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John Kerry on War & Peace

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


Focus on the real war on terror and find bin Laden

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

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

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

The $87 billion bill gives a slush fund to Halliburton

BUSH: Kerry complains about the fact our troops don't have adequate equipment, yet he voted against the $87 billion supplemental I sent to the Congress, and then issued one of the most amazing quotes in political history: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Saddam Hussein was a risk to our country. He was a risk that and this is where we just have a difference of opinion.

KERRY: Not necessarily be in power. But here's what I'll say about the $87 billion. I made a mistake in the way I talk about it; he made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is a worse decision? Now, I voted the way I voted because I saw that he had the policy wrong and I wanted accountability. I didn't want to give a slush fund to Halliburton. I also thought the wealthiest people in America ought to pay for it, ladies and gentlemen. He wants your kids to pay for it. I wanted us to pay for it, since we're at war. I don't think that's a bad decision.

Source: [Xref Bush] Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

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

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

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

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

Need credible Arab partner to negotiate with Israel

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

Pre-emptive strike ok only when US survival at stake

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

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

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

Get US more deeply involved in Arab-Israeli peace process

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

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

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

Leadership comes from experience: share the war burden

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supported Kosovo action & Powell Doctrine

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

Palestinians renounce right of return; get treated equally

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

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

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

Against a misapplied blanket pre-emptive doctrine

Q: Will you repeal Bush's pre-emptive war doctrine?

A: I spoke out against it during the Senate's Iraq debate, stating that we should not be "giving Bush carte blanche to run roughshod over every country that poses - or may pose - a potential threat to the US." Bush's position is a blanket doctrine that can easily be misinterpreted and misapplied. As President, I will use force when it is necessary to defend core American values and interests against imminent threats.

Source: MoveOn.org interview Jun 17, 2003


John Kerry on Afghanistan

The right war was Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan

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

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

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

FactCheck: US didn't have bin Laden surrounded at Tora Bora

KERRY: I would not take my eye off of the goal: Osama bin Laden. Unfortunately, he escaped in the mountains of Tora Bora. We had him surrounded. But we didn't use American forces, the best trained in the world, to go kill him. The president relied on Afghan warlords and he outsourced that job too. That's wrong.

FACT CHECK: Kerry said U.S. forces allowed Osama bin Laden to escape in 2001 during the battle at Tora Bora in Afghanistan because the administration "outsourced" fighting to Afghan "warlords." Actually, it's never been clear whether bin Laden actually was at Tora Bora. It is true that military leaders strongly suspected bin Laden was there, and it is also true that the Pentagon relied heavily on Afghan forces to take on much of the fighting at Tora Bora in an effort to reduce US casualties. But Kerry overstates the case by stating flatly that "we had him surrounded."

Source: Analysis of first Bush-Kerry debate (FactCheck.org) Oct 1, 2004

Bush outsourced to Afghan warlords to kill Osama bin Laden

I would not take my eye off of the goal: Osama bin Laden. Unfortunately, he escaped in the mountains of Tora Bora. We had him surrounded. But we didn't use American forces, the best trained in the world, to go kill him. Bush relied on Afghan warlords and he outsourced that job too. That's wrong.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden is, is forgotten

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

Hunting Osama-not Saddam-should be priority

The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy, al Qaeda. There's just no question about it. The president's misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win. George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority. I would have made Osama bin Laden the priority, I will finish the job in Iraq and I will refocus our energies on the real war on terror.
Source: CNN.com Sep 24, 2004

Afghanistan incursion justified and not the same as Vietnam

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

Supported 1998 missile attacks against Afghanistan & Sudan

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


John Kerry on Iraq

Relieve troops by adding divisions and use Guard in US

Q: What would you do about holding National Guard and Reservists for repeated call-ups?

KERRY: I've proposed adding two active-duty divisions to the armed forces -- one combat, one support. I'm going to double the number of Special Forces so that we can fight a more effective war with less pressure on the National Guard and Reserve. And what I would like to do is see the National Guard and Reserve be deployed differently. There's much we can do with them with respect to homeland security.

BUSH: The best way to take the pressure off our troops is to train Iraqis to give them a chance to defend their country. We'll have 125,000 troops trained by the end of this year. I remember going to say thanks to the reservists and Guard that were headed overseas. Some of them had been there before. The people I talked to their spirits were high. They didn't view their service as a back-door draft. They viewed their service as an opportunity to serve their country.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

FactCheck: Shinseki retirement was pushed but not forced

KERRY: General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told him he was going to need several hundred thousand [troops in Iraq]. And guess what? They retired Gen. Shinseki for telling him that.

