"As a veteran, I will always carry the consequences of our decisions in my mind and be grateful that we have such extraordinary people to back us up," said Sen. John Kerry, during his hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry, a decorated Navy veteran who returned from combat to become part of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, has been nominated to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. (AP)
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The first of two Vietnam veterans nominated by President Obama to be part the administration's national security team said Jan. 24 that his service will guide his decisions as secretary of state.
John Kerry, a decorated Navy veteran who returned from combat to become part of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that his service shapes his views about national security.
"As a veteran, I will always carry the consequences of our decisions in my mind and be grateful that we have such extraordinary people to back us up," said Kerry.
The 69-year-old Kerry, a member of the Senate since 1985, appears to face no opposition to confirmation as a successor to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who served as Secretary of State for Obama's first term in office.
Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has lived his "entire life for this moment," said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top-ranked Republican on the committee. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who will succeed Kerry if he is confirmed, said he had no doubt the Senate will approve the nomination.
The other Vietnam veteran nominated by Obama, Army veteran Chuck Hagel, was a squad leader. Hagel also served in the Senate, as a Republican representing Nebraska, but he stayed only 12 years to Kerry's 28; Hagel left in 2009 while Kerry still serves.
Corker brought up the 66-year-old Hagel during Kerry's hearing, questioning Hagel's involvement in an arms control effort to reduce nuclear weapons.
"I know Chuck Hagel," Kerry said. "He is a strong, patriotic former senator and he will be a strong secretary of defense."
The arms control initiative, known as Global Zero, is something that "would take centuries," Kerry said, telling Corker that he doubted Hagel was headed to the Defense Department intending to immediately eliminate all nuclear weapons.
There were no real surprises in Kerry's positions on foreign policy issues. On Iran and its attempts to become a nuclear power, Kerry said he agreed with Obama that the U.S. "will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
"Our policy is not containment," he said. "I will work to give diplomacy every effort to succeed, but no one should mistake our resolve to reduce the nuclear threat."
On Afghanistan, where the U.S. will face a monumental civilian mission after combat troops leave, Kerry said there is a "two-fold" mission. "At some point this year, our troops will not be in the lead," as security is turned over to Afghan forces, Kerry said. Yet, "some kind of anti-terrorism mission will continue" that will involve U.S. forces, he said.