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John Kerry's statments on
IRAQ via the Senate records.(starting in '90)
| 1990 to today
| John Kerry
Posted on 02/10/2004 2:00:15 PM PST by OXENinFLA
I've been reading some of Kerry's Senate speeches concerning Iraq and Saddam, there are some doosies.
I hope to use this thread as a place to post them and let other freepers read and add to them.
Please feel free to add any other statements by Kerry.
This should be fun.
TOPICS: Extended News; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 1990; 2004; kerry; kerryrecord
SUPPORTING THE ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE PRESIDENT WITH RESPECT TO IRAQI AGGRESSION AGAINST KUWAIT (Senate - October 02, 1990)
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I support this resolution which I believe sends an unequivocal signal to Saddam Hussein that the Senator is in total agreement with the President and the international community in actions taken thus far to force the Iraqi, withdrawal from Kuwait.
In so doing, it should be pointed out that this resolution is not a Gulf of Tonkin resolution on the Persian Gulf. Quite the contrary, this resolution reflects the near unanimity of the global community in condemning this aggressive act by a brutal dictator.
Unlike our experience in Vietnam, the United States is not acting unilaterally in the Persian Gulf. We are not acting in the absence of an international consensus in support of our presence in the region. The emphasis that the President is placing on the role of the United Nations is a critical element of our policy in dealing with this crisis. The President has done a superb job in mobilizing the international consensus, as manifested by the eight resolutions passed by the U.N Security Council in response to the Iraqi invasion.
The success of U.S. policy will be largely contingent upon the maintenance of this international solidarity. It is imperative that the United States continue to operate under the auspices of the United Nations.
While the resolution is not statutorily binding upon the President, I would like to differ with its characterization offered by our distinguished
colleague from Oregon [Mr. Hatfield]. Subsection (b) of the resolved clause expresses support for the President's actions, or continued action, in `accordance with the decisions of the United Nations Security Council and in accordance with United States constitutional and statutory processes, including the authorization and appropriations of funds by the Congress.'
Mr. President, I believe this phase appropriately defines the limit of our support. We are telling the administration that Congress will support continued action so long as this action is in accordance with the decisions of the U.N. Security Council, in accordance with the U.S. constitutional and statutory processes. I would submit that since the War Powers Resolution is part of our statutory process, this resolution is covered in the legislation we are considering today.
And quite frankly, if the Congress is so predisposed to correcting a perceived policy miscalculation, the ultimate weapon we have is the power of the purse. As one who fought and bled for my country, the failure of the Congress to cut off funding for the Vietnam war for so many years represented the ultimate derogation of the responsibilities of this institution.
I am a strong supporter and advocate of the War Powers Resolution. But the War Powers Resolution, and its invocation, should not be used as an excuse for not exercising the most effective tool we have to decide these issues--the power of the purse.
Mr. President, I am supporting this resolution because it is my belief that it does not authorize the President to operate unilaterally either apart from the U.N. framework, or without specific authorization from the
Congress. The success of the President's policy, thus far, has been the international consensus behind our efforts and those of our allies--a consensus which has contributed to, and strengthened, the broad base of support among the American people.
I would caution anyone in the administration who would be inclined to engage in a twisted or convoluted interpretation of this resolution that we are not giving the President carte blanche to wage offensive military action unilaterally. All our actions must be predicated upon support from the Congress, the American people, and under the continued sanction of the United Nations.
I am concerned that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait may be an ominous omen of the potential dangers facing the global community in the post-cold war era.
The global community has emerged from 45 years of superpower competition, during which the threat of unclear confrontation was never far from our consciousness. Fortunately, the cold war did not bring our worst fears to fruition.
The end of the cold war era, however, does not mean the world is safe from global catastrophe. The greatest danger to international security and stability can come from traditional regional hot spots which, if left unattended, could be the spark that could turn local confrontations into more widespread conflagration.
Today, we are confronted by a regional power, Iraq , which has attacked a weaker state, Kuwait, for both territorial gain and control of an important resource. The crisis is even more threatening by virtue of the fact that Iraq has developed a chemical weapons capability, and is pursuing a nuclear weapons development program. And Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to
use such weapons of mass destruction in the past, whether in his war against Iran or against his own Kurdish population.
That is why I support President Bush's response thus far to the crisis and our demand--the demand of the international community as manifested through the Security Council resolutions of the United Nations--for the unconditional and total Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.
The fundamental issue associated with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in my estimation, has nothing to do with oil prices or who controls how much of the world's petroleum reserves. The fundamental issue has nothing to do with our rushing in to support, or prop up, so-called feudal monarchies in the Persian Gulf.
Even the question of energy independence, or the failure to develop a national energy policy, is peripheral to what should concern us, our Western allies, and our new-found allies in the region.