FACT CHECK: Kerry claimed, as he had in the first debate, that the Army's Chief of Staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, was forced to retire. It is true that Shinseki said on Feb. 25, 2003 that "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" would be required for an occupation of Iraq. And it is true that the general retired several months later on June 11, 2003. But the administration didn't force Gen. Shinseki to retire: he had plans to retire since 2002. There was some truth to Kerry's comment, however. According to the Oct. 9 Washington Post , the story of Shinseki's replacement was leaked "in revenge" for Shinseki's position on troop requirements, which he was already expressing in private. By naming a replacement 14 months early, the Post said Pentagon leakers effectively undercut Shinseki's authority

Source: Analysis of second Bush-Kerry debate by FactCheck.org Oct 10, 2004

Reach out to our allies to deal with the chaos in Iraq

Q: The US is preparing a new Iraq government and will proceed to withdraw US troops. Would you proceed with the same plans as Bush?

A: I have laid out a different plan because Bush's plan is not working. King Abdullah of Jordan said just yesterday you can't hold elections in Iraq with the chaos that's going on today. Senator Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that the handling of the reconstruction aid in Iraq by this administration has been incompetent. Those are the Republican chairman's words. Senator Hagel said that the handling of Iraq is beyond pitiful, beyond embarrassing; it's in the zone of dangerous. Those are the words of two Republicans, respected, both on the Foreign Relations Committee. He pushed them away, time and again. Pushed them away at the UN, pushed them away individually. I'm going to get the training done for our troops. I'm going to get the training of Iraqis done faster. And I'm going to get our allies back to the table.

Source: Second Bush-Kerry debate, St. Louis, MO Oct 8, 2004

Would have given Clinton the power to use force if necessary

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

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

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

We have trained many and are spending a lot in Iraq

KERRY: Two weeks ago, there was a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, which is the political arm of NATO. They discussed the possibility of a small training unit or having a total takeover of the training in Iraq. Did the Bush administration push for the total training of Iraq? No. Were they silent? Yes. Was there an effort to bring all the allies together around that? No. Because they've always wanted this to be an American effort. They even have the Defense Department issue a memorandum saying don't bother applying for assistance or for being part of the reconstruction if you weren't part of our original coalition.

BUSH: Two days ago I met with the finance minister from Iraq. He came to see me and talked about how optimistic he was and the country was about heading toward elections. My opponent says he has a plan. It sounds familiar because it's called the Bush plan. We're going to train troops, and we are. We'll have 125,000 trained by the end of December. We're spending about $7 billion.

Source: Second Bush-Kerry debate, St. Louis, MO Oct 8, 2004

Iraq is diverting our attention from the real war on terror

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

"Last resort" means something to someone who's seen combat

Bush promised he would go to war as a last resort. Those words mean something to me as somebody who has been in combat. Last resort. You've got to be able to look in the eyes of families and say to those parents, I tried to do everything in my power to prevent the loss of your son and daughter. Today, we are 90 percent of the casualties and 90 percent of the cost: $200 billion - $200 billion that could have been used for health care, for schools, for construction, for prescription drugs for seniors.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

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

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

It's getting worse by the day in Iraq

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

The oil ministry is guarded but not the nuclear facilities

I didn't say I would bring troops out in six months. I said, if we do the things that I've set out and we are successful, we could begin to draw the troops down in six months. A critical component of success in Iraq is being able to convince the Iraqis and the Arab world that the US doesn't have long-term designs on it. We're building some 14 military bases there now, and some people say they've got a rather permanent concept to them. When you guard the oil ministry, but you don't guard the nuclear facilities, the message to a lot of people is maybe, "Wow, maybe they're interested in our oil." The problem is that they didn't think these things through properly. What I want to do is change the dynamics on the ground, by beginning to not back off of places like Fallujahs, and send the wrong message to the terrorists. You have to close the borders. You've got to show you're serious in that regard. You've also got to show that you are prepared to bring the rest of the world in and share the stakes.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Make sure the outcome of war honors soldiers' nobility

BUSH: I understand the stakes of this war on terror. I understand we must find Al Qaida wherever they hide. We must deal with threats before they fully materialize. And Saddam Hussein was a threat, and that we must spread liberty because in the long run, the way to defeat hatred and tyranny and oppression is to spread freedom. In the long term a free Iraq, a free Afghanistan, will set such a powerful in a part of the world that's desperate for freedom.

