December 30th, 2016

John Kerry: Vietnam and Israel

A great many people seem to be noting that John Kerry is going out as he came in.

I mentioned it yesterday, and Jim Geraghty noted it as well:

John Kerry ends his long career in politics the same way he began it: disgracefully…

And Seth Lipsky of the NY Post seems to agree:

It looks like Secretary of State John Kerry is determined to go out the way he came in — wrapping himself in the flag while betraying the causes of both America and its allies. He came in by doing that to Vietnam and is going out by turning on Israel…

Just as he helped our enemies, years ago, in respect to Vietnam — another struggle that pitted the partisans of freedom and democracy against the allies of totalitarianism. That’s where perfidy started to glint in Kerry’s career.

It’s also where his actual career began—that is, his political career. It’s what made him a national figure when he was still in his twenties. I thought it might be interesting to point to some previous posts I’ve written on the subject of Kerry and his Vietnam testimony, as well as how it relates on his stance on Israel. I had actually forgotten some of the details of those posts, details that help explain Kerry’s Wednesday speech on the Israel/Palestine question.

First, take a look at some of Kerry’s Vietnam testimony itself, which can be found here. I don’t think most people who weren’t around back then realize how far Kerry went. See also this post of mine on Kerry’s infamous Winter Soldier hearings.

But now let’s get to the task at hand: Kerry and Israel. Kerry (who in my opinion is every bit the egotist that President Obama is, and more) has been working on a negotiated 2-state solution in the area for most of his term as Secretary of State. Like so many others before him, he would have dearly loved to have made some sort of peace pact the capstone of his career in public life. Two and a half years ago (April, 2014), Kerry had this to say on the subject:

If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming “an apartheid state,” Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting Friday…

Kerry also said that at some point, he might unveil his own peace deal and tell both sides to “take it or leave it.”

“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state,” Kerry told the group of senior officials and experts from the U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and Japan.

This is virtually identical to what Kerry said in the most controversial line of his speech last Wednesday: “if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic – it cannot be both.” The only thing he left out on Wednesday was the characterization of Israel as “apartheid.” So these thoughts of Kerry’s were not at all new. The difference is that they were delivered to a far larger and more public forum, and delivered at a time when Kerry had run out of chances to effect any solution whatsoever.

In my 2014 post, I reflected:

So what are Kerry’s…remarks about? Some of it is merely a reflection of the relatively anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian attitude of the Obama administration. But some of it is probably Kerry’s own anger at how impotent he’s been in achieving anything in the Middle East negotiations so far. Narcissists tend to get especially frustrated when their expectations of their own power aren’t realized, and Kerry’s lack of success in the Middle East “peace process” would almost inevitably cause him to strike out in retaliation of the verbal sort. His remarks are a version of why can’t these stupid people see things clearly, like I do? Why don’t they just bow to my superior wisdom and “take” the peace plan I’ve worked so hard on?

In the two and a half years since that time, I would imagine that Kerry’s narcissistic rage has only grown, and settled squarely on Israel (where it seems to have originated in the first place).

This post of mine was written a few months later, in July of 2014. It contains this quote from a piece in The New Republic, which shows the ways in which Kerry sees his Vietnam days as impacting on his views about Israel/Palestine:

Netanyahu] opened the meeting [with Kerry] by playing Kerry a video on one of his favorite topics: Palestinian incitement. It showed Palestinian children in Gaza being taught to glorify martyrdom and seek Israel’s destruction. “This is the true obstacle to peace,” Netanyahu told Kerry.

“It’s a major issue,” Kerry replied. “And nothing justifies incitement. I hate it. I’ve read Abbas the riot act about it. You know I have. But it is worthwhile to try to understand what life looks like from the Palestinian point of view.”

“This has nothing to do with the occupation and the settlements,” said Netanyahu.

Kerry pressed on: “When I fought in Vietnam, I used to look at the faces of the local population and the looks they gave us. I’ll never forget it. It gave me clarity that we saw the situation in completely different ways.”

[Kerry goes on to add that the situation in Israel] “can’t be solved if you can’t see it how they see it.”

If Kerry really thinks that’s some sort of solution, and that his Vietnam experience is relevant—and I think that he does, if only because he believes in his superior perceptions of all situations—then his egotism and naivete are astounding (but of course, we already knew that). My July 2014 post continued this way:

Kerry was in Vietnam for barely four months over forty years ago and went home early, and his time there was spent on a Swift Boat. How many South Vietnamese did he get to encounter, and under what circumstances? And how could he possibly have a clue what they were really thinking when they looked at him (except for the ones he was shooting at), or why, or whether they “saw the situation in completely different ways” from him? How about the ones who fled the country after we left, or those who were killed or re-educated; how did they “see the situation”?