If local or regional aggressions are allowed to go unchallenged, then the entire global community could open itself up to nuclear and/or chemical weapons blackmail, particularly if a despot's appetite has been whetted by local or regional successes.
That is the potential reality being played out in the Persian Gulf today. Yes, there are risks inherent in the current massive development of U.S. military power in the region. But one has to weigh those risks against what, potentially, could be a more catastrophic outcome. Do we want to risk this possibility?
While the threat of all-out nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union has hung so heavily over the world for the past 45 years, there has also been concern for local and
regional conflicts escalating into nuclear or chemical wars. We have succeeded, for the most part, in keeping that genie in the bottle. It would be disastrous if that genie were ever allowed to pop out of the bottle. It would establish a precedent that would make it difficult to influence other potential hot spots around the globe.
We are currently in a transition period from the cold war era to an era in which the superpowers no longer have surrogates over whom they could exercise influence in times of crisis. Saddam Hussein has certainly proven that to his former ally, the Soviet Union. There are leaders, such as Saddam Hussein, who will exploit this new reality to pursue their own nefarious ambitions.
Yet, no one nation alone can carry the burden for responding to such threats which could escalate into confrontations with global implications. We need to focus on strengthening the capabilities of the U.N. to meet future aggressions, because, unfortunately, there are other Saddam Husseins lurking in the world's future. The global community has to be prepared to respond quickly and credibly to avert larger catastrophies which might lurk in our future.
We have to get serious about the conventional arms race around the world. Iraq is a frightening example as to the need for the international community to get serious in bringing to an end the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons throughout the world. We have to get serious about nonproliferation.
The current crisis, and the response of the international community to the Iraqi aggression, does provide us an opportunity to strengthen a multilateral capacity to deal with future threats.
The President speaks of a new world order. And to a large degree we are seeing the unfolding of a new world order. But for the principle of collective security to become a functional reality, we have to take the leadership in supporting a system based upon the rule of international law.
If there is one lesson, among many, to be learned from this crisis, it is the fact that the West, and the United States as the leader of the West, has to realize that unilateral action will threaten seriously our own long-term security. In the coming decades, we could find ourselves in a world at least as dangerous and unfriendly as that of the cold war. Only by promoting a truly international security system based on the rule of international law and the United Nations can our Nation hope to promote both our own and wider global security.
The fact that the President has been sensitive to the need for responding to this crisis under the United Nations auspices and framework, has been a very important consideration in my support for his policy. He has been skillful in working with the United Nations to establish an international partnership to respond to this aggression. In the process, I believe the United States is making an important contribution in the long overdue requirement for strengthening multilateral responses to present and future crises which do and will, face this global community of ours.
posted on 02/10/2004 2:00:18 PM PST
To: Mo1; StriperSniper; Peach
I really need to spell check my titles.
posted on 02/10/2004 2:02:03 PM PST
FINAL PASSAGE OF DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL (Senate - August 04, 1990)
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, while I will vote in favor of this Defense authorization bill, as a means of continuing our Nation's ability to defend itself, I have numerous differences with the decisions reached by the Senate in considering this bill.
This bill is more than $1.5 billion over the amount agreed to for defense by the Senate Budget Committee. it fails to adequately take into account the changes that have taken place in the world over the past year, especially in Eastern and Central Europe. It also fails to take into account sufficiently our Federal deficit crisis and current deficit talks, which will surely result in cuts to levels for military spending far below what we have agreed to today.
This bill contains too much money for star wars, which needs to be returned to the research program it was before President Reagan began pushing the fantasy of a peace shield in 1983.
This bill contains too much money for antisatellite weapons, which we should be restraining.
It continues to fund the B-2 bomber, which we cannot afford and do not need for our national security.
These and other choices we have made are not the choices that should be made to meet the challenges our Nation faces. This defense bill still is based on strategies and approaches developed during the darker days of the cold war. The Senate has not yet found new approaches to dealing with national security, that properly reflect our greater threats--the threat to our economy from foreign competition in Europe and the Pacific Rim--the threat to our communities from drugs--the threat to our future if we fail to provide the education and resources needed for coming generations.
In short, this bill does not reflect the priorities this Nation need to have. I vote for it with grave reservations, and hopes that we will be able to correct many of these choices in the months to come as the dimensions of our budgetary crisis, and the need to spend money elsewhere, becomes increasingly apparent.
posted on 02/10/2004 2:18:18 PM PST
NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT, FISCAL YEAR 1991--CONFERENCE REPORT (Senate - October 26, 1986)
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I am opposing the Department of Defense authorization and appropriations conference reports on the grounds that they do not represent sound budgetary policy.
