Kerry Turns From Anti-War Protester to Syria Salesman
By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan – Sep 4, 2013 11:00 PM CT
When an anti-war protester interrupted a congressional hearing on Syria this week to yell, “We don’t want another war,” Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged the irony that he first appeared before the same Senate panel 42 years ago as an anti-war activist.
“When I was 27 years old, I had feelings very similar to that protester. And I would just say that is exactly why it is so important that we are all here having this debate, talking about these things before the country, and that the Congress itself will act representing the American people,” Kerry told the Foreign Relations Committee on Sept. 3.
Kerry, who spent hours testifying on Capitol Hill the past two days to persuade reluctant lawmakers to approve a strike to punish the Syrian regime for what the U.S. says was the gassing of 1,400 people, has emerged as the Obama administration’s most passionate advocate of a military response to an atrocity.
More than President Barack Obama himself, Kerry is the public face of the administration’s campaign to convince the world and the American people that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad committed a war crime and that the U.S. must act in collective self-defense.
The role of chief spokesman for military action — a tough sales job to a war-weary public and Congress — may seem an odd role for a decorated Vietnam War naval officer who rose to prominence as an anti-war campaigner before entering politics. Those who’ve known him for decades say Kerry is doing now what he did in 1971: speaking his conscience about acts of war.
Kerry’s high profile as the administration’s advocate for military action has earned him criticism as well. Retired Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson, who was Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff, said Kerry “has become one of those people who in order to stay loyal to this administration” is making a case for a wrong-headed action without recognizing that “war is brutal; you have no idea how the person against whom you’re using force is going to respond.”
“The Secretary of State historically seems to be either a recalcitrant, stubborn opponent of the White House or a lapdog. I worked for one who because of his desire to be loyal” made a faulty case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said Wilkerson, a visiting professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, who opposes military action in Syria.
Others interviewed yesterday, including 10 longtime Kerry strategists, observers, political allies or opponents, argued that Kerry’s position on Syria is rooted in his belief in the rules of war and his personal experience on the battlefield.
John Kerry reveals Arab countries have offered to PAY America to carry out full-scale invasion of Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry said during a hearing Wednesday in the House of Representatives that counties in the Arab world have offered to foot the entire bill for a U.S. military mission that destroys the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.
‘With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assist, the answer is profoundly yes,’ Kerry said. ‘They have. That offer is on the table.’
Kerry, with a cadre of anti-war activists sitting behind him and holding red-painted hands aloft in protest, declined to name the countries that have proposed opening their purses.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, an anti-war protester himself 40 years ago, is cast in the role of war consigliere to the president. He said Wednesday that Arab countries had offered to pay America’s expenses for a military operation if it ousts Bashar al-Assad from Syria
The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry, foreground, is one of four US Navy destroyers to be deployed in the Mediterranean Sea on Sept. 3, all of which are combat ready against Syria if the order for a strike is given
Syrian women who live in Lebanon — another of Syria’s neighbors — light candles during a vigil against chemical weapons attacks near Damascus, in front the United Nations headquarters in Beirut
Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had asked Kerry to comment on the expenses related to carrying out attacks on Syria if Congress were to authorize them.
Following through on a use-of-force resolution, she said, ‘could potentially cost … billions.’
But Kerry said other nations that see Assad as a destabilizing force in the region have proposed to cover the costs.
As for ‘the details of the offer, and the proposal on the table,’ Ros-Lehtinen asked Kerry, ‘what are the figures we are talking about?
‘We don’t know what action we [will be] engaged in right now,’ Kerry replied, ‘but they have been quite significant. I mean, very significant.’
‘In fact, some of them have said that if the U.S. is prepared to go do the whole thing, the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost. That’s how dedicated they are to this.’