KERRY: I am determined for those soldiers and for those families, for those kids who put their lives on the line. That's the most noble thing that anybody can do. And I want to make sure the outcome honors that nobility. We have a choice here. I've laid out a plan by which we can be successful in Iraq: with a summit, by doing better training, faster, by cutting - by doing what we need to do with respect to the UN and the elections. There's only 25 percent of the people in there. They can't have an election right now. Bush's not getting the job done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The issue of Saddam Hussein was what to do about it

BUSH: Saddam Hussein was a grave threat. I don't hold it against him that Kerry said grave threat. I'm not going to go around the country saying he didn't tell the truth, when he looked at the same intelligence I did.

KERRY: It was a threat. That's not the issue. The issue is what you do about it. Bush said he was going to build a true coalition, exhaust the remedies of the UN and go to war as a last resort. Those words really have to mean something. And, unfortunately, he didn't go to war as a last resort. Now we have this incredible mess in Iraq-$200 billion. It's not what the American people thought they were getting when they voted.

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

Wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time

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

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

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

Need two army divisions for now-but no draft

KUCINICH: Are we looking at a draft? Because you've said you want to send 40,000 more troops to Iraq.

KERRY: No, I said what we need, because our troops are over-extended, and we've turned the Guard and the Reserve into almost active duty. On a temporary basis, we need two additional divisions in the overall standing Army, because when we rotate the divisions back this spring, we will only have two divisions active that are able to be deployed.

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

Only go to war if we have to, not because we want to

Q: How would you view a returning war veteran who tossed his medals away?

KERRY: It would depend on why he did it.

Q: In protest.

KERRY: Given what we now know about Richard Nixon and what he did think about it, he was deeply disturbed by the veterans' movement that was a movement of conscience. I led thousands of veterans to Washington, we camped on the Mall underneath the Congress. Nixon tried to take us to the Supreme Court. He tried to kick us off. And we stood our ground and said to him "Mr. President, you sent us 8,000 miles away to fight, die and sleep in the jungles of Vietnam. We've earned the right to sleep on this Mall and talk to our senators and congressmen."

I can pledge this to the American people: I will never conduct a war or start a war because we want to; the United States of America should only go to war because we have to. And if you live by that guidance, you'll never have veterans throwing away their medals or standing up in protest.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

De-Americanize Iraq: the exit strategy is victory

Q: Do you see the war in Iraq as a mistake? KERRY: We need to be successful. People keep asking what's the exit strategy. The exit strategy is victory. This president rushed to war against the advice of many in this country. This president has turned his back on 200 years of tradition of our country in foreign policy. This president rushed to war against the advice of many in this country. He clearly didn't plan for the peace. We have to de-Americanize this war, we have to take the target off of American troops as fast as possible, we have to cede some authority for the humanitarian and the governance components of this, even as we take control of the security piece. That's the only way to be successful. And no, we do not need or want more American troops to do that.

KUCINCH: I think Senator Kerry described well the direction we should be going in. I only wish that he had joined with me in an effort to organize Congress to vote against the war.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

Don't send more US troops to Iraq-share power & share burden

Q: Would you send more troops to Iraq?

We should not send more American troops. That would be the worst thing. We do not want to have more Americanization. We do not want a greater sense of American occupation. We need to minimize that. And the way to do that is do everything possible, including sharing the power, to bring other countries in to take the burden.

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Intelligence information should not be manipulated

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

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

Source: MoveOn.org interview Jun 17, 2003

Disarm Saddam, but war should be a last resort

I'm the only person running for this job who's actually fought in a war. I'm not ambivalent about the war [in Iraq]. I believe that before you go to war, it ought to really be the last resort and you should exhaust your diplomatic remedies, but I was in favor of disarming Saddam Hussein, and I'm glad we did. There's no ambivalence. I believe I bring strength to this ticket: strength about how we maintain a military that is strong, but make ourselves stronger in the world.
Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Preferred diplomacy, but supported invading Iraq

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


John Kerry on Iraq Criticism

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

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

UN sanctions were to remove the WMD, not Saddam

BUSH: Kerry said that America must pass a global test before we use force to protect ourselves. That's the kind of mindset that says sanctions were working. That's the kind of mindset that said let's keep it at the UN and hope things go well. Saddam was a threat because he could have given weapons of mass destruction to terrorist enemies. Sanctions were not working. The UN was not effective at removing Saddam.

