Kerry Questioned About Vietnam vs. Current U.S. Policy

Secretary of State nominee, a vet who later protested Vietnam, faces questions from Sen. Rand Paul.
10:02 | 01/24/13

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Transcript for Kerry Questioned About Vietnam vs. Current U.S. Policy
Senator -- thanks for coming today and -- -- -- I agree with candidate Barack Obama who said in 2007. That the president doesn't have the power under the constitution. To unilaterally authorize a military attack. I'd like to know if you agree with candidate Barack Obama or if you agree with president Barack Obama. Who took a store in Libya without congressional authority unilaterally. Well senator -- one of the things this committee has spent a lot of time on this war powers act which -- sport. And I believe in congressional authority to go to war. I've argued that on occasion with respect to some. Things here but there are occasions. Which I have supported -- -- of the United States has to make a decision. Immediately. And implement that decision -- on it immediately I supported Ronald Reagan. When he sent troops into Burnett. I supported George H. W. Bush when he sent troops into Panama. I supported President Clinton. When against the will of the congress he did what was needed to be done and Kosovo Bosnia and so forth. And in this particular instance I think the president behaved in that tradition. I would argue that the constitution really has no exceptions for when you're having a tough -- when people disagree with -- go ahead and do it. Follow in the early 1970s. You know after Vietnam you were quite critical of the bombing in Cambodia because I think you felt that it wasn't. Are authorized by congress has your opinion changed about the bombing in Cambodia. House Cambodia different in Libya. Now nor nor did my opinion. Changer as it ever altered about the war in Vietnam itself where I don't believe and I are you done this Cambodia different in Libya. Well Cambodia out it is because it was an extension of the war that was being prosecuted without the involvement of congress after a number of years. That's very different. Length of the time it's similar circumstances a bombing campaign and authorized by congress to that the constitutionally doesn't give this kind of latitude to sometimes go to war. And sometimes not go to war. I thought Barack Obama was very explicit in it's what I liked about him frankly -- and go you know Rand Paul certainly did like -- about Barack Obama. I did like his forthrightness when he ran for office and said. No president should unilaterally go to war the constitution does allow. Well I respect him you can be absolutist and applied to every circumstance the problem is. It just doesn't work in some instances when 101000 people are about to be wiped out by a brutal dictator. And you need to make a quick judgment about engagement. You certainly can't rely on a congress that is proven itself. Do you unwilling to move. After weeks and months sometimes you think -- UN resolutions sufficient to go to war. No no I think a UN resolution. I wouldn't say it's a vision to go to war I think the UN resolution is -- necessary ingredient. To provide the legal basis for military action. In an emergency. It is not. By any means. -- sufficient to require the United States to do something because we. A -- our constitution and our interest in our rights but I think. We've heard president -- -- comments about zionist and Israelis being blood suckers. And descendants of apes and pigs do you think it's wise to send them F sixteens and Abrams tanks. I think those comments are reprehensible. And those comments. And set back. The possibilities of working towards mutual. Issues of mutual interest. They are degrading comments. There are unacceptable by anybody's standard. And I think they. Have to appropriately be apologize for now they only understand strength of their community percent of weapons are not gonna change your behavior images Finnish president Morrissey. Present Morrissey has issued two statements. To clarify. Of those comments. And we had a group of senators who met -- just the other day who spent a good part of their conversation and relatively heated discussion with -- about it. But not everything. This is always the complication in dealings. In the international sector. Not everything lends itself to. A simple clarity -- black white this that every time. We have critical interest with the agent. Critical interest with the agent. Egypt has thus far. Supported. And live by. The peace agreement with Israel. Israel. And and and has taken steps to begin to deal with the problem of security in the Sinai. Those are vital to us and our national interest and to the security of Israel. In addition to that. They have. Followed through on the promise to have an election you know but I know things are not black and white but look at this you know they've had election. They've they've got a constitutional process. There's another election that is coming up shortly for lower house. The fact that sometimes other countries elect somebody that you don't completely agree with. Doesn't give us permission to walk away from their election that this is the. Our problem with our foreign policy for decades Republican and Democrat we funded bin Laden we funded -- -- and eighteen we were in favor of radical Jihad because they were the enemy of our enemy. We've done -- so often I see these weapons coming back to threaten Israel. I -- support for Syrian rebels coming back this -- threaten Israel as well. Well I still problems with this as you know senator in any of the arms sales at the United States has ever engaged in in that part of the world. There is always a measure that test which is applied -- respect -- a qualitative difference. In any of those weapons with respect to Israel's. Defense and security. And we do not sell weapons. And will not sell weapons that might upset that qualitative -- yes we sell twenty F sixteens Egypt we give 25 to Israel sounds like who are fueling an arms race not only does not give any weapons to Israel's enemies. That's certainly save us a lot of money in -- make it safer for Israel when a fire or better yet until we are read it -- we're at that moment where that might be achievable. -- he bettors try to make peace. One final question -- -- mister chairman is very short would you consider supporting conditioning aid to Pakistan on the release of doctor Shaquille afridi. I'm afraid if we don't support informants who have helped us we're not gonna get many more informants. Well. Let me let me speak to that first of all I have talked directly to -- -- and I've talked directly to general -- on a about doctor afridi. And like most Americans I find it is you do. Incomprehensible. If not repugnant that somebody. Who helped to. Find Osama bin Laden. Is in jail and Pakistan that bothers every American. That said. The pakistanis. Make the argument. That he didn't know what he was still. That he didn't know who he was -- physically. Targeting -- what was happening do you think he -- helping Americans let me just finish that is finish. He clearly -- it is doing in that. Because they also make the argument that he was doing that as a matter of regular course of business for him now that said that's no excuse. I'm simply explaining to you. That. Rather than cut aid. Which is a pretty dramatic draconian. Sledgehammer. Approach to a relationship that really has a lot of interests. You know we have our ground line of communications. Which is the military's complicated word for roads. That go to Afghanistan. And that route is critical to our supply of our troops. You wouldn't have -- -- condition not cut we have in addition to that. Had intelligence cooperation. Our folks were able to cooperate on the ground in Pakistan that's one of the ways we were able to get Osama bin Laden. I don't think the pakistanis have frankly gotten credit -- sufficiently. For the fact that they were helpful that was there permissiveness and allowing our people to be there. That helped us to be over the -- The knots that that focused on that to some degree not exclusively obviously but to some degree. In addition they have lost some 6000 people just in the last year. In their efforts to go after terrorists. They've lost about 30000 people over the course of the last several years. Because they've been willing to engage the insurgencies. And and and so you know there are things that the pakistanis have done as complicated as the relationship was -- Now I think that. I intend to raise the issue of doctor treaty with them. I can promise you that. But I am not gonna recommend nor do I think it is wise for American policy. To just. Cut our assistance we need to build our relationship with the pakistanis not diminish it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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