Kerry has long been fond of making sweeping pronouncements on what the South Vietnamese people wanted and didn’t want, and how they “saw the situation.” I guess he was a mind reader then, just as he’s a mind reader now. According to his 1971 Senate testimony on the subject, here’s what they thought:

We found most people didn’t even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart…

So that when we in fact state, let us say, that we will have a ceasefire or have a coalition government, most of the 2 million men you often hear quoted under arms, most of whom are regional popular reconnaissance forces, which is to say militia, and a very poor militia at that, will simply lay down their arms, if they haven’t done so already, and not fight. And I think you will find they will respond to whatever government evolves which answers their needs, and those needs quite simply are to be fed, to bury their dead in plots where their ancestors lived, to be allowed to extend their culture, to try and exist as human beings. And I think that is what will happen…

…you can satisfy [people’s] needs with almost any kind of political structure, giving it one name or the other. In this name it is democratic; in others it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship. As long as those needs are satisfied, that structure will exist.

No biggee: democracy, Communism, whatever.

[NOTE: Kerry’s Wednesday speech seems to have annoyed Britain, too:

Britain backed a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to Israel’s construction of settlements in the hotly-disputed region but Mr Kerry went further with his strongly-worded personal attack on Mr Netanyahu and his government.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said it was inappropriate of Mr Kerry, America’s top diplomat, to attack the make-up of the democratically-elected Israeli government – a key ally of both the US and Britain.

Downing Street also rebuked Mr Kerry for focusing on the single issue of Israeli settlements and not the whole conflict.

And this was from a country that voted for the UN resolution. That’s how bad Kerry’s remarks were.]

32 Responses to “John Kerry: Vietnam and Israel”

  1. F Says:

    We can say lots of nasty things about our outgoing Secretary of State — that he is vain, egotistical, desirous of Nobel Peace Prize, that he was a coward in Vietnam — but he is only symptomatic of an entire administration that got it wrong about who we are as a people and where we want to go. Our elites are delusional. And they deal with delusional elites from other nations.

    If nothing else, Trump at least has the opportunity to manage a government of non-politicians. That could be a very refreshing change.

  2. Francesca Says:

    Thankfully, Kerry is on his way out the door. May we never hear from him again.

  3. Ann Says:

    [Kerry] is every bit the egotist that President Obama is, and more

    An extra bit of fuel for Kerry’s egoism is his inherited New England aristo sense of entitlement to lead.

  4. Nick Says:

    I wonder, are politicians these days more egotistical than in the past? You can always find an occasional swelled head, I’m sure, but it seems like the highest echelons are different these days.

    Over the past 50 years we’ve expected presidents to be larger than life figures, media stars. You have to be a wholesaler to be successful. Johnson was a master of retail politics. That’s not enough any more. I wonder if that’s changed the kind of person who pursues high office.

  5. Ann Says:

    Britain doesn’t get any break for criticizing Kerry’s speech in my book. I’m with Melanie Phillips, who wrote this — “An Open Letter to Theresa May”:

    Dear Prime Minister,

    It was sickening to see that your government last week voted for the declaration of diplomatic war against Israel embodied in resolution 2334 passed by the UN Security Council.

    Bad enough that Britain didn’t use its position as a permanent SC member to vote against this vicious resolution and thereby stop it in its tracks. Worse, far worse was that your government voted for it. In doing so, Britain signed up to propositions that repudiate law, justice and truth.

    Now reports have surfaced that, yet more appallingly, Britain was actually instrumental in getting 2334 passed by helping draft the resolution and then stiffening New Zealand’s resolve in proposing it.

    I don’t know whether that is correct. I suspect it may well be. I think, nevertheless, that you spoke from the heart the other week when you told the Conservative Friends of Israel of your admiration for Israel as a “remarkable country” and a “beacon of tolerance” and your warm feelings towards the Jewish people.

    I also think, however, that you know little about the history of the Jews in the Middle East, the part played in that history by previous British governments or the infernal strategic aims of the people known as the “Palestinians”. I believe, therefore, you might not fully grasp the implications of supporting UNSC resolution 2334.

    So let me spell out exactly what your government has done by voting in this way.

    You can read the rest here.

