STEPHEN ZUNES, [email]
Professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, Zunes recently wrote the piece “The Case Against Kerry,” which states: “John Kerry’s attacks on the International Court of Justice, his defense of Israeli occupation policies and human rights violations, and his support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq raise serious questions about his commitment to international law and treaty obligations. His false claims of Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and his repeated denial of human rights abuses by allied governments well-documented by reputable monitoring groups raise serious questions about his credibility.
“In the 1980s, during the early part of his Senate career, Kerry was considered one of the more progressive members of the U.S. Senate on foreign policy. … More recently, however, Kerry became a prominent supporter of various neoconservative initiatives. …
“In 2002, he voted against an unsuccessful resolution authorizing the president to use force against Iraq only if the United Nations Security Council permitted such force under the UN Charter and instead voted for an alternative Republican resolution, which authorized President Bush to invade that oil-rich country unilaterally in violation of the UN Charter.
“The October 2002 war resolution backed by Kerry was not like the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution regarding Vietnam, where there was no time for reflection and debate. Kerry had been briefed by the chief UN weapons inspector and by prominent scholars of the region, who informed him of the likely absence of any of the alleged ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and the likely consequences of a U.S. invasion, but he voted to authorize the invasion anyway. It was not a ‘mistake’ or a momentary lapse of judgment. It demonstrated Kerry’s dismissive attitude toward fundamental principles of international law and international treaties that prohibit aggressive war.
“Kerry and his supporters claim he does not really reject international law. They note that, in voting to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Kerry stated at that time that he expected President Bush ‘to work with the United Nations Security Council and our allies … if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force.’ He then promised that if President Bush failed to do so, ‘I will be the first to speak out.’
“However, Senator Kerry broke that promise. When President Bush abandoned his efforts to gain United Nations Security Council authorization for the war in late February 2003 and pressed forward with plans for the invasion without a credible international coalition, Kerry remained silent. Indeed, when President Bush actually launched the invasion soon afterwards, Senator Kerry praised him, co-sponsoring a Senate resolution declaring that the invasion was ‘lawful and fully authorized by the Congress’ and that he ‘commends and supports the efforts and leadership of the President … in the conflict with Iraq.'”
See video of some of Kerry’s statements on Iraq leading to his war vote as well as the IPA news release “Kerry’s Judgement Questioned Because of Pro-War Vote.“