KERRY: The goal of the sanctions was not to remove Saddam. It was to remove the weapons of mass destruction. And, Mr. President, just yesterday the Duelfer report told you and the whole world they worked. He didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Mr. President. That was the objective. And if we'd used smart diplomacy, we could have saved $200 billion and an invasion of Iraq, and right now Osama bin Laden might be in jail or dead. That's the war against terror.

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

Bush's job was to win the peace, not just the war

BUSH: I remember going down to the basement of the White House the day we committed our troops, as last resort, looking at Tommy Franks and the generals on the ground, asking them do we have the right plan with the right troops level? And they looked me in the eye and said, yes, sir, Mr. President. Of course I listened to our generals. A president sets the strategy and relies upon good military people to execute that strategy.

KERRY: You rely on good military people to execute the military component of the strategy, but winning the peace is larger than just the military component. General Shinseki had the wisdom to say you're going to need several hundred thousand troops to win the peace. Military's job is to win the war. Bush's job is to win the peace. Bush did not do what was necessary. Didn't bring in enough nations, didn't deliver the help, didn't close off the borders, didn't even guard the ammo dumps. And now our kids are being killed with ammos right out of that dump.

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

Iraqi war is a catastrophic mistake

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

FactCheck: Bush has spent $120B in Iraq, not $200B

KERRY: Today, we are 90 percent of the casualties and 90 percent of the cost: $200 billion-$200 billion that could have been used for health care, for schools, for construction, for prescription drugs for seniors, and it's in Iraq.

FACT CHECK: Kerry continued to refer to "the cost" of the Iraq war as $200 billion, when it fact the cost to date is just over $120 billion, according to budget officials. Kerry is counting money that has been appropriated to be spent in the fiscal year that started Friday, Oct. 1. Much of the money Kerry counts has not even been requested formally by the Bush administration, and is only an estimate of what will be sought sometime in the coming year, to be spent later. We've pointed this out before, in detail. [John Edwards cited the same figure in his October 5 debate].

Source: Analysis of first Bush-Kerry debate (FactCheck.org) Oct 1, 2004

It's wrong to make America bear 90% of war casualties

America is safest and strongest when we are leading the world and we are leading strong alliances. I'll never give a veto to any country over our security. But I also know how to lead those alliances. We're now bearing 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq and 90 percent of the costs. I think that's wrong, and I think we can do better.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Bush Sr said our troops would be occupiers in a hostile land

BUSH: A free Iraq will be an ally in the war on terror, and that's essential. A free Iraq will set a powerful example in a part of the world that is desperate for freedom. A free Iraq will help secure Israel. A free Iraq will enforce the hopes and aspirations of the reformers in places like Iran. A free Iraq is essential for the security of this country.

KERRY: The other day in Wisconsin, a couple of young returnees were in the line, one active duty, one from the Guard. And they both looked at me and said: We need you. You've got to help us over there. Bush's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra. And the reason he didn't is, he said - he wrote in his book - because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. The only building that was guarded when the troops when into Baghdad was the oil ministry. We didn't guard the nuclear facilities. We didn't guard the foreign office.

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

Bush promised not to make war inevitable but did just that

From the beginning, I did vote to give the authority, because I thought Saddam Hussein was a threat, and I did accept that intelligence. But I also laid out a very strict series of things we needed to do in order to proceed from a position of strength. Then Bush, in fact, promised them. He went to Cincinnati and he gave a speech in which he said, We will plan carefully. We will proceed cautiously. We will not make war inevitable. We will go with our allies. He didn't do any of those things. They didn't do the planning. They left the planning of the State Department in the State Department desks. They avoided even the advice of their own general. The Army chief of staff, said you're going to need several hundred thousand troops. Instead of listening to him, they retired him. The terrorism czar, who has worked for every president since Ronald Reagan, said, Invading Iraq in response to 9/11 would be like Franklin Roosevelt invading Mexico in response to Pearl Harbor.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Bush misled the American people

