Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Kerry and the Anti-war movement

This was a comment on the previous post, but I believe it deserves it's own post.

Kerry and the anti-war movement:

Many people are angry about Kerry's anti-war activities. There is intense anger among Vietnam veterans over the shabby treatment that they recieved upon returning home from combat. Bush and Swiftvets are trying to focus that anger upon Kerry. And they appear to be winning. And it is wrong.

Check this out from an interview with Gen. Tommy Franks, Bush supporter, long-time Laura Bush friend, former Centcom Commander, and Vietnam vet, when he was given "bait" to slam Kerry on the Hannity propaganda hour:

HANNITY (8/3/04): I want to play a tape of John Kerry, and I want to get your reaction to this tape.

KERRY (videotape, Dick Cavett Show, 1971): I personally didn't see personal atrocities in the sense that I saw somebody cut a head off or something like that. However, I did take part in free fire zones. I did take part in harassment interdiction fire. I did take part in search and destroy missions in which the houses of noncombatants were burned to the ground.And all of these, I find out later on—these acts are contrary to The Hague and Geneva conventions and to the laws of warfare. So, in that sense, anybody who took part in those, if you carry out the application of the Nuremberg principles, is in fact guilty.

HANNITY: What does that mean to you?

(Hannity waited for the normal party line answer that Kerry betrayed his fellow veterans. But Franks is too Army for that, so he gave an honest and informed answer)

FRANKS (continuing directly): I think we had a lot of problems in Vietnam. One was the lack of leadership of young people like in—in John Kerry's position. He was a young officer over there, and I'm not sure that, that activities like that didn't take place. In fact, quite the contrary. I'm sure that they did.

(Hannity gave him another chance to toe the party line, though)

HANNITY: I want to play you another tape of his, where he talks about what other soldiers did when he was there.

FRANKS: Right.

HANNITY: And then, I'll get your reaction to this. Roll this tape.

KERRY (videotape, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1971): I relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do. They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in the fashion of Genghis Khan.

HANNITY: I mean, raped, murdered, all these things. But he never told names. Does that anger you? I mean, this is the guy now that is the leading candidate for the Democrats.

(Notice the "never told names" line. The names of these soldiers were public record; Kerry didn’t have to list them and was never asked to do so. Hannity is trying misdirection tactics. But at any rate, Franks again passed on the bait. Hannity wanted the general to hammer Kerry. But once again, Franks told the truth)

FRANKS (continuing directly): I don't know. I think Vietnam was—I think Vietnam was a bad time. I think that what I've learned in my life, Sean, is that it's a heck of a lot easier to protest than it is to step up and take responsibility for the actions of a unit or for—or for your own actions. And so, I don't—I don't like what I saw. But at the same time, I wouldn't say that- (pause) The things that Senator Kerry said are undeniable about activities in Vietnam. I think that things didn't go right in, in Vietnam.

WOW.

Read that again. “The things that Senator Kerry said are undeniable about activities in Vietnam.”

Sadly, everyone knows that such events did occur. And Kerry stood up and took responsibility for his actions, and demanded responsibility from our nation's leaders. He didn't betray veterans or support the North Vietnamese enemy or cast all veterans as war criminals. He tried to save 14,000 American lives because he realized that our government was lying to us.

Our government betrayed the veterans, and Kerry was out to correct that (notice how the right never speaks of Kerry's demands for better VA hospitals and chastised the administration for not taking care of the returning warriors, saying that they were "forgotten.")

How often have you heard that Kerry "slandered" veterans or that he was responsible for veterans being called "baby-killers" and spit upon, etc? ARtbyruth made a comment about a soldier that had feces flung on him when he returned home, and she thinks that Kerry was to blame for his anti-war activity. How many times have you heard "Hanoi Jane" in the same sentence with "Kerry," implying that Kerry committed or approved of the treason of Jane Fonda? Or false claims of POWs who were weakened by his testimony, or that the North Vietnamese were strengthened by it?

It isn't true. The man stood up and spoke truth to power, and he was right then and he is right now. Truth doesn't help our enemies. A govt that lies to the people does, though. It weakens us in the face of the enemy. There is NEVER a patriotic reason to go along with a lie.

But it is very, very easy to take his words out of context, present partial quotes, and twist them into a commie flag-burner working against America. And it is gutter politics to take the righteous anger of so many Vietnam warriors and direct it against the man who stood up for them and tried to save American lives. You might not agree with his politics or with his stance on the Vietnam war, but he didn't lie and he didn't betray his fellow warriors by speaking out and speaking truth. To say otherwise is to support the lies the govt told to the People during that war. To support the govt that betrayed our soldiers and sent more young kids to die in a war our leaders KNEW would end just as it did, merely for political reasons. To save face. After his 1971 testimony calling for an immediate pullout over 14,000 more US soldiers died. And we pulled out. And South Vietnam fell. And the dominoes, the entire justification for the war, did not fall.

In 1971, Kerry spoke to a Senate committee, made up of Dems and Reps alike. No one questioned the things he said, because everyone knew that his statements were accurate. Now 35 years later the insinuations begin in order to support a man who took no stand at all and made sure he was out of the line of fire.

Don't buy it.

(I shamelessly stole some of this from www.dailyhowler.com. Thanks Jamie for pointing me there.)

22 comments:

vrangel said...

Not that I completely agree but this post reflects a legitimate point of view. If you trust Kerry that is.
If you assume his intentions were indeed honest and honorable.

Personally I learned enough about Kerry's character and I don't trust him. Apparently some people do.

That's why public needs to hear all sides and then decide whether Kerry deserves a benefit of a doubt.
Swiftvets and moveons will do what they do, voters will figure it out.

vrangel said...

Here is text of a flyer Kerry's group distributed back then:

A U.S. INFANTRY COMPANY JUST CAME THROUGH HERE !

If you had been Vietnamese---

We might have burned your house
We might have shot your dog
We might have shot you...
We might have raped your wife and daughter
We might have turned you over to your government for torture
We might have taken souvenirs from your property
We might have shot things up a bit...
We might have done ALL these things to you
and your whole TOWN !

If it doesn't bother you that American soldiers
do these things every day to the Vietnamese
simply because they are "Gooks", then picture YOURSELF
as one of the silent VICTIMS.

HELP US TO END THE WAR BEFORE THEY TURN YOUR SON INTO A BUTCHER or a corpse.

VIETNAM VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR
156 Fifth Avenue, New York City, New York 10010


Photo of the flyer can be found here:

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/images2/vvflyer2.jpg

Some Soldier's Mom said...

All that Kerry said may have happened. I don't think many people -- especially Vietnam vets -- think that every kill was justified, that no horrors occurred. But it was WAR. Same stories came from the battlefields of WWI and WWII. All horrible bloody wars. My husband served two tours in 'nam. He flew many soldiers and in many cases what was left of them out of the jungles of VN. Some soldiers had been shot by men, some had been shot by women and children. Some had been impaled on pungi sticks, some impaled in tiger holes. Some blown to pieces by land mines. Some blown to pieces by "noncombatants". It was a WAR.

But if that war and his participation in such atrocities were so despicable and horrible, and he felt so strongly that he threw [someone's] medals (or maybe ribbons) away, why does Kerry now feel the need to thump his chest and proclaim his service as "honorable and heroic"? How two-faced does a man have to be -- fought in an illegal war but it was so just so darn honorable! So he served [4 months]. So what? It was what he did AFTER that speaks more about the man. And not just the testimony or the medals, but his deplorable, despicable lack of support for a strong military in his entire Senate career. So much for fit for command/er-in-chief.

artbyruth said...

VRangel- Oh! YOU BEAT ME TO IT!!! I was just going to post that link to the flyer. It is pretty sad.

TWD- Jane Fonda was the primary bankroller for Vietnam Vets Against the War, John Kerry's group He traveled with her during the "F*ck the Army". In September 1970, John Kerry joined with Fonda and actor Donald Sutherland (her "Klute" co-star) and many other political and Hollywood celebrities on a so called "rapid American withdrawal" campaign. This lovely event was called the "F>ck the Army" tour, sort of a perverse USO tour. It was performed outside of military bases across the United States. Michael Moore can't hold a candle to Jane Fonda, that's for sure.

He and Jane Fonda were partners in crime. This is undeniable...unless you willingly bury your head in the sand. Which is exactly what you are doing.

If these Vets are lying about Kerry's actions, then why isn't Kerry on Tim Russert or Face the Nation defending his actions??? Because he doesn't want to talk about it.

From my blog: "Reckless Disregard", Robert Patterson writes that Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer saw the war in Vietnam as still winnable.
Our US forces were winning major battles and holding the North Vietnamese back. In 1972, he urged President Nixon to bomb key strategic sites in and around Hanoi and Haiphong Harbor. Nixon agreed to this change from Johnson's policy. The result of this strategic air campaign worked.

