Finding himself behind in the polls, John Kerry has begun to focus more intensely on the morass in Iraq, perhaps hoping to restore his fortunes by mobilizing the potential anti-war vote as fully as possible. Kerry has even said that if elected he will remove American troops from Iraq, though his timetable may strike us as less than impressive — four years! But has the Democratic candidate now, finally, revealed himself as a “man of peace” at heart? A close look at Kerry’s rhetoric shows that he is still promising little more than to implement the American occupation better. Kerry’s orientation can best be analyzed by looking at what he has advocated throughout the entire campaign. While Kerry has been charged with “flip-flopping,” one thing he has not actually repudiated is his support for the war.
It is a myth — though a widely held one — that Kerry would reverse the Bush administration’s warlike stance; as a result of that myth, he has already attracted the overwhelming support of the confirmed anti-war vote — people who are so angry at Bush that they would support “Anyone But Bush” (ABB) but who consider Kerry the most electable alternative. Some myths contain elements of truth, but the myth whereby Kerry would reverse Bush’s Middle East policy is not one of them. Kerry essentially offers “an echo, not a choice,” as two American columnists have styled his proposed policy.Sheldon Richman, “Kerry: An Echo, Not a Choice,” Future of Freedom Foundation, June 7, 2004; and Steve Chapman, “Kerry on Iraq: An echo, not a choice,” Chicago Tribune, August 12, 2004. An article in the left-wing e-journal CounterPunch refers to Kerry as the “Warchurian Candidate,” campaigning on the message “Dems do war better.”Jeremy Scahill, “John Kerry: the Warchurian Candidate,” CounterPunch, August 24, 2004. And Peter Camejo, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader’s running mate, jokes that “Kerry isn’t Bush Lite, he’s Bush Smart.”“The Democrats’ war on Nader,” Socialist Worker Online, August 6, 2004.
Since the new National Intelligence Estimate, drawn up in July 2004 and representing the distilled wisdom of the entire U.S. intelligence community, basically offers the direst forecasts of an essentially unwinnable war, one might assume that even Kerry would have the gumption to pick up on the officially recognized failure of policy: one might think that political expediency would not allow otherwise.
As Kerry said on September 20, 2004, at New York University, “In Iraq, this administration has consistently overpromised and underperformed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance, and outright incompetence.” Brave words. Amazing analysis. Unprecedented perspicacity. But how would our Brahmin genius rectify the problem? Kerry revealed that he would persuade other nations to help out; do a better job of training Iraqi security forces; provide benefits to the Iraqi people; and ensure democratic elections next year. Hold on, isn’t that the same program Bush offers? Well, Kerry claims he will do it all better.
The irony of a Kerry victory would be that while the failed war in Iraq would have helped him into power, once there he would carry on Bush’s war policies.
Even neocon war hawk Bill Kristol has noted the similarities between Bush and Kerry:
The most important thing … I thought is how similar it [Kerry’s proposed policy] really is to Bush administration policy, and that I say in praise of [Kerry]…. He is not willing to cut and run from Iraq…. He wants the UN to be more involved, but he doesn’t say if we can’t get the UN more involved, we should get out. President Bush is trying to get the UN involved, too.Terry M. Neal, “Kerry’s Iraq Policy Makes the War Issue Bush’s to Lose,” Washington Post, April 16, 2004.
Youssef M. Ibrahim, former Middle East correspondent for the New York Times and a critic of the U.S. war agenda, couches Kerry’s similarities to Bush in far bleaker terms:
For three years the world fumed over the chauvinism, arrogance, and policies of Republican neo-conservatives (neo-cons as they are known) riding over George W. Bush’s administration. They advocated regime changes and wars-of-choice. They dumped the western alliance, forged even stronger bonds with Israel, dropping the Palestinians altogether, and occupied Iraq.But for those millions, who aspire to better days under a Democratic administration led by Senator John Kerry, think again. The Democratic Party’s neo-con vampires are a lot worse than the current ones — the second movie could be more frightening than the first.Youssef M. Ibrahim, “Neo-Cons, Part II,” Gulf News, June 29, 2004.
While some politicians strive to gull the American electorate with pleasant lies, Kerry does not even bother with the traditional deceit in order to placate his anti-war constituency. A Boston Globe poll found that 95 percent of the delegates to the Democratic Convention in late July opposed the American war on Iraq,Sean Higgins, “Kerry, Dem Delegates Differ Over Iraq War,” Investors Business Daily, July 26, 2004. but Kerry offered them a policy that differed only marginally from that of Bush. In his acceptance speech, he mouthed the old platitudes about fighting terrorism and staying the course in Iraq. As for his “differences” with Bush, Kerry promised that he would not “mislead” the country into war, a safe position to take, since the pro-lie constituency is minuscule; and he promised that he would secure help from other countries to “share the burden” of occupying Iraq, another safe position, since it would be pleasant to have some foreigners blown up in lieu of Americans.Paul A. Gigot, “The Patriot Act: Why John Kerry’s acceptance speech could cost him the election,” Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2004.
The Democratic leadership managed to craft a relatively pro-war platform, the only sop to the party’s anti-war majority being the recognition that “people of good will disagree about whether America should have gone to war.” However, with respect to the present and future, the platform calls for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq until the establishment of a stable government, because the United States could not “allow a failed state in Iraq that inevitably would become a haven for terrorists and a destabilizing force in the Middle East.”
