- Longtime Democratic Senator from Massachusetts and 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee
- In the early 1970s, he denounced U.S. for alleged systematic “war crimes” in Vietnam.
- Organizer of Vietnam Veterans Against the War
- Worked to cut off aid to anti-Communist guerrillas in Nicaraguadurin the 1980s
- Proposed large reductions in U.S. defense and intelligence spending
See also: Democratic Party Teresa Heinz Kerry,
John Forbes Kerry was born December 11, 1943 in Denver, Colorado. His father, Richard Kerry (1915–2000), was a Foreign Service Officer and an attorney for the Bureau of United Nations Affairs. His mother, Rosemary Forbes Kerry (1913–2002), was a World War II nurse and a member of the wealthy Forbes family.
After graduating with a political science degree from Yale University in 1966, John Kerry enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served as a swift boat captain in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, and rose to the rank of lieutenant. For his combat duty, Kerry received a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts.
KERRY AND THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT
After his discharge from the Navy in early 1970, Kerry became a prominent figure in the anti-America, pro-Hanoi crowd of antiwar protesters personified most visibly by Jane Fonda. Like so many of those activists, Kerry publicly maligned U.S. soldiers. He became a spokesman and organizer for the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and he developed close ties to Ramsey Clark, who had served as Attorney General under President Lyndon Johnson.
During an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1970, Kerry, depicting the United States as a country whose aggressive impuses needed to be reined in by outside forces, said: "I'm an internationalist. I'd like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations."
On May 23, 1970, Kerry married Julia Thorne, the sister of one of his former classmates at Yale. (The couple would go on to have two daughters together but were divorced on July 25, 1988, and the marriage was formally annulled in 1997.)
In May 1970, Kerry met with North Vietnamese/Viet Cong delegations at the Paris Peace Talks, where they discussed a variety of proposals—especially the eight points enumerated by the top Vietnamese delegate, Nguyen Thi Madame Binh (a winner of the Lenin Peace Prize). Kerry strongly advised the U.S. Senate to accept those points.
At that time, Kerry himself acknowledged that his visits to Paris were “on the borderline of private individuals negotiating, et cetera.” This was significant because 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 became increasingly strident in his insistence that the U.S. accept Madame Binh's (i.e., the Viet Cong's) peace proposals. VVAW went so far as to sign a “People’s Peace Treaty” (reportedly drafted in Communist East Germany in December 1970), whose nine points were all extracted from a list of Viet Cong conditions for ending the war. Kerry fully supported this treaty. According to Gerald Nicosia, a historian of the antiwar movement: “These [VVAW] people signed their own symbolic 'people's peace treaty' with the Vietnamese. As [VVAW co-founder] Jan Barry recalls, the gesture was intended as a means of embracing the people they had harmed, of asking forgiveness for those they had killed.”
In early September 1970, Kerry was a featured speaker at the VVAW-sponsored Operation RAW (Rapid American Withdrawal), an antiwar march that began in Morristown, New Jersey and ended in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Fellow speakers included such notables as Jane Fonda and Michael Lerner.
By frequently participating in VVAW demonstrations, Kerry marched alongside many revolutionary Communists. Exploiting his presence at such rallies, the Communist publication Daily World prominently published photographs of Kerry addressing anti-war protestors, some of whom were carrying banners with portraits of Communist Party leader Angela Davis. Openly organized by known Communists, these rallies were typified by what the December 12, 1971 edition of the Herald Traveler called an “abundance of Vietcong flags, clenched fists raised in the air, and placards plainly bearing legends in support of China, Cuba, the USSR, North Korea and the Hanoi government.”
From January 31 to February 2, 1971, Kerry participated in the so-called “Winter Soldier Investigation” in Detroit, where more than 100 Vietnam veterans and 16 civilians testified that U.S. troops had routinely, and as a matter of policy, committed atrocities—including rape, arson, torture, and mass murder—against innocent civilians in South Vietnam.
In April 1971 Kerry helped organize one of the most confrontational series of antiwar protests of the period—five days of rallies in which nearly 1,000 self-identified Vietnam veterans gathered on Washington, DC’s Mall for what they termed “a limited incursion into the country of Congress.”
On April 22, 1971, Kerry testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and stated that at the Winter Soldier Investigation, many Vietnam veterans had “told stories that at times they 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.” Further, Kerry charged that America's "war crimes committed 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." He promoted the leftist worldview of a racist America that was no better than its Communist enemy: “We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by our flag, as blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties.” And he declared, “We cannot fight Communism all over the world, and I think we should have learned that lesson by now.”
More than three decades later, when Kerry was running for U.S. President, 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, Senator John McCain recalled that his North Vietnamese captors had used reports of Kerry-led protests to taunt him and his fellow prisoners. Retired General George S. Patton III angrily 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.”
It should be noted that the chairman of the Senate hearing at which Kerry spoke was Foreign Relations Committee chair J. William Fulbright (D-Arkansas), who, according to the New York Sun, "stood for three things in his time: [c]apitulation to the communists in Vietnam, segregation of the races, and ... hostility to the Jewish state." In other words, says the Sun:
"Mr. Kerry was ushered onto the national stage by a senator who really did have a messianic and obsessive hostility to Israel.... In the same year that Fulbright invited Kerry to libel our GIs, the Dixiecrat made a speech at Yale in which he warned that, as the Associated Press put it, the United States 'could be drawn into war with the Soviet Union by Israeli Communist-baiting humbuggery.' He insisted that America was permitting 'client states like Israel and South Vietnam to manipulate American policy toward purposes contrary to our interests.' ... Golda Meir, incidentally, was onto Fulbright’s game. 'Can you remember when Senator Fulbright has said anything positive about Israel?' Israel’s fourth prime minister once asked an interviewer. That was after the Arkansan went on CBS’s Face the Nation to complain that the Senate was 'subservient' to the Jewish state."
On April 23, 1971—the day after his Senate testimony—Kerry and a number of fellow antiwar veterans ceremoniously threw away some of the medals and ribbons with which they had been honored for their service. On April 24, Kerry explained his actions: “In a real sense, this [Nixon] Administration forced us to return our medals because beyond the perversion of the war, these leaders themselves denied us the integrity those symbols supposedly gave our lives.” Several months later—in a November 6, 1971 interview on the WRC-TV program Viewpoints—Kerry confirmed that: “I gave back, I can't remember, six, seven, eight, nine medals.” These included the Bronze Star, Silver Star and three Purple Hearts.
In subsequent years, Kerry would offer differing versions of what had happened to his military medals:
- During his first run for the U.S. Senate in 1984, he reported that he was still in possession of his medals, and that the only medals he had thrown away actually belonged to another soldier.
- In 1988 he said he had thrown away three ribbons which he had been awarded for combat wounds, but not his medals. “I was proud of my personal service and remain so,” Kerry told the National Journal.
- In 1996 he told the Boston Globe that he had indeed thrown out his ribbons but not his medals. The latter had been spared, Kerry said, not because he valued them but because he “didn't have time to go home [to New York] and get them.”
- During his 2004 presidential run, he repeatedly denied having discarded any of his medals. In a December 2003 interview, for example, Kerry said: “I'm proud of my medals. I always was proud of them,” adding that he had only gotten rid of his “ribbons.” In April 2004 he told a Los Angeles Times reporter: “I threw my ribbons. I didn't have my medals. It is very simple.... We threw away the symbols of what our country gave us for what we had gone through.”
