John Kerry: ‘Perfect choice’ for whom?

Kerry is no Hagelian bigot. But he is a morally-preening, self-righteous mediocrity, unpopular even among his colleagues.

Sen. John Kerry at the Democratic Convention 370 (R) (photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
Sen. John Kerry at the Democratic Convention 370 (R)
(photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
US President Barack Obama’s potential cabinet appointment of Chuck Hagel, a former senator who has, to put it mildly, issues with the State of Israel and America’s “Jewish lobby” (his words), is foundering against appropriate outrage. But the president made an equally important announcement this week: Obama will nominate Sen. John Kerry, his “perfect choice,” to be secretary of state.
Kerry’s nomination will sail thorough confirmation by his fellow senators. And that should alarm America and its allies.
Kerry is no Hagelian bigot. But he is a morally-preening, self-righteous mediocrity, unpopular even among his colleagues. He is prone to making thunderous, categorical pronouncements – and then adopting contrary positions shortly thereafter as the political winds shift.
While that might be overlooked in a career politician, less excusable for a secretary of state is that Kerry has shown unbelievably bad judgment about US policy his entire adult life. He is hardly the man to pursue US diplomatic interests.
If you think the Goldstone Report was unfair, consider this: Kerry first rose to prominence as an anti-Vietnam War spokesman, undermining the American war effort by slandering the US military. In 1971, Kerry declared the entire US chain of military command to be “war criminals.”
He testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about American soldiers he had met who supposedly “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 a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan. Not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.”
Read that last sentence again. These staggering allegations were investigated and proven to be fabricated.
Kerry also illegally met with Viet Cong representatives, and signed a “People’s Peace Treaty” agreeing to Communist demands.
Kerry has never adequately explained or renounced his comments or activities. Just how will he now project American moral authority and defend American military actions?
AS A young senator, Kerry opposed American aid to the “Contras,” pro-American democracy fighters battling Nicaragua’s Communist Sandanista government. In 1985, on the eve of a Congressional vote on Contra funding, Kerry traveled with fellow Senator Tom Harkin to meet Sandanista president Daniel Ortega. Kerry returned with an offer from Ortega for a cease-fire in exchange for America dropping its support for the Contras.
The Reagan administration denounced the offer as “propaganda,” but Kerry proclaimed that he was “ test the good faith of the Sandinistas.” Persuaded by Kerry and Harkin, Congress voted to cut off funding.
The following day, Ortega flew to Moscow and procured $200 million in new Soviet aid for the Sandanistas.
Kerry opposed president Reagan’s successful rollback of Soviet- and Cuban-supported forces in Central America. In 1986, he endorsed the Veterans Fast For Life, hunger-strikers demonstrating against America’s “illegal and extraordinarily vicious wars against the poor of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.”
His judgment on Iraq? Kerry opposed the first Gulf War (Desert Storm) to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, supported even by Arab nations. And if you recall Kerry as a bitter critic of the 2003 Iraq War, your memory doesn’t go back far enough: Kerry not only voted for that war, but proclaimed: “Without question we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal and murderous dictator.”
Kerry even said that “People have forgotten that for seven and a half years [in Iraq], we found [and] were destroying weapons of mass destruction.” On the Senate floor he said that “[a]ll US intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons.”
Only later, when things got rough, did he complain that he was “misled” by president George W. Bush, who “rushed to war.” Perhaps having a Vietnam flashback, Kerry also accused American troops of “terrorizing” Iraqi civilians.
In 2007, Kerry adamantly opposed the Iraq “surge” strategy, dismissing it as president Bush’s “stubbornness” and “recklessness.”
Led by General David Petraeus, the surge was wildly successful.
In 2009, Kerry penned a Huffington Post column in which he discussed the gravest threat facing America. Islamic fascism? Al-Qaida terror? Chinese militarism? Nope – to Kerry, our gravest threat is from...climate change! Kerry maintains that we have until 2019 “at the latest” before “catastrophic climate change becomes inevitable and irreversible.”
CLOSER TO home, Kerry has demonstrated a disturbing confidence in Syria’s Bashar Assad.
Visiting Assad multiple times, Kerry advocated loosening sanctions against Syria, declaring “my friend” Assad a man of his word, and saying that under Assad, “Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States.”
Kerry told the Qatari emir in November 2010 that “Assad is a man who wants to change” and that Israel should cede the Golan Heights to Syria.
One would hope that, 40,000 Syrian corpses later, Kerry has rethought his assessment.
Once the Jewish community stops kvelling over Kerry’s father’s Hebraic origins, it may notice that Kerry’s Israel support has always been mixed: Reliable support for aid packages, but highly critical of all settlement activity – even (initially) opposing Israel’s security fence, calling it a “barrier to peace.” He has supported merging religiously terroristic Hamas into the Palestinian Authority, and criticized Israeli force used in Gaza in Operation Cast Lead.
From his radical past to his disdain for America’s leveraging its power to promote its values, from undermining American allies to appeasing America’s opponents, and from his terrible judgment to his inability to assess threats to the Western world, Kerry represents everything already wrong with the Obama administration’s inept foreign policy, where American influence wanes while radical anti-American forces flourish.
In that sense, perhaps, Kerry really is Obama’s “perfect choice.”
The writer is an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel. He serves as counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel.