At Boston campaign kickoff, Kerry says war still avoidable
By Steve Leblanc, Associated Press, 3/12/2003
BOSTON (AP) Calling the Bush administration's handling of Iraq the ''weakest diplomacy in our history,'' Sen. John Kerry said Wednesday that war may still be avoidable, but America's standing in the world has suffered.
At a fund-raising dinner in his hometown that raised $2 million toward his presidential campaign, Kerry said the U.S. should only wage war after all diplomatic options have been exhausted.
''I believe a great nation like ours should only go to war as a matter of last resort,'' the Massachusetts Democrat told hundreds of supporters who gathered at the Boston Sheraton Hotel for the $2,000-a-plate dinner, which was billed as Kerry's Boston campaign kickoff.
Kerry voted last year in favor of the resolution authorizing military action in Iraq. But he has increasingly criticized Bush for rushing toward conflict rather than allowing the United Nations inspections process run its course.
''We voted to go to the United Nations in order to avoid war, if possible, not to permit it,'' he said. ''We voted to go to the United Nations as the best hope of holding the administration responsible. I still believe there is time to hold them responsible and do this right.''
The debate over Iraq has alienated many of the nation's longtime allies, Kerry said.
''We have gone from having the support and friendship of the world after Sept. 11 ... to seeing our power and our foreign policy become an object of protests and of scorn on every continent,'' he said.
''Even the United States of America has to make some friends on this planet, and we'd better get about the business of doing so,'' Kerry said.
Kerry, 59, is one of nine Democrats seeking their party's nomination for president in 2004. He had surgery last month to have a cancerous prostate removed.
He was introduced Wednesday by his wife, Teresa Heinz, following a 15-minute video that featured footage of Kerry sailboarding and playing the guitar. During his speech, he criticized fellow Democrats in Congress for backing away from a liberal agenda.
''America does not need two Republican parties,'' Kerry said.