At this time of extreme budget austerity and with the dramatic changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe that have occurred, we can, and should, make larger reductions in defense. Larger reductions can be made without jeopardizing our Nation's security.
These bills afforded the Congress an opportunity to do more than just talk about reducing the deficit over the next 5 years. Unfortunately, we have failed that test, particularly since we have continued funding for wasteful programs and programs for which there is not any rational justification from a national security standpoint.
The B-2 Stealth Bomber Program is a case in point. This is one of the most costly, waste-ridden programs in a long history of waste, fraud and abuse scandals that have plagued Pentagon spending, particularly over the past decade.
The primary contractor for the B-2's, Northrop Corp., is currently the subject of 7 grand jury probes and 11 criminal investigations stemming from problems associated with defense contracts it has received in recent years.
Even top U.S. Air Force officials have taken the unprecedented step of charging publicly that Northrop is so poorly managed that it cannot account for the cost of many programs, and has suffered major breakdowns in the production of every weapon the Pentagon reviewed. Yet, we are still funding this program to the tune of nearly $900 million per plane.
The bills also contain funds for the continuation of the strategic defense initiative. Along with the B-2, the SDI is a product of the cold war era. And as the crisis in the Persian Gulf should demonstrate, we need to spend money on defense requirements to meet real threats, rather theoretical threats of the past. We can only undermine our legitimate defense needs.
But most of all, these bills undermine our ability to come to grips, in a meaningful way, with the serious deficit problem facing this country. The deficit-reduction package with which we have been struggling has to be fair. It is time for the Pentagon to take its fair share of cuts, rather than pressing for billions of dollars for programs that are fraught with waste, fraud, and abuse and which do nothing to contribute to the strong defense of our Nation. The time is long overdue for us to end the military-industrial corporate welfare complex that has relentlessly chewed up taxpayers' dollars for far too long.
I support strongly our critical military mission in the Persian Gulf. And I will continue to support all reasonable costs necessary to maintain the effectiveness of this effort. However, it is a bit much to ask the American taxpayers to continue investing their hard-earned dollars in wasteful program that only serve to undermine our legitimate defense needs.
posted on 02/10/2004 2:21:16 PM PST
I think this is what Hannity was just talking about.
101st congress 1st session S1798
IMPOSITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY FOR THE TERRORIST MURDER OF UNITED STATES NATIONALS ABROAD (Senate - October 26, 1989)
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, anyone who intentionally murders an American citizen in cold blood as a political killing has committed a crime that deserves the most terrible punishment that any civilized country can impose.
The great irony of the Specter legislation is that by imposing the death penalty on terrorists who murder Americans abroad, is that we are doing the one thing that would make it most likely that they would never face justice in the United States.
As Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Gregorie told me in testimony before the subcommittee I Chair, the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Narcotics, the death penalty would be counterproductive.
Gregorie, who brought the indictments against General Noriega, Jorge Ochoa and other members of the Medellin cartel, and who devoted a career to prosecuting the most terrible narcotics traffickers and terrorists, told the subcommittee that the death penalty would only hurt U.S. law enforcement.
Let me quote directly the testimony he gave on July 12, 1989:
Most countries in Europe and in Latin America will not extradite anyone if the death penalty is a possible penalty as a result of that extradition, so that if we are trying to get the Colombians to send us drug lords, and we are trying to get the Germans or French to send them to us, they won't do it if they believe that the death penalty is a possibility.
I was a prosecutor. I put people behind bars for committing terrible crimes, and a lot of them are still there, which is where they should be. When a terrorist kills an American citizen, he should be tried, convicted, and put in prison for the rest of his life without any possibility of getting out. We should literally, throw away the key.
Because, in fact, I believe that there is a punishment that is worse than the death penalty--life imprisonment, at hard labor, with no possibility of parole or furlough. We should be that tough for those who commit these deplorable acts of terrorism. They should know--for certain--that every single day, for as long as they live, they will be punished and suffer for their crime. They should know every morning that they will work at hard labor, that they will have no freedom, and that every single morning they will face the same misery for as long as they are alive.
But what is the point of imposing the death penalty on terrorists if the result is the terrorist will never face trial in the United States?
This amendment would frustrate law enforcement, and interfere with the prosecution of terrorists. It would damage the very cause of prosecuting terrorists that it purports to advance. In this case, the emotional appeal of an eye-for-eye should not be permitted to obscure that fact that in passing this amendment we would actually be helping terrorists avoid the one thing they fear most--extradition to the United States to face justice.
Moreover, Mr. President, given the nature of international terrorism that we see in the world today is it not likely that inflicting the death penalty on terrorists would simply fan the flames of passion that are the spawning places of terrorism in the first place? Would not foreign terrorists put to death in America, quickly become the martyrs whose deaths would be avenged with untold additional atrocities? Do we really believe that imposing the death penalty on a terrorist will not simply multiply the killing and maiming on all sides?
