Jack Kelly: A record to regret
Kerry's positions are consistently depressing
Sunday, March 07, 2004

Sen. John F. Kerry opposed -- famously -- the Vietnam War. His opposition to that conflict was so intense that he marched in demonstrations under the flag of the enemy, and falsely accused his fellow Vietnam veterans of routinely committing grisly war crimes.

Jack Kelly is national security writer for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio (, 412-263-1476).
Kerry also opposed aid to El Salvador when that country was being attacked by Marxist guerrillas, and aid to the Contras, who -- with U.S. help -- ultimately freed Nicaragua from a communist dictatorship. Kerry denounced the liberation of Grenada after a bloody Marxist coup there as "a bully's show of force," though he says now he didn't oppose the U.S. intervention.

Kerry voted against the liberation of Kuwait after Saddam Hussein invaded that country in 1990. Kerry also voted against lifting the arms embargo on Bosnia when that country was being attacked by Serbs allied with Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic. Though Kerry voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing the United States to go to war with Iraq, he now says Operation Iraqi Freedom was a mistake.

In his youth, Kerry said U.S. armed forces should be placed under the control of the United Nations. More recently, he has said the United States should not have gone to war without U.N. permission. This record has caused some to wonder if there could ever be a circumstance where a President Kerry would use American military power without seeking Kofi Annan's permission first.

We now have an answer. In a meeting with the New York Daily News on Feb. 28, Kerry said he would have sent troops to Haiti even without international support to quell a popular uprising against (now deposed) President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

"I would intervene with the international community, and absent an international force, I'd do it unilaterally," Kerry said.

A U.S. intervention to protect Aristide would have had to be unilateral, because even the French recognized that the wildly unpopular president was the principal cause of Haitian unrest. "He does not belong in office. He has no legitimacy," an official in the French foreign ministry told NewsMax Feb. 28. A day earlier, French Foreign Minister Dominque de Villepin was pushing Aristide toward the door: "It is for President Aristide, who bears a heavy responsibility in the current situation, to draw the consequences of the impasse," de Villepin told a Haitian delegation on Feb. 27.

The upsurge in violence in Haiti that prompted the U.S., French and Canadian intervention there had come mostly from thugs allied with Aristide, the French official said.

"Aristide was trying to use [a U.S. proposed agreement to share power] to force a contingent of international police to come to Haiti and save him from the rebels. It would not work," the French official said.

A renegade Catholic priest turned Marxist, Aristide was elected president in 1990 in the closest thing Haiti has ever had to a fair election, but deposed a year later in a coup led by his security chief. President Clinton sent 20,000 U.S. troops to Haiti in 1994 to restore Aristide to power.

But Aristide proved to be typical of the "one man, one vote, one time" syndrome that has plagued the region. Re-elected in 2000 in elections considered fraudulent by the United Nations and the Organization of American States, Aristide put his thugs in charge of the police and used them to intimidate political opponents. Much of the aid provided by the United States and international organizations found its way into his pockets, and those of his cronies. Once bound by a vow of poverty, Aristide became Haiti's richest man.

The wild celebrations throughout Haiti upon Aristide's departure indicate that had we intervened militarily to prop him up, we'd have had to fight most of the country. Yet this is the one instance where John Kerry would unilaterally use military force.

Kerry would not intervene in Iraq to overthrow a tyrant who was a danger to the United States. But he would intervene in Haiti to prop up a tyrant who was an enemy of the United States. There is a depressing consistency in this.

First published on March 7, 2004 at 12:00 am