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Summary Analysis of John Kerry's "The New War"

In nine chapters and 168 pages from John Kerry himself about the world of international crime and terror. The book "The New War"

Ladies and Gentleman of the Blogosphere, I sacrifice my own eyes to keep each of you from going out to buy and read this book on your own. It's a small book, and with the help of this "Summary" you can glean most of what is needed in about 15 minutes from any bookshelf at any library or bookstore where you can find it. Abbie Hoffman, eat your heart out.

Mark Twain once offered an analysis of another book where he called the it "cholorform in print"**. I always thought that was a good line, so I will use it here as its best approximates the effect this book has upon large mammals like myself. This is one tough book to read, if you read it with John Kerrys 'Boston Foghorn" voice as your inner dialog, it could probably be used at Guantanamo to break Taliban detainees.

Senators often suffer the affliction of 'Senator-itis' where they feel free to pontificate in their own voice how they would run the world if they were in charge. This book is poorly written, poorly edited and almost never gets to the point. Kerrys book is long on "tsk-tsk" and short on action, perhaps that alone can serve as the best summation of Mr Kerrys long, yet dull, career.

Kerrys Book, "the New War" is the lawyer or accountants version of Sun Tzus or Clausewitz' treatise on war. Mr. Kerry feels that with enough paperwork and enough lawyers, international criminal elements and their little brothers, the terrorists, can be dealt with in a civilized fashion. There is no discussion given to law enforcement, or perhaps even police action or dare I say, War, as a way of putting the nefarious criminals in check.

What follows is a chapter by chapter breakdown of the book:

Dedicated to his mother and father, and daughters with the words:

“ …who taught me to look beyond our shores and in all directions”

Really. It sounds like an SNL sketch, but you can’t make that stuff up. I’m sure it doesn’t sound so pompous in the original French dialect, but in English it sounds pretty thankless and soulless at the same time.

Chapter 1 – Darkness Visible

Summary: Capitalizing on his former Criminal Prosecutor role, Kerry tells how crime has become an international enterprise requiring an international response. To deal with the problem, America must retool itself to meet this challenge by confronting its bigotry and biases at home and in some cases, must give up some of its freedoms and liberties. Kerry equates international criminal enterprises with the forces of fascism in World War II.

Money quotes:

Paragraph 2; page 32:
“America must lead an international crusade, rallying together domestically on a bipartisan basis. We must recover our courage and moral vision”.

Last paragraph of page 32 :
“In forging in international alliance against crime, Americans will have to confront some of our most dangerous domestic demons: race, poverty, street crime and the often inflammatory politics that surround them. We will have to wrestle with issues that challenge our deepest beliefs about our constitutional freedoms and our appropriate international role. But success in those struggles will only make us all the more fit to lead the world into war against the sworn enemies of civilized law and human liberty.”


Kerry makes every effort to equivocate the actions of the Maoist Shining Path with the “Montana freeman” as if they were anywhere in the same league. The “I,I,I,Me,Me,Mine” meme continues unabated in this chapter. There is no mention of al-queda. One mention of Saddam Hussein, but only as a dismissive throwaway line on page 32. Kerry uses the term “we” almost as an invective, such as “you there, peasant, get off my lawn…”.

Chapter 2 – Hijacking the Russian bear

Summary: While Communist, Russia was certainly a bad country, but now that it’s free of Communism, its worse off than before, and what’s worse, it’s all our fault. Apparently, Reagan didn’t have a plan to win the peace after the cold war (the old fool….). Russia is now the center of a large criminal enterprise, one that we have been lax in paying attention to, and again, it’s all our fault.

Money quotes:

Page 50 “As an example of our failure to treat the globalization of crime with appropriate seriousness, it took until 1994 for the FBI to open an office in Moscow”

Page 50 “ The greatest danger to us comes from the damage that crime can do to the Russian economy and therefore its stability and fight for democracy’

If you read this chapter and replace the word “Russia” with Iraq, you make the best case for the Iraq Theatre of operation in the Jihadi War. I don’t want to be overly harsh, but the man seems almost nostalgic for the control that communism provided.

Chapter 3 – China on the Brink

Summary: China while still remaining true to the holy church of communism is every bit as big a threat as is Russia, due mostly to our incompetence in dealing with them. China is teetering on the edge of being a criminal enterprise, and we have done nothing to stop it from becoming one.

A theme is starting to evolve within the book:

"It's all your fault - and only I can save you from yourself!"

Money quotes:

Page 69 “Nobody knows what Chinas future will bring. China is veiled by our ignorance, by it’s own preference for secrecy and discretion and by its sheer numbers. There are too many people, too many factors in the equation for anyone to fathom. China has to be a mystery even to itself.