On December 18, 1972, the US unleashed its "greatest arsenal assault on the enemy in the history of the war."

The 1972 bombing campaign forced the North Vietnamese to immediately ask for peace. They also began to treat our POW's more humanely. Nixon began to withdraw our troops from Vietnam. His "peace through strength" idea worked.


It had NOTHING to do with Kerry's testimony or campaign.

Nixon began to bring troops home.

It was in 1975 that the NVA again went into South Vietnam and the Democrats in Congress then decided to stop all aid to our allies and pull everyone out of Vietnam. That left our allies in danger an they were taken over by the Communist regime which then slaughtered almost 2 million people in Cambodia, Laos, and South Vietnam.

But, hey! Our troops were home and the hippies and John Kerry must have been pretty happy, huh? Because that is all that matters isn't it?

That's why he will do the same thing in Iraq if he is elected: bring the troops home ASAP to please the anti-war Hollywood crowd of Libs. Who cares what happens to Iraq??

John Kerry had nothing to do with the end of the war. He only made it longer. Had he just SHUT UP after he got home, the NVA would have seen that America supported the President and the War. They would have packed it in after the 1972 bombing campaign.

BUT instead, they saw a stooge in John Kerry and Fonda and they used both of them as propaganda. They used Kerry's speech to torture our POW's.

And the Liberals ate up the lies of the Winter Soldier Investigation and branded EVERY US soldier or Marine the enemy....deranged pot smoking trained killers who were a disgrace to their country. They ate up the lies that mostly poor African Americans served and died in Vietnam. They bought the stereotypes hook, line, and sinker. They still do. But Liberals aren't prejudice, are they??

Now, you and I know that some of these atrocities were committed. Probably about .5% of the 2 million who served committed crimes: drug trafficking, rape of local women, gambling, killing innocents, etc.
What John and Jane did was remove facts and paint the picture that he and ALL those who served did these horrible things. THAT is why almost every soldier or Marine who came home was not welcomed. Many were trashed and labled as killers, potheads, psycho, time-bombs.

Thanks to "Platoon", "Born of the Fourth of July", "Deer Hunter," "Coming Home", "Apocolypse Now", and "Rambo" these stereotypes are still with us.

It is so sad.



But hey, you keep thinking that John Kerry actually ended the war after he gave the speech in 1971. Nevermind that the war didn't end until 1975.

You keep dreaming there.

vrangel said...

artbyruth

sadly there is another legitimate view.
War dragged on for too long , cost too much in blood and treasure, our allies were corrupt and support at home was eroding.
It was time to cut our losses.

As far as Kerry is concerned it all comes down to his motivation. I personally think he was career-minded opportunist when he went to Vietnam , then realized his war medals are worthless in that respect and joined anti-war movement where he smelled a new opportunity.
Indeed he was correct, he appeared before Senate and launched his political career.

That's my take on it.

vrangel said...

Related news ,via instapundit :

GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS ENDORSES GEORGE W. BUSH: Powerline has posted an exclusive video interview. Excerpt: "I know what John Kerry's against, but I'm having a little trouble figuring out what he's for."

this we'll defend said...

Yes, he did. I already knew that. So when he says Kerry wasn't lying in 1971 it means even more.

Thanks again for your comments Vrangel. You and I don't agree on politics but we sure agree on democracy.

vrangel said...

Yeah TWD, I hear you.

Now if only Bush would stop his borrow and spend binge,
I'd be completely happy. Hope springs eternal...

Paul G. said...

It's a borrow and spend binge, but where is the money going?
The Iraqi occupation has to be paid for somehow, and you can't (shouldn't?) shut down the dept. of weights and measures or agriculture, or commerce to make the money up.
There's a reason for the borrow and spend, but we were all told that Iraq would pay for itself weren't we?

First any soldier that went to VietNam rather than across the border deserves the honor and credit for doing that.
Second please re-read the flyer, they may have and who wants thier son turned into a butcher or a corpse?

Our participation in Vietnam was wrong, that is no longer a debatable issue, it is now historical fact.
Blame for failure can be lain at the feet of many, not a few.
But the result is the measure of what we tried to do, and what we did.
The result was failure and not because one or 3,000 men said something or tossed medals across a fence.
VietNam was a failure not of will, or courage, or strength, it was a failure of policy.