  6. blert Says:

    Big stage gigalo, wannabe-hero.

    Remember how President-elect RM Nixon sent JF Kerry up the Mekong river — “Apocalypse Now” style ?

    He used his “tall privilege” to hector giants. Of course he looks down upon everyone.

    Some diplomat !

  7. parker Says:

    I have no comment describing my disdain of John Forbes Kerry fit for polite company. May he never know peace of body, mind, and spirit.

  8. J.J Says:

    I have loathed Kerry since the days of his anti-Vietnam War days. While he was giving aid and comfort to the enemy my fellow Naval aviators were doing their duty flying, dying, and becoming POWs.

    His Naval record was, as pointed out by his fellow swift boat veterans, mostly fraudulent. His treason against his fellow sailors and Americans was despicable and unforgivable. That he has risen so high in our government is a stain on the nation’s history and reputation. He’s a modern Benedict Arnold.

    That he has betrayed the Israelis is just another of his foul acts against decency and democracy. He has not a shred of decency in him. I fervently hope that his political career will be ended by this final act of dishonor and treachery against Israel.

  9. Oldflyer Says:

    Kerry aside; and that is where he should be, and will be soon. There are certain states that repeatedly inflict political pain on the country as a whole by the people they send to the Congress; especially the Senate. Massachusetts is a repeat offender; so is California. They are not alone, of course, but they do stand out.

    It has always pained me that Kerry once wore, and disgraced, the uniform of the United States Navy. Much has been made of Kerry’s awards and how they were approved. I have never been surprised because it occurred during Admiral Zumwalt’s tenure as Comander of Naval Forces in Vietnam. Nothing that occurred under Admiral Zumwalt’s direction surprises me.

    I wonder if there might be a lingering, perhaps subliminal, grudge by some British against Israel. One might say that the notion of Palestine as an entity populated by Arabs was largely a British construct; that the British actively opposed a Jewish state; and the fight for Israeli independence was rather nasty.

  10. Chester Draws Says:

    This area is a real blind spot for US conservatives. The rest of the world (and in this case damn near unanimous) thinks different. I presume it is because Islam has replaced the Communist menace that previously distorted US thinking, so that a dictator could be supported provided he was anti-communist.

    Israel is an apartheid state. It bases its citizenship on race. Born in the US? That makes you an American, no matter how unamerican you act. Born in Israel? Your citizenship will depend if you are Palestinian (or rather, non-Jewish). Israel rules, and claims, those occupied territories but doesn’t want the people who come with them.

    Where are they meant to go?

    How could they not be furious ly committed to destroying the state that wants to make them stateless.

    So Israel’s democracy is tarnished. They want to join the society of democratic nations, like South Africa wanted, but without giving all those that should be citizens a share.

    We know they can’t give the Palestinians rights, because then Is real will cease to be a Jewish state — a racially base state.

    So they hope that if somehow all the Palestinians die off the problem will go away. It won’t. And the result will be likely a soldering and charred Jerusalem.

    Israel isn’t the only state like this. Fiji is another. But that doesn’t make it right.

    What no Conservative I have ever met has done is give a solution that leaves 1) Israel a state, and 2) gives the Palestinians something worth having. Part 2) is just wished away, as if millions of people don’t deserve a land to call their own.

    None of this is an endorsement of Kerry, or the horrid states that surround Isreal. But the reality is that any country that does not provide all natural born citizens with citizenship is Apartheid. You don’t get to pick which ones you want and which you don’t, and certainly not based on religion.

    So Isreal creeps out it’s occupied territories, pushing the Arabs always outside them. Taking the land, and not the people.

    If US rules applied in Isreal, the situation would violate much of the Constitution ( separation of church and state, everyone’s right to citizenship etc). Most of Europe would meet much of the US Constitution, in their own way, because they are democratic. If US Conservatives think their Constitution is so great, how come a country that so badly violates it gets a free ride?

    Them darkies sure do cause trouble!

  11. OM Says:

    Chester Draws a caricature of Israel and finds something ugly in his sight.

  12. Richard Saunders Says:

    This is one of the most idiotic posts ever put up on this site. I’m wondering if this a typical Islamic spambot. Just on the off chance that Chester is a real person, I’ll respond – briefly.

    Born in Israel, you’re an Israeli citizen, regardless of race, creed, color or place of national origin. Ask an Israeli Arab — 20% of the population of Israel.

    Now, if you’re saying that you think Israel SHOULD annex the whole of the Palestine Mandate, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, and THEN Israel would have to decide what to do about these non-Israeli citizens, that’s a different story. But I don’t think your BS, programmed or live, stretches that far.

