In 1983, at the height of President Reagan's extraordinarily dangerous nuclear brinksmanship, the Pentagon moved to implement a plan to take four aging WWII battleships out of mothballs and to arm them and accompanying destroyers with nuclear armed cruise missiles.
With Kennedy and Boston's business elite committed to winning the fleet and the money they believed would accompany it, the state's Democratic party, including Lt. Governor John Kerry who was delegated partial responsibility for negotiations with Washington, clicked heels and fell in line.
Not so the Boston area peace movement. We knew the Navy's record of nuclear weapons accidents, the reality that fewer than 200 permanent jobs would come with the base, and that the fleet's cruise missiles were a gross violation of the Nuclear Freeze which the state's Congressional delegation had endorsed.
As part of our advocacy, I arranged what became a one on four meeting with Lt. Governor Kerry in his State House office.
It was soon clear that I was banging my head against a kryptonite door. So I asked one more question: "While you were organizing Vietnam Veterans against the War, I was organizing in Arizona to end the war. How does what you are saying now square with what you said then?"
Finally, the Lt. Governor, who somewhat towered above me, looked me in the eye and said "The name of the game is different now."
His ambition had trumped any concern for the safety of the millions of people who live in the Boston metropolitan area and whatever moral fibers reside in the DNA of this member of the extended Forbes clan.
Thirty years later, the former Lt. Governor is on the verge of becoming the American Empire's Secretary of State, and people are again asking who John Kerry is and what he stands for. We have his record, and for those of us in Massachusetts the memory of Senator Kerry voting for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, even as his staff confirmed that 95% of the calls and letters coming into his office opposed the invasion, is still fresh. What I can add is the memory of an ambitious pawn playing his part in preparations for nuclear Armageddon which he justified to himself with the belief that "The name of the game is different now."
*Joseph Gerson is the AFSC Disarmament Coordinator and Director of Programs and Director of the Peace and Economic Security Program for the AFSC in New England.