In addition, won't terrorist organizations whipped into a frenzy by a U.S.-imposed death penalty, or one of the faithful, thirsts for revenge until it is quenched? Americans are far more likely to be targets of expanded terrorism if we impose a death penalty than if we do not.
Mr. President, we should make life a living hell for any terrorist who kills an American. Ironically, this legislation may instead cause the terrorist and those who share his cause, whatever it might be, to be seen as a martyr and that is certainly not in America's interest, the interest of humanity, or the interest of the victim.
Accordingly, I will vote against the Specter amendment.
posted on 02/10/2004 2:27:55 PM PST
AUTHORIZING USE OF U.S. ARMED FORCES PURSUANT TO U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION (Senate - January 12, 1991)
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I do not believe our Nation is prepared for war. But I am absolutely convinced our Nation does not believe that war is necessary. Nevertheless, this body may vote momentarily to permit it.
When I returned from Vietnam, I wrote then I was willing personally, in the future, to fight and possibly die for my country. But I said then it must be when the Nation as a whole has decided that there is a real threat and that the Nation as a whole has decided that we all must go.
I do not believe this test has been met. There is no consensus in America for war and, therefore, the Congress should not vote to authorize war.
If we go to war in the next few days, it will not be because our immediate vital interests are so threatened and we have no other choice. It is not because of nuclear, chemical, biological weapons when, after all, Saddam Hussein had all those abilities or was working toward them for years--even while we armed him and refused to hold him accountable for using some of them. It will be because we set an artificial deadline. As we know, those who have been in war, there is no artificial wound, no artificial consequence of war.
Most important, we must balance that against the fact that we have an alternative, an alternative that would allow us to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, an accomplishment that we all want to achieve.
I still believe that notwithstanding the outcome of this vote, we can have a peaceful resolution. I think it most likely. If we do, for a long time, people will argue in America
about whether this vote made it possible.
Many of us will always remain convinced that a similar result could have come about without such a high-risk high-stakes throw away of our constitutional power.
If not, if we do go to war, for years people will ask why Congress gave in. They will ask why there was such a rush to so much death and destruction when it did not have to happen.
It does not have to happen if we do our job.
So I ask my colleagues if we are really once again so willing to have our young and our innocent bear the price of our impatience.
I personally believe, and I have heard countless of my colleagues say, that they think the President made a mistake to unilaterally increase troops, set a date and make war so probable. I ask my colleagues if we are once again so willing to risk people dying from a mistake.
The VICE PRESIDENT. The Senator's time has expired.
posted on 02/10/2004 2:49:43 PM PST
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 13--COMMENDING THE PRESIDENT AND THE ARMED SERVICES FOR THE SUCCESS OF OPERATION DESERT STORM (Senate - February 28, 1991)
Mr. DOLE (for himself, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Pell, Mr. Hollings, Mr. Kohl, Mr. Boren, Mr. Dodd, Mr. Reid, Mr. Adams, Mr. Akaka, Mr. Baucus, Mr. Bentsen, Mr. Biden, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. Bond, Mr. Bradley, Mr. Breaux, Mr. Brown, Mr. Bryan, Mr. Bumpers, Mr. Burdick, Mr. Burns, Mr. Byrd, Mr. Chafee, Mr. Coats, Mr. Cochran, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Conrad, Mr. Craig, Mr. Cranston, Mr. D'Amato, Mr. Danforth, Mr. Daschle, Mr. DeConcini, Mr. Dixon, Mr. Domenici, Mr. Durenberger, Mr. Exon, Mr. Ford, Mr. Fowler, Mr. Garn, Mr. Glenn, Mr. Gore, Mr. Gorton, Mr. Graham, Mr. Gramm, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Harkin, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Hatfield, Mr. Heflin, Mr. Heinz, Mr. Helms, Mr. Inouye, Mr. Jeffords, Mr. Johnston, Mrs. Kassebaum, Mr. Kasten, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Kerrey, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Levin, Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Lott, Mr. Lugar, Mr. Mack, Mr. McCain, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Metzenbaum, Ms. Mikulski, Mr. Moynihan, Mr. Murkowski, Mr. Nickles, Mr. Nunn, Mr. Packwood, Mr. Pressler, Mr. Pryor, Mr. Riegle, Mr. Robb, Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Roth, Mr. Rudman, Mr. Sanford, Mr. Sarbanes, Mr. Sasser, Mr. Seymour, Mr. Shelby, Mr. Simon, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Smith, Mr. Specter, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Symms, Mr. Thurmond, Mr. Wallop, Mr. Warner, Mr. Wellstone, and Mr. Wirth) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was considered and agreed to:
S. Con. Res. 13
Whereas United States and coalition armed forces have achieved remarkable success in totally defeating Iraqi military forces and ousting them from Kuwait;
Whereas these historic accomplishments have been achieved at an astoundingly small loss of life and number of casualties among American and coalition forces;
Whereas to date 185 Americans are known to have been killed (including 79 in combat), 302 wounded (including 212 in combat), 34 Missing in Action, and 9 taken by Iraq as prisoners of war;
Whereas an unknown number of Kuwaiti civilians have reportedly been seized and removed to unknown locations by Iraqi armed forces: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that:
1. The Congress applauds and expresses the appreciation of the nation to:
(a) President Bush, Commander in Chief of all American armed forces, for his leadership during Operation Desert Storm.