In his state of the union message, Bush told Congress about nuclear materials that didn't exist. We know that he promised America that he was going to build this coalition. I just described the coalition. It is not the kind of coalition we were described when we were talking about voting for this. The president said he would exhaust the remedies of the UN and go through that full process. He didn't. He cut if off, sort of arbitrarily. And we know that there were further diplomatic efforts under way. They just decided the time for diplomacy is over and rushed to war without planning for what happens afterwards. Now, he misled the American people in his speech when he said we will plan carefully. They obviously didn't. He misled the American people when he said we'd go to war as a last resort. We did not go as a last resort. And most Americans know the difference. This has cost us deeply in the world. It is important to tell the truth to the American people.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

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

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

Halliburton should not be a factor that pushes allies away

KERRY: What need a president who understands how to bring these other countries together to recognize their stakes in this. The Arab countries have a stake in not having a civil war. The European countries have a stake in not having total disorder on their doorstep. Bush hasn't even held the kind of statesman-like summits that pull people together and get them to invest in those states. He's done the opposite. He pushed them away. To save for Halliburton the spoils of the war, they actually issued a memorandum from the Defense Department saying, If you weren't with us in the war, don't bother applying for any construction.

BUSH: The UN was invited in. And we support the UN efforts there. They pulled out after Sergio de Mello got killed. But they're now back in helping with elections. What's he say to Tony Blair and Alexander Kwasniewski of Poland? You can't expect to build an alliance when you denigrate the contributions of those who are serving side by side with American troops in Iraq.

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

It was a coalition of three countries when we went in Iraq

BUSH: I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently. They're not going to follow somebody who says this is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time. They're not going to follow somebody whose core convictions keep changing because of politics in America. There are summits being held. Japan is going to have a summit for the donors; $14 billion pledged; the Prime Minister is going to call countries to account, to get them to contribute. And there's going to be an Arab summit, of the neighborhood countries. And Colin Powell helped set up that summit.

KERRY: The UN and Kofi Annan offered help after Baghdad fell. We never took him up on that and did what was necessary to transfer authority and to transfer reconstruction. It was always American-run. Secondly, when we went in, there were three countries: Great Britain, Australia and the US. That's not a grand coalition. We can do better.

BUSH: He forgot Poland. And now there's 30 nations involved

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

Preferred strong alliances when Bush decided to go to war

BUSH: The intelligence I looked at was the same intelligence my opponent looked at. When I stood up there and spoke to the Congress, I was speaking off the same intelligence he looked at to make his decisions to support the authorization of force.

KERRY: I wasn't misleading when I said Saddam Hussein was a threat. Nor was I misleading on the day that Bush decided to go to war when I said that he had made a mistake in not building strong alliances and that I would have preferred that he did more diplomacy. I've had one position, one consistent position, that Saddam Hussein was a threat. There was a right way to disarm him and a wrong way. And Bush chose the wrong way.

BUSH: You cannot change positions in this war on terror if you expect to win. And we have a duty to our country and to future generations of America to achieve a free Iraq, a free Afghanistan, and to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction.

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

War decisions guided by facts not distorted by politics

I will immediately reform the intelligence system-so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics. I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to. I know what kids go through when they're carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can't tell friend from foe. I know what they go through when they're out on patrol at night & they don't know what's coming around. I know what it's like to write letters home telling your family that everything's all right when you're not sure that's true. I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: "I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent." This is the only justification for war.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Bring allies to share our burden in fighting terrorism

When I'm in office, our soldiers will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace. I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a President with the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, & reduce the risk to our soldiers. That's how we can bring our troops home. We need a President who restores America's respect & leadership-so we don't have to go it alone in the world, so we can get the terrorists before they get us.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Bush has broken his promises & is mismanaging war

Q: You voted for the Iraq resolution but then opposed the $87 billion. Is that inconsistent?

KERRY: It is absolutely consistent, because what I voted for was to hold Saddam accountable but to do it right. This president has done it wrong every step of the way. He has a fraudulent coalition. He promised he would go through the UN and honor the inspections process. He did not. He promised he would go to war as a last resort, words that mean something to me as a veteran. He did not.

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

Don't miss 3rd opportunity in Iraq to bring in UN

Q: You voted for, and were a very strong supporter of going to war with Iraq. Going back to the UN, after we basically told the UN that it was irrelevant, what does that do to our standing in the world?

KERRY: It will raise our standing in the world to behave as we ought to, which is to work with other nations. This is the third opportunity of the president to try to get it right.