The supporters of Dennis Kucinich, the Democrats’ peace candidate, attempted to insert an anti-war plank that called the invasion of Iraq a mistake; it was backed by petitions signed by more than 200,000 people. But the Democratic leadership derailed it, and Kucinich showed little desire to push on — apparently being motivated by the all-important desire to maintain party unity to defeat Bush.Ron Jacobs, “The Little Engine That Couldn’t: Kucinich Surrenders on Anti-War Plank,” CounterPunch, July 16, 2004. In his willingness to give in on the platform, Kucinich was acceding to the thinking of most of the Democratic anti-war crowd, who perceive the Bush administration as so dangerous, threatening global war and domestic fascism, that they are willing to make any compromise to defeat it.
Before pursuing Kerry’s post-convention maneuverings we should briefly examine the background of the political positioning on the war. Although most Democratic politicians initially backed Bush’s position on Iraq, strong opposition to the war arose among the Democratic rank-and-file and coalesced behind the insurgent candidacy of Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont. Dean faltered in the early primaries, owing in large part to Democratic establishment and mainstream-media opposition,Sam Smith, “Dean in Freefall,” CounterPunch, January 21, 2004; and Naeem Mohaiemen, “The Assassination of Howard Dean,” Alternet, February 18, 2004. and Senator Kerry quickly emerged as the Democratic front-runner. Although not the first choice of most Democrats, he was regarded as the Democrat who had the best chance of defeating Bush. After a number of primary victories, Kerry became the almost-certain Democratic presidential nominee, and that was made official in his nomination July 29.
Despite the anti-war attitude of many ordinary Democrats, Kerry had supported the Bush agenda on Iraq from the beginning. He not only voted for the October 2002 congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq but went so far as to repeat some of the administration’s most outrageous (and fallacious) claims regarding Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). In a speech on the Senate floor immediately prior to the military-force resolution, Kerry categorically maintained that Saddam Hussein was “attempting to develop nuclear weapons.”
In fact, Kerry asserted that Iraq’s WMDs threatened the United States itself: “Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery on a range of vehicles such as bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers, and covert operatives which could bring them to the United States homeland.” Instead of questioning the validity of the Bush administration’s ominous warnings, Kerry endorsed them: “The president laid out a strong, comprehensive, and compelling argument why Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs are a threat to the United States and the international community.”Stephen Zunes, “Kerry’s Deceptions on Iraq Threaten His Presidential Hopes,” Common Dreams News Center, August 26, 2003; and remarks of John Kerry on Iraq, U.S. Senate, October 9, 2002.
Kerry has since claimed he was fooled by the administration’s false claims about Iraqi WMDs. However, there does not seem to have been any reason for Kerry to uncritically accept the administration’s war propaganda in the first place. Unlike the general public, Kerry had access to contrary information. As columnist Robert Novak has pointed out, “As a senator, Kerry had access to the National Intelligence Estimate that was skeptical of Iraqi capability.”Robert Novak, “Tricky John Kerry,” Townhall.com, September 4, 2003.
Kerry has argued that he did not actually vote for war but rather for a process to disarm Saddam, in which military force would be resorted to only after all diplomatic possibilities had been exhausted. He said: “I voted to give the authority to the president to use force under a set of promises by the president as to how he would do it: build a legitimate international coalition, exhaust the remedies of the United Nations, and go to war as a last resort. He broke every single one of those promises.”John C. Bonifaz, “John Kerry’s Broken Promise on the War,” Common Dreams, February 12, 2004. And Kerry has continued to maintain that his vote was correct: “I believed then — and I believe now — authorizing force was the only way to get inspectors in, and the only way ultimately to enforce Saddam Hussein’s compliance with the mandate he had agreed to, knowing that as a last resort war could become the ultimate weapons inspections enforcement mechanism.”John F. Kerry, “Foreign Policy in a Post-Saddam World: Rebuilding Our Alliances and Iraq,” address at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, December 16, 2003. It is interesting that the link to this document at the Kerry campaign Website has been deactivated.
There is an element of truth in what Kerry says. In a speech on the Senate floor in early October 2002, Kerry did say that he expected President Bush to work in harmony with the United Nations and America’s allies: “In giving the president this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days: to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out ‘tough, immediate’ inspections requirements and to ‘act with our allies at our side’ if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force.
“If he fails to do so, I will be the first to speak out.”Text of John Kerry’s statement on Iraq before the war (an oration on the Senate floor), October 9, 2002.
But in fact Kerry did not speak out when the Bush administration moved toward unilateral war, even though leading Senate Democrats Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy put forth a resolution to prevent such militant action. As commentator John C. Bonifaz observes, “Senator Kerry broke that promise…. In the crucial days after the president withdrew his efforts to gain United Nations support for his war and before the president launched his invasion, Senator Kerry remained silent. The president had, indeed, failed to build an international coalition, and yet the senator did not speak out.”Bonifaz, “John Kerry’s Broken Promise on the War.”
Immediately after the American attack on Iraq began on March 19, 2003, Kerry expressed nothing but support for the American action: “It appears that with the deadline for exile come and gone, Saddam Hussein has chosen to make military force the ultimate weapons inspections enforcement mechanism. If so, the only exit strategy is victory; this is our common mission and the world’s cause.”Statement of Senator John Kerry on commencement of military strikes in Iraq, March 20, 2003.
Even when asked whether he would agree with other Democratic senators who said they would not have voted to give Bush war-powers authority if they had known the truth about the WMD issue, Kerry was evasive. “Look, the vote is not today and that’s it,” he said. “It’s a waste of time. It’s not what this is about.” It is highly significant that while Kerry criticizes the Bush administration for using falsehoods to drive the United States into war, he does not come out and say that he would have opposed the war had he known the truth.