    BTW, do you know that apartheid is a real word, that actually has a meaning? It means “separate living [by race]” A Jewish Israeli or a Muslim Israeli can live anywhere he wants in Israel. But no Jew may live in the Palestinian territories. It is a death penalty offense for a Palestinian to sell real estate to a Jew. The reason the Palestinians object to Israelis building apartments in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in Judea is because those areas will be “Judenrein” (free of Jews) when and if there is an independent Palestinian state. Now, explain to me which is the “apartheid” state?

  13. Frog Says:

    Draws says, “Islam has replaced the Communist menace that previously distorted US thinking.”
    He said it.
    Got it, Chester. “Better Red than Dead”, huh? Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany? Berlin Wall?Gulags? The Cuban Missile Crisis?
    Pfhhh, mere distortions.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Chester Draws:

    Then most countries in the world are apartheid states, because only the US and Canada have unconditional birthright citizenship, and most countries don’t have it at all.

    See this.

    There are over million and a half Arab citizens of Israel, by the way, and they represent about 20% of the entire population of Israel. See this.

    Whereas it’s the Arab states that have become Judenrein.

    I have neither the time nor the inclination right now to waste on the rest of the nonsense you put up in your comment.

  15. eeyore Says:

    So many Vietnamese people didn’t care about their kind of government that they didn’t try to get on the last aircraft leaving Saigon nor take to boats to leave the country.

    Wait, they did. South Vietnam fell because the promised aid was held back after the US forces left by the Democratic congress. North Vietnam continued to receive arms and money from the USSR and China which allowed those troops to overrun the south. They didn’t lay down their arms until we abandoned them when we turned our backs on them.

    The enslavement and povertization of Vietnam lies squarely at the feet of the Democrats.

  16. Tim P Says:

    What can one say regarding the execrable Kerry?
    “JJ’s comment @ 5:19” pretty well sums it up.
    So do many of the other excellent comments.
    Chester “the Molester” Draws, draws a completely false picture of the situation. Sadly he/she/it is spews out passes for thought by today’s left.

    As for Kerry, his other most pathetic Sec. of State moment had to be this.

  17. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    If Barack Hussein Obama is the most despicable President ever and, he is… then is it really a surprise that he appointed the most despicable Secretary of State… ever? Peas in a pod, birds of a feather.

  18. Gringo Says:

    Israeli “apartheid:” There are currently 17 Arabs in the Knesset.
    Interesting definition of “apartheid” our friend Chester has.

  19. Oldflyer Says:

    Not to divert attention from the excerable John Kerry’s, distorted portrayal of Israel, but…
    In Orange County Ca, home of “Little Saigon”, I have had the opportunity to interact with many of Vietnamese descent–mostly in the health care profession. So many have stories of heroic escape when South Vietnam fell, or of the brutality experienced by those who sided with America and did not escape. Their stories are heart wrenching. Kerry should be compelled to listen to every one of those stories. Maybe, just maybe, it would dampen his arrogance. Or maybe it is too ingrained.

  20. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I recall those stories. The libs figured the victims were of the class called “kulaks” in Russia. They deserved it.
    Even the kids, who were going to grow up to oppress peasants in their turn.

  21. steve walsh Says:

    Incompetent people don’t know they are incompetent, and too often have out-sized opinions of their abilities. Kerry is but a recent example.

    It baffles me what he planned or hoped to accomplish with this speech. Is he attempting to influence the actions and positions of the next SoS and POTUS? That would, perhaps, be giving him too much credit. In the short term all he has accomplished is to document and prove that he is a failure. To be fair, on the topic of Israel and Palestine, he isn’t the first to fail, nor is he likely to be the last.

    Good riddance, may he sail off to a healthy and happy retirement, never to bother us again.

  22. Ralph Gizzip Says:

    Kerry is right about one thing. A two-state solution does not exist. He also states a one-state solution will either be apartheid or full citizenship for all inhabitants. A one-state solution under apartheid is the only real solution for Israel to survive as a Jewish homeland and the Palestinians will never agree to it. If the one-state solution with full citizenship is implemented it will be the end of Israel as a Jewish homeland. As the local Palestinians take over more and more of the government they will have no impediment to systematic terrorization and murder of the Jewish population. At some point in the future you will see a Palestinian / Arab version of Kristallnacht. And the UN will be in full approval because it was done “democratically”

  23. foo dog Says:

    Buh bye, Lurch.