In the summer of 1971, Kerry traveled to Paris to discuss with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations the conditions under which they might agree to release U.S. prisoners of war. This particular act of private diplomacy was likely a violation of the so-called Logan Act, which states:
“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
In a 1971 interview with William F. Buckley, Kerry delivered this broadside against American arrogance and "moralism":
"I don’t think that the United States, and I think this is the biggest problem about Vietnam, can necessarily apply moral, moralisms to its commitments around the world. And I think this is one of the great fallacies of our foreign policy at the present moment. Interventionism as well as globalism both stem from the same kind of moralism. And in a certain sense I think that moralism can be very defeating for the United States in its undertakings. It gets us into a sort of messianic enterprise, whereby we have this impression that somehow we can go out and touch these other countries and change them. And I think this is what in a sense led us into Vietnam -- an extension of what we did to react to the Soviet Union in Europe, what we have done to react to this threat of Communism around the world. And we have this moralism which has been applied to all of our efforts since the founding of the United States, which is now interspersed in every single policy and effort that we make, and I think that as a result it's coming back to haunt us. Because it haunts us at home, in so much as there are many areas that we have very really been unable to apply that moralism here, where equality of opportunity and many other things are concerned, as well as abroad, where we have found, especially in Vietnam, that we have not been able to apply these changes quite as quickly or as sweepingly as we thought."
In November 1971 Kerry attended a series of VVAW meetings in Kansas City, Missouri, at which a plan to assassinate U.S. Senators, known as the “Phoenix Project,” was debated and ultimately voted down. Historian Gerald Nicosia says, “My evidence is incontrovertible. He [Kerry] was there.” Nicosia adds that Kerry then resigned from VVAW on the third day of the meetings because of the extreme actions the group was considering.
RISE OF A POLITICAL CAREER
In September 1973 Kerry enrolled at Boston College Law School, where he went on to earn a J.D. three years later. After graduating, he found work as a prosecutor in the office of the District Attorney of Middlesex County, Massachusetts. In 1982 he was elected lieutenant governor of the state.
When Paul Tsongas, the junior U. S. Senator from Massachusetts, announced in 1984 that he would be stepping down for health reasons, Kerry, a Democrat, decided to run for Tsongas' seat. He emerged victorious and was subsequently re-elected in 1990, 1996, 2002, and 2008.
CONDEMNING THE REAGAN ADMINISTRATION'S ACTIONS IN GRENADA
Kerry denounced the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada—a measure that overthrew the island nation's communist government and replaced it with a pro-Western one. Likening the conflict to “Boston College playing football against the Sisters of Mercy,” he said: “The invasion of Grenada represents the Reagan policy of substituting public relations for diplomatic relations ... The invasion represented a bully’s show of force against a weak Third World nation. The invasion only served to heighten world tensions and further strain brittle U.S.–Soviet and North–South relations.”
OPPOSING THE STRATEGIC DEFENSE INITIATIVE (MISSILE DEFENSE)
Shortly after President Reagan's first proposed the creation of a missile-defense system (known as the Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI) in 1983, Kerry denounced the idea as dangerous and unrealistic. In June 1985, for instance, the senator called for deep cuts in funding for the program, disparaging it as a nothing more than a “Star Wars”-type fantasy. Said Kerry:
- “We must also recognize that we could never test a Star Wars system under realistic conditions until the moment of an all-out nuclear attack.”
- “If Star Wars didn't work perfectly the very first time [the result] would be the destruction of our society.”
- “This is the time we must say 'no' to the president's dream, a dream based on illusion, but one which could have real and terrible consequences.”
In August 1986, Kerry said that "what we must do is deny this program the funds that would enable this cancer on our nation's defense to grow any further."
KERRY AND CENTRAL AMERICA
On April 18, 1985, Kerry and fellow Democratic Senator Tom Harkin—in a trip arranged by the Institute for Policy Studies—traveled to Nicaragua to meet with that country's president, Daniel Ortega, whose communist Sandinista government had strong ties to the Soviet Union and Cuba. (The Sandinistas had ethnically cleansed the Miskito Afro-Indians and destroyed Nicaragua’s Jewish community.)
At that time, the Reagan Administration was backing a rebel Nicaraguan force known as the Contras. Through Kerry and Harkin, President Ortega offered a cease-fire agreement on the condition that the U.S. stop aiding the Contras. Reagan denounced 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, but Ortega nonetheless flew to Moscow (the day after the House vote) to accept a $200 million loan from the Soviets.
In December 1985, Kerry was the only U.S. senator to vote against the appropriation of funds for police training in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.
In 1986, Kerry 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.” Fellow supporters of the "fast for life" included Ted Kennedy, Leon Panetta, Tom Harkin, David Bonior, Lane Evans, and Patrick Leahy.
In the late 1980s, Kerry headed the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations. In that role, he tried to prove that the Nicaraguan Contras were drug-runners. Most notably, he tried (unsuccessfully) to link Vice President George W. Bush, who was running for the White House, to the Contras' alleged criminality. One Republican aide at the time said the following:
"[Senator Ted] Kennedy’s people were liberal, to be sure, and so were [Senator Chris] Dodd’s. But Kerry’s people were much more rabid. They promoted the most bizarre conspiracy theories around.... There was a real fruity network of goofball and semi-subversive people, and Kerry ran with those people. He was always a bit aloof himself, but you can tell a lot about politicians by the people they let in. These weren’t liberals. They had a shockingly hostile attitude toward the United States—our military, our intelligence community, our policies."
When Violeta Chamorro (who was backed by the Bush administration) was elected president of Nicaragua in February 1990 (unseating the Communist Daniel Ortega), an interviewer asked John Kerry: “Does this mean the United States did the right thing all those years by funding the Contras?” The senator replied, “Well, I think that’s almost an irrelevant debate right now. I don’t happen to believe that, because many of us believe it could have been a different form of pressure. But the important thing now is that the election has taken place. I really think it’s more of a triumph of multi-nation diplomacy.”
KERRY & THE INSTITUTE OF POLICY STUDIES
In the 1980s, Senator Kerry hired Gareth Porter, a former fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, as a legislative aide.
KERRY'S CONTROVERSIAL JOKE ABOUT DAN QUAYLE
At a November 15, 1988 businessmen's breakfast in East Lynn, Massachusetts, Kerry made a joke about then-president-elect George H.W. Bush and his vice president, saying: “If Bush is shot, the Secret Service has orders to shoot Dan Quayle.” Kerry apologized the following day for the remark.
KERRY AND POWs IN VIETNAM
As chairman of the Select Senate Committee on POW/MIA (Prisoners Of War/Missing In Action) Affairs—which was created in 1991 to determine whether any American POWs or MIAs were still alive in Vietnam—Kerry, who favored a normalization of U.S. relations with that country, pressured the panel to conclude that no American servicemen remained there. According to the U.S. Veteran Dispatch, “[N]o one in the United States Senate pushed harder to bury the POW / MIA issue, the last obstacle preventing normalization of relations with Hanoi, than John Forbes Kerry.” Controversy erupted in December 1992, however, when the U.S. Veteran Dispatch issued a report whose substance raised questions as to what may have motivated Kerry to so avidly pursue normalization:
“Vietnam announced it had granted Colliers International, based in Boston, Massachusetts, a contract worth billions designating Colliers International as the exclusive real estate agent representing Vietnam. That deal alone put Colliers in a position to make tens of millions of dollars on the rush to upgrade Vietnam's ports, railroads, highways, government buildings, etc. C. Stewart Forbes, Chief Executive Officer of Colliers International, is Kerry's cousin.”