In his presidential campaign, Kerry does appeal to the Democratic anti-war majority with his strong criticism of the Bush administration for its pursuit of the “most reckless foreign policy in modern history” with its “unilateral and pre-emptive war that threatens America’s safety and prosperity.”Mark Tran, “Kerry seeks ‘third way’ abroad,” Guardian Unlimited, February 4, 2004. That last part may sound like a categorical condemnation of the war, but it is not so. While criticizing the management and present character of the war, Kerry does not say that he would, if elected, remove American military forces from the Middle East. Rather, he promises to maintain American military involvement through a liberal-internationalist approach.
Kerry sees a need for American military intervention on a global scale. He speaks of America’s “historic obligation — to serve as not just a beacon of hope, but to work with allies across the world to defend and extend the frontiers of freedom.” He holds that the United States should “transform the situation in Iraq from an American occupation to a global coalition,” and thus “reclaim the best of our historic role overseas and to once again lead the world toward progress and freedom.” America should “rally democratic countries to join in a lasting coalition to address the common ills of a new century — terrorism, loose nukes, and drug trafficking, environmental destruction, and epidemic disease.”Kerry, “Foreign Policy in a Post-Saddam World.”
Kerry has referred favorably to America’s internationalist wars of the past. “There was a time, not so long ago,” he declaimed, “when the might of our alliances was a driving force in the survival and success of freedom — in two world wars, in the long years of the Cold War — then from the Gulf War to Bosnia and Kosovo. America led instead of going it alone.” He called for “a return to the principle that guided us in peril and victory through the past century — alliances matter, and the United States must lead them. Never has this been more true than in the war on terrorism.”Richman, “Kerry: An Echo, Not a Choice.”
In large measure, then, Kerry is a foe not of war and occupation, but rather of America’s “going it alone” in its wars and occupations. Kerry strongly desires the United States to intervene on a global scale as long as it acts in concert with other nations.
The question is whether Kerry’s call for international cooperation in war is realistic when applied to Iraq. Are the United Nations and NATO really willing to be militarily involved in Iraq? Key members of both bodies were adamantly opposed to the war, which is why the United States invaded without their sanction. It is hardly likely that the unrest and violence in Iraq during the past year have done anything but convince those nations of the correctness of their decision to avoid involvement.James Pinkerton, “Kerry moves Bush-ward on Iraq,” Newsday, April 20, 2004 (posted at New America Foundation).
The concept of international cooperation does certainly win rhetorical support among Western elites. However, as foreign-policy commentator Christopher Layne points out, “Multilateralism’s unspoken assumption is that the rest of the world believes that their interests are identical to America’s. If this harmony of interests really existed, conducting a U.S. foreign policy based on multilateralism would be a no-brainer.” But “multilateralism often runs up against a brick wall because the harmony of interests that it presupposes just is not the way things usually are in the real world. Iraq is a great example of this.”Christopher Layne, “The Next Emperor,” The American Conservative, March 29, 2004, p. 8.
In short, we must expect Kerry’s America to carry out its Middle East war agenda basically by itself — just like Bush’s America.
Another contradiction in Kerry’s touting of internationalism, little understood in America, is the fact that the U.S. attack on Iraq itself violated international law and in so doing undermined the entire international order. Even leading neocon war hawk Richard Perle admitted the illegality of the American attack in a speech in London in November 2003, when he was still a key member of the defense policy board that advised Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Perle pointed out that French opposition meant that there had been “no practical mechanism consistent with the rules of the UN for dealing with Saddam Hussein.” In short, Perle acknowledged that “international law … would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone.” But Perle proclaimed that “in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing.”Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger, “War critics astonished as U.S. hawk admits invasion was illegal,” The Guardian Unlimited, November 20, 2003.
Perle implicitly acknowledged the speciousness of the argument that the United States itself has the right to unilaterally interpret and enforce UN resolutions — in this particular case, UN Security Council resolution 1441. Obviously, the United States would not concede such a “right” to any other country. Imagine the horrified reaction of Washington if any country tried to enforce UN resolutions affecting Israel.
Earlier, a few days after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Perle had gleefully celebrated the destruction of internationalism wrought by the pre-emptive attack:
Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror is about to end. He will go quickly, but not alone: in a parting irony, he will take the UN down with him. Well, not the whole UN. The “good work” part will survive, the low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies will remain, the chatterbox on the Hudson will continue to bleat. What will die is the fantasy of the UN as the foundation of a new world order. As we sift the debris, it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions.Richard Perle, “Thank God for the death of the UN,” The Guardian Unlimited, March 21, 2003.
Perle is exactly right in his description of the implications of the American pre-emptive, unilateral attack on Iraq. The war undercut the very international standards for maintaining a stable, peaceful world that internationalists such as Kerry profess to promote. Before a President Kerry could gain support from other nations, he would have to show that the United States would abide by the same standards that are applied to all other countries. First and foremost, he would have to acknowledge that the United States violated the fundamental tenets of an international order of sovereign nations in its attack on Iraq. But Candidate Kerry has so far been unwilling to make such an admission. Without such an acknowledgement, Kerry’s call for “internationalism” can easily be interpreted as comparable to the global hegemony pursued by the Bush administration, under which the United States arbitrarily sets the rules and other countries are expected to obediently follow along.