  24. Shacklefjord Says:

    I’m not positive but Isn’t Kerry Jewish ?

    So, As an american citizen and soldier….Kerry attacked his fellow AMERICAN soldiers as being beneath him.

    AND threw someone ELSE’S medals over the fence…..while misleading everyone to think that the medals were his…

    Yet ..He spent only 4 months in Vietnam, so the possibility exists that he could have adversely affected the rules of engagement for OTHER soldiers, making their lives more difficult and less safe with his testimony.

    Even though he was several thousand miles away and very safe.

    Forty years later….he possibly does the same thing to Israel, (fellow Jews ?) ….providing that he is Jewish.

    But he doesn’t live in Israel, so his “solution” really doesn’t affect him personally.

    And once again, his “gasbaggery “could make entire situation less safe for BOTH sides…..while he is thousands of miles away and very safe.

    He is a Strange guy.

    I’ll be glad when he is retired and back “wind-surfing”.

    Kind of an apt hobby, his whole career was a ride on hot air.

  25. MassJim Says:

    The in 1984 Democrat voters of Massachusetts inflicted Kerry upon the nation when they elected him to the Senate. He has ben an embarrassment ever since. It appears the self same Massachusetts Democrats are inflicting Elizabeth Warren upon the body politic.

  26. neo-neocon Says:


    No, Kerry is not Jewish.

    He’s not even Jewish by the fairly broad definition of the Nazis:

    The Nuremberg Laws, as they became known, did not define a “Jew” as someone with particular religious beliefs. Instead, anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents was defined as a Jew, regardless of whether that individual identified himself or herself as a Jew or belonged to the Jewish religious community. Many Germans who had not practiced Judaism for years found themselves caught in the grip of Nazi terror. Even people with Jewish grandparents who had converted to Christianity were defined as Jews…

    Consequently, the Nazis classify as Jews thousands of people who had converted from Judaism to another religion, among them even Roman Catholic priests and nuns and Protestant ministers whose grandparents were Jewish.

    Kerry had two Jewish grandparents on his father’s side. Those grandparents converted before they came to this country, about a century ago. You can find a short article about it here.

    Kerry himself was raised Catholic (that’s the faith to which his Catholic paternal grandparents converted a century ago). He didn’t even know he had Jewish granparents till about 2000 or so (it had been kept a secret in the family). His mother was a DAR-type New England blueblood. Not Jewish.

  27. Mike Perry Says:

    I lived in Israel in 1978-79. I spent time studying the situation and traveling about, talking to people on both sides. I left deeply pessimestic that the problems could be solved.

    Recently, particularly after reading Trump’s The Art of the Deal, I’ve become almost optimistic. Trump is a great deal maker. He may not create love and harmony between the two groups, but it is quite possible that he will settle at least the critical ‘who gets what land’ part of this dispute.

    And that may be what has Obama and Kerry so ticked off. Trump will do what they couldn’t do. That’s why they’re doing their best to so poison relations that any settlement becomes impossible.

    That may not prove true. Obviously incompetent to settle the disputes, they may prove equally incompetent at preventing Trump from doing so. For instance, far from blocking progress, this dreadful UN resolution offers an opportunity for Trump to counter it by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. That’ll create a brief fuss, but in the end it will remove one more obstacle to a negotiated settlement.

  28. Ann Says:

    Kerry’s lineage on his mother’s side goes all the way back to John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts. In the U.S., you can’t get more blueblood than that. I always found it amusing that Massachusetts Democratic voters assumed he was Irish because of his surname, and that he did nothing to disabuse them of that notion. Just found a 1985 puff piece on him in the Christian Science Monitor that even refers to his “bold Irish face”.

  29. NeoConScum Says:

    MassJim: Yep, the Useless multi-millionaire

  30. NeoConScum Says:

    Dangit….Warren and the King of Useless Liberals, Teddy Kennedy. Massachusetts Doofus voters, for Godsakes, Dig the @#$& outta your eyes and Change!!

  31. Sarah Rolph Says:

    JJ, that is very, very well said.

    Regarding this comment: “It baffles me what he planned or hoped to accomplish with this speech.”

    He isn’t assessing things in the same way you or I would. He lives in a dream world, focused only on himself and his own status and comfort. He was simply acting in another scene in the movie in his imagination, World Peace Starring John Kerry.

  32. Brooklyn Boy Says:

    That pompous and self righteous man nearly became our president in 2004, Think abut that.

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