On May 26, 1995, Kerry married the philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry, whom he had met at an Earth Day rally five years earlier.
KERRY AND THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA
In 2002, Kerry sent his greetings to a major gathering of the Democratic Socialists of America's (DSA) Boston chapter. When Kerry ran for U.S. President against George W. Bush in 2004, DSA urged its members to support Kerry (though its preferred candidates were Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich).
KERRY THE "INTERNATIONALIST"
In April 2004, newsman Tim Russert asked Kerry to clarify his 1970 assertion that U.S. foreign interventions should occur only at the behest of the United Nations. Kerry replied:
"That's one of those stupid things that a 27-year-old kid says when you're fresh back from Vietnam and angry about it. I have never, ever, ever, in any vote, in any policy, in any speech, in any public statement advocated any such thing in all of the years I've been in elected office. In fact, I say the following and I say it very clearly, I will never cede the security of the United States to any institution and I will never cede our security to any other country. No country will have a veto over what we need to do to protect ourselves."
But in fact, Kerry's 2003 book, A Call to Service, essentially echoed what he had said 33 years earlier. Wrote Kerry:
"In contrast to the dangerous mix of isolationism and unilateralism that characterizes the Republicans, [I support] speaking from a position of strength on international issues--the multilateral cooperative tradition of democratic internationalism forged in the course of two world wars and the cold war. It acknowledges that multilateral organizations are vehicles for the promotion of our ideals and interests around the world."
Moreover, Kerry favors the establishment of an International Criminal Court operating under UN auspices.
LOSING THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2004
Kerry and his running mate, Senator John Edwards, lost the 2004 presidential election by a margin of 286 electoral votes to 251.
KERRY & THE IRAQ WAR
In 2001, Kerry voted to authorize the use of military force against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He took this position based on his firm conviction—which he publicly articulated on numerous occasions—that Saddam was 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 promised it.”
- “If Saddam Hussein is unwilling to bend to the international community's already existing order, then he will have invited enforcement, even if the enforcement is mostly at the hands of the United States, a right we retain even if the Security Council fails to act.”
- “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. The reason I think we need to really think about him is because he presents a particularly grievous threat through the consistency with which he is prone to miscalculation. He miscalculated an eight-year war with Iran. He miscalculated the invasion of Kuwait. He miscalculated America's response to that act of naked aggression. He miscalculated the result of setting oil rigs on fire. He miscalculated the impact of sending scuds into Israel and trying to assassinate a former American President. He miscalculated his own military strength and he miscalculated the Arab world's response to his misconduct. And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. That is why the world, through the United Nations Security Council, has spoken with one voice, demanding that Iraq disclose and destroy its weapons programs. So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but it's not new. Since the end of the Persian Gulf War we've known this.”
- “Saddam Hussein could not be left to his own devices based on everything we learned about him for seven and a half years while we were inspecting in Iraq. People have forgotten that for seven and a half years, we found weapons of mass destruction. We were destroying weapons of mass destruction. We were, the United States of America, together with Ambassador Butler and the United Nations.”
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 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 had also “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.”
Kerry also accused the U.S. military 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…”
Kerry again sparked controversy on October 30, 2006, when he spoke to an audience composed mostly of college students at a campaign rally for Democratic California gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides. “You know,” said Kerry, “education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.” The following day, political leaders from both major parties criticized Kerry's remarks as insulting to members of the U.S. military who were fighting in Iraq at that time. Kerry replied: “Let me make it crystal clear, as crystal clear as I know how. I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy.” He then explained that his original remark was merely a “botched joke” that had been intended as a jab at President Bush. That is, he had inadvertently omitted from his comment the word “us,” which would have changed the offending sentence to: “If you don't, you get us stuck in Iraq.”
KERRY ENDORSES OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT
On January 10, 2008, Kerry endorsed Illinois Senator Barack Obama for U.S. President.
TAX CONTROVERSY REGARDING KERRY'S YACHT
In July 2010 the Boston Herald reported that Kerry had commissioned construction on a new $7 million-dollar yacht in New Zealand and subsequently moored it in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, where he could avoid paying Massachusetts taxes on the vessel (including some $437,500 in sales tax and an annual excise tax of approximately $70,000). When critics chided Kerry for trying to evade taxes, the senator stated that he planned to pay the taxes in question—whether he owed them or not—as soon as he took legal possession of the boat.
KERRY AND GLOBAL WARMING / CLIMATE CHANGE
In the summer of 2012, Kerry delivered a speech on the Senate Floor warning of the dangers of “climate change,” which he said was “as dangerous as any of the sort of real crises that we talk about,” including the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, “because it affects life itself on the planet.” Kerry characterized those who doubted that human industrial activity causes global warming as “fundamentally a flat-earth caucus, a bunch of people ... who still argue, against all the science, all the evidence,... that somehow we don’t know enough about climate change, or they argue that the evidence isn’t sufficient, or they argue that it just is a hoax.”
To limit the emission of greenhouse gases that allegedly cause global warming, Kerry supports the implementation of a “cap-and-trade” program. Toward that end, in September 2009 he and Senator Barbara Boxer together proposed the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, which called for a cap-and-trade system as well as a 20% decrease on emissions by the year 2020.
On February 17, 2014, Kerry delivered, to an audience of students in Jakarta, Indonesia, a speech that was slated to be the first in an ongoing series of talks on the dangers of climate change. Aides said that Kerry had chosen Indonesia as the launch-point for the series because, as an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, it was at great risk from the threat of rising sea levels. Said Kerry:
"Because of climate change, it's no secret that today Indonesia is ... one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth. It's not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk....
"Think about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It doesn't keep us safe if the United States secures its nuclear arsenal while other countries fail to prevent theirs from falling into the hands of terrorists. The bottom line is this: it is the same thing with climate change. In a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction."
He added that climate change was every bit as significant as terrorism in terms of its monumental global implications:
"Terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: all challenges that know no borders. The reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them."
And he expressed impatience with skeptics who doubted that the pollutants associated with human industrial activity were responsible for climate change:
"We just don't have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation. I'm talking about big companies that like it the way it is, that don't want to change, and spend a lot of money to keep you and me and everybody from doing what we know we need to do. We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists ... and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact. The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand."
KERRY AND SYRIA
Since the early 2000s, Kerry has been the federal government’s highest-ranking apologist for Syrian President Bashar Assad. Indeed it was Kerry who made numerous efforts to undermine the Bush administration’s attempt to isolate the Syrian dictator after its courtship of him ended in failure in 2003; after Bush repeatedly accused Syria of supporting terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere; and after the United States withdrew its ambassador to Syria following the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s former premier Rafiq Hariri in a car bombing most likely orchestrated by the Assad regime.
In February 2009, just days after Barack Obama’s inauguration, Kerry was sent to Syria as part of a policy review by an Obama administration that was looking to establish new relationships with countries the Bush administration had considered hostile. (This was the first of five trips Kerry would make to Syria between 2009 and 2011.)
