Sec. of State? Kerry’s Criticism of U.S. Foreign Policy Goes Back 42 Years

By Penny Starr | January 8, 2013 | 1:32pm EST

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) (AP)

( – Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State – Hillary Clinton is expected to resign from the position this spring – has often been critical of U.S. foreign policy, likening some American soldiers in Vietnam to Ghenghis Kahn and to war criminals, and being “Messianic” and fueling international animosity, among other criticisms.

Following Kerry's nomination, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have to vote to confirm him. Some of Kerry’s tough commentary on U.S. foreign policy are published below.

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Back on Apr. 22, 1971,  Kerry testified on behalf of the Veterans Against the Vietnam War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In his testimony, he said,  “[S]everal months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.”

“They re-lived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do,” said Kerry, in reference to his Detroit meeting with the veterans. “They told the stories at times that 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, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”

On Nov. 2, 1971 on PBS’ Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. during a discussion on U.S. treaties with other countries, Buckley asked Kerry about the role of U.S. moral integrity in the matter.

Kerry said, “Well, I don’t think 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 and 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,” Kerry said. “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.”

On CBS’ Face the Nation, Dec. 4, 2005, Kerry, now a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – which he had testified before back in 1971 -- was asked about President George W. Bush’s policy on the war in Iraq.

“We all believe [Bush] when you say, `Stay the course.' That's the president's policy, which hasn't been changing, which is a policy of failure,” Kerry said. “I don't agree with that.

“But I think what we need to do is recognize what we all agree on, which is you've got to begin to set benchmarks for accomplishment,” Kerry said. “You've got to begin to transfer authority to the Iraqis.”

“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, breaking sort of the customs of the ---- the historical customs, religious customs,” Kerry said. “Whether you like it or not, Iraqis should be doing that.”

On Oct. 30, 2006, while campaigning for fellow Democrats in California, Kerry spoke at a college campus in California and implied that members of the U.S. military lack education.

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq,” Kerry said.

On Jan. 2007 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Kerry criticized the foreign policy of President George W. Bush, claiming it isolated America and made the country a “pariah.”

“We have a crisis of confidence in the Middle East – in the world, really,” Kerry said. “I’ve never seen our country as isolated as much of a, sort of an international pariah for the number of reasons as it is today.”

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