While Kerry has the support of many opponents of the war, it is ironic that he has often implied he would pursue a war policy even more vigorous and extensive than Bush’s. For example, in a speech to the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations in early December 2003, Kerry berated the Bush administration for “considering what is tantamount to a cut-and-run strategy. Their sudden embrace of accelerated Iraqification and American troop withdrawal without adequate stability is an invitation to failure.”John Kerry, “Making America Secure Again: Setting the Right Course for Foreign Policy,” address to the Council on Foreign Relations, December 3, 2003. This is another document previously posted at the Kerry campaign Website whose URL has now been deactivated. Kerry’s top national-security advisor, Rand Beers, said that Kerry “would not rule out the possibility” of sending additional American troops to Iraq to effectively carry out the occupation.Tom Curry, “Kerry warns of ‘cut and run in Iraq,'” MSNBC News, December 3, 2003. And Kerry has called for expanding the American military by 40,000 troops, though he was saying in early August 2004 that he did not envision the need for more American troops in Iraq.Dan Balz, “Kerry Says He Would Add 40,000 to Army,” Washington Post, June 4, 2004, p. A1; and Patricia Wilson, “Kerry Envisions No More U.S. Troops for Iraq, but No Accelerated Withdrawal, to the Dismay of Democrats,” Reuters, August 1, 2004.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal shortly before the Democratic Convention in July 2004, Kerry explained that as president he would refrain from any precipitate withdrawal from Iraq until the Iraqi government could maintain stability. “I will provide for the world’s need not to have a failed state in Iraq,” Kerry intoned. He even has presented in a negative light the (purported) possibility that Bush might quickly withdraw American troops from Iraq as an election move. “I’ve heard [this] said by many people,” Kerry opined. “I’m prepared for any political move” on Iraq, Kerry asserted. “I’d put nothing past them.”John Harwood and Jacob M. Schlesinger, “Kerry Sets Test for Iraq Withdrawal,” Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2004, p. A5. That the favored candidate of America’s anti-war voters would chastise a possible Bush move toward peace would seem to reach the height of irony.
Kerry also demonstrated his pro-war bona fides in his novel effort to recruit neocon favorite John McCain, the pro-war Republican Senator from Arizona, as his running mate.Dan Balz and Jim VandeHei, “McCain’s Resistance Doesn’t Stop Talk of Kerry Dream Ticket,” Washington Post, June 12, 2004, p. A1. McCain was, in fact, the favorite candidate of the neocons in the 2000 Republican primaries. While Bush never referred to Saddam in 2000, McCain openly called for the removal of the Iraqi ruler; moreover, McCain had been a leader in pushing the “Iraq Liberation Act” through Congress. McCain, in fact, was advocating the elimination of all rogue states with his proclamation in favor of “rogue state rollback.” “Rogue states,” of course, include all of Israel’s enemies in the Middle East.Justin Raimondo, Behind the Headlines entry for February 18, 2000.
One area where the Democratic challenger is definitely more in line than Bush is with the neocon war hawks is Kerry’s opposition to Saudi Arabia, which neoconservatives have marked for destruction. In a May 27, 2004, speech in Seattle, Kerry stated that “if we are serious about energy independence, then we can finally be serious about confronting the role of Saudi Arabia in financing and providing ideological support for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.” Kerry asserted that as president he would “name and shame” nations that launder money for terrorists and impose “tough financial sanctions” on such countries. “To put it simply,” he warned, “we will not do business as usual with Saudi Arabia.”Ashraf Fahim, “John Kerry’s sucker Saudi punch,” Asia Times, June 10, 2004.
Furthermore, Kerry promises to take action against anti-Zionist statements — which he characterizes as anti-Semitic — made in Saudi Arabia. What especially stirred up American pro-Zionist opinion was Crown Prince Abdullah’s allegation that Zionists were behind the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia. Writing at Ha’aretz, Nathan Guttman observes: “As president, [Kerry] will never permit these kinds of attacks to go unanswered.”Nathan Guttman, “John Kerry position paper outlines support for Israel,” Ha’aretz, July 2, 2004; and statement by John Kerry on anti-Semitic statements by Saudi Government officials, Kerry campaign Website, May 5, 2004.
It is interesting that Kerry did not claim simply that Crown Prince Abdullah and other Saudi officials failed to offer sufficient proof for their claim but rather that such a claim is per se absurd. But much evidence suggests otherwise. For years stories have circulated that Israeli agents — especially those of Israel’s foreign-intelligence agency, the Mossad — have infiltrated Arab terrorist networks and have sometimes actually involved themselves in deceptive terroristic activities designed to appear as the work of Arabs. Observers allege that the Mossad thoroughly infiltrated the nefarious terrorist group Abu Nidal and even turned some of its terrorist activities to Israel’s benefit.Patrick Seale, Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire (New York: Random House, 1992).
And then there is the notorious Lavon Affair: even mainstream reporters have acknowledged that the bombings of Western property in Egypt in 1954, which were initially assumed to be the work of Arab nationalists and which ultimately contributed to the attack on Egypt by Britain and France (and Israel) in 1956, were actually carried out by Egyptian Jews in the service of Israel.
The possibility that Israel might engage in such deceptive terrorism against the United States was touched on in a study by the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS). A reference to the study appeared, poignantly, in a front-page article in the Washington Times on September 10, 2001 — one day before the horrific attacks of 9/11. According to the article, “Of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, the SAMS officers say: ‘Wildcard. Ruthless and cunning. Has capability to target U.S. forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act.'”Rowan Scarborough, “U.S. troops would enforce peace under Army study,” Washington Times, September 10, 2001, pp. A1, A9.
It is highly unlikely that any mainstream American journalist, scholar, politician, or investigative body would ever dare look into possible evidence of Zionist agent-provocateur terrorism. Such investigative boldness has been most strikingly absent in regard to the September 11 terrorism, though Mossad agents actually lived on the same street in Hollywood, Florida, as alleged chief terrorist Mohammed Atta, and other Mossad agents positioned themselves so they could videotape the burning Trade Towers from across the Hudson River.Justin Raimondo, “The Terror Enigma: Israel and the September 11 Connection,” Chronicles, August 2003; and my own “The Israeli spy ring and September 11,” The Last Ditch, April 14, 2002. It seems that Kerry would try to establish an intellectual censorship with respect to Zionist activities in the Middle East similar to the one that already exists with respect to Zionist activities in the United States.
