Tags: Kerry | the | Record: | Defense

Kerry on the Record: Defense

Monday, 16 February 2004 12:00 AM

Part 1:

Sen. John Forbes Kerry, D-Mass., in his “vision for a better America” manifesto, “A Call to Service,” may have unwittingly named his own poison when it comes to his record on defense:

“There’s one thing you cannot take away from President Bush: He did establish beyond a shadow of a doubt the credibility of U.S. threats to use military force against our enemies. Our strength is a national asset. ...”

Some critics wonder what the value of that national asset of strength would be today if Kerry had had his way with the defense cuts he has supported over the decades.

There are those who suggest that in the era of the post-Cold War, the senator from Massachusetts was simply one of a host of politicians anxious to collect a so-called “peace dividend” and pass the savings along to worthy social programs.

Not so, observe other Kerry watchers, who race to point out that it was during the height of the Cold War that he fought against the entire strategic modernization effort proposed by President Reagan, including the Peacekeeper, B-1 and B-2 bombers, the Trident submarine and D-5 missile.

Furthermore, in those dangerous times Kerry was a proponent of the nuclear freeze, which would have spelled permanent obsolescence for U.S. nuclear forces – at a time when the Evil Empire’s nuclear forces were becoming most formidable.

And it wasn’t some blind party loyalty thing. Democratic luminaries such as Sam Nunn, Al Gore, Norman Dicks, Sonny Montgomery and Les Aspin, to name a few, agreed with Ronald Reagan.

Kerry reached his anti-defense stride in those days when “The Gipper” was looking to build up American muscle and back the Soviet Union into the disastrous catch-up game that some suggest caused the collapse of the communist powerhouse.

For example, Kerry opposed the U.S. cruise missiles and Pershing missiles based in England, Germany, Holland and Italy – but it was just these tools of war and deterrence that helped bring on eventual victory in the Cold War.

Some suggest that the Kerry mindset was a tenacious carryover from those halcyon post-Vietnam peacenik days when he was testifying on Capitol Hill that in his opinion communism posed no threat to the United States.

In April 1972 when Kerry moved into Massachusetts’ 5th District to run for Congress a second time, he won the Democratic nomination but lost the election to the Republican.

Still very much riding his anti-war wave, the young candidate had promised to cut defense spending. On what he’d do if elected to Congress, Kerry said he would “bring a different kind of message to the president.” He said he would vote against military appropriations.

Apparently with the Vietnam War still alive and well in Southeast Asia, the electorate was not quite ready for Kerry’s premature peace dividend.

Not to be dissuaded, when Kerry finally made his entrée into politics as Michael Dukakis’ lieutenant governor (1983-1985), he and his boss linked up with a liberal group dedicated to the proposition of slashing defense.

Sitting on the board of the Jobs With Peace Campaign, Kerry worked to bring into fruition the credo of that organization, which existed solely to drum up public support for cutting the defense budget.

There was no stopping Kerry’s assault on the Pentagon. When first running for his Senate seat in 1984, Kerry explained carefully that he was firmly against such mainstays of the defense establishment as the B-1 bomber, B-2 stealth bomber, AH-64 Apache helicopter, Patriot missile, the F-15, F-14A and F-14D jets, the AV-8B Harrier jet, the Aegis air-defense cruiser, and the Trident missile system.

He also ran on a platform of cutting back on the M1 Abrams tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Tomahawk cruise missile, and the F-16. The average newspaper-reading American, of course, recognizes these systems as the veritable tip of the spear that not only crushed Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War but also smashed the Taliban in Afghanistan and punched through to Baghdad in the second Gulf War.

Once in the Senate, where he has been entrenched for the last 19 years, Kerry amassed an impressive record of defense bashing.

Recently, GOP chairman Ed Gillespie in an address to the Republican National Committee ticked off vote after vote in which Kerry sought to cut the nation’s defense budget:

Such votes add up to “a 20-year record of being weak on the military,” says former Republican National Chairman Richard Bond. “To this day, the defining issue of this election is that America is under attack. I do not believe in the end Americans will vote for someone with a soft worldview.”

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Part 1: Sen. John Forbes Kerry, D-Mass., in his "vision for a better America" manifesto, "A Call to Service," may have unwittingly named his own poison when it comes to his record on defense: "There's one thing you cannot take away from President Bush: He did...
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Monday, 16 February 2004 12:00 AM
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