Frater Bovious said...

I may be confused, but I don't think the issue is whether or not bad things happened in Viet Nam. The issue seems to have become that Kerry expected to be able to say "I'm a war hero, vote for me" and have everyone just fall in. Except there are those veterans from the same war with a different viewpoint, and the attempt has been made to paint them as wrong and unamerican.

Let's think about this.

Kerry essentially calls "thousands" of servicemen and vets butchering war criminals, deeming this accusation an act patriotism. True, not true? Certainly things went wrong in Viet Nam. And also certainly, if people don't talk about it, it can't get fixed. However, there are consequences to all actions, and the piper will be paid, sooner or later. It is undeniable that some vets do not consider Kerry a war hero.

If Kerry is entitled to his opinion about the conduct of "thousands" of servicemen, why are some of those servicemen not entitled to their opinion of Kerry? Not just not entitled. No, they are reviled for their non-patriotic partisan smear campaign.

"Thousands of vets are murdering bastards (I heard)": brave patriotism."One vet isn't all he's cracked up to be": craven lying bastardsIt doesn't wash.

ALa said...

I hope you caught General Tommy Franks on Hannity & Bones tonight (8/31/04)...He is VERY upset about Kerry's after-Vietnam antics. He was not a "Bush supporter" when the interview that you quote was on --he has always said that he wanted to stay a-political and not to say whom he would be voting for. He said tonight that recent reflection about Kerry's post-Nam escapades (among other things like having a chance at winning the war on terror) have led him to believe that he must speak out for the re-election of the President.

this we'll defend said...

Interesting that those who LIED about Kerry's heroism in Vietnam, who sought to smear him with false tales of cowardice and fake medals, now want to "move on" to his post-war activities. Fine. His actions post-war are a legitimate subject of debate.

But the Swiftvets who told lies are not the best source to learn what Kerry's true post-war history or anti-war activities were all about. They lied already and have lost credibility. Why believe them now? Or those who parroted those lies despite the overwhelming evidence against them?

Bush doesn't want to run against Kerry. He would get his ass kicked that way. So he seeks to run against a false image of Kerry drawn by using gutter tactics and sleaze.

Kerry was anti-war when he came home. If that is enough for you to vote against him I can respect that. Why the need for "Hanoi Jane" talk, "commie" talk, "slander of veterans" talk? "Betrayal" talk? Because if the truth is left to stand on its own the right fears people will make the "wrong" decision. So they attack truth.

That should be enough for many of you to vote Kerry even if you don't agree with him much.

vrangel said...

I would like to agree or disagree with Kerry on something...if only I knew what his position is exactly.

I like his "rich wife for everyone" campaign promise,
I also like "tax the rich, feed the poor".
Wait, now I'm really confused...

:P

this we'll defend said...

Vrangel, LOL.

Just tell me what you want to hear, and I'll tell it to you. Both parties can join the fun, but at least my lies won't be negative.

I think it is a clear choice, though, between the rich, spoiled, ivy-league guy who never held a real job for any length of time, and...

and...

Uhh, did I say something about a choice?

At least Kerry can say "Nuclear."

But then again, I think W's daughers are hotter than Kerry's. Not by much, but hotter.

Forseti said...

Did Kerry serve at all?
I'm suprised they haven't said that yet.

A] Kerry served one tour on the coast, and 4 month of another with the swiftboats.
B] He did save the life of another sailor
C] He came back after serving and exercised the right of a free citizen.

Some people didn't like what he did when he came back, others (you don't hear from them) didn't like that he served.

Now get back to real issues.

Both of these men can deal with the issues required by the office.
The general overall issue of being president is leadership.
What does John Kerry offer?
What does George Bush offer?

artbyruth said...

Why all the talk about Hanoi Jane???? Maybe because John Kerry brought up his service in Vietnam so much so that he decided to run on it.

TWD- You yourself called what Hanoi Jane did pretty close to treason on my blog.

Yet you don't think that John Kerry, who was supported by her and stood by her and defended her, is close to being treasonous?

No wonder you are voting for Kerry....you sound alot like him.

The firefighters union endorsed Bush tonite!!!!! Good for them. At least some people remember September 11, 2001 and realize John Kerry was nowhere to be found on that day.

All he had to do was shut up about Vietnam.....but noooooo!

HCWHunter said...

