemented as part of a diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community in order to bring stability to Iraq.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Our troops are caught in the midst of a civil war. The administration has begun to escalate this war with 21,000 more troops. This idea is not a new one. During this war, four previous surges have all failed. It is time for a different direction. It is time for a drawdown of our troops.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

This resolution calls for imposing an artificial timeline to withdraw our troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions on the ground or the consequences of defeat; a defeat that will surely be added to what is unfortunately a growing list of American humiliations. This legislation would hobble American commanders in the field and substantially endanger America's strategic objective of a unified federal democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself and be an ally in the war against Islamic fascism. The unintended consequence of this resolution is to bring to reality Osama bin Laden's vision for Iraq; that after 4 years of fighting in Iraq the US Congress loses its will to fight. If we leave Iraq before the job is done, as surely as night follows day, the terrorists will follow us home. Osama bin Laden has openly said: America does not have the stomach to stay in the fight. He is a fanatic. He is an Islamic fascist. He is determined to destroy us and our way of life.

Reference: US Policy in Iraq Resolution; Bill S.J.Res.9 ; vote number 2007-075 on Mar 15, 2007

Voted YES on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007.

Voting YEA on this amendment would establish a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Voting NAY would keep the current situation without a timetable. The amendment states:
  1. The President shall redeploy, commencing in 2006, US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007, leaving only the minimal number of forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces and conducting specialized counterterrorism operations.
  2. The President should maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.
  3. Within 30 days, the administration shall submit to Congress a report that sets forth the strategy for the redeployment of US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007.
Reference: Kerry Amendment to National Defense Authorization Act; Bill S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766 ; vote number 2006-181 on Jun 22, 2006

Voted YES on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan.

To establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate the awarding and carrying out of contracts to conduct activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the war on terrorism. Voting YES would: create Senate special committee to investigate war contracts, taking into consideration: bidding, methods of contracting, subcontracting, oversight procedures, allegations of wasteful practices, accountability and lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Reference: Committee to Investigate War Contracts; Bill S Amdt 2476 to S 1042 ; vote number 2005-316 on Nov 10, 2005

Voted NO on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Vote to pass a bill that would appropriate $86.5 billion in supplemental spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Fiscal 2004. The bill would provide $10.3 billion as a grant to rebuild Iraq. This includes:
Reference: FY04 Emergency Supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan; Bill S1689 ; vote number 2003-400 on Oct 17, 2003

Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq.

H.J.Res. 114; Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. The administration would be required to report to Congress that diplomatic options have been exhausted before, or within 48 hours after military action has started. Every 60 days the president would also be required to submit a progress report to Congress.
Reference: Bill H.J.RES.114 ; vote number 2002-237 on Oct 11, 2002

Voted NO on allowing all necessary force in Kosovo.

Majority Leader Trent Lott motioned to kill the resolution that would have authorized the president to "use all necessary forces and other means," in cooperation with U.S. allies to accomplish objectives in Yugoslavia.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)78; N)22
Reference: Motion to table S. J. Res. 20; Bill S. J. Res. 20 ; vote number 1999-98 on May 4, 1999

Voted YES on authorizing air strikes in Kosovo.

Vote to adopt a resolution to authorize the President to conduct military air operations and missile strikes in cooperation with NATO against Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
Reference: Bill S.Con.Res 21 ; vote number 1999-57 on Mar 23, 1999

Voted NO on ending the Bosnian arms embargo.

Ending the Bosnian arms embargo.
Status: Bill Passed Y)69; N)29; NV)2
Reference: Bosnia Herzegovina Self-Defense Act of '95; Bill S. 21 ; vote number 1995-331 on Jul 26, 1995

Condemns anti-Muslim bigotry in name of anti-terrorism.

Kerry co-sponsored the Resolution on bigotry against Sikh Americans:

Title: Condemning bigotry and violence against Sikh Americans in the wake of terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

Summary: Declares that, in the quest to identify, locate, and bring to justice the perpetrators and sponsors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, including Sikh-Americans, should be protected.

Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR255 on Oct 4, 2001

Deploy UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Kerry co-sponsored deploying UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur

Calling for the urgent deployment of a robust and effective multinational peacekeeping mission with sufficient size, resources, leadership, and mandate to protect civilians in Darfur.

Legislative Outcome: Agreed to by Senate by Unanimous Consent.

Source: Resolution on Darfur (S.RES 276) 07-SR276 on Jul 19, 2007

Iranian nuclear weapons: prevention instead of containment.

Kerry co-sponsored Resolution on Iran's nuclear program

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, that Congress--
  1. Reaffirms that the US Government has a vital interest in working together to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  2. warns that time is limited to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  3. urges continued and increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran until a full and sustained suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities;
  4. expresses that the window for diplomacy is closing;
  5. expresses support for the universal rights and democratic aspirations of the people of Iran;
  6. strongly supports US policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  7. rejects any US policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.
Source: HRes568/SR41 12-SJR41 on May 24, 2012

Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Kerry co-sponsored the Jerusalem Embassy Act

Corresponding House bill is H.R.1595. Became Public Law No: 104-45.
Source: Bill sponsored by 77 Senators and 78 Reps 95-S1322 on Oct 13, 1995

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