During the February 2009 trip, Kerry listened to Bashar Assad advise him that Washington must “move away from a policy based on dictating decisions,” and that future relations between the U.S. and Syria should be based on a “proper understanding” by Washington of Middle East issues and interests. In return, Kerry used the occasion to bash the former administration. “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,” he said. Added Kerry: ”I believe very deeply that this is an important moment of change, a moment of potential transformation, not just in the relationship between the United States and Syria but in the relationship of the region.” Emphasizing his belief that Assad would aid the so-called peace process in the Middle East, Kerry stated that “Syria could be, in fact, very helpful in helping to bring about a unity government” between Fatah and Hamas.
In a trip through through the Middle East in February 2010, Kerry secretly told Qatari leaders that the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in 1967 during the Six Day War, should be returned to Syria as part of the "peace process."
In addition, Kerry told Qatar's Prime Minister (Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani) and Emir (Hamad bin Khalifa) that peace would be further promoted by the establishment of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and that he was "shocked" by the Palestinian poverty and suffering he had seen during a recent visit to Gaza. The Emir, for his part, told Kerry to focus on Syria as the key to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Kerry, meanwhile, agreed with the Emir that Syrian President Assad deserved praise for his desire to bring "change" to his country, though Kerry said that Assad needed to be “more statesman-like,” which meant “mak[ing] a bolder move and tak[ing] risks” for peace.
In early 2011, Kerry, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sat down once again with Assad. “Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region,” said the senator in April 2010. “Both the United States and Syria have a very deep interest … in having a very frank exchange on any differences [and] agreements that we have about the possibilities of peace in this region.” Kerry added that the Obama administration’s effort to appoint the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus in five years was “evidence that engagement with Syria is a priority at the highest levels of our government.” And he called on Syria to stop supplying weapons to Hezbollah.
By March 2011, as the Arab Spring's anti-government protests in the Middle East began to include Syria, France and the U.S. nixed another trip by Kerry to Damascus, concerned that it would signal “Western weakness.” That decision may have been precipitated by an appearance Kerry had made before a think tank audience twelve days earlier, where he:
- contended that the United States had a crucial role to play in facilitating the “democratic transitions” in the Middle East, including Egypt;
- asserted that “the people of Egypt liberated themselves in eighteen days without a single IED or suicide bomb”;
- praised President Assad for having been “very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had”; and
- predicted that “Syria will change, as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States and the West and economic opportunity that comes with it and the participation that comes with it.”
Over the next 20 months, the death toll in Syria's bloody civil war, during which Assad cut a bloody swath through his own nation using heavy artillery and helicopter gunships in civilian neighborhoods, exceeded 40,000.
KERRY AND CODE PINK
In 2009 Kerry signed a letter backing the activities of Code Pink activists bound for Egypt and Gaza, on a mission of support for Hamas. "I respectfully request that every courtesy be given the members of the delegation during their visit," said the letter. "My staff has met with members of the group and is impressed with their ability, dedication and commitment to the peace process." When they subsequently arrived in Cairo, the Code Pink delegates (among whom was Jodie Evans) presented Kerry's letter to the U.S. Embassy in an attempt to pressure Egypt to permit their organization to stage a political march into Gaza, where they hoped to secure a meeting with Hamas leaders. (Former Weather Underground terrorists William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn participated in that march, as did the founder of Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah.)
This was not the first time Kerry had dealt with Code Pink; staffers from the senator's office had met with members of that organization on prior occasions. Moreover, Kerry staffers had also previously met with a task force of United for Peace and Justice-Palestine.
KERRY AND THE TEA PARTY
In an August 2011 interview on MSNBC, Kerry derided Tea Party conservatives as fringe lunatics whose message was so absurd as to not even merit media coverage:
“The media in America has a bigger responsibility than it’s exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual. It doesn’t deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do. And the problem is everything is put into this tit-for-tat equal battle and America is losing any sense of what’s real, of who’s accountable, of who is not accountable, of who’s real, who isn’t, who’s serious, who isn’t?”
KERRY'S SENATE VOTING RECORD
For an overview of John Kerry's voting record on key bills in the U.S. Senate, click here. For a still more comprehensive overview of his voting record, click here.
SECRETARY OF STATE
On December 15, 2012, several news outlets reported that President Barack Obama would nominate Kerry to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State sometime during the next few weeks. Upon learning of that impending nomination, John O’Neill, the former leader of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, stated that Kerry “is well qualified to be the Secretary of Defense … of Cuba or Venezuela. He [is] certainly an expert on surrender and can run up a white flag with the best of them.”
Obama's formal nomination of Kerry came on December 21, 2012. On January 29, 2013, the Senate voted 94-to-3 in favor of confirmation. The only dissenters were John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both Texas Republicans, and James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma).
KERRY & EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT MOHAMMED MORSI
In January 2013, a number of news outlets reported on some newly uncovered video footage showing Egyptian President (and Muslim Brotherhood member) Mohammed Morsi in recent times urging Muslims to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for ... Zionists, for Jews,” as “a form of worshipping” Allah; stating that “there is no place for [Zionists] on the land of Palestine,” a region Jews initially came to occupy by means of “plunder”; denouncing the “Zionist and American enemies” of the Palestinians; and referring to Jews as “bloodsuckers,” “warmongers,” and “descendents of apes and pigs.” But when the Obama administration nonetheless delivered a gift of four American-made F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in early 2013, Kerry defended the move, saying:
“President Morsi has issued two statements to clarify those comments and we had a group of senators who met with him the other day who spent a good part of the conversation in relatively heated discussion with him about it.... [N]ot everything ... lends itself to a simple clarity, black white, this that, every time.”
KERRY'S FIRST SPEECH AS SECRETARY OF STATE
On February 20, 2013, during his first public speech as U.S. Secretary of State, Kerry spoke about the risks faced by government employees working abroad under dangerous conditions. In his remarks, he said: "They fight corruption in Nigeria. They support the rule of law in Burma. They support democratic institutions in Kyrzakhstan and Georgia, mindful from our own experience that it takes a long time to get democracy right, and that it rarely happens right away." But "Kyrzakhstan" is a nonexistent country. Kerry apparently blended the names of Kyrgyzstan—an impoverished nation of 5.5 million people—with its resource-rich neighbour to the north, Kazakhstan. The State Department subsequently corrected Kerry's error in the official transcript of the speech.
KERRY AND ISRAEL
Demanding Israeli Concessions
On April 24, 2013, Kerry and the Obama administration—in an effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a peace settlement—demanded that Israel release a number of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons as a good will gesture to the Palestinian Authority (PA). At the time, PA president Mahmoud Abbas's preconditions for resuming negotiations were the same as they had been for years: (a) Israel committing beforehand to a withdrawal to indefensible borders; (b) an end to Jewish building in Judea, Samaria, and parts of Jerusalem; and (c) Israel releasing Palestinian terrorists from prison.