Notably, Kerry does not dismiss as self-evidently absurd allegations in the United States that the Saudi government was behind both the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq war, even though those events have spawned terrorism within the Saudi kingdom so serious that it threatens the regime; in contrast, Israel’s Likud government has been an obvious beneficiary of the same events, with the U.S. “war on terror” being directed against Israel’s enemies. If one applied the “cui bono” rule, which is customary in legal and police work in the United States, the obvious focus would be on Israel, not Saudi Arabia.
Some of Kerry’s anti-war supporters are of the belief that Kerry’s belligerent language does not predict the policy he would adopt if elected president but simply represents a political ploy to gain support of some pro-war voters in the swing states — Kerry already having locked up the anti-war vote. But the facts point in another direction. Kerry’s influential backers, who are apt to determine the direction of his foreign policy, actually uphold his hard-line stance. Influential liberal Democrats have been pushing the very same justification for U.S. intervention in the Middle East for some time. The major proponents of this military-interventionist liberalism are the “New Democrats.”
As British critic of American imperialism John Pilger writes, “What the New Democrats object to is the Bush gang’s outspokenness — its crude honesty, if you like — in stating its plans openly, and not from behind the usual veil or in the usual specious code of imperial liberalism and its ‘moral authority.’ New Democrats of Kerry’s sort are all for the American empire; understandably, they would prefer that those words remained unsaid.”John Pilger, “Bush or Kerry: the danger is the same,” New Statesman, March 4, 2004.
In an excellent analysis in CounterPunch, Mark Hand describes the “New Democrats” as the liberal Democratic counterparts of the neocons who have set the foreign policy of the Bush administration. Hand portrays John Kerry as the likely “leading mouthpiece for the New Democrats’ radical interventionist program” and contends that Kerry has been pushing that policy under the moniker of “progressive internationalism.” Hand describes the approach as “a concept concocted by establishment Democrats seeking to convince potential backers in the corporate and political world that, if installed in the White House, they would preserve U.S. power and influence around the world, but in a kinder, gentler fashion than the current administration.”
Hand points out that “the New Democrats don’t begrudge the Bush administration for invading Iraq. They take issue with the Bush administration’s strategy of refusing to invite key members of the international community to the invasion until it was too late.”Mark Hand, “‘It’s Time to Get Over It’: Kerry Tells Anti-War Movement to Move On,” CounterPunch, February 18, 2004. The neocons’ unilateralist approach, the New Democrats believe, will ultimately harm U.S. political and economic dominance around the world.
The focal point of this liberal internationalist/interventionist movement, Hand says, is the Democratic Leadership Council and its affiliated think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, which have ties with Kerry. “Proponents of ‘progressive internationalism’ are a lock to control leadership positions at the State Department and key civilian posts at the Pentagon in a John Kerry administration,” Hand writes. “How do we know this? Because these New Democrats obviously ghostwrote Kerry’s campaign book, A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America.“Hand, “‘It’s Time to Get Over It.'”
Although Hand demonstrates that Kerry and the DLC/PPI advocates of “progressive internationalism” hold identical views on foreign policy, he completely overlooks the Zionist orientation of the DLC/PPI. It is quite evident that the effect of Kerry’s “progressive internationalism” would advance Israeli interests, inasmuch as it would involve an international effort to fight “terrorism” (i.e., the enemies of Israel), eliminate WMDs (i.e., strip Israel’s enemies of weapons, leaving Israel with a WMD monopoly in the Middle East), and promote democracy (i.e., force other Middle Eastern countries to undergo social and political change while Israel remained intact with continued control of the occupied territories). Where an internationalist approach conflicts with Israeli interests, Kerry readily jettisons the internationalism.
Moreover, significant figures in the DLC/PPI have close ties to Israel. One of the leading founders of PPI was Michael Steinhardt, who made his fortune as a hedge-fund operator and has since become a Jewish philanthropist. Steinhardt has been involved in numerous Zionist causes, helping to establish Birthright Israel, a program that sends young Jews to Israel.Michael Massing, “Should Jews Be Parochial?,” The American Prospect, November 6, 2000. Vice chairman of the DLC is David Steiner, a former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who was forced to resign that position when he was secretly tape-recorded bragging about how he had manipulated U.S. presidential politics on behalf of Israel in the aftermath of the First Gulf War in 1991.Sheldon Richman, “AIPAC President Resigns,” Washington Report on the Middle East, December/January 1992/93. Barry Rubin, a featured speaker of PPI, is deputy director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Rubin also writes Middle East/Israel briefings for the American Jewish Committee, which sponsors the neoconservative magazine Commentary, a strong backer of Israel and the war on Iraq.Capsule reviews of Barry Rubin, The Transformation of Palestinian Politics: From Revolution to State-Building (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), Harvard University Press Reviews.
Kerry himself expresses a close identification with Israel. In a November 2003 article in the Brown [University] Students for Israel publication, “Perspectives: An Israel Review,” Kerry blathers on about the high ideals of that nation and the moral imperative for the United States to support it. Kerry recites the usual platitudes about Israel: the threat to Israeli security, Israel as the “Promised Land,” Jewish heroism, and the democratic nature of the state of Israel. Kerry concludes by proclaiming that Americans “must again reaffirm we are enlisted for the duration — and reaffirm our belief that the cause of Israel must be the cause of America — and the cause of people of conscience everywhere.”“Another President for the Occupation? — ‘The Cause of Israel is the Cause of America’ by Sen. John Kerry,” CounterPunch, February 17, 2004.
