This is the statement John Kerry delivered at his Secretary of State confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Corker and Members of the Committee:
Thank you very, very much. I am in awe of the wonderful comments that were just made and I appreciate them and I’ll say a little bit more about them. Before I begin, I would like to have the privilege of just introducing very quickly, I think most of you know my wonderful wife Teresa, who has been a part of this great journey for a long time, my brother Cam who is serving over in the Commerce Department as counsel there. I trust they know he’s here and have given him time off, and my daughter Vanessa and her husband Brian, both of whom are working as physicians at Mass General in Boston, and another daughter who’s not here, Alexandra, and three stepsons who likewise are spread around the world. We are thinking about them as we embark on this wonderful journey.
I am enormously grateful for the generous comments of the Chair and the ranking member. Thank you very, very much. Thank you also for your tremendous cooperation over the course of the last years, and providing that you get me out of here quickly, I will be able to congratulate you more fully when you officially assume your responsibilities.
I will tell all of you on this Committee, the new members particularly, that I have enjoyed Chairing this Committee and working with you as much as anything I have done, or been privileged to do in my career. I think this is one of the great Committees of the United States Senate and it is the only major Committee that I have served on since day one when I arrived here in the Senate in 1985. As you know, the Committee carries special consequential responsibilities for the security of our nation and I thank each and every one of you for the serious consideration that you give and have given to the challenging issues and for the remarkable cooperation that I have had as Chairman of the Committee. If confirmed, I look forward to continuing to work particularly closely with all of you as we tackle some of the toughest issues and challenges that I have seen in the entire time that I have served on this Committee. And I particularly welcome the new members in that regard.
I am very grateful to President Obama for nominating me and entrusting me with this important responsibility, and I am particularly grateful to Secretary Clinton, Senator McCain and Senator Warren for their introductions they made just now. I will not take it personally that this may be the one item in Washington that seems to unite Democrats and Republicans to get me out of the Senate quickly. Secretary Clinton particularly has served above and beyond the call of duty, I think everyone on this Committee would agree. Her service has been superb and we all thank her for a job well done and for her tireless efforts on behalf of the nation. She has set a very high mark for her stewardship of the State Department and her commitment to country and I can pledge to you, with the consent of the Senate, I will do everything in my power, summon every energy and all of my focus to build on her record and the President’s vision.
Senator McCain, as he mentioned, is a longtime friend. We met here in the Senate coming from very different positions and perspectives but you know we found common ground. I will never forget standing with him in Hanoi, in the cell in the Hanoi Hilton in which he spent a number of years of his life, just the two of us, listening to him talk about that experience. I will always be grateful for his partnership in helping to make real peace with Vietnam by establishing the most significant process in the history of our country, or in any country, for the accounting for missing and dead in any war, and then working to lift the embargo and ultimately normalizing relations with an old enemy. John had every reason to hate but he didn’t. Instead, we were able to help heal deep wounds and end a war that divided too many people for much too long.
And as we talk about war and peace and foreign policy, I want us all to keep in our minds as I think we do the extraordinary men and women in uniform who are on the front lines even as we meet here today, the troops at war who help protect America. I can pledge to you that as a veteran of war, 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. Continued...