Journalist Eli Lake explains the circumstances that stalled the negotiations in the first place, and how Kerry tried to jump-start those talks:
"Since 2009, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to negotiate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government until and unless Israel froze construction in the West Bank as well as east Jerusalem, the city Israel regards as its capital. Abbas had negotiated with Netanyahu’s predecessor even as Israel continued to build housing and other structures in the West Bank and Jerusalem as late as 2008, but he changed his position after President Obama began to publicly demand such a freeze from Netanyahu.... Kerry came around to the position that the settlement freeze was an obstacle to peace and began looking for another way to bring Abbas to the negotiations table. The agreement included Israel’s commitment to release 104 Palestinians detained for crimes committed before the Oslo peace process began in earnest in 1994."
The first 26 of those 104 prisoners were released on August 13, 2013. Once free, all released prisoners would receive a stipend from the Palestinian Authority worth approximately $1,120 per month.
In early November 2013, the Israeli-Palestinian “peace talks” hit a rough patch and were said to have “ended in a row, with raised voices and the exchange of verbal insults.” The trouble started when Israel released the second batch of Palestinian security prisoners, all of whom were serving time for murder or attempted murder. Meanwhile, in an attempt to allay outrage particularly on the more right-leaning side of his coalition, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the building of 3,500 housing units for Israelis—all of them either in East Jerusalem or West Bank (Judea and Samaria) settlement blocs. Several Israeli officials claimed that the Palestinian side had already consented to such construction as a quid pro quo for the prisoner releases.
But the Palestinian negotiators claimed that their side had never agreed to such a quid pro quo, and denounced the construction itself. With news outlets reporting that the talks on the whole were on the verge of collapse, Kerry rushed to Israel in an effort to salvage the situation. Taking the Palestinian side, he claimed that “at no time” had the Palestinians consented to any Israeli building beyond the 1949 armistice lines—even, it was implied, as a concession in return for Israel’s wholesale freeing of terrorists. Kerry also stated, immediately after discussions with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas: “Let me emphasize at this point the position of the United States of America on the settlements is that we consider them ... to be illegitimate.”
Kerry Says Israel Risks Becoming an "Apartheid State"
At a Trilateral Commission meeting on April 25, 2014, Kerry told a room of influential world leaders that if no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be negotiated soon, Israel risked becoming “an apartheid state.” “A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative,” said Kerry. “Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state. Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution ...”
Kerry also repeated his warning that if the peace talks failed, another wave of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens might result. “People grow so frustrated with their lot in life that they begin to take other choices and go to dark places they’ve been before, which forces confrontation,” he said.
Moreover, Kerry criticized Israeli settlement construction as a major obstacle to the peace process: “There is a fundamental confrontation and it is over settlements. Fourteen thousand new settlement units announced since we began negotiations. It’s very difficult for any leader to deal under that cloud.”
Kerry Mocks Israeli Military Operations Against Hamas
During a July 20, 2014 interview on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace played a video clip that had been captured while Kerry was waiting, just moments earlier, to appear on the program. In that clip, the Secretary of State -- seemingly unaware that the camera in front of him and the microphone pinned to his lapel were live -- harshly criticized the Israeli military operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza following news of Palestinian civilian deaths. Alluding to Israel's claim that it was striving to pinpoint its strikes so as to hit only terror-related targets and avoid civilian casualties, Kerry told a top aide sarcastically over his cellphone: "It’s a helluva pinpoint operation. It’s a helluva pinpoint operation."
KERRY AND SYRIA
Syria's Chemical Weapons
During the last week of August 2013, President Obama publicly stated that the U.S. had obtained irrefutable evidence that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had recently used chemical weapons in the civil war it had been waging against rebel forces (led by the al Qaeda-affiliated group Al-Nusra) for two-and-a-half years, a war that had claimed more than 100,000 lives during that time period. Obama also indicated that in order to punish Assad for having used those chemical weapons, he was leaning toward attacking Syria -- with a limited military strike of short duration against certain selected targets -- and that he would not seek a congressional vote to authorize such a move.
On August 30, Obama dispatched Secretary of State Kerry to make a passionate speech in support of a swift U.S. response to Syria's “moral obscenity.” In that speech, Kerry called Assad "a thug and a murderer" and held him accountable for the 1,429 people who allegedly had died from the recent chemical attack. "My friends," Kerry added, "it matters here if nothing is done. It matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens." Just hours after Kerry's speech, however, Obama conferred with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, and decided to reverse course. The following day, the President announced that he would seek congressional approval before taking any military action. Kerry, for his part, praised this decision.
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on September 3, Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) asked Kerry the following:
"What do we know about the opposition? I mean, what is — have we been tracking them for the last two years? I mean, it seems like — and this is more of an impression I have as opposed to any exact knowledge, but it seems like initially, the opposition was maybe more Western-leaning, more moderate, more democratic, and as time has gone by, it’s degraded, become more infiltrated by al-Qaida. That — is that basically true? Or to — (inaudible) — has that happened?
"No, that is actually basically not true. It’s basically incorrect. The opposition has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution, which will be broad-based and secular with respect to the future of Syria. And that’s very critical."
Russian President Vladimir Putin subsequently accused Kerry of lying to Congress. Said Putin:
“They lie beautifully, of course. I saw debates in Congress. A congressman asks Mr. Kerry: ‘Is al Qaeda there?’ He says: ‘No, I am telling you responsibly that it is not.’ ... Al Qaeda units are the main military echelon, and they [the Americans] know this. It was unpleasant and surprising for me – we talk to them, we proceed from the assumption that they are decent people. But he [Kerry] is lying and knows he is lying. It’s sad.”
Also on September 3, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked Kerry whether the Obama administration would be willing to pledge, in an authorization resolution, that absolutely no U.S. ground troops would be deployed in Syria under any circumstances. Kerry replied that it would be “preferable not to” deploy such troops, but raised hypothetical situations where ground personnel might be necessary -- e.g., if Syria “imploded” or if chemical weapons were transferred into the hands of an al Qaeda affiliate. “I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country,” said Kerry.
Just a few minutes later, after Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) called Kerry’s comments “not very appropriate,” the Secretary of State immediately backtracked. “Let’s shut that door now,” Kerry said, claiming that he had merely been “thinking out loud.” “There will not be American boots on the ground with respect” to the civil war in Syria, he affirmed.
At a September 9, 2013 news conference in London, Kerry, responding to critics who opposed American involvement in a Mideast civil war, emphasized that any U.S. military action against the Assad regime would be “unbelievably small”:
“We will be able to hold [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war. That is exactly what we are talking about doing—unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”
House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) said the following about Kerry's comments:
“That’s … certainly a confusing message to me, that he would offer that as somebody who believes this is in our national security interest.”
Later on September 9, a reporter asked Kerry whether he could envision any conceivable occurrence that might be able to avert U.S. military action. The Secretary of State replied, dismissively: "He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. But he isn't about to do it, and it can't be done, obviously."
White House officials then spent the next several hours downplaying Kerry's comment. The State Department press office quickly issued a clarification saying: “Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used.” Kerry himself told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that his remark was rhetorical and not intended as a diplomatic proposal. And an anonymous American official told CNN that Kerry's comment was a "major goof."
But Russian President Vladimir Putin treated it as a serious proposal. Almost immediately, Putin's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, announced that his country would work "immediately" to convince Syria to turn over its chemical weapons arsenal to international inspectors. Kerry initially voiced "serious skepticism" vis a vis Lavrov's suggestion, but then agreed to consider it.
