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Summary Article: Kerry, John Forbes
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US politician. He was senator for Massachusetts 1984–2013 and secretary of state 2013–17. He challenged the Republican President George W Bush for the presidency in 2004 but narrowly lost after a bitterly fought campaign. He had advocated expanded healthcare, a reversal of Bush's tax cuts for the very wealthy, resuming negotiations on the Kyoto treaty on global warming, and working closer with the United Nations and US allies abroad. He had supported the 2003 US-led war against Iraq, but later came to believe that Bush had misled the US population and was pursuing a reckless foreign policy. In January 2009, he became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and from 2013 to 2017, during the Democrat presidency of Barack Obama, was US secretary of state, in charge of foreign affairs. He oversaw the withdrawal of US combat troops from Afghanistan and resisted international pressure for the USA to intervene in a worsening civil war in Syria from 2013 and in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. Obama and Kerry's non-interventionist policies were seen by critics as creating a power vacuum which came to be filled in Syria and Iraq by the fundamentalist Islamic State (IS) and Russia, which intervened militarily in Syrian from September 2015 on the side of the dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Born in Aurora, Colorado, Kerry spent his early years in the family's native state of Massachusetts. His father's career as a diplomat in Europe meant that his early education was at a Swiss boarding school, with summer vacations spent at his mother's family's home in Brittany, France. He completed his schooling in Massachusetts and went on to study political science at Yale University, and also became active in Democratic politics, assisting Edward Kennedy's senatorial campaign in 1962. In 1966 he enlisted in the US Navy and became a gunboat captain in Vietnam, receiving a Silver Star for his actions in combat. However, he came to see the war as a mistake, and on his return to the USA in 1969 he became a spokesperson for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He gained national attention in 1971 when he testified on Vietnam to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He trained as a lawyer 1973–76 and then worked as a prosecutor in Massachusetts, where he took on organized crime, before being elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1982.

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