In an address to the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in May 2004, Kerry proclaimed his longtime allegiance to Israel: “For the entire 20 years that I have been in the United States Senate, I’m proud that my commitment to a secure Jewish state has been unwavering; not even by one vote or one letter or one resolution has it wavered.”Ron Kampeas and Matthew E. Berger, “In outreach to Jewish community, Kerry stresses his ties with Israel,” May 3, 2004, Jewish Telegraph Agency (“Global News Service of the Jewish People”). And it is largely true that Kerry has been a strong supporter of Israel’s policies for many years, including its controversial, and illegal, colonization of the West Bank. For example, Kerry strongly attacked the first Bush administration in 1991 when it tried to curb the construction of illegal Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory by threatening to withhold a proposed $10 billion loan guarantee to Israel.Stephen Zunes, “Kerry’s Foreign Policy Record Suggests Few Differences with Bush,” Dissident Voice, March 6, 2004.
Kerry explained to his ADL listeners how his much-touted multilateral approach to foreign policy did not apply to Israel and its interests, since “the multilateral community has always been very difficult with respect to Israel, and we have always stood up against their efforts to isolate Israel.” In short, a Kerry administration would continue the double standard applied to Israel. Israel would not be expected to abide by rules that the United States applied to other countries, especially to Israel’s Arab neighbors. In fact, so far as Kerry is concerned, Israel does not even have to abide by long-established international law; the Arabs, of course, suffer the consequences of those violations.
Regarding the right of dispossessed Palestinians to return to their homeland in what is now Israel, Kerry assured the ADL that the “‘right of return’ is a non-starter. We need to get a note of reality into these discussions.”Zunes, “Kerry’s Foreign Policy Record Suggests Few Differences with Bush.” In April 2004, he told moderator Tim Russert on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “If you’re going to have a Jewish state, and that is what we are committed to do and that is what Israel is, you cannot have a right of return that’s open-ended or something. You just can’t do it. It’s always been a non-starter.”Interview with Sen. John Kerry, “Meet the Press,” NBC News, April 18, 2004.
The right of refugees to return to their homes and property — not just to a country or homeland — is deeply embedded in customary international law and in the most fundamental human-rights instruments. It is spelled out in article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “[e]veryone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” And that basic right of return formed the basis of NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” in Kosovo in 1999.Hussein Ibish and Ali Abunimah, “The Palestinians’ Right of Return,” Human Rights Brief, Winter 2001.
The work of the Clinton administration’s deputy treasury secretary, Stuart Eizenstat, with regard to the Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust in Europe also has great significance for the property rights of Palestinian refugees.Ibish and Abunimah, “The Palestinians’ Right of Return.” If Jewish victims of the Holocaust and their heirs are to be provided restitution for the Nazi expropriation of their gold, precious art, and other private property, equal justice requires similar restitution for dispossessed Palestinians.
In 1948 the United Nations specifically addressed the Palestinian situation in its Resolution 194, stating: “The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” The resolution went on to confirm in detail the basic rights of the refugees, which included compensation for the loss of their property from the government responsible for the damage.Abdul-Ilah As-Saadi, “The right of return,” Alijazeera.net, December 9, 2003.Ibish and Abunimah, “The Palestinians’ Right of Return.”
Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1949 was predicated on its accepting and implementing Resolution 194, respecting the rights of the refugees.Ibish and Abunimah, “The Palestinians’ Right of Return.” Israel, of course, did just the opposite, confiscating their property and preventing their return.
As pointed out above, Kerry has been a longtime supporter of Israel’s colonization of the occupied territories. During the presidential campaign, Kerry has proclaimed that the U.S. refusal to officially recognize the permanence of some of Israel’s illegal settlements on the West Bank is “disingenuous.”Kampeas and Berger, “In outreach to Jewish community, Kerry stresses his ties with Israel.” “In light of demographic realities, a number of settlement blocs will likely become a part of Israel,” Kerry maintains.Guttman, “John Kerry position paper outlines support for Israel.”
Kerry’s position, obviously, totally contradicts international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by Israel in 1951, prohibits an occupying power from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory. The Hague Regulations prohibit the occupying power from imposing permanent changes in the occupied area, unless they are imposed in response to military needs in the narrow sense of the term, or unless they are undertaken for the benefit of the local population. Israel’s confiscation of the private property of Palestinians unquestionably violates a number of international human-rights laws.“Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” Comprehensive Report, May 2002, The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories; and John Sigler, “On the Applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” Essays and Commentary on Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues, December 20, 2000.
Kerry also supports Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s construction of a “security fence” around the remaining Palestinian-inhabited areas in the West Bank, which is converting those areas into large prison camps. On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice declared that the fence was illegal and that it must be removed. Subsequently, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution demanding that Israel comply with the court’s decision.“UN demands Israel scrap barrier,” BBC News World Edition, July 21, 2004.
In October 2003, a month after announcing his candidacy, Kerry did tell members of the Arab-American Institute that Israel’s “security fence” was a “barrier to peace.”Janine Zacharia, “Kerry defends security fence,” Jerusalem Post, February 25, 2004. But he has since dropped that line. In early June 2004, the Kerry campaign released the document, “John Kerry: Strengthening Israel’s Security and Bolstering the U.S.-Israel Special Relationship,” which states: “John Kerry supports the construction of Israel’s security fence to stop terrorists from entering Israel. The security fence is a legitimate act of self-defense erected in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israeli citizens. He believes the security fence is not a matter for the International Court of Justice.”
Of course, the court did not say that Israel could not provide security for its own citizens by constructing a wall. It did not say that the barrier could not be built at all, but only that it must be built on Israel’s own territory, not on Palestinian territory occupied in the 1967 war. The wall is being built not on the 1967 border (which is the internationally recognized one) but rather deep inside Palestinian territory. Clearly, the construction of the wall is a ploy to seize land and make living conditions impossible for the Palestinians.