Kerry and fellow Obama administration officials subsequently claimed that the Syrian offer to abide by Russia's suggestion and relinquish its chemical weapons had occurred only because of the threat of U.S. force. But this political spin was discredited On September 11, 2013, when a White House official said that Vladimir Putin "now owns this. He has fully asserted ownership of it and he needs to deliver."
A day later, Syrian President Assad himself discredited Kerry's claim by declaring, in an interview, that before relinquishing his chemical arsenal, he would need to see evidence that “the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack, and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists.” Further, Assad hinted that the Russian proposal—which required Syria to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention—could foreseeably become mired in endless negotiations and delays. “It doesn’t mean that Syria will sign the documents, fulfill the obligations, and that’s it,” he said. Meanwhile, a headline in the state-owned Syrian newspaper Al Watan read: “Moscow and Damascus pull the rug out from under the feet of Obama.”
On September 13, the Wall Street Journal reported that American and Middle Eastern officials, "a secretive Syrian military unit at the center of the Assad regime's chemical weapons program has been moving stocks of poison gases and munitions to as many as 50 sites to make them harder for the U.S. to track." This not only complicated the prospect of any U.S. bombing campaign designed to degrade Syria's chemical-weapons capabilities, but also cast doubt on how the Russian proposal (calling for the Assad regime to surrender control of its chemical arsenal) could ever be carried out or verified.
On September 26, the United States and Russia agreed on a U.N. Security Council draft resolution "legally obligating" Syria to give up its chemical arms, but not threatening the use of military force if it failed to comply.
In December 2013, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh accused the Obama administration of using "cherry-picked intelligence" to fabricate a lie blaming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the deadly sarin-gas attack in August. Hersh also charged that the administration had purposefully hidden intelligence implicating the fundamentalist group Al-Nusra's involvement in that attack. Wrote Hersh:
"A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information -- in terms of its timing and sequence -- to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analyzed in real time, as the attack was happening."
Moreover, Hersh said that his contacts had spoken of "immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy" regarding the Obama administration: "The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, 'How can we help this guy [Obama] when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?'"
Kerry's Belief That a Post-Assad Syria Could Be a Land of Pluralism
In a January 23, 2014 interview with the Al Arabiya News Channel, Kerry repeatedly insisted that if Bashar Assad would only leave power, the quality of life would improve for all Syrians, including its minorities. In Kerry's words: “I believe that a peace can protect all of the minorities: Druze, Christian, Isma‘ilis, Alawites—all of them can be protected, and you can have a pluralistic Syria, in which minority rights of all people are protected.” Elsewhere in the interview, Kerry declared: “The world would protect the Alawites, Druze, Christians, and all minorities in Syria after the ousting of Assad.”
The historical record of other Middle Eastern nations whose secular leaders had previously been deposed, however, contradicted Kerry's thesis completely.
Syrian Foreign Minister Rebukes Kerry
During peace talks in Geneva in January 2014, Kerry asked Syrian representatives to negotiate directly with the rebels in Montreux. He stipulated, however, that Syrian President Bashar Assad “will not be part” of the next Syrian government. “There is no way, not possible in the imagination, that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain legitimacy to govern,” Kerry said.
In response, Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem said (on February 1) that the Syrian delegation would refuse the U.S. request (for direct negotiations with the rebels) unless, as the Syrian state news agency SANA put it, “Secretary of State John Kerry apologized for what he said at the conference.”
KKERRY'S COMMENTS ABOUT ISLAMIC TERRORISM
When the subject of Islamic radicalization and terrorism was raised during an April 2013 press confeence in Brussels, Kerry said:
"I think the world has had enough of people who have no belief system, no policy for jobs, no policy for education, no policy for rule of law, but who just want to kill people because they don’t like what they see. There’s not room for that. That’s what we’ve been fighting against after all of the wars of the 20th century. Now we’re in the 21st century, and it’s time for a different organizational principle. And we need to, all of us, do a better job of communicating to people what the options of life are. And we’re open. Democracies are open to people participating in the democracy, not killing people. And so I hope that we can all figure out how we translate these better opportunities more effectively in our politics."
PLAN TO PREVENT TERRORISM BY GIVING MONEY & JOBS TO POTENTIAL JIHADISTS
In a September 27, 2013 meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Secretary of State Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu launched what they called the “Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience” (GFCER), which CNSNews.com said was intended to “support local communities and organizations to counter extremist ideology and promote tolerance.” It would do this essentially by giving potential jihad terrorists money and jobs – an initiative proceeding from the false and oft-disproven assumption that poverty causes terrorism.
Kerry demonstrated his faith in this false assumption when he spoke (in early October 2013) about the importance of “providing more economic opportunities for marginalized youth at risk of recruitment” into jihad groups. Toward that end, the GCTF devoted $200 million to the project, which it called “countering violent extremism” (CVE).
Kerry said this money would be used for “challenging the narrative of violence that is used to justify the slaughtering of innocent people.” But no significant amount of time or money was devoted to any effort to convince young would-be jihadis that the al-Qaeda understanding of Islam was wrong, and that Islam was actually a Religion of Peace.
In January 2014 Kerry revisited the notion that poverty "in many cases is the root cause of terrorism." But in fact, a lack of “economic opportunities for marginalized youth” does not fuel Islamic jihad terrorism. Study after study has shown that jihadists are not poor and bereft of economic opportunities, but generally wealthier and better educated than their peers.
KERRY AND IRAN
Secret Nuclear Negotiations with Iran: Israel Is Outraged
In early November 2013, it was reported that the Obama administration had begun softening U.S. sanctions against Iran (vis a vis the latter's nuclear program) soon after the election, five months earlier, of that country's new president, Hassan Rouhani. This move set the stage, in turn, for the United States -- in conjunction with Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany -- to propose a short-term “first step agreement” with Iran at a November meeting in Geneva. The deal, which sought to freeze Iran’s nuclear program for approximately six months in order to create an opportunity for a more comprehensive and lasting bargain to be negotiated, included four key provisions, as outlined by the London Telegraph:
1) Iran would stop enriching uranium to the 20 per cent level that is close to weapons-grade – and turn its existing stockpile of this material into harmless oxide.
2) Iran would continue enrichment to the 3.5 per cent purity needed for nuclear power stations – but agree to limit the number of centrifuges being used for this purpose. There would, however, be no requirement to remove or disable any other centrifuges.
3) Iran would agree not to activate its plutonium reactor at Arak, which could provide another route to a nuclear weapons capability, during the six-month period. Iran may, however, continue working on the facility.
4) Iran would agree not to use its more advanced IR-2 centrifuges, which can enrich uranium between three and five times faster than the older model.
“In return,” said the Telegraph, “America would ease economic sanctions, possibly by releasing some Iranian foreign exchange reserves currently held in frozen accounts. In addition, some restrictions affecting Iran’s petrochemical, motor and precious metals industries could be relaxed.”
On November 8, 2013, the Israeli government was stunned to learn of the seemingly imminent deal with Iran. According to The DailyBeast.com, news of the agreement led to the canceling of a joint media appearance between John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “and prompted, instead, a bitter exchange between them before Kerry headed off to the Swiss city” to take part in the multinational talks.
One Israeli official was quoted saying that “the Americans capitulated to Iranian maneuvering.... Kerry wants a deal at all costs and the Iranians are leading the Americans by the nose.”
