A picture of John Kerry has recently resurfaced that exemplifies the quality of his judgement and the reality of his long relationship with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. The same man Kerry compares to Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein today was Kerry’s dining partner in 2009. The picture was taken at time when Kerry and a number of other Democrats, eager to spurn the Bush administration post-Iraq, were pushing the notion that Assad could be a potential partner in bringing peace to the Middle East. If such a colossal mistake represented an anomaly in Kerry’s career, it might be understandable. It does not, however. Kerry in fact has a long track record of supporting totalitarians and killers that makes him an embarrassment on the world stage.
After serving in Vietnam as a swift boat captain, Kerry immediately embraced the anti-war movement diametrically opposed to that service. In 1970, Kerry met with the North Vietnamese and Vietcong delegations in Paris, to discuss their peace proposals. He was unconcerned his effort bordered on violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which holds accountable any person who “without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly.” Kerry was especially enchanted with eight points offered by Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, winner of the Lenin Peace Prize, urging the U.S. Senate to adopt them. Kerry also became a spokesman and organizer for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), a group that signed a “People’s Peace Treaty” aligning itself with the Viet Cong’s conditions for ending the war. Kerry approved of that treaty as well.
Yet the most despicable part of Kerry’s anti-war efforts occurred in 1971. Representing the VVAW, Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, relaying the still-unproven claims of 150 Vietnam veterans who supposedly said “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.” Kerry further asserted that 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.”
Yet there is one quote from those hearings that highlights Kerry’s “evolving” judgement regarding intervention in Syria. ”In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America,” Kerry insisted at the time.
In the ensuing years, Kerry embraced a number of other dubious causes and despicable characters. In 1983, a year before becoming Senator, he denounced the invasion of Grenada that resulted in the rescue of American medical students, as well as the overthrow the Communist regime that had seized power there. Kerry likened it to a “bully’s show of force against a weak Third World nation.” In 1985 he met with Nicaragua’s communist Sandinista government leader Daniel Ortega, in an effort to undermine President Reagan’s attempt to buttress the Contra freedom fighters. At the time, Kerry noted he was willing to take a chance on the “good faith of the Sandinistas.” Soon after, Ortega received a $200 million loan from the Soviet Union. After Ortega was defeated by Violeta Chamorro in 1990, Kerry insisted that the U.S. effort to aid the Contras had nothing to do with it, labeling it “an irrelevant debate right now.”
In 1991, Kerry chaired the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, created to explore the possibility that Americans might still be held by the Communist Vietnamese government. Yet as U.S. Veteran Dispatch puts it, “no one in the United States Senate pushed harder to bury the POW/MIA issue,” than Kerry, who “never missed a chance to propaganderize (sic) and distort the facts in favor of Hanoi.”
And despite his impassioned speech in Congress last week advocating the right of the president to unilaterally act on his own if Congress doesn’t approve of striking out at Assad, Kerry claimed in his 2003 book, A Call to Service, that “multilateral organizations are vehicles for the promotion of our ideals and interests around the world.” This echoed his contention from 1970. “I’m an internationalist,” Kerry told the Harvard Crimson at the time. ”I’d like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations.” Kerry later disavowed that remark in a 2004 interview with the late Tim Russert. Yet that interview, coupled with his earlier career underscores an unpleasant reality: our current Secretary of State’s judgement is seriously lacking.
Which brings us to Kerry’s longstanding relationship with Bashar Assad, the man he currently calls a “thug” and a “murderer,” even as he insists that “history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator.”
No one turned a blinder eye to Assad than Kerry himself. As the Washington Free Beacon noted in 2012, Kerry has spent the last ten years as the “highest-ranking apologist in American politics for Syria’s Assad regime.”
Kerry’s efforts began in 2003 when he helped to undermine the Bush administration’s efforts to isolate Syria after their attempt to diplomatically engage Assad failed. Between 2009, when the above picture in the Mail was taken, and 2011, Kerry visited Assad five times.
During his visit in February 2009 shortly after Barack Obama’s inauguration, Kerry was sure that Assad would take advantage of the “hope and change” era that had descended upon Washington. ”I believe very deeply that this is an important moment of change, a moment of potential transformation, not just in the relationship between the United States and Syria but in the relationship of the region,” Kerry crowed. He even believed Assad would aid the so-called peace process, contending that “Syria could be, in fact, very helpful in helping to bring about a unity government,” between Fatah and Hamas.
Kerry also used the occasion to bash the former administration. ”Unlike the Bush administration that believed you could simply tell people what to do and walk away and wait for them to do it, we believe you have to engage in a discussion,” he said. ”So we are going to renew diplomacy but without any illusion, without any naivety, without any misplaced belief that, just by talking, things will automatically happen.”
Of course, this is precisely the policy the Obama administration has pursued in the Middle East for five years with disastrous results.
A year later, Kerry was back in Damascus trying to revive the stalled peace process. And once again, he was effusive regarding Assad and his nation’s role in the effort. ”Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region,” Kerry said, following a meeting with Assad–even he called on Syria to stop supplying weapons to Hezbollah. He further insisted that the Obama administration’s effort to appoint the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus in five years was “evidence that engagement with Syria is a priority at the highest levels of our government.” (The Bush administration had withdrawn the U.S. ambassador in 2005, following the assassination of Lebanon’s former premier Rafiq Hariri, in a car bombing most likely orchestrated by the Assad regime).
Seven months later a Wikileaks cable revealed that Kerry told Qatari leaders Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, and the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa, the Golan Heights should be returned to Syria, and that a final agreement of the peace process must include a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.
Kerry’s delusions remained remarkably consistent through 2011, even as the Middle East began unraveling in what Kerry and his fellow travelers in government and the media famously mislabeled the “Arab Spring.” In a column for the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens recalled that Kerry had characterized Assad as a man of his word “who had been very generous with me.” Kerry further insisted that “Syria will move; Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States.”
More than 100,000 deaths later, Syria has certainly changed. So has the man who during his anti-Reagan, pro-Sandinista days took a diametrically opposed position to the one he’s taking now. “Our foreign policy should represent the democratic values that have made our country great, not subvert those values by funding terrorism to overthrow governments of other countries,” Kerry said.
That would be the same John Kerry who is now more than willing to abet al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood in the effort to punish Assad.
Even worse, yesterday Kerry upped the ante, refusing to rule out the possibility that the U.S. would put troops on the ground in Syria. “I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to the president that might secure our country,” he said, offering a hypothetical scenario of securing chemical weapons to prevent terrorists from obtaining them. Yet he immediately flip-flopped, saying that the administration will accept whatever limits Congress places on them to make sure the U.S. isn’t drawn into the civil war. Kerry then sought to immunize Obama from his ill-advised “red line” that is the primary impetus for this political drama. “This debate is about the world’s red line. It’s about humanity’s red line. And it’s a red line that anybody with a conscience ought to draw,” he insisted.
Apparently much of the American public has no conscience. The average of four separate polls taken on public support for airstrikes (much less boots on the ground) show that only 33 percent of Americans are in favor of the effort, while an average of 49.5 percent of the public are opposed.
Ironically, Kerry who accused his critics of “armchair isolationism” played a major role in solidifying American resistance to any Middle East intervention. As co-authors David Horowitz and Ben Johnson noted in their book, “Party of Defeat: How Democrats and Radicals Undermined America’s War on Terror Before and After 9/11,” when Kerry saw radical anti-war leftist Howard Dean vault to the head of the pack of Democratic presidential nominees in 2003, followed by the equally anti-war Dennis Kucinich, Kerry suddenly decided he was against an Iraq war he formerly supported. Thus, the man who now demands a Syrian vote based on conscience, abandoned his own in a pursuit of greater political glory.
In short, John Kerry is a man whose judgement with regard to America’s enemies is utterly lacking, and whose “principles” can be easily cast aside for the sake of political expediency.
Yesterday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey summed up Kerry’s current logic. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) asked the General what the administration “was seeking” in Syria. “I can’t answer that, what we’re seeking,” Dempsey replied. Neither can our clueless Secretary of State, even as he personifies the Obama administration’s weakness, incompetence and untrustworthiness.
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