(b) Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Colin Powell and Desert Storm Commander Norman Schwarzkopf, for their planning and implementation of Operation Desert Storm.
(c) All of the American forces deployed in the Persian Gulf region who have served and succeeded in the highest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States.
(d) All of the forces from our coalition partners, who served with distinction and success.
(e) The families of American service men and women participating in Operation Desert Storm, who have bravely borne the burden of separation from their loved ones, and staunchly supported them in this crisis.
2. The Congress notes with deep sadness the loss of life on all sides in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The Congress particularly salutes those brave young American men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their nation and in the cause of peace, and sends its deepest condolences to their grieving families.
3. The Congress demands from Saddam Hussein :
(a) The immediate release of all prisoners of war held by Iraq.
(b) A complete accounting for all American and coalition forces listed as missing in action, or otherwise unaccounted for.
(c) The immediate and unconditional release and return to their homes of all Kuwaiti citizens being held by Iraqi forces.
4. The Congress urges all relevant authorities to seriously examine the issue of possible war crimes by Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi military leaders and forces, and to hold Iraq responsible in principle for reparations for the incredible destruction caused by its brutal invasion and occupation of Kuwait.
posted on 02/10/2004 3:02:41 PM PST
PERSIAN GULF POLITICS (Senate - March 13, 1991)
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I thank the distinguished President pro tempore.
Mr. President, the January 12 vote on the Persian Gulf has been very much at issue in recent days. Some have come to the floor and spoken out publicly; others have spoken out through various media outlets, publicly attacking those who continue or who voted to continue the sanctions.
What answer there has been to these charges thus far has come almost exclusively from either independent columnists or from Democrats who voted with the President. I did not vote with the President, but I want to answer for myself those charges as one who voted to continue sanctions.
However, before addressing that issue, I want to reiterate how proud I am over the exceptional performance of our Armed Forces in this conflict.
Mr. President, I am proud of the vote I cast. I am proud of the fact that that was my judgment at that point in time. I do not believe I was wrong in the judgment I made.
There are those trying to say somehow that Democrats should be admitting they were wrong. I believed at the time it was the right choice. I still believe, given the circumstances of the time, it was the right choice for that time.
But the fact is, Mr. President, we will never know if it was wrong. I saw today in the Washington Post, which is one of the reasons I was prompted to come to the floor, an article in which a Member of the House of Representatives somehow is suggesting the Democrats who voted to continue sanctions should come out and readily admit they were wrong.
There is not a right and a wrong here. There was a correctness in the President's judgment about timing. But that does not mean there was an incorrectness in the judgment other people made about timing.
As many said at that point in time, the regret is that we will never know the answer as to whether or not there might have been some other alternative to war for achieving the outcome upon which we all agreed. We will never have that answer, Mr. President.
I am as proud as any person in this country of what our troops accomplished in the Persian Gulf. As a veteran of Vietnam, I am delighted people are able to stand up and say that syndrome has been responded to; effectively it has been put to rest.
Nothing gives me more pride or more emotion than to watch these homecomings of victorious troops, homecomings which members of my generation who fought in Vietnam were never afforded and never had the pleasure of experiencing.
So there is a satisfaction and pride in seeing that today. There is a pleasure in having seen our military operate with such efficiency and such capable leadership. That is what we ought to be sharing in America today--not a rancorous, divisive debate that somehow pits people against each other.
So, Mr. President, maybe the situation is a little bit like what TRB--who opened his column in the New Republic--said this week when he referred to a situation where someone's mother comes to him, who lives exclusively on Social Security, and she says to you, `I am going to invest my entire Social Security check in the lottery.' You say, `No, I do not think that is a very good idea.' Most people would say it is not a very good idea. But she does it and she wins the lottery.
It would be a gargantuan task to persuade her after the fact that it was not a good idea. That is precisely where we are today with respect to the judgments about the gulf.