Well, after Zell Miller's speech tonite, I think that Kerry can just about hang it up. There's a man who served with Kerry in the Senate and speaks for a lot of Marines and other veterans in supporting Bush over Kerry as CIC. Kerry can't very easily explain away his 20 yr. liberal voting record.

As an aside, "Unfit for Command" is still on top of the NY Times Bestseller list by a long shot over "American Soldier" by Tommie Franks. Funny thing that I haven't read or heard anything about that fact in the mainstream media.

HW

this we'll defend said...

ALa71, I think you are going off the deep end.

You keep repeating the same already disproven lies. Such as Kerry stood by and defended Hanoi Jane.

When? You made a charge so back it up.

Kerry attended an anti-war rally in 1970 that Fonda also attended. They did not know one another, did not meet, and the photograph of them together has been shown a forgery. Here is the link: http://www.snopes.com/photos/politics/kerry2.asp. I attended a Braves game and Fonda was there too. Are we buddies? I think not.

Kerry testified before the Senate in 1971.

Jane went to Hanoi in July 1972, where she propagandized on behalf of the North Vietnamese government. She should have been shot. She committed treason.

When did Kerry defend that? When did he "stand by Hanoi Jane?" She wasn't Hanoi Jane until July 1972. When did he stand by Hanoi Jane? Well?

9/11 - Bush was President, it was appropriate for Senators to remain the background. The chief executive was called upon that day, not legislators. So what kind of crazy charge is "Kerry was nowhere to be found that day?" Can't you see how the tragedy of 9/11, one that happened to all of us (including your fellow citizens who are democrats) doesn't "belong" to one party? Damn.

Your party will stoop at nothing to win. Your party isn't selling a man for president, it is selling a product. But hey, Beta lost out to VHS.

Look at how far we have sunk. Instead of trying to campaign on ideas and a record of achievement in office, the right is actually trying to convince America that the candidate for President of the largest political party in the United States, a party that has fielded presidents like FDR, Truman, JFK - the right is trying to convince us that the candidate of that party is a traitor, disloyal to the USA and what we stand for.

It is incredible. It's hard to believe. I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it for myself. Even more amazing when you take into account that the candidate being attacked fought and bled for his country and the Republican candidate avoided doing so. You couldn't go back in time 10 years, or 100, and convince people it would be possible. They wouldn't believe it.

And it looks like it might work.

And ALa71, that doesn't bother you because your candidate gets to win that way. All's fair in love in war?

Well, democracy means we get the government we deserve. Sometimes when you misbehave as a child you get what you deserve - a spanking.

We'll see if the American voters can behave, but if they are so easily manipulated by blatant lies and hatred and sleaze then we will lose our Republic and our freedom. And we will have only ourselves to blame. We will have given away what good men died to create and others died to protect. Because we wanted to cheer, didn't want to think, and we were scared of another 9/11. That is what sells - simple solutions to complex problems. And when somebody tries to explain how the simple solution won't fit we just attack them.

It has been the fate of many other republics in history - and remember, there haven't been that many. Hobbes said that tryanny was man's natural state. perhaps so. Athens engaged in a disastrous war of choice, one that wasn't necessary and that they should have avoided, and fell as a result. Athens wouldn't see democracy again for millenia. Ceasar crossed the Rubicon and overthrew the elected Roman Senate, and the people cheered the end of their freedom because there was chaos and they sought order. He gave it. And a military dictatorship that lasted millenia ensued. Hitler came to office through an election, and was given emergency powers through democratic means because the people were angry and afraid. As he killed democracy the people cheered. Mussolini came to power through elections, finally asked by the King to form a government. And the people cheered. Japan's nascent democracy fell to Tojo and other militarists, and the people cheered. They waved flags. And the Athenians, the Romans, the Germans, the Italians, and the Japanese all felt patriotic and strong.

We'll see in November how it goes, but one day our Republic will fail. Man has been civilized since the days of the fertile crescent and the rise of organized agriculture over 10,000 years ago. Democracies have existed for less than 1,000 of those years, and never, ever has a majority of the people on the earth lived in one. Only two have lasted long - ours and Iceland's. Democracy is the exception, not the rule. It is harder to maintain than tyranny, than a king or a dictatorship or an oligarchy. It requires compromise and cooperation and respect for those that disagree with you. It requires that the party in power look upon the party seeking to unseat them as loyal, not as an enemy. It requires citizens to share the burden of learning about candidates and voting intelligently - and that isn't fun. It's hard work sometimes, and frustrating. It's easier to flip the channel, to make up your mind based on what you want to hear and not bother investigating. It is easier to believe unfounded charges, to give in to ridicule and hatred. It is easier simply to follow.