If I were his editor, I would have cut this chapter. I think its here to pad the book out to a respectable page count. Very little is said, and the kidney trade story is, well, odd in light of the subject matter of world terrorism.

Chapter 4 – Who Stole Colombia?

Summary: Colombia is not really a country but a drug cartel wrapped inside the protection of an internationally recognized sovereign state. Again, Kerry makes the case for why sovereignty should not offer protection from international law. Yet, who does Kerry blame? That’s right, you and me, compadre.

Money quotes:

Page 75: Get this! Kerry quotes himself! , Kerry quotes himself taking testimony in the Pablo Escobar hearings. This is like George Costanza talking about himself in the third person.
Page 78: Kerry makes a great case for the Patriot act by describing in detail how easy it is to avoid phone taps. Kerry blames Radio Shack.(Hey, Tandy Corp is based in Texas….)

“ …And having pointed out that Colombia is on the State Department’s list of top twenty money-laundering countries, I would be unfair not to mention that the United States also belongs to that elite club”

On the closing paragraph in this chapter, Kerry again unintentionally makes the case for Iraq:

“ Democracy is a rare and recent development in human history; the world can ill afford to lose a single one. In Columbia, crime has killed democracy by turning it into a grotesque and humiliating parody of itself. “ The whole paragraph maks the clearest case yet for action in Iraq. If I were doing opposition research for the Bush campaign, I would be sure that this was noted and used in the debates.
Chapter 5 – Reengineering the Drug trade

Summary: The Drug trade, aided by NAFTA/GATT and other international trade agreements is worse than any war in Americas history, and our political class with their insistence on so called ‘free trade’. Oh, and by the way, its all your fault, peasant.

Money quotes:

Page 98 “Prime Minister Bhutto herself was forced out of office by Pakistans president who charged her with corruption, temporarily leaving no one even nominally in control of Pakistan. This is the kind of political vacuum made for exploitation by drug traffickers and terrorists as well”

Page 108“But aren’t there any positive effects of drug money on a nations economy?”

Standard “War on drugs” boilerplate. It’s hard to disagree with something when it says essentially nothing of value or anything requireing any action. It's like someone writing 10 pages on how all babies should be fed and not go hungry, yet offer no plans on how to get food to the mothers of the babies. His biggest issue with the Taliban seems to be their part in illicit drug trade, no mention of their role in the obliteration of the rights of the women of Afghanistan.

Chapter 6 – The Globalization of terror

Summary: Aided by our recent trade agreements with NAFTA and GANNT, the world of terror is at our footsteps. Alothough I voted for both, I know that they will bite us later. Terrorists are everywhere, not just overseas, and some of them are driven by their hatred of the West. The Unabomber is driven by the way that modern life is not as nice as it could be.

Money quotes:

Page 122-123 - Quoting Ted Kaczynski “ The Industrial revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race…”. Indeed there is a general sense of displeasure with technology that accompanies its obvious benefits”.

This chapter is in fact the core of the book. If you are going to the library to skim read this pontificating tome, this is the only chapter worth reading. However, his argument is layered on the back of the idea that global crime enterprises, which are really just an extension of normal business corporations are the real enemy, not terrorists per se. Terrorists are just another flavor of ice cream in the freezer of John Kerrys mind.

Chapter 7 – Human Contraband

Summary: Apparently, Mr. Kerry has detected that there are many people who regularly flout our border controls to enter the country illegally. As a resident of California, I concur Mr. Kerry.

Money quotes:

If Kerry wanted to win the election, this chapter would serve as the centerpiece for the campaign. Its clear, cogent and direct. My guess is someone else wrote it.

Chapter 8 – Where Dirty money washes up

Summary: Kerry makes his role in the fall of BCCI a center stage case for international banking regulation. Noriega and Oliver North serve as the authors protagonists in this tale on international intrigue.

Money quotes:

Page 151 Willie Sutton robbed banks because “that’s where the money was” . Oh Wit!, thy name is 'Kerry'.

Throughout this chapter Kerry says in some form of the following quote “ …a painful example of how transnational criminals inevitably erode a nations sovereignty, jeopardize its security and even threaten its very sense and definition of identity". Given that Kerry is constantly telling us that our main duty is to work with other countries as allies, he seems to have forgotten that very often the other countries have been compromised by the forces that are trying to kill us.

Chapter 9 – A vision of victory

Summary: Kerry says that there are essentially three strategies to take in the new war, Multilateral, Bilateral, and oh heaven forbid, Unilateral. In all three cases, Kerry calls upon a completely new set of international conventions to deal with the problems he’s has outlined in the book.
He advocates strategies such as making money laundering an international criminal crime. Well golly, I sure wished we had thought of that. Why sure, make it illegal, why couldnt we see that before!

