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Senator Kerry Has Extensive Foreign Policy Credentials

  • Michael Bowman

President Barack Obama’s expected choice to lead the State Department after Hillary Clinton‘s departure, Democratic Senator John Kerry, has vast experience on the world stage gained through a lifetime of public service.

Globetrotting and world affairs are nothing new to John Kerry, a five-term senator who is chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. His duties have taken him to conflict zones and kept him in close contact with leaders around the world.

Born in 1943, Kerry came of age during the presidency of John F. Kennedy, a source of continuing inspiration.

“When I was in high school, a junior, John Kennedy called my generation to service. It was the beginning of a great journey, a time to march for civil rights, for voting rights, for the environment, for women, for peace. We believed we could change the world. And you know what? We did,” Kerry said.

After graduating from Yale University, Kerry fought in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, earning five combat medals. Returning home, he condemned the conflict and what he had witnessed.

His anti-war record and left-of-center politics did not hinder his political ambitions. A decade after getting a law degree, Kerry ran for the U.S. Senate in his state of Massachusetts in 1984, and won.

Although often overshadowed by another Massachusetts senator, the late Edward Kennedy, Kerry distinguished himself by probing the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration in the late 1980s. He has championed the cause of American soldiers missing in Vietnam, nuclear non-proliferation, and the need to confront climate change.

In 2004, Kerry ran for president, and won the Democratic Party’s nomination. “I know the reach of our power, and I know the power of our ideals. We need to make America once again a beacon in the world. We need to be looked up to, not just feared,” Kerry said.

His lost, but remained in the Senate. In 2009, Kerry presided over the confirmation of President Obama's first secretary of state.

“Hillary Clinton has shown the intelligence to navigate the complex issues we face,” Kerry said.

Political scientist Thomas Mann says Kerry is well-suited to be America’s top diplomat.

“Senator Kerry is bright and experienced. I think he would be an effective diplomat and partner in foreign policy-making for the administration,” Mann said.

No serious opposition to Kerry’s nomination would be expected from his Senate colleagues. Republican Senator John McCain recently implied Kerry's confirmation would be a sure bet, referring to the Massachusetts Democrat as “Mr. Secretary.”
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