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Kerry vows to rebuild ‘shredded’ U.S. alliances

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry vowed Saturday to rebuild U.S. alliances “shredded” by President Bush and to restore America’s respect around the world.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, center, speaks to retired U.S. Lt. Cmd. Roy Gibson, from North Brook, Ill., and Joseph Lesniewski, right, from Erie, Pa., and a member of the 101st Airborne E Company, before the dedication ceremony for the World War II memorial in Washington on Saturday.John Pryke / Reuters
/ Source: Reuters

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry vowed on Saturday to rebuild U.S. alliances “shredded” by President Bush and to restore America’s international respect.

The Republican incumbent and his likely challenger in the Nov. 2 presidential election both attended the dedication of the World War II Memorial on Washington’s Mall, but did not cross paths.

As Bush spoke from the stage, Kerry sat at least 150 yards away among the crowd. He applauded the president’s remarks and told reporters later he thought the ceremony “could not have been more appropriate.”

The decorated Vietnam War veteran was cheered loudly and pressed for autographs and photos as he left the Mall.

“There are no politics today,” he said. “It’s just a really nice day, a really special day for America.”

Hours before, Kerry declared in the Democrats’ weekly radio address that it was “time to answer the call to greatness and lead the world.”

“It’s time to put away pride and stubbornness,” he said. “We must rebuild alliances that have been shredded because an America respected in the world will be an America stronger in the world and safer here at home.”

The Massachusetts senator, who voted for the congressional resolution authorizing Bush to use force in Iraq, has since charged the president rushed to war without adequate international help or a plan to win the peace.

“America has always drawn its power not only from the might of its weapons, but from the trust and respect of nations around the globe,” Kerry said. “From the World Wars to the Cold War and beyond, American-led alliances have been a driving force in the survival of freedom.”

During the 2000 election campaign, Bush promised a humble foreign policy built on stronger international alliances, but since taking office he has angered some of Washington’s traditional friends with moves like abandoning a global warming treaty and invading Iraq.

Foreign policy focus
Kerry has begun an 11-day focus on national security built around Saturday’s dedication ceremony, Memorial Day on Monday when the United States honors its war dead and the 60th anniversary of D-Day on June 6.

In the same period, Bush plans to give a major speech on Iraq, travel to Normandy, France, for the D-day celebrations and host the G8 summit of the leaders of Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia on Sea Island, about 90 miles south of Savannah, Georgia.

Kerry painted the broad strokes of his foreign policy priorities in Seattle on Thursday, promising to forge a coordinated global alliance against terror, free the United States from its “dangerous dependence” on Middle East oil and end what he described as Bush’s divisive bullying tactics.

On Iraq, Bush and Kerry both believe the United States should stay the course to bring stability to the country. Neither is ready to set a date for withdrawing U.S. troops.

But Kerry, a 20-year veteran of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would give greater prominence to international organizations like the United Nations and NATO.

“Some of the best armor we could ever give our troops will be allies to fight by their side,” he said. “And it’s because of those who fought before and those who fight today that it’s time to do what it takes to build an America that’s once again respected in the world.”

Kerry attended the World War II memorial dedication with 83-year-old Joseph Lesniewski, of Erie, Pennsylvania, one of 18 living paratroopers from the Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division who on D-Day parachuted into enemy territory behind the Normandy beachhead.