This last chapter is painful to read. In the rest of the book, Kerry repeatedly points out the failures of countries to deal with the low level types of problems with international crime. The fact that a countries sovereignty is often used a shield for nefarious activities by criminal gangs is an obvious problem. Yet, in Kerrys proposed solutions he repeatedly points out that “we, nor should anyone else be made to give up sovereignty”. I think he believes that by the time anyone gets to this point of the book, they are likely not awake anyway to offer any objections to his case.

His solutions take the form of written agreements between sovereign states that agree to behave to a global canon of ethics. Yet, Kerry has spent 8 Chapters outlining the failure of just such an existing structure. He seems to think that the problem is that all previous international law was simply poorly worded, and if he and his crack legal team were able to get rid of all the partisan "democracy" fol-der-ol, why he'd have the world running better in no time at all.

Money quotes:

“in a globalized world, our national security is only as strong as the weakest link” (Get thee to an editor, sir!)

Page 186“In 1994 I went to President Clinton and we agreed it was essential to put 100,000 more cops on U.S. streets within five years.

Page 173 “Obviously, the United States cannot go it alone” – referring to the “war on international crime and drug trafficking ”

Page 189 “Going abroad is not the only solution, of course. We need to get our own house in order. Legislators must join the executive and judicial branches of government in revising laws and reconfiguring relevant agencies to strengthen our response to the complex, multidimensional nature of global crime today.” – Apparently, Kerry was for the patriot act before it was even proposed.

Items stated in the book that require further research
( To Your Horses Fellow pajama clad Blog demons!):

1. Kerry makes the statement that he ran the criminal division of the DA’s office in Middlesex County Massachusetts(page 17). What did he do? and what was his record?

2. Kerry says he had a role to play in the prosecution of Howie Winter of the Winter Hill gang (page 17). Really? what was the role, and what is the concensus of the legal community on this case.

3. Kerry says in 1987, “my work shut down BCCI, and in the process I uncovered the bad guys”(page 18) . BCCI was a big stinkburger of a case, I'll bet you theres more than one grub under this bit of debris. I do remember that Kerry took quite a bit of heat from other Democrats for his calling the venerated "Clark Clifford" up to testify.

4. Kerry makes a big stink about Chinas trade in Human Kidneys and other Human body organs. I have head these stories before, but I always attributed them to nacent western racism or urban legends. (pages 65-69)

5. He states that crack cocaine is named for the sound the cocaine crystals make as they burn. ( page 106)
6. On Page 96, He states that Taliban took power in 1996. Did Kerry ever once give any speech about the Taliban and its takeover in Afghanistan?

** - I am aware of the book he reviewed for that quote on. I would not take it too personally, as Mr. Clemens was hard on the entire human race, and not just those of the faith. I personally think he was a bit too harsh. but it was a good line and deserved the best of all compliments and that is to be borrowed for use elsewhere.

CORRECTED: Columbia changed to the correct "Colombia". Thanks Rich.

September 12, 2004 at 11:06 PM in Kerry File | Permalink


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Summary Analysis of John Kerry's "The New War"



The Chinese government's trade in human organs was true ten years ago and more -- read Harry Wu's books Troublemaker and Laogai: the Chinese Gulag. Whether it still occurs I do not know, but I shouldn't be surprised.

And if you think westerners are racist, come over to China sometime. You'll be floored.

Kerry's prose is atrocious. Just reading your summaries made my mind wander off in self-defense. Thanks for taking one for the team!

Posted by: Ian Hamet | Sep 13, 2004 1:47:10 AM

On Kerrys prose, you dont know the half of it. Nearly every sentence starts with "I". He mustve sprained his arm pretty badly with all that patting on his own back.

Posted by: Frank Martin | Sep 13, 2004 8:40:40 AM

Thanks for taking one for the team.

FYI, in Chapter 4 (the drug trade) it's Colombia (with an "o") not Columbia (with a "u"). Does the Kerry book make the mistake as well?

Sorry to nitpick, but I spent a couple of years down there (fighting the drug trade)and it bugs me when people get it wrong!

Posted by: Rich | Sep 13, 2004 11:19:05 AM

"...it took until 1994 for the FBI to open an office in Moscow”

WTF? I thought that the division of labor was that the CIA handled "foreign" and the FBI dealt with "domestic." Why on earth would the FBI want an office in Moscow??

Posted by: Steve Teeter | Sep 22, 2004 3:58:33 PM

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