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You Call This Exciting?

Scary, Scary John Kerry

by JOSH FRANK

Finally a reason to get excited, as we now have before us an electable candidate worthy of taking on George W. Bush and his coterie of neoconservatives next November. Well, at least that’s what the scared liberals out there would have us believe. But John Kerry is neither electable nor exciting. He is a Zionist sympathizer who supports Bush’s "road map for peace" in Israel and Palestine, as well as a corporate Neoliberal, who voted in support of NAFTA, normalized free-trade with China, and the US’s $17.9 billion dollar "aid" package to the IMF.

Not to mention Kerry is also a proclaimed War Criminal, where he participated in bloody swift boat patrol missions on the Mekong Delta near Cambodia in Vietnam. And as he put it in to Crosby Noyes of the Washington Evening Star upon his return in 1971, "[During those missions] I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50 caliber machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search and destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare, all of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions."

However, Kerry’s defenders still claim that at least he’s better than George W. Bush. Under a selective microscope perhaps, but by and large Kerry and Bush see eye to eye on the critical issues of our times.

For instance, Kerry criticizes Bush for not having enough troops in Iraq and says he will increase the US count by 40,000 within his first 100 days in office (this statement came prior to Spain’s announcement that they will be pulling out their 1,300 troops by the end of June). Kerry also chastises Bush for abusing his authority by invading Iraq, but defends his vote authorizing unilateral force and says, "I can pledge … to the American people: I will never conduct a war or start a war because we want to." Looks like he’ll just vote for one instead.

Back in 1998 Senator Kerry voted along with Dennis Kucinich in support of Clinton’s "Iraq Liberation Act," which has served as political leverage for Bush’s Iraq "regime change". And one year after that horrid display Kerry voted in favor of allowing US air strikes against Yugoslavia, which gave General Wesley Clark the green light to bomb, as William Blum put it, with "an almost sadistic fanaticism".

Well at least Kerry is an environmentalist though, right? Not exactly.

Despite John Kerry’s cozy relationship with ghoulish green organizations like the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, he should not be mistaken for a friend of nature. Kerry does not support the Kyoto Protocol, and as he told Grist Magazine in an interview last year, "[The Kyoto agreement] doesn’t ask enough of developing nations, the nations that are going to be producing much greater emissions and which we need to get on the right course now through technology transfer." Somebody should mention to Senator Kerry that currently, despite the US accounting for only 4% of the world’s population, we still emit over a quarter of the globe’s CO2. But no, Kerry won’t call on the US to set an example to developing countries, that would asking too much of the US.

And just last year Kerry decided not to cast a vote against a portion of Bush’s chainsaw Forest Plan (HR 1904), which authorized $760 million to thin out dense national forests under the pretext of increasing ecosystem health. This, combined with his support for Fast Track legislation, bombing of Afghanistan, and chemical fumigation in Colombia to counter coca and opium production — provides us with a clear indication that not only is Kerry not an environmentalist, he’s also not that good at pretending to be.

So how about Kerry on the home front? Let’s see, although Kerry did oppose Clinton’s 1996 Effective Death Penalty Act, he embraced Attorney General Ashcroft’s Patriot Act and the expansion of that egregious bill into Patriot Act II as well as the Homeland Security bill. He also decided not to vote against Bush’s Tax Cuts for the wealthy, and as Public Citizen notes, Kerry has missed ten crucial Senate votes while campaigning for the Presidency including; an amendment to prevent energy market manipulation, a medical negligence bill, and a vital fuel efficiency amendment.

So what is all the fuss about? Call it the real life version of "Fear Factor", where soft-shelled liberals are forced to swallow empty hopes that John Kerry can save them from the clutches of Bush’s wrath. Time will tell whether or not swing voters see any real difference between Kerry and our sitting president. And as Kerry continuously fails to challenge the US’s global Empire or its domestic fractures back home, he will continue to fail the American people — not to mention the rest of the world.

JOSH FRANK is a writer living in New York. He is the co-author with Sunil K. Sharma of an upcoming book on the rise and fall of Howard Dean to be out this summer, as well as the author of the forthcoming book Left Out, How Liberals Helped the Bush Administration, to be published by Common Courage Press in December. He can be reached at: frank_joshua@hotmail.com