The tragedy is that an ugly, divisive tactic has emerged in recent days that casts a shadow on the victory we all ought to be celebrating. Some individuals who represent a strategy that has seldom taken the high road in American politics in recent years have been busy sewing the seeds of a decidedly--or what I think at any rate is a decidedly--unpatriotic and inappropriately partisan approach to postwar politics.
Sadly, some threaten to do in the aftermath of the war what Democrats pointedly refrained from doing during the conduct of the war, or prior to the conduct of the war.
We have heard a lot of talk of, `Well, we are going to get them,' or `They will pay for their votes,' as though they were somehow against the final outcome; somehow opposed to the goal of liberating Kuwait.
Already fundraising letters, to which colleagues of mine who have come to the floor previously have referred, are being circulated by the Senate Campaign Committee trying to divide Americans over the issue of who should claim credit for the victory.
There is not always respect for truth in politics, and so I suppose we should not feign surprise that this latest approach shows little regard for the truth.
But the simple fact is this strategy ignores the simple truth that from the moment Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait--from the moment the first shot was fired, and from the moment the bombs were dropped during the war itself--there was a remarkable unity in this country.
Mr. President, this is a debate in which I would much prefer we were not engaged, and it is not because I do not feel comfortable with the arguments; I do. It is because it is ugly. It is a debate which appeals to the most base of instincts and, in a sense, demeans the remarkable accomplishment of America--the accomplishment, I might add, of Democrat and Republican alike. This is not a time for partisanship. It is a time for unity and celebration. This is not a debate which is representative of where the energy of the Congress or of the country ought to be going.
But others began this debate, and too much has been written and said, without response. Thus far, it has been a debate really almost without engagement, at least by those who voted to continue sanctions. The result is that there is a certain historical revisionism that is going on. I think that kind of revisionism is dangerous, unfair, and it think it is very important that history not be rewritten in this situation.
Again and again and again in the debate, it was made clear that the vote of the U.S. Senate and the House on the authorization of immediate use of force on January 12 was not a vote as to whether or not force should be used. It was not a vote which represented a division in the Congress over any goal whatsoever in the gulf. In fact, there were very few differences in Congress over the goals.
It was not a vote about whether or not we should go to war at all. After all, Mr. President, as many people have pointed out, we were already at war, because we had imposed the most severe economic sanctions against any country in history, and we have voted to enforce those sanctions with the use of force, if necessary.
That vote on January 12 was about one thing only, one thing only. It was about when--when--you take the final option available to administer the coup de grace. I emphasize coup de grace, because no one in the U.S. Senate doubted the outcome. There was no policy division whatsoever in the United States about whether or not we would win. There was only one issue: Whether or not we have arrived at that special moment where the action requested by the President was absolutely the only option left for achieving our common goals.
There was a legitimate and conscience-driven difference of opinion as to whether or not tactics--not goals, but tactics--were being appropriately decided upon.
Mr. President, the revisionism should not ignore the fact that there were many on the other side of the aisle who were distinctly uncomfortable with the box in which they had been put, who truly questioned whether or not that moment had not arrived. As a result, they decided they could not support their President. It was not a vote where they said: We do not think any of these terrible things will happen; we do not think the war is going to be serious; we think it is going to end in 3 days. No; they based their decision on the belief that it was critical to back the President, because he had a policy, and this was the moment.
Part of the tactical difference--and I emphasize tactical--involved weighing risks. We have heard some Senators quoted for their predictions on the floor of some of the things that can happen in war, and they have been quoted derisively by colleagues, because these things did not happen, Mr. President.
Well, I think it was fair and intelligent to weigh those risks. I think the American voters sent us here to weigh those risks. A review of the statements of support for the President's position shows no one suggesting that those things might not happen, or predicting they would not happen, or basing their vote on the fact that they thought they would not happen. It
simply shows that some were more willing, at that particular moment in time, to accept some of those risks than others.
It is interesting to note, regarding the risks, that General Schwarzkopf stated after the war, `It was miraculous that there weren't more casualties.' Well, I think it is fair to differ over whether policy should depend on the expectancy of miracles for its success.
Mr. President, regrettably, some are trying to rewrite history when they suggest that somehow the vote on early use of force meant our country was not united about Iraqi aggression, and more particularly, that it meant somehow Democrats have a different view in this country about defense, or about the interests of our Nation.
The fact is that within 24 hours of the original aggression by Iraq against Kuwait, both Houses voted unanimously to condemn it. It is worth recalling the reality of that condemnation. On August 2, 1990, the U.S. Senate voted on Resolution 318, which was introduced by Senator Pell, Senator Helms, and others--nine Democrats and six Republicans--that presented the President with united support for the concept that he take all necessary steps to stop Saddam Hussein and force Iraq out of Kuwait. I repeat, `force Iraq out of Kuwait.' The Senate resolution passed unanimously, and it passed before the President of the United States had even spelled out his full policy on this issue.
