Like Father

Foer, Franklin
March 2004
New Republic;3/8/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 8, p16
The author claims that U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry's views on foreign policy are heavily influenced by those of his father, Richard Kerry, a pro-European, Czech-born U.S. diplomat who served during the Cold War. According to the conventional telling of John Kerry's biography, largely told by Kerry himself, his foreign policy views were forged in the Mekong Delta. In fact, Kerry's foreign policy worldview, characterized by a steadfast belief in international institutions and a suspicion of U.S. hard power, had fallen into place long before he ever enlisted. As Kerry's biographer, the historian Douglas Brinkley, told me, "So much of his foreign policy worldview comes straight from Richard Kerry." According to Brinkley, through [European] conferences, Kerry established relationships with a group of like-minded government officials, including the famed French planning commissioner (and intellectual architect of the European Union) Jean Monnet. These conferences reinforced Kerry's belief that the preservation of the Atlantic alliance and the creation of a new Europe should be the overriding priorities of U.S. foreign policy. But the reality of U.S. policy was far different. For most of the Eisenhower administration, America's prime objective was containing communism. And, unlike the administration he served, Kerry believed that cooperation and diplomacy, rather than militarism, should resolve these tensions. From the start, Richard Kerry turned his oldest son into his foreign policy protege. As early as prep school, John Kerry showed signs that he shared his father's suspicions about America's cold war foreign policy.


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