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, outraged at the prospect of this agreement with Iran, said: "I understand that the Iranians are walking around very satisfied in Geneva, as well they should be, because they got everything, and paid nothing, they wanted. They wanted relief from sanctions after years of a gruelling sanctions regime.” Added Netanyhau:
“The deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. Iran is not required to take apart even one centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years. Iran gets everything that it wanted at this stage and it pays nothing. And this is when Iran is under severe pressure. I urge Secretary Kerry not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider, to get a good deal. But this is a bad deal--a very, very bad deal. It’s the deal of a century for Iran; it’s a very dangerous and bad deal for peace and the international community."
"Israel utterly rejects it [the deal]," Netanyahu emphasized, "and what I am saying is shared by many in the region, whether or not they express that publicly.... Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people."
When Iran ultimately broke off negotiations on November 10, Netanyahu’s office issued a press release stating:
"Over the weekend I spoke with President Obama, with [Russian] President Putin, with [French] President Hollande, with [German] Chancellor Merkel and with British Prime Minister Cameron. I told them that according to all the information reaching Israel, the impending deal is bad and dangerous.
"It is not only dangerous to us; it is dangerous for them, too. It is dangerous for the peace of the world because in one fell swoop it lowers the pressure of the sanctions which took years to build, and conversely, Iran essentially preserves its nuclear uranium enrichment capabilities as well as the ability to advance on the plutonium enrichment path....
"I asked all the leaders what the rush is. And I suggested that they wait…. It is good that this was ultimately the choice that was made but I am not fooling myself—there is a strong desire to strike a deal…."
France also opposed the deal and emphasized the need to keep tough economic sanctions (against Iran) in place until the Tehran government could prove that it was abandoning its pursuit of nuclear weapons. "France will not give way on nuclear proliferation," said French President Francois Hollande. "So long as we are not certain that Iran has renounced nuclear arms, we will keep in place all our demands and sanctions."
Nuclear Deal With Iran Is Signed
A number of days later, the U.S.—along with Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany—resumed their negotiations with Iran. And on November 24, Kerry announced the signing of an interim agreement wherein Iran agreed that for six months it would:
- place a 5% ceiling on its uranium enrichment;
- reduce to 7,000 kilograms the amount of already-enriched uranium in its possession;
- allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct daily inspections of acknowledged enrichment sites in Natanz and Fordo; and
- suspend all work on its unfinished plutonium plant in Arak.
In exchange, the U.S. and its bargaining partners assured Iran that for the same six-month period:
- the United Nations and the European Union would impose no new sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program, and would cease efforts to further limit Iran’s oil exports;
- sanctions on insurance services for transport to Iran would be suspended, along with additional restrictions on the sale of gold and other valuables;
- a new “financial channel” would permit Iran to access banking services for “humanitarian commerce”—e.g., the import of food, pharmaceuticals, and medical treatments;
- some U.S. sanctions would be suspended; and
- Washington would allow the sale of some spare parts for Iran’s Boeing transport aircraft.
But the agreement gave Russia, a staunch ally of Iran, the right to oversee whatever future actions the Western powers might wish to take regarding Iran. Moreover, the deal kept sensitive sites such as the Iranian military base at Parchin, where researchers were busy weaponizing enriched uranium, off-limits to inpectors. And the same immunity from inspections would apply also to any new nuclear sites that Iran might open up subsequent to the signing of the accord.
By Kerry's telling: “The deal is the beginning and first step. It leads us into the negotiation—so that we guarantee that while we are negotiating for the dismantling, while we are negotiating for the tougher positions, they will not grow their program and their capacity to threaten Israel. Israel will actually gain a larger breathing space in terms of the breakout capacity of Iran. It’s just clear.”
President Obama was equally optimistic, saying the agreement would ensure that “Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon”—an assertion that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described as “a funny joke.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was deeply disturbed by news of the agreement with Iran. The day after the deal had been finalized, he said: “What was agreed last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake. Today the world has become a much more dangerous place, because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.”
Netanyahu lamented that for the first time, the world's leading powers had agreed to permit uranium enrichment in Iran while suspending effective sanctions -- in exchange for merely “cosmetic Iranian concessions that are possible to do away with in a matter of weeks.” Declaring, further, that “Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction,” Netanyahu emphasized that his country “has the right and the obligation to defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” and thus “is not bound by this agreement.” “It becomes [increasingly] clear,” he added, “how bad and dangerous the agreement is to the world, the region and Israel.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who likewise condemned the accord, said: “We are in a new reality that is different from yesterday, and it requires us to reevaluate the situation with good judgment, responsibly and with determination. We will do what we must and will not hesitate for a minute—and there is no need to add another word.”
Yet another Israeli official stated that his government was particulary upset by the fact that the U.S. had not even informed Israel that the negotiations were taking place.
Similarly vexed, Nawaf Obaid, a senior advisor to the Saudi royal family, accused the United States and its partners of deception. “We were lied to, things were hidden from us,” he said. “The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva but how it was done.”
In early December 2013, the Reuters news agency reported that Iran was moving ahead with testing a new generation of more sophisticated centrifuges designed to enrich uranium much more efficiently and quickly than its predecessors. Said Reuters:
"Although the development does not appear to contravene the interim agreement struck between world powers and Iran last month, it may concern the West nonetheless, as the material can also provide the fissile core of a nuclear bomb if enriched to a high degree.... Under the November 24 interim accord with the six world powers, Iran promised not to start operating them or install any more for a period of six months. But the agreement seems to allow it to continue with research and development activity at a nearby Natanz pilot plant."
In mid-December, journalist Amir Taheri wrote:
"Less than a month after it was hailed as 'a great diplomatic coup,' the so-called Geneva accord to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions seems to have come unstuck. The official narrative in Tehran is that Iran signed nothing. 'There is no treaty and no pact,' says Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham, 'only a statement of intent.' Originally, Iran’s official media had presented the accord as a treaty (qarardad) but it now refers to a “letter of agreement” (tavafoq nameh).
"The initial narrative claimed that the P5+1 group of nations that negotiated the deal with Iran had recognized the Islamic Republic’s right to enrich uranium and agreed to start lifting sanctions over a six-month period. In exchange, Iran would slow its uranium enrichment and postpone for six months the installation of equipment for producing plutonium, an alternate route to making a bomb. A later narrative claimed that the accord wasn’t automatic and that the two sides had appointed experts to decide the details (“modalities”) and fix a timetable.
"[On December 16], an editorial in the daily Kayhan, published by the office of 'Supreme Guide' Ali Khameini, claimed that the 'six month' period of the accord was meaningless and that a final agreement might 'even take 20 years to negotiate.' ...
"[T]he new Iranian narrative is that talks about implementing an accord that is not legally binding have collapsed and that, in the words of the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, Ali-Akbar Salehi, there is no change in the rhythm and tempo of Iran’s nuclear project. 'Our centrifuges are working full capacity,' Salehi said [on December 12].
"Having claimed that he had halted Iran’s nuclear project, Secretary of State John Kerry might want to reconsider."
On January 14, 2014, journalist Benny Avni wrote that since the November agreement:
- "Tehran [had] continued to grow its nuclear program, reportedly introducing a new generation of centrifuges to its facilities in Natanz and Fordow, and vigorously building its Arak heavy-water facility."
