In many ways, John Kerry has lived the greatest foreign policy challenges of his generation. The son of a foreign service officer, he spent much of his childhood in divided Cold War Berlin, where boyish mischief for him was riding his bike into the Soviet sector. As a young man, recently graduated from Yale University, Kerry enlisted in the Navy and probed the rivers of Vietnam in enemy territory. As a 28-year-old, he gave dignified voice to misgivings about the Vietnam War, famously asking in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”
Kerry has grappled with those questions of war and peace, confrontation and compromise, and occupation and abandonment ever since, perhaps most notably as a presidential nominee during some of the darkest days of the war in Iraq. Few in Washington share his depth and breadth of foreign experience. At age 69, he has spent nearly half his life — 27 years — on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He’ll be an able replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.