So one day our Republic too will fail. Probably after we have taken it for granted for a while. And when it does I will hazard a guess that it will die unnoticed, with the people cheering and waving flags and much talk of defending the republic from an outside threat. Few will mourn it's passing because few will realize what they are losing. Those destroying it will swear allegience to it, but it will be just words.

Our republic will never fall from the outside, only from within. And those overthrowing it will be convinced of the righteousness of their actions when they do it. Just as Ceasar was. He thought himself loyal to Rome above all, and he killed the Roman republic. In order to protect Rome.

9/11 and terrorists don't scare me. I've been under fire. We faced the Empire of Japan and the Third Reich at the same time not too long ago. No, Osama doesn't scare me. But the craven way some people have responded to it scares the hell out of me. They would destroy our system in order to save it.

And they just might. Wearing an American flag lapel pin while they do it.

91ghost said...

I perhaps might disaree with you in regards to some of the specific nuances and intricacies that will cause our Republic to ultimately peter out one day, but I agree that that unfortunate day is creeping around the bend, for a multitude of reasons. I'll have to drink a second cup of coffee to think a bit harder about this one...

vrangel said...

Roman Republic was corrupt beyond repair at the time.
System lost support of a public.
USA is very far from it, there's nothing to worry about.

Phil Dillon, Prairie Apologist said...

I was in Vietnam from 1964 to 1965. I never raped, pillaged, murdered, tortured. I never knew or met anyone who did.

What a lot of us who served in 'Nam really object to is that he, in lying to the U.S. Senate about us in 1971. It worked because the fawning, genuflecting senators and much of the public (apparently you too) believed everything he said.

We've had to live with that lie for forty years.

Well now the chickens are coming home to roost. And neither you nor the junior senator from Massachusetts like it.

this we'll defend said...

phil, thank you for your service.

I am glad your service in Vietnam in 1964-65 was honorable. That was how the vast majority of soldiers acted - honorably - throughout the entire conflict. I guess you were SF since you were in Vietnam before the deployment of major ground troops in 1965. Very impressive. Especially since the Army in the early 1960s was one of the finest conscript forces this nation ever fielded, and the all-volunteer units were as professional and well-trained as our Army today. People don't realize it, but the Army that we sent to Vietnam in 1965 was AMAZING, and the soldiers already there in 1965 were the elite of that Army. You defended this nation and my freedom before I could walk, and I thank you for it from the bottom of my heart.

Sadly, though, Sen. Kerry told no lies in his 1971 testimony. None. He didn't accuse ALL soldiers or even MOST soldiers of war crimes and atrocities. He said it was a frequent occurence, which it was. Here in Los Angeles so is murder, but 99.999 of Angelenos aren't murderers. That doesn't mean it doesn't occur frequently. It does. Just as with atrocities in Vietnam. I don't slander LA citizens by complaining that murder is an all-too frequent occurence in the city of angels.

And the response of the leadership was what Kerry was angry about - and I am too, and so should you be. Here is why:

My Lai was COVERED UP.

My Lai. Terrible. Can you imagine anyone in your unit killing babies? Of course not, which is why the label "baby-killer" applied to soldiers returning home was so wrong and misguided and flat-out treasonous. And this is why so many veterans that read only excerpts of the speech and nothing else, who don't read Kerry's other comments, are angry. One of their own discussing atrocities must have seemed high treason.

But Kerry was asking for accountability for the policies of the leadership, not the LTCs and CPTs and SGTs and CPTs. The SecDefs, the Westmorelands, the President, the Congress. Why?

Because My Lai was covered up (I use My Lai as an example, but Army records show many incidents of torture, war crimes, mutilation of corpses, etc - again, that doesn't mean most, but it does mean it happened a lot). Now back to your unit. We have established that you can't imagine anybody in your unit doing such things - killing babies, raping women, setting fire to huts filled with non-combatants. Could you imagine anybody in your unit covering up that such things took place? If you knew a guy in your unit raped a woman and shot her baby before setting fire to her hut where she burned alive, would that be ok with you? Probably not. You might be so angry that you shot him yourself, but you would damn sure report it and he would damn sure still be in Leavenworth today serving out his life sentence, right?