- "[Iran had] added 1,000 pounds to its stockpiles of uranium enriched to 5 percent, and 66 pounds to its 20 percent stock, getting it thisclose to breakout capacity."
- "International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors were turned away when they sought to visit the Parchin military base, where the IAEA indicates that Iranians are experimenting with ways to weaponize nukes."
On January 14, 2014, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said:
"Do you know what the Geneva agreement means? It means the surrender of the big powers before the great Iranian nation. The Geneva agreement means the wall of sanctions has broken. The unfair sanctions were imposed on the revered and peace-loving Iranian nation. It means an admission by the world of Iran's peaceful nuclear program."
Also in mid-January 2014, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon suggested that John Kerry's “obsessive” and “messianic” quest to strike a deal with Iran was aimed, ultimately, toward winning a Nobel Peace Prize. “The only thing that can ‘save’ us is for John Kerry to win his Nobel Prize and leave us alone,” Ya’alon said.
On January 22, 2014, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN that the Obama administration was creating a false impression of what Iran had agreed to do. Urging the interviewer to read the actual text of the agreement, Zarif said:
"The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran's nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again. If you find a single, a single word, that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I would take back my comment.... [W]e are not dismantling any centrifuges, we're not dismantling any equipment, we're simply not producing, not enriching over 5%."
That same day, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani echoed Zarif's assertion that his country's government had no intention of destroying existing centrifuges.
Nuclear Deal with Iran Fails; Iran Vows Continued Jihad Against America
On May 16, 2014, Iranian negotiators in Geneva presented a new set of “red lines” that they said were not open to compromise in their dealings with the U.S. and its negotiating partners. These red lines included demands for:
- the expansion of research and development in Iran's nuclear program;
- the acceptance of Iran’s need to increase its nuclear enrichment capabilities, even though the country already had 19,000+ centrifuges -- far more than were necessary for peaceful nuclear purposes;
- the preservation of the Arak heavy-water plant, which would eventually provide Iran with a second potential path to nuclear-weapons capability;
- no limits or restrictions placed on Iran's military and defensive measures; and
- the immediate removal of all sanctions against Iran.
On May 25, 2014, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, essentially indicated that negotiations over his nation's nuclear program were finished, and that Iran's long-term goals included the outright destruction of the United States. Said Khamenei:
“Those [Iranians] who want to promote negotiation and surrender to the oppressors and blame the Islamic Republic as a warmonger in reality commit treason....
“The reason for continuation of this battle is not the warmongering of the Islamic Republic. Logic and reason command that for Iran, in order to pass through a region full of pirates, needs to arm itself and must have the capability to defend itself....
“Battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist.... This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought.... This requires a difficult and lengthy struggle and need for great strides.”
Suspension of Sanctions
In early June 2014, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that "in return" for a six-month suspension on oil sanctions against Iran, that nation was agreeing to take steps to stop, and in certain respects roll back, progress on its nuclear program.
On July 20, 2014, it was reported that because Iran and the six world powers trying to negotiate a nuclear deal had failed to arrive at an agreement, they would extend their five-month-old talks for an additional four months, until November. In exchange for agreeing to extend the talks, Iran was permitted to access, during that period, another $2.8 billion of its cash that had been frozen abroad. Robert Einhorn, who had served as a State Department special advisor on arms control until May 2013, noted pessimistically that Iran was actually moving further from the six world powers on the most significant issue of all: how much uranium enrichment capacity Tehran would be permitted to retain.
THE END OF THE MONROE DOCTRINE
On November 18, 2013, Kerry announced that the Obama administration had decided to formally end the era of the Monroe Doctrine. Adopted in 1823 by then-President James Monroe, the policy held that the U.S. would view any efforts by European countries to colonize land in North or South America as aggressive acts, and thus would reserve the right to intervene. More recently, during the Cold War, the framers of U.S. foreign policy had invoked the Monroe Doctrine as a justification for repelling (via intelligence and military aid) Soviet-backed efforts to spread Communism in Latin America. Said Kerry:
"When people speak of the Western Hemisphere, they often talk about transformations that have taken place, but the truth is one of the biggest transformations has happened right here in the United States of America. In the early days of our republic, the United States made a choice about its relationship with Latin America. President James Monroe, who was also a former Secretary of State, declared that the United States would unilaterally, and as a matter of fact, act as the protector of the region. The doctrine that bears his name asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice.
"Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.... The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering not to doctrine, but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share."
KERRY'S RESPONSE TO AL QAEDA OVERRUNNING FALLUJAH
On January 3, 2014, al Qaeda-affiliated fighters took over the city of Fallujah, Iraq after a bloody three-day battle, raising their flag over government buildings as a symbol of their victory. In response to this development, Kerry said that the U.S. would "stand with the government of Iraq and with others who will push back against their efforts to destabilize," but emphasized: “This is a fight that belongs to the Iraqis ... We are not contemplating returning."
COMMENTS ABOUT THE APPOINTMENT OF LGBT AMBASSADORS
In remarks to a GLIFAA (the organization formerly known as Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies) Pride event at the State Department on June 19, 2004, Kerry enumerated a number of accomplishments by the Obama administration that were beneficial to the "LGBT/gay community." He noted, for instance, that, if confirmed, Ted Osius (nominated by President Obama for an ambassador's post in Vietnam) would be the sixth openly gay U.S. ambassador currently serving:
“So I am very proud of the progress that we are now making even in appointing LGBT ambassadors. I worked with the committee here at the State Department -- with the D Committee, and I worked with the White House. And as a result, Ted Osius, sitting here, whom I’ve known a long time, and his family I know, will be the first openly LGBT officer nominated to serve as an ambassador in Asia. And on confirmation, he’s going to join five openly gay ambassadors who are now serving their country. I’m working hard to ensure that by the end of my tenure, we will have lesbian, bisexual, and transgender ambassadors in our ranks as well.”
Also during his talk, Kerry recognized GLIFAA event moderator, Robyn McCutcheon, as the “first transgender Foreign Service officer to come out on the job”; noted that “we now have hundreds of LGBT individuals in our bureaus at State, USAID, and at posts all around the world”; and praised efforts to ensure that transgendered people received full healthcare coverage:
“I am proud that we worked with GLIFAA and Pat Kennedy [the State Department’s under secretary for management] to press OPM [Office of Personnel Management] to remove its exclusionary language from health insurance plans so that employees who have undergone a gender transition can get the health care that they need. And that’s what it means to fight and that’s what it means to win in a battle that we all know matters enormously, not as a matter of making these things a privilege, but to make sure that they are, in fact, a right.”
KERRY IS UNCOMFORTABLE WITH "AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM"
On July 14, 2014 in Vienna, Austria, Kerry explained that talk of American exceptionalism could offend others: “I get always a little uptight when I hear politicians say how exceptional we are, not because we’re not exceptional, but because it’s kind of in-your-face and a lot of other people are exceptional, a lot of other places do exceptional things.”
 Army reports that were newly discovered in 2008 discredited the claims of Kerry and his fellow Winter Soldier witnesses.
 Notably, on June, 19, 1967, the Israeli cabinet had voted to return the Golan to Syria in exchange for a peace agreement -- an overture that was rejected by the Arab world with the Khartoum Resolution on September 1, 1967.
 Kerry's discussions with Qatari leadership came to light as a result of a disclosure of diplomatic cables by the website WikiLeaks.