Repudiating the judgment of the World Court worsens the international political isolation of the United States already created by Washington’s Middle East policy.
Kerry also backs the Sharon government in its effort to destroy the legitimacy of Yasser Arafat. In a March 8, 2004, interview with the Associated Press, Kerry stated that Arafat was an “outlaw” who “has been an impediment to the peace process.” In essence, so far as Kerry is concerned there is no Palestinian peace partner with whom the Israeli side can speak.Ira Glunts, “Kerry Indicates He Would Continue Bush’s Pro-Sharon Policy,” The Electronic Intifada, April 6, 2004.
To this day, Kerry has rejected calls by Jordan, Syria, and other Middle Eastern governments for a WMD-free zone for the entire region, insisting that the United States has the right to say which countries can possess such weapons and which cannot. He was a co-sponsor of the Syrian Accountability Act, passed by Congress in November 2003, which demanded under threat of sanctions that Syria unilaterally eliminate its chemical weapons and missile systems, despite the fact that nearby U.S. allies such as Israel and Egypt had far larger and more advanced stockpiles of WMDs and missiles, including, in Israel’s case, hundreds of nuclear weapons.Zunes, “Kerry’s Foreign Policy Record Suggests Few Differences with Bush.”
Given the reality of Zionist power in the United States, all successful candidates for president must pledge a high degree of fealty to Israel. For instance, Bill Clinton, who carefully eschewed U.S. military service, went so far as to claim that if Saddam’s Iraq invaded Israel he “would personally get in a ditch, grab a rifle, and fight and die” defending Israel.“Clinton: I’d Get In a Ditch, Grab A Rifle And Die For Israel,” IslamOnline, August 3, 2001. In the case of John Kerry, we must consider an additional factor: he is half-Jewish himself. Both of his paternal grandparents were ethnic Jews from the Austrian Empire who converted to Catholicism before emigrating to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. Kerry’s grandfather changed the family name from Kohn to Kerry. If John Kerry wins the election, he will be the first U.S. president of Jewish ancestry.Jennifer Anne Perez, “A Jewish Czech in John Kerry’s Court,” Reform Judaism, Fall 2003; Bruce I. Konviser, “Czech tracks Kerry’s Jewish roots,” Washington Times, March 12, 2004; and Lynn Sweet, “‘Irish-American’ Kerry’s Jewish roots revealed,” Chicago Sun Times, February 9, 2003.
Interestingly, Kerry’s younger brother Cameron converted to Judaism in 1983 when he married a Jewish woman, Kathy Weinman, who like the rest of her family is active in the Jewish community. “Judaism is central to us,” says Kathy Weinman. “Judaism is a core of my life and important to our family.”Sharon Luckerman, “John Kerry’s Jewish Brother,” Detroit Jewish News, February 13, 2004.
Cameron Kerry is not just a converted Jew; he is also a prominent lawyer for a major Boston law firm, Mintz Levin, that represents many high-profile Israeli business interests.Ron Kampeas, “Kerry known for soliciting many views, but who has his ear on Jewish issues?,” Jewish Telegraph Agency, February 17, 2004; and David M. Halbfinger, “Kerry Emphasizes His Strong Support of Israel,” New York Times, March 1, 2004. Cameron is said to be John Kerry’s closest advisor, having played a role in all his brother’s political efforts from the very beginning in 1972, when Kerry lost a bid for Congress.
“If someone is trying to get something done with John Kerry, very often they go to Cam,” observes George Butler, who has known the Kerrys for more than thirty years and is producing a documentary on the presidential campaign. Cameron Kerry raises a lot of money for his brother, and his fellow lawyers at Mintz Levin have contributed almost a quarter million dollars for the Kerry campaign.James Burnett, “The Silent Partner,” Boston Magazine, April 2004. During the Democratic primaries, Cameron helped arrange meetings between his brother and key Jewish leaders, and Cameron has continued to be the campaign’s “link man” to the American Jewish community. In July 2004, John Kerry sent his brother to Israel to meet with top Israeli officials, in a trip arranged by AIPAC, Israel’s ultra-powerful lobby.Lily Henning, “Cameron Kerry: Out of the Shadows,” Legal Times, July 29, 2004; and Inigo Gilmore, “Kerry sends brother to Israel to shore up the Jewish vote,” Telegraph, July 18, 2004.
Perhaps Kerry’s ethnic connections are merely a point of interesting trivia and have nothing to do with his incessantly advertised love of Israel. But it is quite evident that if Kerry were half-Palestinian and proclaimed that the “cause of Palestinian freedom must be the cause of America — and the cause of people of conscience everywhere” and demanded that Sharon’s “security wall” be torn down, that ethnic connection would not be regarded as trivial.
At the same time it must be acknowledged that Kerry’s positions differ little from the Bush administration’s favorable policy toward Sharon’s Israel. As reporter Rannie Amiri correctly observes: “Regardless of whether it is George Bush or John Kerry who wins the 2004 presidential race, Israel is assured of being the ultimate winner. And that is a sure bet.”Rannie Amiri, “Bush Vs Kerry? And the winner is … Israel!,” Today’s Alternative News, March 9, 2004.
* * *
The least that can be said about Kerry and his presidential campaign is that it is a mass of contradictions. Kerry draws support from the anti-war element, but he has never disavowed the Iraq war or his Senate vote that sanctioned the war, and he has pledged to maintain the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Kerry touts himself as an internationalist but will not repudiate the war on Iraq or its strategy of pre-emptive attack, which clearly violated a fundamental international law upon which a peaceful world order depends. Moreover, despite his alleged internationalism he specifically defends Israeli policies that violate international law, and he would have the United States remain isolated in its defense of Israel against world opinion.
