Thursday, June 03, 2004

Kerry campaign interview with Rand Beers

This is from an official email from the Kerry campaign:

An Interview with Rand Beers
One week ago, John Kerry kicked off eleven days of speeches and campaign events outlining his national security policy. As head of the Internet Team, I had the opportunity to sit down with Rand Beers to discuss how John Kerry will build a stronger America, that is respected in the world, and secure at home.

After serving at the National Security Council at the White House during Republican and Democratic administrations, Rand Beers resigned as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Combating Terrorism in March 2003 to protest the Bush administration's loss of focus on the war on terrorism. Eight weeks later, he joined the Kerry Campaign as National Security/Homeland Security Issues Coordinator. He began his career as a Marine rifle company commander in Vietnam.

Josh Ross: Was it a difficult decision to leave the Bush administration?

Rand Beers: It was an extraordinarily difficult decision for me to make. When you've worked with people for a number of years, you develop a sense of loyalty and camaraderie. But I feel strongly that if you're going to play a part in any government, you have to be one hundred percent committed. When I could not give that kind of commitment because of differences in philosophy and the administration's rush to war, I decided to leave.

After I left, I thought a lot about what I wanted to do, and came to the conclusion that rather than being part of the problem, which I was within the administration, I wanted to be part of the solution.

Josh Ross: There were nine Democrats in the field when you joined the Kerry campaign. Why pick John Kerry over all the rest?

Rand Beers: I joined John Kerry's campaign because I knew about his record in the Senate, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on the Senate Intelligence Committee. I knew that he cared about the changing security environment that the world was facing. And one of his former staffers, Jonathan Winer, worked for me as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department, so I had a good appreciation of the kinds of issues and concerns that John Kerry was passionate about.

I also admire Senator Kerry because of his Vietnam experience. Like him, I served in Vietnam. Like him, I went back for a second tour after having spent a full year there. Like him, I came back to the United States deeply concerned that our efforts in Vietnam had gone off track. I was drawn to John Kerry because of our similar experiences, plus the knowledge that individuals who have served in combat have an important perspective when they make decisions about war and peace.

Josh Ross: What steps do we need to take to restore U.S. authority and leadership in the world?

Rand Beers: It's absolutely essential that the next president, from his first day in office, makes a major effort to reach out to countries around the world. We need to return to the kind of dialogue that is necessary to knit together relationships and alliances into meaningful coalitions, to deal with the problems around the globe. If you're not prepared to listen, as well as talk, then it's much harder to bring other countries together for common purposes and common solutions.

Josh Ross: What lessons from history can we apply to fighting the war on terror?

Rand Beers: I think that the major lesson from history is that if we do not work together with allies around the world, we are going to be unable to prevent terrorists from attacking us and hurting us. We will never have a perfect defense; but we will be stronger and more secure with strong allies.

Second, we need to adapt our capabilities to the new threats we face. Terrorism was previously a secondary concern not only for the United States but for most countries. The face of terrorism is ever-changing and evolving. We're going to have to look at our military forces, our intelligence forces, and our law enforcement community, both within the United States and globally, to make sure that we have the right kind of people, the right kind of capabilities, and the right kind of skills in order to deal with these new threats.

We also have to dry up support and sympathy for al-Qaeda in the Islamic world. We have to reinforce the perception in the Islamic world that the kind of activity and behavior that al-Qaeda engages in is unrepresentative of the religion as a whole. This will take time and considerable effort, but it's a mission that we must participate in with the Islamic world and other members of the international community.

Josh Ross: How will a John Kerry presidency differ from a George Bush Presidency, in terms of foreign policy, the war on terrorism, and Iraq?

Rand Beers: John Kerry presented a very clear set of differences in his speech in Seattle last Thursday. First, he would return to the alliance structure that has stood so well since the second World War. Those alliances need to be updated, strengthened and refocused for a post 9/11 world, so that organizations such as NATO are no longer confined in their vision.

Second, John Kerry will ensure that we have the kind of military that's necessary for security missions. We must have more than just a force that is capable of fighting conventional wars. We also must have the skills and capabilities that will allow us to deal with failed states, terrorism, and threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, especially keeping them away from terrorists.

Third, John Kerry will use all the tools in our foreign policy arsenal. We will emphasize the use of diplomacy, which the Bush administration has put in cold storage. We need better intelligence capabilities and better use of economic power, our ideas, and our values.

Finally, we need to become energy independent, so our foreign policy isn't distorted by our dependence on Middle East oil

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