Mr. President, that resolution, which I will not repeat in full right now, encompassed the freezing of Iraqi assets and the boldest set of sanctions that we have seen. But, most important, it also embraced charter article 42 of the Charter of the United Nations, and in section E stating:
If such measures prove inadequate to secure Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait, additional multilateral actions under article 42 of the United Nations charter involving air, sea, and land forces, as may be needed to maintain or restore international peace and security in the region.
That is what the Congress ought to authorize. I voted for that resolution, Mr. President. You voted for that resolution. Every Member of the U.S. Senate voted for that resolution. It passed unanimously, and it explicitly urged the President to take military action, if necessary.
We voted to support the President, as did Members of the House, because we all understood what was at stake. When we returned from a recess, Mr. President, we continued that support. And our fall session closed on October 2 with another bipartisan resolution on the gulf crisis introduced by Senator Mitchell and Senator Dole. And that resolution commended the President for all of his accomplishments to date, and specifically expressed our approval of the administration's efforts to achieve international solidarity under the umbrella of the United Nations.
I ask people to stop and think for a minute. If the Congress has unanimously embraced a policy that advocates the use of force, if it is the only option left, and the goal adopted by the Congress is the liberation of Kuwait, as it was, no one in their right mind is going to stop short of accomplishing that goal, because no one wants a repeat of Vietnam.
There was implicit in the position of the U.S. Congress an understanding that we might come to the point of using force. And there was equally explicit the adoption of a policy by the Congress that was not going to fail. That meant whether it was January 12, or whether at some point in the future, that ultimate day of reckoning was on the table for every Member who had supported that original policy.
The critical fact is that we supported the U.N. resolutions on the use of force, and the fact is that we laid out and supported a policy that Kuwait would be liberated.
I understand the reality of how defensive to some it may seem to raise these issues in the aftermath of this remarkable success, and I accept that in coming to the floor. I do so because what is important, Mr. President, is that history not be rewritten and that the record be clear, no matter how hard it is to be heard; no matter how much the rush of victory somehow erases reality here.
I think it is important that we state it. From the moment Congress decided the issue--and this is perhaps the most important part of what I would like to say--from the moment the vote in the U.S. Congress took place on the issue of timing, there was almost unanimous agreement in this country expressed by the U.S. Congress. There was almost complete unanimity that we had to stay united, support the troops, and that the debate had ended. We witnessed a democratic process in voting our consciences before we went to war. Once that issue was settled we rallied around the President, around his policy. We did so, because we were determined that there should not be another Vietnam. Again and again during debate, Senators, voting to continue sanctions, warned Saddam Hussein that he should take no comfort from those who voted to delay or to have the sanctions continue. Again and again people said one way or another, Saddam Hussein will leave Kuwait. Iraq, we said, must understand that we will give the President the full support that he requires to wage war if it is authorized.
I am proud to say, Mr. President, that, after the vote, Democrats and Republicans, even those who voted to press on with the sanctions, immediately rallied around country and troops and gave full support to our military effort. No one was going to make the mistake of having sent troops to a distant part of the world and of having had hostilities commence, of now deserting those troops.
But more than that, more than that, when early suggestions were raised as to engaging in a lull in bombing only days after the war began, of a ceasefire, Democrats almost unanimously said no. We argued that would endanger the troops, and it will only give Saddam Hussein time. He knows how and where to surrender. When peaceful demonstrations across the country sought supportive statements for their efforts, the vast majority of Democrats stood with the troops and behind our policy and refused to give those statements. When the Soviet Union made its peace proposal, when Saddam Hussein pretended to accept their terms, and when the ground war began, the vast majority of Democrats agreed with each of the President's decisions and his reactions to each of those events and backed our policy to the fullest.
To the chagrin and even the damnation of some antiwar activists, Democrats maintained unity and steadfastly backed our effort. I even became the target of antiwar protesters in my Boston office, which was taken over by them because I was standing with the President. Picket lines were set up against Democrats and Republicans who were supporting the war. I believe, Mr. President, that it is appropriate to remind everyone that Democrats helped present the Nation a unified front at war.
The Republicans are fond of quoting General Schwarzkopf these days. He is a new and very well-warranted American hero. They would do well to remember what General Schwarzkopf said about when to use force in this situation. The general stated, after we had put the sanctions in place and before the vote to authorize force took place: `If the alternative to dying is sitting out in the desert Sun for another summer, then that is not a bad alternative.' Or later when General Schwarzkopf said, `I really don't think there is ever going to come a time when time is on the side of Iraq, as long as the sanctions are in effect, so long as the U.N. coalition is in effect.' Finally, his comment when pressed about pursuing the military option: `Right now we have enough people saying `OK, enough of this business, let's get on with it.' Golly, sanctions have only been in effect a couple months * * * and we are now starting to see evidence that the sanctions are pinching. So why should we say `OK, we gave them 2 months and they didn't work. Let's get on with it and kill a whole bunch of people.' That's crazy, that's crazy.'