It should be noted that Kerry, whose credibility is undamaged, could pursue the war in the Middle East better than could the Bush administration, whose credibility is much tarnished by war lies, torture, and corruption. Under cover of progressive internationalism a Kerry administration could do much to advance American and Israeli hegemonism in the Middle East. Those bemused Americans who somehow longingly believe that Kerry will end American warmaking in the Middle East may be surprised when Kerry’s policy unfolds — yet it is a war policy that has been right out in the open all along.
The fact that Americans determined to head for the polls in November will have no choice regarding the war in the Middle East or support for Israel is the greatest irony of all. Polls show that a majority of Americans believe the war on Iraq was a mistake. And polls also show that Americans would prefer a more even-handed foreign policy in the Middle East, as opposed to favoritism toward Israel. But the people’s will in America cannot prevail; the American people are not given a choice. That is apparently what the American leadership class means when it expatiates on the beneficence of democracy. And that is the very kind of democracy it intends to spread to the “liberated” Middle East and to the rest of the world.
 Terry M. Neal, “Kerry’s Iraq Policy Makes the War Issue Bush’s to Lose,” Washington Post, April 16, 2004.
 Sean Higgins, “Kerry, Dem Delegates Differ Over Iraq War,” Investors Business Daily, July 26, 2004.
 Paul A. Gigot, “The Patriot Act: Why John Kerry’s acceptance speech could cost him the election,” Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2004.
 Ron Jacobs, “The Little Engine That Couldn’t: Kucinich Surrenders on Anti-War Plank,” CounterPunch, July 16, 2004.
 Stephen Zunes, “Kerry’s Deceptions on Iraq Threaten His Presidential Hopes,” Common Dreams News Center, August 26, 2003; and remarks of John Kerry on Iraq, U.S. Senate, October 9, 2002.
 John F. Kerry, “Foreign Policy in a Post-Saddam World: Rebuilding Our Alliances and Iraq,” address at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, December 16, 2003. It is interesting that the link to this document at the Kerry campaign Website has been deactivated.
 Kerry, “Foreign Policy in a Post-Saddam World.”
 Christopher Layne, “The Next Emperor,” The American Conservative, March 29, 2004, p. 8.
 Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger, “War critics astonished as U.S. hawk admits invasion was illegal,” The Guardian Unlimited, November 20, 2003.
 John Kerry, “Making America Secure Again: Setting the Right Course for Foreign Policy,” address to the Council on Foreign Relations, December 3, 2003. This is another document previously posted at the Kerry campaign Website whose URL has now been deactivated.
 Dan Balz, “Kerry Says He Would Add 40,000 to Army,” Washington Post, June 4, 2004, p. A1; and Patricia Wilson, “Kerry Envisions No More U.S. Troops for Iraq, but No Accelerated Withdrawal, to the Dismay of Democrats,” Reuters, August 1, 2004.
 Dan Balz and Jim VandeHei, “McCain’s Resistance Doesn’t Stop Talk of Kerry Dream Ticket,” Washington Post, June 12, 2004, p. A1.
 Nathan Guttman, “John Kerry position paper outlines support for Israel,” Ha’aretz, July 2, 2004; and statement by John Kerry on anti-Semitic statements by Saudi Government officials, Kerry campaign Website, May 5, 2004.
 Patrick Seale, Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire (New York: Random House, 1992).
 Rowan Scarborough, “U.S. troops would enforce peace under Army study,” Washington Times, September 10, 2001, pp. A1, A9.
 John Pilger, “Bush or Kerry: the danger is the same,” New Statesman, March 4, 2004.
 Mark Hand, “‘It’s Time to Get Over It’: Kerry Tells Anti-War Movement to Move On,” CounterPunch, February 18, 2004.
 Capsule reviews of Barry Rubin, The Transformation of Palestinian Politics: From Revolution to State-Building (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), Harvard University Press Reviews.
 “Another President for the Occupation? — ‘The Cause of Israel is the Cause of America’ by Sen. John Kerry,” CounterPunch, February 17, 2004.
 Ron Kampeas and Matthew E. Berger, “In outreach to Jewish community, Kerry stresses his ties with Israel,” May 3, 2004, Jewish Telegraph Agency (“Global News Service of the Jewish People”).
 Stephen Zunes, “Kerry’s Foreign Policy Record Suggests Few Differences with Bush,” Dissident Voice, March 6, 2004.
 Kampeas and Berger, “In outreach to Jewish community, Kerry stresses his ties with Israel.”
 “Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” Comprehensive Report, May 2002, The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories; and John Sigler, “On the Applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” Essays and Commentary on Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues, December 20, 2000.
 Ira Glunts, “Kerry Indicates He Would Continue Bush’s Pro-Sharon Policy,” The Electronic Intifada, April 6, 2004.
 “Clinton: I’d Get In a Ditch, Grab A Rifle And Die For Israel,” IslamOnline, August 3, 2001.
 Jennifer Anne Perez, “A Jewish Czech in John Kerry’s Court,” Reform Judaism, Fall 2003; Bruce I. Konviser, “Czech tracks Kerry’s Jewish roots,” Washington Times, March 12, 2004; and Lynn Sweet, “‘Irish-American’ Kerry’s Jewish roots revealed,” Chicago Sun Times, February 9, 2003.
 Ron Kampeas, “Kerry known for soliciting many views, but who has his ear on Jewish issues?,” Jewish Telegraph Agency, February 17, 2004; and David M. Halbfinger, “Kerry Emphasizes His Strong Support of Israel,” New York Times, March 1, 2004.
 Lily Henning, “Cameron Kerry: Out of the Shadows,” Legal Times, July 29, 2004; and Inigo Gilmore, “Kerry sends brother to Israel to shore up the Jewish vote,” Telegraph, July 18, 2004.