The Kerry Record
What John Kerry said about foreign policy and defense in 1984 and 1985.
4:30 PM, Sep 3, 2004 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
BEHIND THE STARTLING FLIP-FLOPS, beneath the gauzy rhetoric, what does John Kerry really think about foreign and defense policy? Ranging from his 1971 testimony on Vietnam to his current statements on Iraq and the war on terror, there's a lot to be said. But one good place to start, of course, is his Senate years. Here's an appetizer.
In 1984, Senate candidate Kerry stated that Reagan's "defense buildup . . . is consuming our resources with weapons systems that we don't need and can't use," and that "there's no excuse for casting even one vote for unnecessary weapons of mass destruction . . . and I will never do so." He attacked the Reagan administration in a campaign policy brief for having "no rational plan for our military," and, presaging sentiments he often expresses today with regard to President Bush's national security policies, charged that the "biggest defense buildup since World War II has not given us a better defense. Americans feel more threatened by the prospect of war, not less so." Kerry also proposed a $53 billion cut in Reagan's fiscal year 1985 defense budget and called for the termination of the following defense programs: MX missile, B-1 Bomber, Anti-satellite weapons, Strategic Defense Initiative, AH-64 helicopters, Patriot Air Defense System, Aegis Air-Defense Cruiser, battleship reactivation, AV-8B Harrier jet, F-15, F-14A, F-14D, and the Phoenix and Sparrow air-to-air missiles. Kerry also proposed cutting funds for the Tomahawk cruise missile by half, as well as reductions in other weapons systems.
In 1985, in his first floor speech as a Senator, Kerry detailed his opposition to President Reagan's policy with regard to the Soviet Union:
In addition, the past 30 years of arms negotiations have demonstrated that the United States resolve to expand its military will prompt a renewed Soviet military buildup, not a mutually satisfactory agreement to reserve the buildup. . . .
Unfortunately, bargaining chips in the form of new weapons, particularly when it is obvious that deployment will proceed no matter what arms talks may produce, are rarely cashed in. In fact we know they frequently add to military power, [and] seldom, if ever, contribute to security or arms control trade-offs. . . .
As my senior colleague, Senator Kennedy succinctly stated, "a bargaining chip is good so long as it is not played. Once played, its only effect is to raise the stakes." The history of bargaining chips is miserable. . . .
It is time that we accept the idea that the Soviet Union is not going to bargain with the United States from a position in which we have grabbed the upper hand through the development of some new technology. They are only going to agree with the United States on arms limitations if they have parity, in overall force capacity. . . .
In 1985, Kerry also sponsored a nuclear freeze resolution--the Comprehensive Nuclear Freeze and Arms Reduction Act of 1985--and traveled to Nicaragua with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and 10 House Democrats to meet with Sandinista officials. His group was criticized by Secretary of State George Shultz for going to Nicaragua as "self-appointed emissaries to the communist regime."