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003


John Kerry on Vietnam

Vietnamese villagers say Swift Vets' account is incorrect

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

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

Source: Andrew Morse, ABC News "Nightline" Oct 14, 2004

Swift Boat Vets attack Kerry's medals

JOHN EDWARDS: If you have any questions about what John Kerry is made of, just spend 3 minutes with the men who served with him.

AD ANNOUNCER: Here's what those men think of John Kerry.

GEORGE ELLIOTT: John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.

LOUIS LETSON: I know John Kerry is lying about his 1st Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury.

VAN O'DELL: John Kerry lied to get his bronze star...I know, I was there, I saw what happened.

ANALYSIS: A group funded by the biggest Republican campaign donor in Texas began running an attack ad which former Swift Boat veterans claim Kerry lied to get one of his two decorations for bravery and two of his three purple hearts. But the veterans who accuse Kerry are contradicted by Kerry's former crewmen. One of the accusers says he was on another boat a few yards away during the incident which won Kerry the Bronze Star, but the former Army lieutenant whom Kerry plucked from the water that day backs Kerry's account.

Source: Ad-Watch analysis by Fact Check.org Aug 10, 2004

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

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

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

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

Man Kerry rescued says Kerry deserved his Bronze Star

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

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

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

Condemned early Vietnam protests as "irresponsible"

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

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

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

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

Anti-Vietnam but not left-wing anti-war

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

Kerry saves life under fire, awarded Bronze Star

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

Word "atrocity" is too strong, though it reflected anger

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

Only veteran to testify to congress about Vietnam

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

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

Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. Jan 1, 2004

Accused US government of war crime, not veterans

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

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

Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. Jan 1, 2004

Before enlisting, believed in the US saving face in Vietnam

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

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

Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. Jan 1, 2004

Vietnam was genocide, but no point calling it "war crimes"

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

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

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

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

O'Neil: Kerry's VVAW comments are libel against veterans

O'NEILL: Mr. Kerry is the type of person who lives and survives only on the war weariness and fears of the American people. This is the same little man who on nationwide television in April spoke of "crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command," who was quoted in May as saying, "war crimes in Vietnam are the rule and not the exception." Who brought 50 veterans down to Washington to testify about alleged atrocities in April, the same 50 who refused to provide any depositions or provide any details of any kind.

Never in the course of human events have so many been libeled by so few.

This man has attempted the murder of the reputations of two and a half million of us, including the 55,000 dead in Vietnam, and he will never be brought to justice. We can only seek justice and equity from the American people. Every man kills the thing he loves. By each let this be told: The brave man does it with the sword; the coward with the word.

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

VVAW says what's wrong so we can put out country right

KERRY [to John O'Neill]: Vietnam Veterans Against the War haven't come back to this country to show bitterness or to tear the country apart or to tear it down. We're trying to show where the country went wrong, and we believe that as veterans who took part in this war, we can try and say, "Here is where we went wrong and we've got to change." And I think that the attitude of the [John O'Neill's group] Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace is really, "my country, right or wrong," which is really on the intellectual level of saying "my mother, drunk or sober." Just as when your mother is drunk, you take her and dry her out - you take your country, when wrong, and put it right. And that's what we veterans are trying to do.

We thought we were a moral country, yes, but we are now engaged in the most rampant bombing in the history of mankind. We have dropped more bombs on Laos than we dropped in the entire course of World War II. And I think the question of morality really has to enter in here.

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

War crimes by leadership policy, not personal atrocities

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

Q: Did you see war crimes committed?

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

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

Vietnamization just changed the color of the bodies fighting

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

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

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

US actions in Vietnam were counter to Geneva Conventions

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

KERRY: Did you serve in a free fire zone?

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

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

O'NEILL: Where is that from?

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

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

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

Objected to war policy while in Vietnam, and after

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

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

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

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

Vietnam didn't threaten US; US war crimes did

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

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

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

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

Vietnam war was criminal hypocrisy and tore apart US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US soldiers committed atrocities in Vietnam, including me

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

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

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


John Kerry on Voting Record

Voted against a $87 billion supplemental that hurts veterans

BUSH: Kerry says help is on the way, but what kind of message does it say to our troops in harm's way, wrong war, wrong place, wrong time? Not a message a commander in chief gives, or this is a great diversion. As well, help is on the way, but it's certainly hard to tell it when he voted against the $87-billion supplemental to provide equipment for our troops, and then said he actually did vote for it before he voted against it.

