Shorter John Kerry: How Dare Russia Do What We Did In 2003

No, this is not from The Onion:

Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia Sunday that it should rethink its military intervention in Ukraine, warning of possible economic consequences and embarrassment on the world stage.

Tensions flared over the weekend as Russian President Vladimir Putin sought andreceived permission from his parliament Saturday to use military force to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine. Troops have already stationed themselves in Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula that is home to one of Moscow’s naval bases.

“It’s an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President Putin to invade another country,” Kerry said on “Face the Nation” Sunday, adding that Russia has violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and several of its obligations under international agreements. “You just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.”

This would be the same John Kerry who voted in favor of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Of course, that would be back when he was for the war before he was against it.

FILED UNDER: National Security, Quick Takes, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Look, Doug, our position is perfectly clear and consistent.

    1) The only just invasion is an American invasion.
    2) All elections are good so long as they elect the guy we like.
    3) If not, then we try the mob.
    4) Okay, that didn’t work, so we shrug it all off and lose interest.
    5) Besides, all foreign matters are really domestic American politics because we are the center of the Earth and foreigners are all either Republicans or Democrats.

    Really, you should do some more reading on US foreign policy in order to fully understand the subtleties.

  2. @michael reynolds:

    That does seem to be what it boils down to doesn’t it?

  3. Peterh says:

    I’m willing to give Kerry a pass on this since in the aftermath of our Iraqi folly, we did suffer economic consequences and world embarrassment whether Kerry voted for it or not….it’s called, learning from history. While I won’t put this on the same par as Russia’s Afghanistan folly, Russia should tread lightly with Crimea.

  4. Mikey says:

    Taking a comment out of context and applying it in a superficial way that ignores all the glaring differences…what is this, Reddit?

  5. Mr. Replica says:



  6. Davebo says:


    This isn’t exactly a new development here at OTB. Although it did subside a great deal while Doug was away.

  7. bill says:

    @Mikey: speaking of which, here’s john kerry again, from today i believe.

    Russia chose this brazen act (of) aggression and moved in with its forces on a completely trumped set of pre-texts claiming that people were threatened and the fact is that is not the act of somebody who is strong that is the act of somebody who is acting out of weakness and out of a certain kind of desperation.

  8. john personna says:

    It is actually a question whether Kerry believed the Bush administration’s nuclear story.

    As much as I believe it was fabricated, it was at least a self defense story.

    Remember the year spent on “morality of preemption” stories? Tthat was about preemptive self defense.

    Does Putin have a self defense story?

  9. Kylopod says:

    @john personna: I agree. But I also think that Kerry and many other Democrats demonstrated a certain naivete–at best–in going along with Bush. Remember Kerry’s own rationale for his vote in 2004, that voting to authorize the use of force did not mean invasion was inevitable. Anyone following the situation ought to have realized that Bush was dead-set on invading. The fact is that many Democrats got swept up by a jingoistic post-9/11 fervor and a fear of being marginalized. They weren’t innocent bystanders of Bush’s deception. They bear some of the responsibility for not seeing what was coming.

  10. Stonetools says:


    That’s true, but let’s remember that it’s the Bush Administration and the Republicans who bear most of the blame for the Iraq War disaster. Also too, the Democrats have learned their lesson from this. John McClain definitely hasn’t, and l think most Republicans haven’t either. Marc Rubio in particular seems ready to beat the war drums and the Republicans are all talking a lot more about “projecting strength ” than they are about “let’s not get into another war”.
    Again, I’m glad that President Obama and not President McCain or President Romney is calling the shots on this one. (I think Doug is secretly too although he will never say it out loud.)

  11. Andre Kenji says:

    Democrats, including Kerry, voted for the Iraq War Resolution because they thought that the war was going to be easy. It was something similar to the rationale that bullies use to beat the crap out of little children. There were some people like Robert Fisk and Jim Webb talking about the dangers to the United States, but even opponents thought that it was going to be an easy war.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Andre Kenji: Democrats thought that in the wake of 9-11 it would be political suicide to oppose the President in what was expected to be either a successful threat with Saddam backing down; or a short, successful war. They had no idea how badly Bush and Cheney would mismanage it.

  13. Mikey says:

    @Andre Kenji: It was an “easy’ war, as wars go. The war was essentially over in three weeks. I don’t think that justifies any of it, of course, but the combat ops part was not difficult by historical standards.

    The occupation was the hard part, and it was fvcked up six ways to Sunday. We could write a textbook titled “How NOT to do an occupation” with everything they screwed up.

  14. john personna says:


    FWIW, I hoped until the last minute, when UN inspectors were pulled, that it was saber rattling.

    Such rattling has to look pretty real to work.

    And of course, if Bush had stopped then, he’d be a hero today. Bad call.

  15. Mikey says:

    @john personna:

    Does Putin have a self defense story?

    No, but he’s got plenty of lies to spread about how awful the Ukranian opposition to his invasion is:

    In an embarrassing blooper on Sunday, Channel One illustrated a story on thousands of Ukrainians seeking shelter in Russia — as Russian officials have claimed — with footage of cars queuing to cross into Poland.

    Saddam Hussein being awful didn’t justify the 2003 Iraq invasion, but at least his atrocities were verifiable. Russia is just straight-up propagandizing.

  16. wr says:

    @Mikey: “Saddam Hussein being awful didn’t justify the 2003 Iraq invasion, but at least his atrocities were verifiable”

    You mean like the six million babies that were ripped out of incubators in Kuwait and dashed to the cold stone ground? Or the human shredding machines?

  17. Mikey says:

    @wr: I mean the Kurds and Marsh Arabs.

  18. Jeremy R says:

    Here’s the entire quote with the Sunday Show question he was responding to:

    Bob Schieffer: “The Ukrainian Prime Minister says this morning that Russia’s actions amount to a declaration of war and he says we are on the brink of disaster. Do you agree with that?”

    Kerry: “Well, it’s an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations. Russia is in violation of its obligations under the UN charter under the Helsinki Final Act. It’s in violation of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest Agreement. You just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.”

  19. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Mikey: For those who want to know how the occupation turned FUBAR, I highly recommend Breaking Iraq by Col. Ted Spain. He commanded an MP outfit in 2003-2004 and saw the emerging fiasco up close.

  20. anjin-san says:

    @ Mikey

    If we gave a crap about the Kurds the time to invade Iraq was 1988.

  21. Mikey says:

    @anjin-san: The ecocide of the southern marshlands and genocide of the Marsh Arabs persisted until the 2003 invasion.