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Zig-Zagging Through the War with John Kerry


The search is finally over. Sen. John Kerry is believed to have found his heroic voice. He apparently misplaced it back in the early ’70s after standing up to the U.S. war in Vietnam upon his saluted return from battle. Now many antiwar liberals believe Kerry is dissenting yet again.

“I have come here today to reaffirm that it was right to dissent in 1971 from a war that was wrong. And to affirm that it is both a right and an obligation for Americans today to disagree with a president who is wrong, a policy that is wrong, and a war in Iraq that weakens the nation.”

Kerry made his proclamation at Boston’s Faneuil Hall on April 22, celebrating the 35-year anniversary of his infamous speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Although and others have supported Kerry’s appeal to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq in 2006, the senator has been quite careful to qualify his remarks. He doesn’t want all U.S. troops brought home, just enough to appease the antiwar crowd and the growing percentage of Americans who think this war isn’t going so hot. As Kerry wrote in a New York Times opinion piece on April 5:

“If Iraq’s leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year’s end. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces should remain.”

That sure doesn’t sound like an end to the war to me: Keeping troops in Iraq until the “job” is done or Iraqi leaders put together a “government”? More like, occupy the poor bastards until they comply with U.S. demands. Like that’s going to happen anytime soon. What Kerry is calling for is just more of the same: war and occupation. Nice try Sen. Kerry, but I don’t think you should be welcomed into the antiwar movement with that kind of twisted logic.

Kerry’s long been on the teetering Iraq fence, unsure of which way to fall. He supported ousting Saddam in the late 1990s by the use of force and voted for Bush’s war resolution giving the liar in chief the right to wallop the Iraqi menace for whatever reason his coterie of nut jobs conjured up. He supported Clinton’s Iraq bombings and the UN’s sanctions during the ’90s, too.

This isn’t a new thing for Kerry the flip-flopper; he’s done it his whole political life. He signed up to kill in Vietnam and later opposed it. He signed up U.S. soldiers to kill in Iraq, and now he says he opposes it. How can anybody trust a senator with a record like that?

And remember, it’s only the Iraq war Kerry has a little problem with these days, not the much more grandiose and illusive “war on terror.” If anything, the senator just wants a better, more effectively executed “war on terror,” not an end to it.

If the fallible John Kerry is the best the Democrats have to offer, we have a long, treacherous road ahead of us. Not to mention many more Iraq war anniversaries, and countless deaths.

JOSHUA FRANK, author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, edits



JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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