Former Secretary of State John Kerry joined Fox News Radio's Marie Harf to discuss his new book, Every Day Is Extra.
On what we should be trying to do in Afghanistan: Well, our goal in Afghanistan - well, first of all, let me begin by saying that it is not Vietnam, and hopefully it won't become that in the context of sort of bad ending, because we had every reason in the world to go there. We had to go there. I voted for our going in, and I think most people did, because it was the place where Osama Bin Laden was, who attacked us. And so, it was - it was imperative that we rid the world of that evil, and also try to create a situation where there was no platform for ungoverned spaces - capacity to attack, elsewhere in the world or us. So more than 58, 59 nations - I think it's more than 60 nations now that may be involved in the effort. I know when we were meeting in NATO, in Brussels, there was a massive group of people around the table, 58, 59 countries, all engaged in Afghanistan. Why? Because all of them understood we needed to protect against extremist terrorists. But the mission does need clarity. The mission clearly - I think there are better ways in Afghanistan to try to now to transition to the protection envelope we need with respect to terrorism, and I think the mission became far more of kind of, "How do we stabilize the government? How do we hang on to - you know, give them the shot at governance and sovereignty in a new governing, you know, structure?" And that's much more complicated . I worked to hold it together because if it had fallen apart, you'd have the Taliban, and you'd had everything cascade, and we would've faced a huge dilemma of protecting ourselves and everybody else who was there, by perhaps even using more troops. So that's an ugly option, and it was imperative to try to hold the governance together so we had an army to work with, so we had a government to work with, and I did. I worked extremely hard to try to negotiate the - the, you know, power sharing arrangement between Abdullah Abdullah and President Ghani because the election was inconclusive, and there were problems with it's sufficient to let perhaps everything break apart. So bottom line, Afghanistan needs full reevaluation now. We need to think had about a process by which we're transitioning to a very different process. I'm not talking about pulling the rug out from under people, but I am talking about transitioning to a posture which is more realistic and demanding more of the Afghans themselves than of the current government. (1:20)
On North Korea: Well, I supported the President's notion that - that it was a good thing to try to meet with Kim Jong-un and to try to have the opening of a dialogue. I mean that's something that we tried to get to in the context of the earlier administration. But regrettably, Kim Jong-un was in a different place at that time, he hadn't developed his weaponry enough. He clearly was trying to move farther and faster, to the point that he is today, number one. And number two he was at odds with China back then. And so we didn't -- we were ratcheting up the sanctions, we were increasing sanctions, and we supported President Trump in his effort to increase those sanctions subsequently. Because we knew it was going to take more sanctions to bring him to the table. But I do think, and I've criticized the president on this -- which is not having prepared the Summit adequately, or properly, or at all. I mean, it's one thing to say we want to have a dialogue, and we want to try to do the diplomacy. But you've got to prepare the diplomacy. You've got to have a strategy, you've got to have more than just the glitzy meeting with the flags and so forth, and nice statements. And clearly now, there is no clarity as to what has -- what is denuclearization? What is the definition of it? Is his denuclearization the same as our sense of denuclearization? What is he thinking we have to do for denuclearization? None of that has been ironed out, and there is no clarity as to what weapons he has, how many and where. And all of those declarations are going to be absolutely critical to building the trust necessary over time to have a capacity to reach an agreement and do what you need to do. So there still is inadequate clarity as to exactly how they're going to achieve those things. And most long-term observers of North Korea do not believe that Kim Jong-un actually intends to give up his weapons. (5:15)
On politics getting nastier: When I was there, when I was in the midst of the campaign obviously, and was being attacked -- we thought we had adequately answered it by putting out my records, by having the eyewitnesses who are actually on the particular boat, or in the particular action talk about what happened. And the news media, the mainstream media covered that, covered it in-depth. But regrettably it was the beginning of a period where television ads were constructed in highly manipulative, extremely distorted manner that really attacked the truth and they kept using them. Even when people would go on T.V. and clarify and put out the real evidence. And the eyewitnesses would say, "no that's not what happened, we were there." They would continue to use the television and just bombard it with these lies. You know, it's reached a level -- I mean, I think every American whether you're conservative, liberal, right wing, left wing, it doesn't matter -- center... we have traditionally revered the truth in the United States of America. And the truth has been central to the quality of our democracy, and we always had a media where people could find an agreement, a sort of consensus about that truth. Now, you have, quote, "alternative facts," or you have fake news and so forth, and the difficulty is America is losing its ability to have a baseline of facts. And as Patrick Moynihan, the Senator from New York, famously said again and again, everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but you're not entitled to your own facts. You know, when I heard Giuliani the other day say, you know, the truth is not the truth, well, woah, wait a minute, two plus two is four. And four and four is eight. And there is a truth in that. There are certain things where everybody can agree there is a truth. I think we've got to get back to that, because if we don't, governing becomes much more complicated, much more difficult. It's hard to do. If you can't build a consensus around healthcare, around education, or around in -- you know, building America, rebuilding America, these are things that matter. (7:53)
On the NY Times op-ed: If you legitimately believe that your being there makes all the difference in the world to the safety of the country or to certain decisions, I can't second guess that. Maybe somebody feels they have to be there. And that's a tough one, but I would say this; that I wish the person had come out publicly, had resigned. They ought to come together and press this issue to the United States Congress because it's serious, serious stuff. And if you look at what Bob Woodward's talking about and then sort of what's on the table here. This is really important to our country. Just an example, you wake up today, 9/11. I mean this is the city of 9/11 that we're in right now and I remember in Washington watching the planes go into the building. But then I remember hearing this loud boom off the corner of where we were then meeting in the Capitol and I went to the window and looked and this huge dark bloom of smoke up off the Pentagon. And you think about all of that, Marie, today especially, two of those planes came from Boston; there were friends of mine on those planes. And I think about waking up on 9/11 and what did we wake up to out of the White House? The President tweeting, attacking Jeff Sessions, his Attorney General. That's what was on his mind this morning. You know, that to me just disturbs me that that's where we are, and I think it indicates being out of touch with the heart of America at the moment -- at this moment and moments that really matter. (13:52)
On a lifetime of service: I believe in service. I volunteered for the military. I volunteered to go to Vietnam. I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the service even though I thought the leaders had made bad decisions and the war was not what we all had been told it was. But that said, I still believe in the honor of service. I believe in duty. John McCain and I talked about that at great length as we formed this friendship and came to understand, we both came to service in the same kind of way. We both believed -- we were kids of greatest generation parents. My dad was in the Army Air Corps. He volunteered. He was one of the first people to sort of be a cadet, and learn how to fly and prepare for war. And I think that -- that the lesson of that incredible day of D-Day, I've gone back to the cemetery in France, in Normandy many times because I find it's sacred ground. And it tells you if, you know, these guys who were coming in, in those tiny boats, and a boat would blow up beside you. And I write about this in the book that you know, you're looking up at this fortress bluff with unbelievable, you know, concrete bunkers and every gun in the world trained on you. And you know that when the door drops on that boat, you or half the people in that boat, or all of them are going to be dead and they were. It's an extraordinary gift to our country. And we need to do that justice. And that's what this book -- I think about that all the time about our responsibility to live up to that standard. (16:03)