KERRY: When I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse? I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When I came back from that war I saw that it was wrong. Some people don't like the fact that I stood up to say no, but I did. And that's what I did with that vote. And I'm going to lead those troops to victory.

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

I'd vote to authorize war, but with allies

On the Iraq war, the Bush campaign has been pressuring Kerry to say whether he would have still voted for the war given the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found. Bush maintains the world is still better off without Saddam Hussein in power. Kerry on Monday said he would have voted to give the president authorization to use force against Iraq "but I would have used that authority effectively."

Bush and his aides said that was evidence of Kerry flip-flopping from an anti-war stance. "Now, almost two years after he voted for the war in Iraq, and almost 220 days after switching positions to declare himself the anti-war candidate, my opponent has found a new nuance. He now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq."

Kerry's campaign national security adviser responded, "The issue has never been whether we were right to hold Saddam accountable, the issue is that we went to war without our allies, without properly equipping our troops and without a plan to win the peace."

Source: Steve Holland, Reuters Aug 10, 2004

Karl Rove: "Kerry gave green light to Bush on Iraq"

By early February 2004, White House political adviser Karl Rove could see that Iraq was turning into a potential negative. "The good news for us is that Dean is not the nominee," Rove now argued. But Kerry had voted in favor of the resolution for war. Rove offered some readings from the Kerry record.

"Iraq has developed a chemical weapons capability," Rove quoted Kerry saying in October 1990. In 1998, Kerry said that Hussein was "pursuing a program to build weapons of mass destruction," and in October 2002, he said, "The threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real. I am prepared to hold Saddam Hussein accountable."

Kerry's main response was that Bush did not press hard enough or long enough with the UN, that he did not plan for the aftermath, and was too eager to go to war when Hussein was isolated and weak. But Rove believed they had Kerry pretty cold on voting to give the president a green light for war and then backing off when he didn't like the aftermath.

Source: Plan of Attack, by Bob Woodward, adapted in Washington Post Apr 18, 2004

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

Q: Do you regret your war vote?

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

Q: Would you leave now?

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

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

Bush went to war the wrong way-I voted for the right way

Q: Governor Dean has said that you cast votes that you knew were wrong on the war for political reasons.

KERRY: I stood up to the people of Massachusetts and the country. Those are the people I answer to. There was a right way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable and there was a wrong way. The right way was what the president promised, to go to the UN, to respect the building of an international coalition in truth, to exhaust the remedies of inspections and literally to only go to war as a last result

Now, I've fought all my life for peace. I fought against the war in Vietnam when I came home. I fought against Ronald Reagan's illegal war in Central America. I fought with John McCain to make peace in Vietnam. I fought to hold the Khmer Rouge accountable in Cambodia. And on and on. If anybody believes that John Kerry would have in fact gone to war the way George Bush did, they shouldn't vote for me. I would have stood up and exhausted the remedies and lived up to the values of our country.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

Maybe on $87B for Iraq-repeal Bush tax cut to pay it, if yes

Q: [Bush has asked for] $87 billion for the ongoing war on terrorism. Your vote, yes or no, and if yes, how do you pay for $87 billion?

KERRY: The $87 billion is at issue. I have introduced an amendment that calls on shared sacrifice in America. We need to ask the wealthiest people in our country to bear some of the burden, as our troops and as the middle class in America is bearing the burden.

And so, I believe if we're going to pass any money at all, it ought to come at the expense of President Bush's ill-advised, unaffordable tax cut, which is driving this country into deficit.

Secondly, there are some other conditions that I think are critical and, until I know how that comes out in the struggle, I can't tell you exactly where I'm going to vote.

Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Vote for war was needed to push Saddam on inspectors

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

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

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

$87B for Iraq only when internationalization is addressed

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

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

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

KERRY: I would be prepared to vote no.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

Voted NO on $86.5 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.

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

Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq.

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

Voted NO on allowing all necessary forces and other means in Kosovo.

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

Voted YES on authorizing air strikes in Kosovo.

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

Voted NO on ending the Bosnian arms embargo.

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

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

Kerry sponsored the Resolution on bigotry against Sikh Americans:

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

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

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

Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Kerry sponsored the Jerusalem Embassy Act

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

Other candidates on War & Peace: John Kerry on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka

Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
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Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Infrastructure/Technology
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Principles/Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War/Iraq/Mideast
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Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts