John Kerry’s Shameless Flip-Flop on Missile Defense

Secretary of State John Kerry talked tough during his news conference in Seoul on April 12th, with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se at his side. He was responding to North Korea’s continuing stream of warlike rhetoric and its final preparations for a possible imminent launch of one or more mid-range missiles, which could happen as early as Monday April 15th when North Korea celebrates the birth date of its founder Kim Il-Sung.

“The rhetoric that we are hearing from North Korea is simply unacceptable by any standards,” Kerry said.  “The United States, South Korea and the entire international community… are all united in the fact that North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power,” he added. “We will stand with South Korea and Japan against these threats. And we will defend ourselves.”

Ironically, Secretary of State Kerry is now flaunting the missile defense systems he so vigorously fought in his decades serving as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, when he had used words like “fantasy” and “mythology” to describe them.  Indeed, earlier this month in Washington, Secretary of State Kerry shamelessly bragged that “the President made the decision to redeploy missile defense with respect to the United States itself.”

He added on Sunday in Japan, during the third leg of his Asia trip: “The president of the United States deployed some additional missile defense capacity precisely because of the threat of North Korea.”

If Kerry had his way while serving in leadership positions in the U.S. Senate, President Obama would not have had any missile defense systems to speak of at his disposal to deploy right now.

The critical need for robust and multi-faceted missile defense systems is underscored by a troubling Defense Intelligence Report assessment disclosed last Thursday. This report concluded with “moderate confidence” that North Korea has the capability to combine its nuclear bomb and missile technologies by arming a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead. Kerry and other members of the Obama administration have been scrambling to play down the report’s dire warning. However, they acknowledge that a very serious threat does exist, which is exacerbated by ample evidence of close and continuing collaboration between North Korea and Iran on what amounts to a joint missile and nuclear technology program.

Thus, President Obama has begun to step up deployment of ground and sea-based defense systems. In addition to accelerating deployment for the first time of an advanced missile defense system to Guam and positioning warships armed with sophisticated ballistic missile defense systems closer to our Pacific allies, the Obama administration decided to reverse its decision to scale back on the Bush administration’s proposed deployment of a total of 44 ground-based interceptors for U.S. sites. In 2009, the Obama administration had cut the planned deployment to 30, but Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced plans last month to place the additional 14 ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska by 2017. They would most likely have been in place by now if Obama had not cut back on President Bush’s original proposal upon taking office in 2009.

John Kerry’s staunch opposition in the U.S. Senate to missile defense initiatives, which stretched across several presidencies, helped slow down our development of these systems even further. He voted against funding missile defense more than 50 times.

Senator Kerry started his political career as the darling of the nuclear freeze crowd.  He called the Reagan administration’s plan for a missile defense system — known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) — a “cancer on our nation’s defense.”

Kerry voted against allowing the Defend America Act of 1996 and American Missile Protection Act of 1998 to proceed to a final vote on the merits. His votes helped sustain filibusters blocking the bills from seeing the light of day and delaying the development of robust missile defense systems.

Both bills referred explicitly to threats posed by North Korea and called for the United States to deploy as soon as possible an effective national missile defense system capable of defending U.S. territory against ballistic missile attacks from rogue nations. These could have included the ground-based interceptors that President Obama decided years later to play catch-up in deploying.

During a floor speech explaining his opposition to the American Missile Protection Act of 1998, Kerry dismissed the prospect of ballistic missile threats from sources other than Russia and China as “nonexistent threats.” Three months after Kerry spoke, on August 31 1998 – nearly 15 years ago – North Korea launched a ballistic missile.

Perhaps because of that launching, in a rare departure from his strident opposition to missile defense programs, Kerry did finally support the 1999 National Missile Defense Act, which passed 97-3. However, in comments on the Senate floor, he still expressed skepticism regarding any threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program: “The best estimate of the threat from North Korea, in 15 or 20 years, is still dealing with minimalist numbers.”

And if there were to be a threat from a rogue regime, Kerry said that we should be able to collaborate with China and Russia to deal with it: “It is one that we ought to be able to negotiate, if we can develop it with China, with Russia, with other people, all of whom have a similar kind of threat to think about with respect to unauthorized or accidental or rogue launches.”

Russia does not appear to be overly concerned about the North Korean problem, and China has yet to show any real resolve to rein in its fractious North Korean client.

Senator Kerry reverted back to form in opposing President George Bush’s missile defense initiatives.  For example, on May 3, 2001, John Kerry called national missile defense a “mythology” on a radio show. A month later, Kerry told Hardball’s Chris Matthews that a “missile shield that could defend the United States against any incoming missile is a fantasy.”

In late 2003, Kerry was asked to respond to a “Council for a Livable World” survey of the Democratic presidential primary field: “Do you support or oppose the current plan to deploy a ground-based version of a national missile defense in Alaska and California by the fall of 2004? Please feel free to discuss your administration’s plans for missile defense.” Kerry’s a one-word answer: “Oppose.”

For more than two decades as U.S. Senator, Kerry consistently underestimated the nuclear threat posed by rogue states like North Korea and Iran. They were “nonexistent” or “minimalist” in his words.  Planning ahead to deal with reasonably foreseeable changing geopolitical conditions down the road eluded him. As a consistent leftist opponent of proactive investment in developing effective missile defense systems, Kerry saw no further than the end of his nose.

In short, Senator John Kerry was against missile defense before Secretary of State John Kerry was for it.

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  • AdinaK

    NOTHING but untold disaster results from leftists in positions of power, and Kerry's previous policy outlook drives this point home.
    Living in a mind where jaw-jaw is more powerful than the projection of hyper-power is a recipe for global disorder, yet the likes of Kerry will never really see the light.
    But never mind the threats from the man-child in N Korea & the Iranian wanna be Hitler. Obama & surrogates will never be able to convince them that he means "business". He doesn't…ditto his surrogates –

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel

    • Supreme_Galooty

      What you said is true. It also applies to many who fancy themselves to be "rightists," and they are squishy enough to cause harm all over again.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    Oh, and by-the-way…..did you know that John Kerry Heinz served in Viet Na-a-a-m?

    • Ben Jabo

      He never saw combat

  • harrylies

    Yes, Kerry served. Unlike Joseph Farah, Newt, Rush, and others too long to mention. He knows war is not a video game.

    • κατεργάζομαι

      Yeah, have you seen the pictures in the paper of John Kerry windsurfing? He was at his home in Nantucket doing his favorite thing, windsurfing.

      Even his hobby depends on which way the wind blows."

    • Mary Sue

      You know, some people just never went to 'nam. Some for medical issues, etc. Why harp on that? Some people just can't physically handle that.

      Kerry served, yes, but that doesn't mean that he has any concept of what it takes to win, or any concept of loyalty to his own country. One has to wonder where he got the commie bullcrap he's been spouting since he was a kid.

    • AnOrdinaryMan

      John Wayne never served in the military either; but I hope you don't try to compare him to John Kerry.

    • Rifleman

      I served too, and never before, during, or after did I mistake john Kerry for any kind of friend of the military. If it was up to him we would have no missile defense capability, no F-15Es, no B-2s, no F-22s, and he was one of the those that wanted to eliminate the CIA. His own outfit wouldn’t claim him when he ran for president, so those people you mentioned are in good company, and any one of them is more fit to represent the USA than kerry is.

      Kerry was wrong about the Iraq surge, wrong about the Cold War being unwinnable, wrong about Reagan’s arms control strategy, wrong about SE Asia, and Vietnam in particular. He was off by a factor of at least 1000 with his prediction that about 3000 South Vietnamese would have to leave or die if the North won.

    • White Hunter

      To say that Kerry "served" in Vietnam is exactly equivalent to saying that Julius Rosenberg "served" on the Manhattan Project to develop the A-bomb. Or that John Walker and his brother, son, and best friend "served" in the Navy.

    • Supreme_Galooty

      Your comment is a non sequitor. It doesn't make any sense. But more to the point, his "service" in Viet Nam was shown to be gross, self-serving cowardice. The Swift Boat Veterans were entirely credible. John F. Kerry was – and is – not.

  • MeSoHornish

    Kimmys missile can't be that big, he's very short and has small hands

  • MeSoHornish

    I feel so much better knowing Kerry is on this. My question is are the rising temperatures then considered man made and are the subsequent doctors visits covered under Obamacare?

  • pierce


  • tagalog

    If we had ignored the Democrate pooh-poohing of what they so mockingly referred to as "Star Wars," back about 25 or 30 years ago, when President Reagan first brought it up, we would have had 25 or 30 years to perfect the Strategic Defense Initiative, and now our leftie leaders wouldn't be having such a bad case of the vapors over North Korea's alleged ability to launch a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile to Colorado Springs or wherever.

    And weren't we being told just before the weekend started, that North Korea only had the capacity to reach Guam with nuclear-tipped rockets? What happened that suddenly we're now talking about North Korean missiles reaching the center of the United States? Did Kerry make some slip in revealing secrets that we know? How come such a piece of information hasn't been revealed to the rest of us before now? Was the administration afraid that there would be more support for a preventive strike on North Korea's nuclear development?

  • Sigfrid835

    I believe the democrats' behavior could be explained by the fact that they knew whom the missile defense was really against when Bush administration was in power. Those were not only Korea and Iran and that's why Europe and Japan came to be involved – the anaconda strategy. Kerry could happen knew about this and was against a gamble with defense system failed to prove its ultimate effectiveness for years. But it can be effective enough against NK threat and the logic is to build effective enough protection against existing and real threat and not against a hypothetical ones.

  • Ben Jabo

    Kerry who bought a Yacht tfrom a neighboring state ebecause he didn't want to pay his own state the taxes that they were do.

    Sneaky then, lying now

  • Edisa

    Article in Houston Chronicle Sunday 4-14-2013 page A4 Kerry offers missile deal to Chinese–from Beijing–suggesting to the Chinese Kerry's willingness to cut back on missile defense in exchange for their help pressuring N Korea. So he is already ready to downgrade the last upgrade of missile defense.

  • Rostislav

    The article's title "John Kerry’s Shameless Flip-Flop" sounds a bit strange to me: with the present-day clearly negative selection the U.S. authors must forget the very word "shame", when they write about Washington elite – just like we had to forget this word while writing about our Kremlin elite. These guys and dolls were chosen not because of their decency, honesty or integrity, but because of exactly opposite qualities. My, could I ever think that these sad words would be true both about Kremlin and Washington? No, I certainly could not. There were no such visions even in my worst nightmares… Life is really fantastic sometimes, isn't it? Rostislav, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

  • Paul Neville

    After Kerry bugged out of Viet Nam early with those three bogus Purple Hearts he committed treason by secretly going to Paris and meeting with the Communists. He returned spouting their propaganda and alleging his fellow military had committed war crimes in Viet Nam. He rounded up other alleged veterans to attack his former compatriots and as you may remember faked throwing his medals away. Sen. Fulbright realized when he was testifying against the war before his committee that the man had committed treason and tried to caution him about what he said about his meetings in Paris.

  • Leland64

    John Kerry is a disgrace to the Navy and a traitor to the United States. When has John Kerry ever been right about anything of consequence? Perhaps his flip-flop on missile defense may be his first correct position. Who knows? There is still plenty of time a reverse flip.

  • Jay Wye

    Comrade Obama and the DemocRATS were against ballistic missile defense,but when N.Korea threatened to fire a missile at Hawaii,Comrade Obama moved AEGIS ABM cruisers and the X-Band radar platform to Hawaii to protect it.
    If the DemocRATS had gotten their way,those assets would not have existed.

    Now we're under a SECOND threat from NK,and again those ABM assets ARE available to defend SK,Japan,US territories of Guam,the Aleutians,Alaska and Hawaii.

    But the DemocRATs are just as anxious to cut off the programs and trade away our missile defense for more treaties,and ones that nuclear-armed China is not party to.
    China is not party to ANY of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties,and they have been ADDING dozens of nuclear missiles to their inventory every year for several years.
    Comrade Obama has been bringing the US closer to war.
    He is the muslim Manchurian Candidate.

  • pyeatte

    Kerry's judgment abilities are terrible for a free society that wants to "remain" free. Never trust him with his own ideas – he can only respond after the fact, when it is already obvious to any sane person. Of course the truth could be worse – he was told what to say after the fact.

  • Michael Durham

    Lang Hurch.

  • Supreme_Galooty

    John Kerry is a shameless self-promoter – not very bright, but very canny. Arrogant without any discernible cause or basis for the arrogance to exist at all, he embarrasses this country by his very presence. Pass the ketchup, would you please.

  • Len_Powder

    “The rhetoric that we are hearing from North Korea is simply unacceptable by any standards,” Kerry said. “The United States, South Korea and the entire international community… are all united in the fact that North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power,” he added. “We will stand with South Korea and Japan against these threats. And we will defend ourselves.”

    That a man like this could be our Secretary of State and a man like Obama could be our President speaks volumes about how far we have descended as a nation. Harry Truman, a shoe salesman before he became VP and POTUS, has much more wisdom and common sense than today's elitists like Obama and Kerry. Whoever made this bed we all have to sleep in it!