Well, if so, then how do you explain a coverup of a massacre of an entire village that went at least to the one-star level and likely beyond? My Lai was covered up by LT Calley's CO, CPT Medina. Medina was allowed to retire. The BN staff and LTC covered it up too. And the same thing at BDE level. It wasn't until pictures were published that the Army finally started the UCMJ ball rolling. And after all that, with photographs, witnesses including soldiers who took part and the brave helicopter crew who stopped the massacre, only Calley was convicted, served a brief period of house arrest, and then was freed. He runs a jewelry store in Columbus GA today.

Kerry called that wrong. So do I.

And other things were wrong as well - body counts. Free fire zones. Unaimed artillery fire misnamed "H&I" fire. torture of prisoners. Execution of prisoners.

Kerry stood up and said that was wrong. So do I.

Many veterans have only heard that Kerry was part of the anti-war movement, and their experience with the anti-war movement was being called names, having people insult them for their service, etc. But that wasn't the anti-war Kerry. He was against the war in Vietnam, not his fellow Vietnam warriors.

When soldiers came home they were often shunned, treated as outcasts. The govt cut VA funding so that it took Life Magazine photos of overflowing colostomy and urine bags and uncaring attendents in VA hospitals to start a change in the VA medical system. Pictures of injured, crippled soldiers with rotting bedsores because nobody would rotate them. Pictures of quadrapalegics with rat bites out of their toes - and there was nothing they could do to protect themselves and not enough qualified nurses (or attendants who gave a damn) to keep the rats away. Kerry talked about that too. In the same speech which the right says he stabbed veterans in the back. He said:

"The hospitals across the country won't, or can't meet their demands. It is not a question of not trying. They don't have the appropriations. A man recently died after he had a tracheotomy in California, not because of the operation but because there weren't enough personnel to clean the mucous out of his tube and he suffocated to death.

Another young man just died in a New York VA hospital the other day. A friend of mine was lying in a bed two beds away and tried to help him, but he couldn't. He rang a bell and there was nobody there to service that man and so he died of convulsions.

I understand 57 percent of all those entering the VA hospitals talk about suicide. Some 27 percent have tried, and they try because they come back to this country and they have to face what they did in Vietnam, and then they come back and find the indifference of a country that doesn't really care, that doesn't really care."
END OF QUOTE

He also talked about the reception his fellow veterans were recieving when they came back to the nation they nobly served - again, same speech which the right says he betrayed his fellow vets:

"You think about a poster in this country with a picture of Uncle Sam and the picture says "I want you." And a young man comes out of high school and says, "That is fine. I am going to serve my country." And he goes to Vietnam and he shoots and he kills and he does his job or maybe he doesn't kill, maybe he just goes and he comes back, and when he gets back to this country he finds that he isn't really wanted, because the largest unemployment figure in the country- it varies depending on who you get it from, the VA Administration 15 percent, various other sources 22 percent. But the largest corps of unemployed in this country are veterans of this war."
END OF QUOTE

He continued:

"We are also here to ask, and we are here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We are here to ask where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Gilpatric and so many others. Where are they now that we, the men whom they sent off to war, have returned? These are commanders who have deserted their troops, and there is no more serious crime in the law of war."

As for war crimes in particular, remember the right is charging Kerry with calling all vets war criminals. Here is what he said about My Lai - again, same speech:

"My feeling, Senator, on Lieutenant Calley is what he did quite obviously was a horrible, horrible, horrible thing and I have no bone to pick with the fact that he was prosecuted. But I think that in this question you have to separate guilt from responsibility, and I think clearly the responsibility for what has happened there lies elsewhere.... I think it lies with the men who designed free fire zones. I think it lies with the men who encourage body counts.... I think if you are going to try Lieutenant Calley then you must at the same time, if this country is going to demand respect for the law, you must at the same time try all those other people who have responsibility, and any aversion that we may have to the verdict as veterans is not to say that Calley should be freed, not to say that he is innocent, but to say that you can't just take him alone."

Calley was later freed by an order of President Nixon. Ultimately no one was ever sentenced to prison for My Lai.

You and Kerry might disagree about whether we were right to be in Vietnam in the first place. Given that no dominoes fell some would say Kerry's view has been proven right, but that is of course a matter of opinion. But he didn't lie. And he didn't betray veterans either. And those telling you that are dishonest.

Again, thank you for your service to our nation. I proudly served in the greatest Army the world has ever known, and I was proud to wear the same uniform as brave men like you.