When Barack Obama nominated John Kerry to be America’s next Secretary of State Friday afternoon, he called Kerry the “perfect choice” to replace Hillary Clinton. Stating that “few individuals … grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry,” Obama said the Senator will not “need a lot of on-the-job training.” He then praised Mr. Kerry’s combat service in the Vietnam War and his subsequent tenure of service in the Senate, where Kerry has been intimately involved in “every major foreign policy debate for the past 30 years.” Notably, President Obama made no mention of what occurred after Kerry’s military service and before his political career. Perhaps this is because what Kerry did during that time would be difficult even for an adroit wordsmith like Obama to summarize with just a pithy phrase or two of adulation.
The historical record informs us that not only has John Kerry been on the wrong side of every major foreign policy issue for most of his adult life, including Iraq, Nicaragua and most recently in Syria, but he has routinely engaged in deception to conceal his folly. What’s worse, Kerry has a clear record of giving aid and comfort to America’s enemies, all the while never missing an opportunity to viciously trash our brave forces fighting against them.
With Obama’s nomination of Kerry to head the State Department, therefore, a look back at Kerry’s “service” to this country becomes more pertinent than ever:
After being discharged from the Navy in early 1970, Kerry joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and became a major figure in the so-called “peace” movement, whose hallmarks were a deep wellspring of hatred for the United States coupled with sympathy for America’s Communist enemy. In May 1970, Kerry, without government authorization, met personally with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations in Paris to discuss a list of “peace” proposals enumerated by Nguyen Thi Madame Binh, the top Viet Cong delegate to the Paris Peace talks. In the aftermath of that illegal meeting, Kerry strongly advised the U.S. Senate to accept Binh’s proposals.
At that time, Kerry himself acknowledged that his visit to Paris was “on the borderline” of legality. Actually, it extended far beyond that “borderline.” A federal law known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice prescribed severe punishment (including, in some cases, the death penalty) for any person who “without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly.”
During the ensuing months, Kerry, with increasing stridency, continued to exhort the U.S. to accept the Viet Cong peace proposals. His radical VVAW comrades went so far as to sign a “People’s Peace Treaty,” whose nine points were all extracted from a list of Viet Cong conditions for ending the war. Kerry fully supported this treaty.
On April 22, 1971, Kerry famously testified to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that many U.S. servicemen in Vietnam had “personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war …” “We learned the meaning of free fire zones,” added Kerry. “Shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals.” Moreover, Kerry emphasized that America’s “war crimes” in Southeast Asia were “not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.”
Army reports that were unearthed decades later resoundingly discredited the claims of Kerry and his fellow VVAW members, proving those claims to be essentially a pack of lies. When Kerry was running for U.S. President in 2004, the publication U.S. Veteran Dispatch noted that Kerry’s 1971 Senate testimony had “occurred while some of his fellow Vietnam veterans were known by the world to be enduring terrible suffering as prisoners of war in North Vietnamese prisons.” Similarly, retired General George S. Patton III charged that Kerry’s actions had given “aid and comfort to the enemy.” And the organization Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry stated:
“As a national leader of VVAW, Kerry campaigned against the effort of the United States to contain the spread of Communism. He used the blood of servicemen still in the field for his own political advancement by claiming that their blood was being shed unnecessarily or in vain…. Under Kerry’s leadership, VVAW members mocked the uniform of United States soldiers by wearing tattered fatigues marked with pro-communist graffiti. They dishonored America by marching in demonstrations under the flag of the Viet Cong enemy.”
Yet today, this same John Kerry has been nominated to serve as Secretary of State for the same nation he trashed so relentlessly in the ’70s. Only in America.