Those were the words of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who, together with our allies, led us to this extraordinary victory.
George Bush and the Nation would be far better served and we would all be far better off in victory if the GOP hatchet men do not assume a partisanship which was markedly and happily absent during the conduct of the war itself. If we want to rewrite history and pretend that Democrats somehow did not support the goals or were not in favor of liberating Kuwait, then there is a lot of real history that could be revisited, like who lost Kuwait in the first place or how we got to be in the predicament we were in. That is precisely what Richard Cohen, in the article in the Washington Post, raised today.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for an additional 5 minutes.
The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, the Senator is recognized for 5 additional minutes.
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I do not think we need all that finger-pointing. There is obviously a lot more of it that could be engaged in whether it is in the examination of the statements of a U.S. ambassador who helped to mislead Saddam Hussein , or visits of various Members of Congress that may have misled him or any other aspects of our policy in recent years, including the effort in the Senate impose sanctions, against Iraq--that effort, stemming from Saddam's use of gas against the Kurds, was opposed vigorously by the administration and some in this holy questions which can lead to legitimate. There are a host, it seems to me, of finger-pointing.
If the National Republican Senate Campaign Committee chooses to target Democrats as `appeasers,' the Democratic Party could in turn note that Republican policies not only helped arm Iraq but also licensed dual-use technologies and promoting sales of American high-technology goods to Baghdad that never should have been sent to Saddam .
If the political strategists over on the other side want to try to use the gulf as a wedge issue to challenge the patriotism of those who wanted to give sanctions more time to degrade Iraq's economic and military strength before going to war, the consultants on our side of the aisle can start sending out messages to remind the American public that two Republican Presidents prevented the Congress from imposing economic sanctions against Iraq as a result of its use of chemical weapons against the Kurds.
If the House minority whip wants to try to force Democrats out of office by saying they were helping Saddam , the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee can take out advertising in his district to remind voters that American soldiers died this year to force Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait as a result of mistakes.
Personally, I hope we will not be driven to having that kind of further ugly and rancorous debate here.
This is a moment not to ask `who lost Kuwait?' or `who freed Kuwait?' and to answer the question with some partisan creed. It is a moment when we would be better in saying, `we all helped free Kuwait, we stood united against Saddam Hussein , and as a nation we were victorious. We had disagreements over tactics, but never goals. From the beginning, we undertook policies that insured that Iraq would eventually be forced out of Kuwait.'
The President decided to move quickly, and while war is usually a situation for which the phrase, `situation normal, all fudged up,' was invented, in this war, our generals, our technology, and our soldiers all performed amazingly, wonderfully, well.
The point is this country has a different agenda in victory. Almost every American understands that agenda. It is an agenda to try to win the peace, which in many ways will be far more difficult than winning the war. That is going to require bipartisanship. That is going to require cooperative efforts in the U.S. Senate and the House, in order to forge a consensus and pick our way through a minefield of policy issues far worse then the mine fields that were in the sands of Saudi Arabia and in Kuwait.
It seems to me, Mr. President, that we ought to recognize also the other critical elements of the American agenda. Our soldiers are going to return to a country with a rising rate of unemployment. They are going to return to cities--Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington, and others--where parts of those cities look like Kuwait, where parts of those cities see people living in tin shacks or sleeping on grates. There is enough of
an agenda to rebuild an education system or transportation system, for a lot of other issues in this country that we do not need to engage in divisive tactics over the one thing that we were perhaps most united on in recent memory. It seems to me that we would do well to remember that none of those soldiers lost their life for a Republican or lost their life for a Democrat, or lost their life for any partisan purpose at all. They lost their life for common goals to which every single one of us are committed, and there is not a soldier who I think would be happy with the notion that their leaders are engaged in a partisan bickering that detracts from the glory of victory and the accomplishment which they have achieved on behalf of all of us.
So, Mr. President, having won the war, we now have to act to insure that we win the peace, both in the Middle East and at home. Can anyone doubt that our country faces deep problems that we are making far too little progress in solving? Do we know of nothing better to do here than make political attacks on one another, rather than to try to work together to find solutions to our very real problems?
I know this Nation needs more.
I know this Nation deserves better.
If we lose this peace, after such a victory, we will lose an opportunity as a nation to rebuild its economy and provide for the future that may not come again.
posted on 02/10/2004 3:08:48 PM PST
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