John Kerry talks to Vibes Editor-in-Chief Aisha F. Sarwari about the Patriot Act, the change in policy his administration intends to enforce and his sentiments about the larger Muslim world.
We will work with allies in Arab and Muslim countries and across the globe. Our administration will never, ever wait for a green light from abroad when our safety is at stake – but we will not alienate those whose support we should have, and must enlist, to help make America more secure.
Naseeb Vibes is committed to bringing information and analysis to its readers though a consortium of articles in our Voting Kit (link) for the US Election 2004 which is now updated with a Vibes Exclusive of John Kerry’s Interview. John Kerry is running for President to make America stronger at home and more respected in the world. He has a plan to restore the values that have always made America a leader in the world.
VIBES: Do you still feel the war on Iraq was justified? Has it served the policy objectives as stated by the United States Government i.e. dismantling of the WMDs, a free Iraq, and democratization of the region? If not what will you do differently?
JOHN KERRY: Iraq was not even close to the center of the war on terror before the president invaded it. The president made the judgment to divert forces from under General Tommy Franks from Afghanistan before the Congress even approved it to begin to prepare to go to war in Iraq. And he rushed the war in Iraq without a plan to win the peace.
Now, that is not the judgment that a president of the United States ought to make. You don’t take America to war unless have the plan to win the peace. The President also promised America that he would go to war as a last resort. Those words mean something to me, as somebody who has been in combat. “Last resort.” You’ve got to be able to look in the eyes of families and say to those parents, “I tried to do everything in my power to prevent the loss of your son and daughter. I don’t believe the United States did that.
VIBES: American Muslims feel betrayed by the Republican Party after the announcement of the Patriot Act, the succession of cluster bombs on Afghanistan and Iraq, the violation of the Geneva
As a former prosecutor, I know that racial, ethnic, and religious profiling is wrong as well as ineffective. It must be ended.
conventions in Guantanamo Bay, and the recent Abu Gharaib Prison scandal. What reasons do they have to trust that your party can give them the security they deserve as patriotic Americans who happen to be Muslims?
JOHN KERRY: As a former prosecutor, I know that racial, ethnic, and religious profiling is wrong as well as ineffective. It must be ended. Diversity is one of America’s greatest strengths and respect for it – one of our most important values.
My Administration will safeguard civil rights and defend civil liberties. We will not tolerate targeting of Americans for threats, violence or discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, or religion. We cannot fight the war on terrorism at the expense of our principles and the rule of law.
VIBES: What will be your level of engagement in the Muslim world, especially those countries that have at great peril to themselves come out on the American side in the war on terrorism i.e. Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt etc. Will you engage the democratic forces in these countries who may differ with your policies or will you continue to back the despots as long as they are loyal to you?
JOHN KERRY: Edwards and I understand that fighting terrorism in America and abroad is not a fight against Muslims and it is not a fight against Arabs. It is a fight against fanaticism. It is a fight of the majority for progress against the primitive fears of the few.
As president, I will put in place a strong and smart strategy to win the war on terror – an approach that recognizes the complexity of the challenge and uses all the tools at our disposal. I understand that the path to victory will be found in the company of others, not walking alone.
We will work with allies in Arab and Muslim countries and across the globe. Our administration will never,
We will not tolerate the targeting of Muslim Americans or Arab Americans for threats, violence or discrimination based on their religion.
ever wait for a green light from abroad when our safety is at stake – but we will not alienate those whose support we should have, and must enlist, to help make America more secure.
We recognize that victory in the war on terror requires a combination of American might, diplomacy, skill, and determination. We must also maximize international cooperation.
VIBES: The Bush Administration has made ads that insinuate your party has a racial bias against people from Middle Eastern origin. What effect would this have on your Muslim supporters, and how crucial is the American Muslim vote for your election as President?
JOHN KERRY: We recognize the many contributions that Muslim Americans and Arab Americans have made to our nation and will work to protect and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans, including Muslim Americans and Arab Americans.
They support rigorous enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws so that all Americans, including Muslims and Arabs, can live, work, learn, worship, and gather without fear or discrimination. We will not tolerate the targeting of Muslim Americans or Arab Americans for threats, violence or discrimination based on their religion.
VIBES: The readers of Vibes will like to know your vision for the Mid East. While looking for a viable and defensible Israel, will you see to it that the Palestinians find an equally viable state of their own?
JOHN KERRY: Both of us believe that bringing security and stability to the Middle East is vital to American national security, to the security of Israel and other countries in the region, and to the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a viable Palestinian state.
In our administration, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be an afterthought, but a priority that will always get the consistent, high-level attention it deserves. We will bring determined leadership to ending the violence and developing a new Palestinian leadership – one that
Bi-lateral engagement between India and Pakistan is important to resolving the dispute in Kashmir, and to combating terrorism.
is committed in word and deed to fighting terror and meeting the needs of its people.
We will also work tirelessly to achieve a stable, lasting peace with security in the Middle East and ensure that American leadership is a source of hope in the region.
VIBES: It was an American President from the Democrat party who gave the world the idea of the right of self determination through his famous 14 points. Do you believe that the people have the right to determine their own future? What is your position on the UN Security council Resolutions asking for the right of self determination of the Kashmiri people which has been constantly and consistently denied to them?
JOHN KERRY: Bi-lateral engagement between India and Pakistan is important to resolving the dispute in Kashmir, and to combating terrorism. I believe the United States has the unique ability to help this process along, and as President I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity to do so.
Pakistan’s support is important to operations in Afghanistan. Yet it is my hope that Pakistan will always remember that our goal is to have free nations with open societies in which there is no place for terror or the support of terror. Pakistan has much to gain from internal reform, and I stand eager to foster and support this process.
VIBES: What is your vision for America? Where do you want to see it stand 10 years from now?
JOHN KERRY: We will stand up for America’s values and have a plan to build an America that is strong at home and respected in the world. We believe we can have a strong economy focused on good-paying jobs, a health care plan that reduces costs, an energy plan that frees us from Mideast oil, and they believe we can strengthen our military and lead strong alliances that keep America safe and secure.