After graduating law school, working in a district attorney’s office, and serving a brief stint as Massachusetts’ lieutenant governor, Kerry was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984. Just a few months later—on April 18, 1985—Kerry and fellow Democratic Senator Tom Harkin traveled to Nicaragua to meet with President Daniel Ortega, whose Communist Sandinista government had strong ties to the Soviet Union and Cuba. Through Kerry and Harkin, President Ortega offered a cease-fire agreement on the condition that the Reagan Administration stop aiding the rebel Contras who were then at war with the Sandinistas. Reagan rejected the offer as a transparent “propaganda initiative” designed to influence an upcoming House vote on a $14 million Contra-aid package, but Kerry said: “I am willing … to take the risk in the effort to put to test the good faith of the Sandinistas.” The House of Representatives ultimately voted against the Contra aid. The following day, Ortega flew to Moscow to accept a $200 million loan from the Soviets. Presumably this was one of the many “major foreign policy debates” in which, by President Obama’s reckoning, Kerry had so impressively distinguished himself.
Unchastened by the evidence of his own poor judgment, Kerry in 1986 supported a “fast for life” initiative by four U.S. military veterans protesting President Reagan’s “illegal and extraordinarily vicious wars against the poor of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.” Also in the 1980s, Senator Kerry hired Gareth Porter, a former fellow of the consistently pro-Soviet Institute for Policy Studies, as a legislative aide. And in 2002, Kerry sent his warm greetings to a major gathering of the Democratic Socialists of America‘s Boston chapter.
Kerry’s next opportunity to distinguish himself as a man of exceedingly poor character was furnished by the conflict in Iraq. Initially, Kerry voted to authorize the use of military force against Saddam Hussein, a position the Senator based on his firm conviction—which he publicly articulated on numerous occasions—that Saddam was aggressively seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction. During the weeks and months leading up to the March 2003 U.S. invasion, for example, Kerry made the following statements:
“It would be naive to the point of great danger not to believe that, left to his own devices, Saddam Hussein will misjudge, provoke and stumble into a future, more dangerous confrontation with the civilized world. He has as much as promised it.”
“If Saddam Hussein is unwilling to bend to the international community’s already existing order, then he will have invited enforcement …”
“Without question we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal and murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. And we all know the litany of his offenses.”
“People have forgotten that for seven and a half years, we found weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq]. We were destroying weapons of mass destruction.”
But as the political winds shifted, Kerry and his fellow congressional Democrats began to portray, with ever-growing frequency, the Iraq War as a foreign-policy debacle that had been launched hastily and without justifiable cause.
In 2004, for instance, Kerry charged that President Bush had not only “misled the American people” about the threat posed by Saddam, but also had “arbitrarily” decided that the “time for diplomacy is over” and “rushed our nation to war.” During a presidential debate that October, Kerry said: “Saddam Hussein didn’t attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. Al Qaeda attacked us.”
Not content to smear only the Commander-in-Chief, Senator Kerry also accused U.S. servicemen of “terrorizing” the Iraqi people. On December 4, 2005, he told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation: “And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women …”
For John Kerry, it was 1971 all over again.
In recent years, as columnist Arnold Ahlert has so aptly written, Kerry “has been the federal government’s highest-ranking apologist for Syrian President Bashar Assad.” Indeed it was Kerry who repeatedly tried to undermine the Bush administration’s efforts to isolate the dictator. Under Obama, Kerry has pursued with renewed vigor his impulse to engage Assad. During a January 2009 visit to Damascus, for instance, the Senator listened attentively to Assad’s admonition that Washington must “move away from a policy based on dictating decisions” to Syria. Kerry, in turn, said: “Unlike the Bush administration that believed you could simply tell people what to do and walk away and wait for them to do it, we believe you have to engage in a discussion.” In April 2010, Kerry again met with Assad and called Syria “an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region.”
Forty-thousand dead bodies later, one tries vainly to reconcile John Kerry’s track record with President Obama’s glowing description of him as the “perfect choice” for Secretary of State. One can only ponder with trepidation what dark days lay ahead for America with this hate-America veteran taking the reins at the State Department.