“American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone,” Senator John Kerry told before a Senate committee on his nomination to become secretary of state, reading from prepared remarks. “We cannot allow the extraordinary good we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role we have had to play since September 11th, 2001, a role that was thrust upon us.”
He added: “American foreign policy is also defined by food security and energy security, humanitarian assistance, the fight against disease and the push for development, as much as it is by any single counterterrorism initiative.
It is defined by leadership on life-threatening issues like climate change, or fighting to lift up millions of lives by promoting freedom and democracy from Africa to the Americas or speaking out for the prisoners of gulags in North Korea or millions of refugees and displaced persons and victims of human trafficking. It is defined by keeping faith with all that our troops have sacrificed to secure for Afghanistan. America lives up to her values when we give voice to the voiceless.”
As Kerry finished his opening remarks, a woman in a pink hat shouted from the rear of the hearing room. “I’m tired of my friends in the Middle East dying!” she yelled.
Kerry calmly told presiding Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) that he respects the woman’s opinion and her right to voice it. He recalled that he once testified before Congress as a war protester. And so he said at that time he would never run for president of the US.
Drones (Unwomanned Aerial Vehicles)
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS), also known as drones, are aircraft either controlled by ‘pilots’ from the ground or increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. (While there are dozens of different types of drones, they basically fall into two categories: those that are used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes and those that are armed with missiles and bombs.
A U.N. expert on Thursday launched a special investigation into drone warfare and targeted killings, which the United States relies on as a front-line weapon in its global war against al-Qaida.
One of the three countries requesting the investigation was Pakistan, which officially opposes the use of U.S. drones on its territory as an infringement on its sovereignty but is believed to have tacitly approved some strikes in the past. Many Pakistanis say innocent civilians have also been killed in drone strikes, which the U.S. has rejected.
The other two countries requesting the investigation were not named but were identified as two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
The civilian killings and injuries that result from drone strikes on suspected terrorist cells will be part of the focus of the investigation by British lawyer Ben Emmerson, the U.N. rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights.
U.S. military leaders on Thursday formally lifted the ban on women serving in combat positions, with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying women have become an "integral part" of the military and have already demonstrated their willingness to fight during the wars of the last decade.
"It's clear to all of us that women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military's mission of defending the nation," Panetta said.
The change would open hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs to women. Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey both approved the change Thursday, and the White House separately said it endorsed the decision.
Since the US military operations are being conducted by drone now, the fact that women are being allowed to combat in the front line, it could mean that the drones will be "piloted" by women.